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News, 15-22/01/03 (1) INSIDE IRAQ * Confronting Iraq * Iraqi exile * Iraqi Wild Card * TV antennas are mushrooming * Hussein's efforts to pacify Shiites may pay off * Group Demands Arrest of Envoy for Kurdish Campaign * Bush has his 'casus belli' but will war be worth it? * Christians Say Saddam's Iraq a Safe Haven * Saddam says he's smiling inside despite threats INSIDE IRAQ http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2003/01/15/MN122595 .DTL * CONFRONTING IRAQ by Robert Collier, Chronicle Staff Writer San Francisco Chronicle, 15th January Baghdad -- To see Iraq's new elite living the fast life, go to Arasat Street. Well- dressed diners eat steak and kebabs in glittering restaurants with colonnaded porticos and marbled fountains, while shiny Land Cruisers and Corvettes glide to and from towering mansions nearby. In shops down the block, snakeskin spike heels sell for $70 and a Hugo Boss overcoat goes for $150 -- many times the average Iraqi salary of $5 to $10 per month. To judge by the sometimes bizarrely written labels, many of the luxury items may be counterfeit, but who cares? Certainly not the new elite themselves, who are too busy making fortunes as smugglers, helping sneak oil out of the country and other goods in -- ranging from cigarettes to weapons -- in defiance of the U.N. sanctions. "They steal, they cheat. A new class of unethical people are doing very well," said Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a member of Iraq's old business elite, which has fallen on hard times lately. Just a few blocks away from Arasat Street's luxury, fellow Iraqis are living in squalor and desperation. Youssef Al-Hakak stands in line at a government ration distribution center, pushing a cart with the rations of wheat, sugar, tea, cooking oil and other staples that will keep his family alive -- "Inshallah" (God willing), he says. His salary as a schoolteacher, $4 a month, would barely buy him an entree on Arasat Street. It's a tableaux that plays well with those in Washington who are pushing for regime change in Iraq -- Saddam Hussein's enormous palaces and the feasting of his cronies, cheek-by-jowl with the downtrodden Iraqi masses who presumably might welcome liberation by U.S. troops. But the broader picture is more complex and more dysfunctional than that. It's more like Karl Marx meets Lewis Carroll, where class divisions are warped in an Alice in Wonderland funhouse. A shopkeeper makes more than a heart surgeon, a taxi driver makes more in a day than a teacher makes in a week, and a smuggler makes more than a government minister. "Iraq is a country that had a stable middle class before 1990 and a significant welfare state," said Christopher Klein-Beekman, program coordinator for UNICEF's $90 million-per-year Iraq mission. "Now, all that has been liquidated," he added. "The Western-oriented professional class has left for the United States and Canada, and the ones who stayed are driving taxis or just barely staying alive. And the smugglers are gaining." While many Western observers blame Hussein and his relatives, who they say control the smuggling and have diverted other resources for their own ends, others hold the international sanctions at least partly responsible. The U.N.-run "oil-for-food" program, put into effect in 1996, mandates that its $4.9 billion per year in oil revenues be spent on imports and explicitly prohibits spending any funds for domestically produced products or normal government expenses. As a result, the Iraqi government claims it has virtually no money for salaries to pay its clerks, school teachers, doctors, nurses and civil engineers. The government's only significant cash revenues are earned from clandestine oil exports, estimated at $2 billion per year, and from equally clandestine imports. No one seems to know exactly who controls this smuggling, or who owns the gaudy mansions now being constructed in rich Baghdad neighborhoods such as Arasat, Kerradeh and Mansour. And in a land where speaking ill of Hussein is a severe crime, few Iraqis care to speculate. In a report released in September, however, a Washington-based nonprofit known as the Coalition for International Justice accused Hussein and his inner circle of skimming billions of dollars through illegal sales of oil, smuggling and kickbacks on the trade in oil and humanitarian goods. The coalition, whose focus is monitoring human rights around the world and lobbying for war crimes tribunals, projected the rake-off at $2.5 billion for 2002 -- a sum large enough to significantly alleviate the tough conditions faced by ordinary Iraqis. Iraq's new rich themselves don't seem to want to describe the source of their money to foreign visitors. Brief conversations are more enigmatic than informative. At one high-fashion boutique, one dyed-blonde, spike-heeled shopper paused for small talk with a visitor while perusing fake fur coats. She bemoaned the fact that the Italian and French labels of Iraq's boom years have been replaced by knockoffs made in China, Egypt and Pakistan. Her description of herself as a schoolteacher -- a profession that pays almost nothing -- begged the question: So aren't these goods still too expensive? She demurred silently with a smile. Then her husband, sleek in a long black leather coat, swooped in from across the store and ushered her away. The Bush administration and Western media reports frequently point at the president's eldest son, Uday Hussein, who reportedly drives a Rolls-Royce Corniche, as the personification of the smuggler elite. Uday has been identified in various reports as a key figure in the illegal importation of Western cigarettes. But Baghdad-based diplomats caution that there is little hard information on the subject and that much of the smuggling revenue may be used by the government for normal expenses. Members of the country's old elite, such as Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, say the exact identity of the new upstarts is immaterial. A gaunt, elegant gentleman in his mid-50s, Al-Mukhtar spoke as he was sitting in the faded glory of the Alwiya Club, Baghdad's leading upper-class social club since it was founded 70 years ago, when Iraq was ruled by Britain. Al-Mukhtar, a medical-products entrepreneur who studied engineering at UC Berkeley and Marquette University in Milwaukee, says all his bank accounts, amounting to millions of dollars, have been frozen in Britain since the sanctions went into effect in 1990. Now, he lives by borrowing from his brother, a lawyer in London. "My daughter, who is a fifth-year medical student, wants makeup and clothes, " he says. "She needs money. I used to be able to please her just with a chocolate bar, but no longer. My son is in his fourth year in medical school. He needs money too." Why doesn't he become a smuggler himself? "I can't work under the sanctions. I work only with reputable companies," Al-Mukhtar replies, haughtily. As for the poor, the Iraqi government has tried to keep them under wraps. After a spate of foreign media reports about life in Baghdad's slums, the Information Ministry "minders" who watch over foreign reporters have barred them from visiting Saddam City, the sprawling shantytown on the city's eastern outskirts that is home to about 2 million people. All other Baghdad slums are also off-limits. But the poor -- or newly poor -- are easy enough to find. Bedraggled street children, mothers clutching dirty-faced babies and widows in black hejabs, or cloaks, are common sights, even though panhandling is illegal. At the city's markets, small children are often seen scampering amid garbage piles looking for scraps of food or salvageable items. Some of the most poignant scenes occur at the book fair that takes place every Friday on a closed-off street in old downtown Baghdad. Spread out on sheets are entire family libraries. "This is our life, but I have no choice but to sell it," said Jawad Al- Naimi, a government employee who was sadly watching customers pore through his collection of history books, leather-bound philosophy treatises and English- language novels -- including two by Agatha Christie. "It is our life," he said again, slowly. Abdul Al-Baghdadi, a director of the Federation of Iraqi Chambers of Commerce, said private citizens have suffered the most over the past several years. "The consequences of the sanctions are heavier on the people than on the government," said Al-Baghdadi, who owns several companies that import clothing, shoes and food. "In every country, after every war, there are people who profit. Some people here do the same." Even some top government cadres feel the personal fallout. "Just yesterday, my last friend left Iraq," said Nermin Al-Mufti, a political columnist for the El Thawra newspaper, which is run by the ruling Ba'ath Party, and an editor of several government publications. "For the past 12 years, the daily aggression of the situation has caused a blackness that has isolated educated Iraqis," she said. "Either they die, or they leave the country, or they withdraw into themselves. "Our value scale has been turned upside down. Being elegantly dressed is the most important thing, because tomorrow doesn't exist -- you may die, who knows?" Al-Mufti then described her daily battles to obtain the medicine she needs for a heart problem. "I can't hate the smugglers. The pill I put under my tongue every day, nitroglycerin, is forbidden under the U.N. sanctions," she said, noting that the drug is also a common explosive with potential military use. "These smugglers have prolonged my life." Some observers say the sanctions have strengthened Hussein's regime. By weakening the private sector and impoverishing the professional class, about 65 percent of the population depends on government rations to survive. Even in candid conversations with no government officials nearby to snoop, some Iraqis blame the Americans more than the regime. "One of my friends, one of Iraq's most prominent pathologists, very well respected and very wealthy -- he used to be wealthy, anyway -- was recently forced to start selling his furniture and rugs and family heirlooms," Al- Mukhtar said, shifting upright in his worn, leather Alwiya Club chair and stabbing the air with a lit cigarette. "He only makes his government pension, worth a couple dollars a month, plus whatever he earns at his private clinic. This wasn't caused by Saddam Hussein. "So now I curse the Americans for what has happened to my friend and me, and I wait for the invasion. And I will curse them again when they come." http://www.mlive.com/newsflash/business/index.ssf?/cgi free/getstory_ssf.cgi?f0038_BC_WSJ--Iraq-Marshes&&news&newsflash-financial * IRAQI EXILE DREAMS OF RESTORING LIFE TO MARSHLANDS by Bill Spindle Ann Arbor News, from The Associated Press, 15th January LONG BEACH, Calif. -- Azzam Alwash pulled out a large satellite image of southern Iraq on which splotches of reddish-brown dominate the parched landscape. He pointed to some tiny dots of blue and rivulets of green. They are all that's left of the great marshes that once lay between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. "I remember all the green, and that wonderful smell of decaying vegetation," says Mr. Alwash, whose father, an Iraqi civil engineer, took his young son on surveys into the swamps. They rode in a long wooden motor boat with a canopy in the middle, passing communities of reed huts set among waterways that wound for miles through the grasses. "I want to do it again with my kids," he says. That won't be simple for the 44-year-old Iraqi exile. In an act of destruction environmental groups compare with the devastation of the rainforests of the Amazon, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ordered the swamps drained in the early 1990s, when the area became a refuge for Shiite rebel groups. The rebels were destroyed. So were the marshes, once home to the ancient Sumerians and an area some scholars consider to be the inspiration for the Garden of Eden. Turning a teeming swamp bigger than Florida's Everglades into a salt-encrusted wasteland in less than a decade was no small feat. Environmentalists are still puzzling over exactly how the Iraqi government, which shrouded the project in secrecy, accomplished it. Bringing back the wetlands -- once home to a half-million people and a crucial stop for migratory birds -- will be considerably more difficult. "There's virtually no water left," says Hassan Partow, a United Nations researcher who has done a study on the destruction of the marshes. "It's absolutely phenomenal to see the destruction of an ecosystem of that scale in just five to six years." Mr. Alwash has a plan. He concedes that it's a rough plan, based on decades-old data. He drafted it in his living room along with his geologist wife, drawing extensively from the intimate memories of the terrain of his father and other exiles. Even if it has to be heavily revised later, he says, some blueprint to revive the swamps is needed if the U.S. is going to lead an invasion to topple Mr. Hussein. If dams and waterworks upstream are bombed or rendered useless during or after the U.S. campaign, the whole area could see an even greater ecological disaster. In case of quick reflooding, the thick layer of salt left over from evaporated marshes and polluted by toxins in recent years would contaminate any new water that rushed in. The only solution, he and environmentalists say, is to methodically flush out the salts. Mr. Alwash has lobbied Pentagon officials to avoid bombing dams and to drop leaflets across southern Iraq urging people not to tear down waterworks. He recently briefed a dozen officials at the U.S. Department of State. Pentagon officials and exiled southern Iraqi opponents of Mr. Hussein attended a presentation he gave last month at a major conference of Iraqi dissidents in London. Mr. Alwash also argues that if the U.S. decides to lead an invasion and occupation of Iraq, some early, visible successes in renewing the marshes could help convince Iraqis of the benefits of working with the invaders. "This is one way to sell the idea to Iraqis, especially in the south, that change brings tangible benefits," he says. In 1978, Mr. Alwash moved to the U.S., abandoning a promising engineering career in Iraq when he felt pressured to join a student association affiliated with Mr. Hussein's ruling Ba'ath Party. He thought little about the marshes as he married a geologist from a small Texas town, set about raising two daughters and built a successful career as an engineer in California. On a family vacation in London in 1994, Mr. Alwash attended a presentation about the destruction of the Iraqi marshes. Environmental and human-rights groups were then only beginning to grasp the extent of the damage. Mr. Alwash, a kayaking buff who would sometimes muse about his childhood adventures in the Iraqi marshlands while paddling with his wife, Suzanne, was shocked. "I'd been telling her, `One day, we'll do this in Iraq,' and there it was in the pictures, dying," he says. Mr. Alwash began digging into just how the marshes were drained, relying on Mr. Partow's U.N. environmental study for the basic outline. Starting in 1992, Iraqi engineers worked around the clock for nine months to build what became known as the Saddam River. Some 350 miles long, it diverts water from the Euphrates that would otherwise flow into the main al Hammar marsh. This project was followed by even larger hydroengineering schemes: the Mother of Battles River in 1994 and the Fidelity to the Leader Canal in 1997. While the Iraqi government has always insisted that the projects were aimed at reclaiming swampland for farming, various defectors and environmental and human-rights groups say the scale of the projects leaves little doubt that their goal was to destroy a huge refuge for Mr. Hussein's opponents -- what Mr. Alwash calls Iraq's "Sherwood Forest." The mud, thick reeds and winding waterways made the area impassible for Mr. Hussein's soldiers and heavy equipment. Eventually, Mr. Alwash saw a way he thought he could help. Many of the environmental and human-rights groups were despairing that the marshlands, now less than 5 percent of their original size, could ever be restored. That is in part because new upstream dams in Turkey, Iran and Syria have reduced the headwaters' flow to a fraction of their old volume. But Mr. Alwash knew from his father's work that Iraqi rice and barley farmers still use primitive and inefficient irrigation techniques. If those techniques could be improved to reduce the amount of water diverted to farming, more water would make it downstream to the marshes. Mr. Alwash and his wife began poring over dissertations in the libraries at the University of California, Los Angeles. But crucial data from the period before the drainage projects were impossible to obtain -- which is where Mr. Alwash's father came in. Jawad Alwash grew up in southern Iraq, studied civil engineering in Alexandria, Egypt, and then worked for decades in the southern marshes, monitoring hydrological works and settling water disputes along the two rivers. He retired in 1983 and was living in Baghdad when he and his wife visited their son in the U.S. They were there when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990, and never went home, eventually settling near Washington. When his son described what had become of the wetlands, the senior Mr. Alwash began teasing from his memory the flow data of rivers and channels on satellite photos. He sketched maps for his son and daughter-in-law on scrap paper, recalling how dams and regulators had been designed to nudge the flow in one direction or another over the extraordinarily flat terrain. He called former colleagues living in exile in California to tap their recollections. One Thanksgiving at the Alwash household consisted of a turkey dinner that was then cleared away to make room for special, high-resolution satellite maps that the younger Mr. Alwash had finagled from U.S. government officials. Mr. Alwash has used that information to construct a computer model that simulates various ways to reflood the wetland areas, depending on how much water makes it downstream from the headwaters to the agricultural zones just above the marshes. When Mr. Hussein is no longer in power, Mr. Alwash and Suzanne, who now spend their time delivering their presentation to any group that will listen, hope to turn the blueprint and computer models over to Iraqi engineers. "They know their problems better than anyone," he says. Until then, he says, "this is the only wetlands-reclamation project to be done completely by remote control." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A12030-2003Jan18.html * IRAQI WILD CARD by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post, 19th January RASHIDIYA, Iraq -- The sheik gazed left, then right, looking at a half-dozen farmers in mud speckled robes seated in his vast receiving room. Supplicant in posture and effusive in flattery, they drank several cups of sweet tea before a young man named Mohammed summoned the courage to ask the question that had brought them to their leader at dinnertime. Was their tribe, the Fudhool, ready for a U.S. attack? The sheik, Fadhil Abbas Jassim, 69, with a gravelly voice and a gray-speckled beard, smiled. Then he chortled, causing his gold-fringed cloak to flap about. The Fudhool recently received a few thousand automatic rifles from the government, he informed the farmers, and more were on the way. The guns would be handed out soon. Everyone would be armed. After the farmers departed into the balmy night, appearing reassured, Jassim turned to a visitor. "If there is a war, they will fight on my command," he proclaimed. "They will defend our land against foreign aggression." He added after a moment's pause, "But if there is a need for peace, of course they will listen to me." As Bush administration officials and U.S. military commanders try to predict how Iraqis would react to a possible U.S. invasion aimed at toppling President Saddam Hussein, the behavior of the country's armed and influential tribes has emerged as a wild card. The vast majority of Iraq's 24 million people affiliate themselves with tribal groups, and sociologists here estimate that more than a third retain some degree of loyalty to their tribal leaders. Will the tribal leaders stick by Hussein, who has wooed them since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War by doling out cash, land and cars, as well as increased authority in rural Iraq? Or will they welcome the Americans and help them fight the Iraqi army? Or will they sit out the fighting, despite their bellicose rhetoric, out of fear of choosing the wrong side? Several prominent sheiks insisted their allegiance is firmly with Hussein, a man they referred to as "his excellency," "our dear leader" and "the great president." If there is a war, they said they would mobilize hundreds of thousands of fighters, from schoolboys to old men ineligible to join the military, to defend their villages and the roads leading to Baghdad. "We will fight to the death against any invaders," said Rashash Imarrah, chief of the Imarrah tribe, most of whose members live near the intersection of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq. "If the Americans think they can just march up here, they are sadly mistaken," said the sheik, who claims to command 4,000 armed fighters. "We will be waiting for them." The last time a foreign army sought to capture Baghdad, during World War I, British forces moved up the Tigris from the Persian Gulf to expel the Ottoman Turks who controlled most of present-day Iraq. Expecting the tribes to help fight the Ottomans, or at least remain neutral, the British instead found themselves under attack by several tribes that remained loyal to the Turks. As people here are fond of mentioning, tens of thousands of British soldiers died, many from disease, before Baghdad finally fell in 1917. "The Americans," Imarrah said, "should remember this." Nobody knows for sure when tribes such as the Imarrah were formed, but historians and tribal leaders say many of the groups predate the start of Islam on the Arabian Peninsula in the 7th century. The tribes thrived for centuries, providing order and community in an otherwise lawless desert. Sheiks settled disputes, dispensed charity and approved marriages. But in 1958, when Iraq's British-installed monarchy was overthrown, the new military government set out to eliminate tribal networks, regarding sheiks as little kings who considered themselves above the law. When the Baath Party, the political machine through which Hussein rose to power, took over in 1968, that effort intensified. And when Hussein assumed the presidency in 1979, it accelerated further: Sheiks who represented a threat to his hold on power were killed or jailed. Tens of thousands of people from tribal areas were forced to migrate to cities. The Baathists, whose ideology called for a secular, modern Arab nation, "regarded the tribal system as a backward system that did not fit in with modern life," said Ihsan M. Hassan, a sociology professor at Baghdad University. But tribalism has remained strong, even in the uppermost echelons of government. In a practice that continues today, Hussein, a member of the Al-Bu Nasir tribe, filled almost all the senior posts in his administration, particularly those concerning security, with fellow tribesmen or those belonging to allied clans from his home town of Tikrit. At the same time, Hussein banned the use of tribal names, a move some believe was designed to mask the predominance of Tikritis in the government. It was not until the Gulf War that official disapproval of tribalism ended. With his army facing postwar uprisings by ethnic Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in the south, Hussein decided to revive tribal groups and co-opt their leaders as a way to prevent future rebellions. Tribal leaders received money and other emoluments to resume their activities -- if they pledged to support Hussein. Most readily accepted, using the offer as a way to reclaim some of their authority. In much of rural Iraq, functions once performed by the government were assumed by tribal elders. Here in Jassim's village of Rashidiya, on the outskirts of Baghdad, the poor and unemployed depend on tribal handouts. Loans for marriage dowries are handled by the sheik. When villagers want a new well or to repair a road, they see Jassim, who in turn communicates with the relevant government agencies. "For the government, it is easier to have one person talking to them instead of hundreds," he said. Jassim also plays the role of local magistrate, settling disputes ranging from sheep rustling to murder. "If one member of my tribe has killed someone from another tribe, the prominent figures of this tribe will visit the other man's tribe," he explained. "We will have a tribal meeting. We will speak about the incident. And we will give them blood money." Sometimes, such actions keep a murderer out of jail. In other cases, he said, "they will receive a much lighter sentence because they settled the matter" through the tribal system. Sensing that the campaign to promote tribalism was working to its advantage in rural areas, the government extended offers of money and gifts to tribal elders and members of notable families who lived in cities, hoping to shore up an urban population that was growing restive because of U.N. sanctions. "The government even came to my family and said, 'We'll give you land, money, weapons and salaries to reorganize your tribe, but your allegiance will be for the government, for the Baath Party and President Saddam Hussein,' " said Hassan, the sociology professor. "They were ready to give us a tribal seal and a stick and a shroud, and even a monthly salary." Residents of Baghdad have increasingly begun identifying with their tribal groups, sometimes choosing the places they shop and eat by the owner's tribal affiliation. Jassim, whose village is about 25 miles north of Baghdad, said many members of his tribe live in the city but regularly return to the village for tribal ceremonies and to resolve disputes. "If you have a car accident, you don't sort it out in the courts anymore," said Wamidh Nadmih, a professor of political science at Baghdad University. "Even if you live in the city, you sort it out in the tribe." Nadmih said tribal affiliations can play a big role in determining whether an applicant gets a job or parents consent to a marriage. Tribal affiliation can often identify whether Iraqis are Sunni or Shiite Muslims, where they hail from and whether their extended family has political connections. "It is a network, just like you have in America with university graduates and your religious groups," he said. The highest-profile case of tribal justice occurred in 1996, when Hussein's two sons-in-law, Hussein Kamel Hassan Majeed and Saddam Kamel Hassan Majeed, returned to Iraq after defecting to Jordan and disclosing secrets about Iraq's weapons programs. The brothers were killed during a night-long gun battle, not with the police or the military, but with members of their own tribe seeking to redeem the family's honor. Hussein holds regular meetings with influential tribal leaders, where he dishes out gifts and receives expressions of fealty. Hussein now appears so confident about support within many of Iraq's 150 major tribes, which comprise about 2,000 smaller clans, that he has given them tens of thousands of light weapons to distribute to their members with the hope they will turn into a guerrilla army in the event of a U.S. invasion, ambushing American soldiers in villages and along roads. Many analysts and diplomats dismiss the notion that tribal fighters will pose a significant threat to U.S. forces, but they could form pockets of resistance in areas where American soldiers might not otherwise expect to encounter armed opposition. Whether that occurs may depend on which way the sheiks sway. While government officials expect that tribesmen will heed Hussein's military directives, others here believe the decision will be made by individual tribal leaders. "We've gone back decades, to the ages of darkness, where rural peasants are under the control of chieftains," Hassan, the sociology professor, said. "It's a negative phenomenon. It does not coincide with modern society. And now, subconsciously, a man's allegiance goes to the tribe, not to the state." As a consequence, foreign military analysts said, U.S. officials are plotting a strategy to buy off tribal leaders as they did with some success in Afghanistan. But for the fence-sitters, the smell of victory might be more important than money. Although Iraqi tribes are notoriously fickle, Jassim and other tribal chiefs sneer at the idea that they could be influenced by money. Hussein's gifts to them over the years, they insisted, were intended to trickle down to ordinary people, not to curry their favor. "This is not Afghanistan," Jassim said. "Our loyalties cannot be purchased." But if the Americans still want to invade Iraq, he said, they are welcome to descend upon his village. "We will greet them," he growled, "with bullets." http://hoovnews.hoovers.com/fp.asp?layout=displaynews&doc_id=NR20030119670.2 _af9c0008844bb6d3 * TV ANTENNAS ARE MUSHROOMING by Shakir Al Taee Hoover's (Financial Times), 19th January TV antennas are mushrooming atop buildings all over the country, particularly in Baghdad, nowadays, as people here are eager to know what is happening around them as American and British troops continue to build up for a possible attack against Iraq. This is occurring at a time when there is a government ban on receiving other than local TV and radio stations transmission. To get around this without punishment, many Iraqis have resorted to installing Chinese and Turkish TV antennas on the roofs of their houses to get access to some TV broadcasts in neighbouring countries. Observers see the rush for satellite channels as a clear rise in Iraqis' curiosity to know the news of the Iraqi crisis from other sources, a need that arose from the rapidly developing tension between Iraq and the United States. Hence, Iraqis in the south tune their TV antennas to get programmes broadcast by the stations in the Gulf countries, while those in the north switch on to programmes coming from Syria and Turkey. Some others opt to watch Iranian TV, while others tune in to Jordan, Lebanon or other TV stations. A recent poll showed that the Iraqis are very keen to follow the news of the Iraqi crisis. One citizen, Faisal Sa'eed, said he watches some neighbouring TV programmes to keep informed and updated about the news related to his country. University Professor Dr Abdul Salam Lefteh said that people are entitled to be informed in order to know what is happening . One clergyman maintained that while people have a right to watch news from other countries, they must also respect their own laws and not listen to "what the enemies of their country say." Ahmed Jebir said he simply listens to news programnmes broadcast by Arab TV and radio stations, though most of the time he prefers Iraqi TV programmes. A university student explained that due to the present political crisis he felt that hearing outside news gives him a better picture of what is happening around him. Sa'eed Yaqoub, an Iraqi lawyer, said that watching foreign TV programmes "widens our horizons and updates us about the world around us." http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/chronicle/a/2003/01/19/MN81786. DTL * HUSSEIN'S EFFORTS TO PACIFY SHIITES MAY PAY OFF by Robert Collier San Francisco Chronicle, 19th January Kerbala, Iraq -- Gleaming in the sun over the crowds of pilgrims, the new gold plating on the Abbas shrine carries the very unsubtle message that rebellion doesn't pay. "The holy warrior Saddam Hussein donated the gold for these pillars," says the Arabic script carved into the surface. Hanging from the walls of the Shiite Muslim shrine and glaring from nearly every direction are portraits of the Iraqi leader. Twelve years ago, Hussein's helicopters and artillery blasted huge holes in the Abbas shrine in a savage campaign to crush a Shiite rebellion at the end of the Gulf War. Now, whether Iraq's Shiites attempt another rebellion -- or whether they got Hussein's intended message -- is one of the most crucial questions for the Bush administration as it calculates whether to invade Iraq. Many American analysts are predicting that the long-downtrodden Shiites, who comprise about 60 percent of the nation's population, would welcome U.S. troops as liberators. Hussein's regime is dominated by members of the Sunni Muslim minority. But a political shift may have taken place. There are strong indications that Hussein has gained support among Shiites in Kerbala, only 60 miles southwest of Baghdad, and throughout the Shiite heartland in the south. "This is not 1991, don't misunderstand us," Mahdi Al-Ghorabi, Kerbala's chief sayid, or religious leader, said in an interview. "As soon as the war starts, we Shia will play our role. We are all Muslims, and we will cooperate. "It is a jihad, one front to defend the country against any invader. Whoever the invader is, whether it's Bush or any other, we have to fight him. Whoever disobeys is not a Muslim," he said. Al-Ghorabi's authority among believers is considerable because he is keeper of the Abbas shrine, one of the two holy tombs in Kerbala that, together, comprise the most revered site in the Shiite world. Their history is grand yet bloody. Abbas and his half-brother Hussein were martyred in a battle in A.D. 680 that culminated a power struggle for the mantle of the Prophet Mohammed and permanently split his followers into Shiite and Sunni branches. In March 1991, the Abbas and Hussein shrines were at the heart of a nationwide, monthlong rebellion by Shiites in the center and south of the country and the Kurds in the north. Kerbala was taken by local civilians and Shiite guerrillas, who established their local headquarters in the shrines. They used an underground prayer room in the Abbas shrine to kill about 50 captured army officers and leaders of the ruling Baath Party. Within days of the rebel takeover, the government counterattacked ruthlessly. Its warplanes and helicopters bombed the city center into rubble and blasted holes in the shrines' domes as troops fought their way into the sanctuaries. Scores of Muslim clerics who supported the rebels were imprisoned. Hundreds of civilians and rebels were killed by advancing troops around Kerbala. Farther south, especially around the city of Basra, the repression was even more brutal, with many thousands tortured and killed. Then-President George Bush, who had encouraged the Shiites to revolt, abandoned them to their fate -- a betrayal that many Iraqi exiles say has made the Shiites much less willing to risk their necks again. Since the mid-1990s, in a campaign to gain back the Shiites' support, Hussein has funneled money into the town, rebuilding entire neighborhoods and lavishly repairing the Abbas and Hussein shrines. The regime cleared about 12 square blocks between the two shrines and turned them into a pleasant, leafy promenade. Now, on the same ground where hundreds were killed, vendors sell religious trinkets to the crowds of pilgrims from Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India and other nations. Hussein has shown similar generosity elsewhere in Iraq, lavishing support on Shiite clerics -- as long as they pledge fealty to his rule. The penalty for disloyalty may be death, according to reports from human- rights groups and Iraqi exiles that documented a series of incidents in the 1990s in which high-ranking Shiite clerics were assassinated or died in mysterious auto accidents. This good-cop, bad-cop strategy appears to have worked. Al-Ghorabi, the descendant of a legacy whose male relatives have been chiefs of the shrine for 450 years, has become just as much of a pillar of the regime as the gold- plated columns. He spends his days receiving a constant stream of pilgrims and politicians from far and wide in a reception room at the shrine adorned with huge photos of him standing with Hussein and his eldest son, Uday. "This is not a matter of nationality," Al-Ghorabi said. "It's a religious struggle, to defend the faith." In September, Iraq's top Shiite cleric, Ali Hussein al-Sistani, issued a fatwa, or decree, calling on Muslims to defend the government against a potential U.S. invasion. Al-Sistani had never publicly supported the regime, and Iraqi Shiites in exile initially questioned whether the fatwa was indeed his. Since then, however, it has been accepted as genuine by most observers. Many Shiite and Sunni clerics in other nations have made similar pronouncements, giving Hussein a crucial boost in his attempts to portray himself as a defender of all Islam against the West. But the clerics' position is challenged by two Shiite guerrilla groups waiting in the wings. The larger of the two, the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Resolution in Iraq, long supported by Iran, is loosely allied with the U.S.-backed opposition in exile. Another group, Dawa, presents Washington with an uncomfortable dilemma, because it rejects the U.S.-backed opposition groups as American puppets and keeps tight links with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement that is near the top of the Bush administration's enemies list. Dawa was originally inspired by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini of Iran, who lived in exile in the nearby city of Najaf during the 1970s. These rebel groups are believed to have their strongest support among the Shiite poor, especially those who were displaced by the army's harsh counterinsurgency tactics elsewhere in the south. Signs of these refugees are everywhere. Scattered along roads outside of Kerbala are thatched grass huts of people driven from the country's southern marshes, which were hotbeds of Shiite guerrilla activity until they were drained and mostly depopulated in the mid-1990s in a savage counterinsurgency campaign. This destruction of thousands of square miles of Iraqi marshes has been condemned by world environmental groups as one of the great ecological crimes of the late 20th century. Getting a fully accurate sense of public opinion in the area is nearly impossible for foreign journalists. The government "minders" who accompany all reporters visiting Kerbala do not allow them to interview the rural poor. Instead, reporters are steered toward areas where support for the regime is more assured, such as the souk, or market, in central Kerbala. In a series of random interviews in the souk with a minder in attendance, vendors and shoppers alike expressed what appeared to be sincere support for the pro-Hussein Shiite line -- with their own twist. "What happened in 1991 was just pointless destruction with no logic," said Mohammed Rahim, the proprietor of a fabrics stall, who said he was in Kerbala throughout the two week rebel occupation. "They burned government offices, the documents offices, they looted stores and everything. The property record for my house was burned, and I still can't get a copy of it. I want to sell my house, but what can I do?" Now, he said, "we're all united, this time is different." As they try to make sense of the Shiite mystery, some diplomats and aid workers in Baghdad say the official version shouldn't be discounted. "Don't expect the Shiites to rebel like last time," said a foreign ambassador in Baghdad. The envoy, who also spent a previous tour of duty in Iraq right before the Gulf War, said the Iraqi government has increased the number of Shiites in local government and has assiduously courted tribal leaders. In addition, he noted, Hussein's constant attempts to portray himself as a defender of the Muslim faith have boosted his image among many Iraqis, who have become much more pious in recent years amid the country's increasing isolation and poverty. "The Americans think that every Shiite shantytown is a nest of resistance or will just watch passively if there's war," the diplomat said. "But Hussein has spent the past 12 years consolidating his control. I wouldn't count anything out, but I wouldn't count it in either." http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/oneworld/20030120/wl_oneworld /1032_1043060562 * GROUP DEMANDS ARREST OF ENVOY FOR KURDISH CAMPAIGN by Jim Lobe Yahoo, 20th January WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (IPS) - A major U.S. human rights group called Friday for the immediate arrest and prosecution of Iraqi Gen. Hassan al-Majid, the alleged architect of the notorious 1988 'Anfal' campaign against Iraqi Kurds, who is currently on a diplomatic tour of neighboring Arab states. Human Rights Watch (HRW), which has collected some 18 tons of documents relating to the Anfal campaign, in which tens of thousands of Kurds lost their lives, said al-Majid arrived in Damascus today for talks with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and is expected to travel to Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon in the coming days. "Al-Majid is (Iraqi President) Saddam Hussein's hatchet man," said HRW director Kenneth Roth. "He has been involved in some of Iraq's worst crimes - including genocide and crimes against humanity. Bringing him to justice is an essential priority." The call to arrest and prosecute al-Majid comes amid the intensification of preparations for a U.S. invasion against Iraq, which most analysts believe could take place as early as the end of next month. In addition to getting some 250,000 U.S. troops close to Iraqi borders, U.S. policymakers are also making detailed plans for a post-Saddam Iraq, which, at least in the initial phases, will likely be occupied by U.S. and possibly other military forces. One of the key issues being discussed is how to deal with the top echelons of the Ba'ath government, especially those whose role in alleged atrocities, such as the use of chemical warfare against Iran and the Kurds during the Anfal campaign, is well documented. A number of senior policy-makers have called for trials for war crimes and crimes against humanity, either by occupation forces or possibly by an ad hoc United Nations tribunal similar to those used in Yugoslavia and Rwanda. It would prosecute top leaders, including Saddam and as al-Majid, who also serves as a member of the ruling Revolutionary Command Council (RCC). Reports have circulated that Washington has put together a list of 14 Iraqis who should be tried, including Saddam and al-Majid, Saddam's two sons, Uday and Qusay, his chief deputy on the RCC, Ezzad Ibrahim, and his vice president, Taha Yassin Ramadan. But no final decisions have been made, according to knowledgeable U.S. officials, who also point to recent on-the-record threats by Pentagon officials, in particular, that any resort by Iraqi officers to weapons of mass destruction in the event of a U.S. invasion would be considered as war crimes and punished accordingly. HRW has called since the early 1990s for Saddam and al-Majeed, in particular, to be prosecuted by an international court based on the evidence about the Anfal campaign that it accumulated from Iraqi Kurdistan after the 1991 Gulf War. That effort had some support within the administration of President Bill Clinton, but France, Russia, and China - all veto-wielding members of the U.N. Security Council that would have had to approve such a move as it did in the case of Yugoslavia's Slobodan Milosevic - opposed the idea. In 1993, HRW published 'Genocide in Iraq: The Anfal Campaign Against the Kurds', a full length book that identified al-Majid, who is widely known in Iraq as "Chemical Ali" for his repeated use of chemical weapons, as the campaign's mastermind. He was later placed in charge of Iraq's military occupation of Kuwait from August 1990, until U.N.-backed, U.S.-led coalition forces expelled the Iraqis in March 1991. As secretary general of the northern bureau of the Ba'ath Party, al-Majid held authority over all state agencies in the Kurdish region from March 1987 to April 1989. Among the documents obtained by HRW and published in the book was an order dated Jun. 20, 1987 in which he directed army commanders "to carry out random bombardments to kill the largest number of persons present in prohibited zones". HRW says it also has a recording of al-Majid vowing in the presence of other leading Iraqi officials to use chemical weapons against the Kurds. The Anfal campaign, which came toward the end of the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War, resulted in the murder and disappearance of some 100,000 civilian non-combatants, the use of chemical weapons against civilians in dozens of locations, and the near-total destruction of family and community assets throughout Kurdish rural areas, according to the book. All of the actions were under al-Majid's direct supervision, HRW said. After Iraq's defeat in Kuwait, al-Majid was placed in charge of putting down uprisings by the largely Shia Muslim population in southern Iraq, a task marked by summary executions, arbitrary arrests, disappearances, torture and other atrocities, according to HRW. "Chemical Ali posing as a peace envoy is like Bosnian Serb war criminal Ratko Mladic lecturing on human rights," Roth said. "He should be received by prison guards, not heads of state." HRW noted that the U.N. Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which has been ratified by Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon, requires state parties to prosecute or extradite for prosecution all persons on its territory accused of torture, no matter where the torture was committed. Similarly, the U.N. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, ratified by Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, requires all state parties to prevent and punish acts of genocide. Finally, all four countries have ratified the Geneva Convention, which also requires them to prosecute alleged war criminals. The new International Criminal Court (ICC), which is the process of being established at The Hague, would not be able to prosecute al-Majid for his actions between 1987 and 1992 because its jurisdiction began only when the underlying Rome Statute took effect last year. http://www.thestar.com/NASApp/cs/ContentServer?pagename=thestar/Layout/Artic le_Type1&c=Article&cid=1035776828549&call_pageid=968332188854&col=9683500607 24 * BUSH HAS HIS 'CASUS BELLI' BUT WILL WAR BE WORTH IT? by Rosie Dimanno Toronto Star, 20th January U.S. President George W. Bush may not yet have the smoking gun he needs to convince potential allies that an attack against Iraq is justifiable and necessary. But he has, and has long had, the casus belli for doing so. Casus belli is Latin for "cause for war." As a bumper-sticker slogan, the term doesn't resonate as simplistically as "smoking gun." Ditto "no war for oil." another Reader's Digest tagline popular with anti-war activists who are maddeningly ill-informed and conspiracy minded. Desert Storm ‹ now that was a war about oil. And not without good reason. Had Iraqi President Saddam Hussein been permitted to seize Kuwait, and keep it, he would have controlled 9 per cent of the world's oil resources. That would have been disastrous for the economies of just about every nation on the face of the earth. Had George Bush pater finished the job ‹ and finished off Saddam ‹ with Iraq's defences in disarray and only five Republican Guard divisions standing between coalition forces and Baghdad, this remarkably resilient tyrant would no longer be around to pose an ongoing threat to the stability of the region, fomenting trouble at his leisure. He would not have been around to crush the internal Iraqi intifada that followed on the heels of the Persian Gulf War, wherein another 20,000 Kurds were slain, because using chemical weapons and high explosives to wipe out 200,000 of them and razing 4,000 of their villages during the '80s apparently wasn't enough. He also slaughtered up to 60,000 Shiites, as a pre-emptive gesture against that religious constituency rising up against minority Sunni rule. But Bush Sr. bought into the argument that a strong Iraq was critical to balance the regional power scales against Iran. So Saddam survived, with 1.2 million men under arms, constituting the largest military in the Middle East and the fourth largest in the world. Nor was he greatly discouraged from further aggressive behaviour. In 1995, he again amassed troops on the Kuwait border, clearly planning another invasion, until the Americans responded with a massive military reinforcement (Operation Vigilant Warrior), forcing Saddam into a humiliating retreat. Those who argue that Saddam is no ongoing or imminent threat have simply not been paying attention. Throughout the '90s, he continued to provoke regional and political crises, always pushing just within a hair's breadth of international exasperation, greatly emboldened by a United Nations that had lost its stomach for confrontation with this problematic dictator; that had lost its commitment to economic sanctions; that had meekly accepted the eviction of U.N. weapons inspectors from Iraq in 1998 ahead of U.S. and British air strikes to punish Saddam's government for not co-operating with inspections. The oil-for-food program that the U.N. had established was not affected by Saddam's belligerence; indeed, the program continued only in name, with blatant and flagrant violations that have gone unpunished. France, Syria, Russia, Jordan ‹ all made patently illegal oil deals with Baghdad in contravention of the U.N. resolutions. That, coupled with a wildly profitable smuggling operation, is believed to have put at least $3 billion a year into Saddam's pocket. Saddam and his family, his extended tribe, may be hugely corrupt and greedy. But even the Saddam coterie cannot spend all that money. And what do you think Saddam has been doing with his profits, this past decade? Not spending it on Iraqis, on hospitals, on rebuilding the country's infrastructure, that's for sure. This is the man, after all, who was madly anxious to built at least one, just one, nuclear bomb during the '80s and '90s, pouring untold resources into the project. This is the man who was developing chemical weapons as early as 1974, including the lethal nerve agent VX, which he used extensively against the Kurds and during the 1980-'88 war with Iran. By the end of the '80s, it was believed Iraq had more than 6,000 chemical munitions, including missile warheads, and even since the Persian Gulf War has continued to build dual-purpose chemical facilities. Iraq admits to having produced a cornucopia of biological warfare goodies: anthrax, botulinum toxin, aflatoxin, clostridium perfringens (which causes gangrene), ricin and viruses, including the plague. By 1991, Iraq had produced 10 billion doses of biological agents. All gone now? All destroyed? And we're to believe this ... why? Because Saddam, a pathological and effective liar, has said so in 20,000 pages of rambling obfuscation filed with the U.N.? Because his regime has been so co-operative with chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix and his team, who last week found a dozen empty chemical warheads and yesterday was complaining about Saddam's obstructionist behaviour? Technically, that in itself might be sufficient to launch an attack under the U.N.'s most recent resolution, with no need for Bush to go back and ask for permission. But the U.N., of course, is sounding very much like the appeasement agency it has become ‹ this being the same group that stood down and did nothing as 800,000 Tutsis were slaughtered by Hutus in Rwanda, who abandoned East Timor to the brutalities of Indonesian paramilitaries (and only had its shred of respectability salvaged by unilaterally acting Australian troops), that was thoroughly marginalized by NATO in Kosovo, and that may today elect the odious Col. Moammar Gadhafi as chairman of its Human Rights Commission. It is to be fervently hoped that Saddam is no longer in possession of weapons of mass destruction because he will undoubtedly use them if attacked, probably killing untold numbers of his own people in an attempt to forestall the sacking of Baghdad. And that's the conundrum: Is the potential carnage worth the effort to bring down Saddam? It's both a moral and strategic question. But if the world doesn't rid itself of Saddam now, then when? Containment hasn't worked. Deterrence didn't work. In a couple of years time, when he may have ballistic warheads far more ruinous than the 39 Scuds (Al-Husseins, actually, modified Russian missiles) that he lobbed at Israel during the Persian Gulf War? When he has missiles capable of reaching Riyadh or Tehran? When he's acquired the nuclear warhead he covets, which could be within five years? Just think how much further ahead Saddam would be today if Israel had not acted unilaterally, seeking permission from no one, and bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor at Tuwaitha in 1981. (The Mossad also, most likely, was responsible for the 1990 assassination of the notorious Gerald Bull, who was helping Iraq build a "super-gun" that could fire rockets with weapons of mass destruction warheads.) Even a conventional war at this moment in time ‹ a war that American forces could and would win if forced to act alone ‹ would be no walk in the park, no 43-day campaign like Desert Storm. A devastating air campaign and precision-guided weapons ‹ war from afar ‹ are nearly useless on urban targets. As far as can be determined, Iraq has a regular standing army of 300,000 organized into 17 divisions, including three armoured and three mechanized, with possibly 600 T-72 tanks. The Iraq air force may have up to 300 aircraft, the air defence force comprised of 500 surface-to-air launchers, with a further 1,500 shoulder-launched SAMs. And then there's the elite Republican Guard, of course, at least 80,000 of them, war hardened and fiercely loyal. During the Gulf War, they didn't fight well but they fought hard and will do so again, probably to the death. Meanwhile, there are estimates from the Pentagon that, in the worst-case scenario, American casualties might run as high as 10,000. Worth it? Some say never, under any circumstances. Many more say not now, under these circumstances. As if the day of reckoning will never come. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/nm/20030121/lf_nm/iraq_christ ians_dc_1 * CHRISTIANS SAY SADDAM'S IRAQ A SAFE HAVEN by Andrew Hammond Yahoo, 21st January DEIR MAR MATTA, Iraq (Reuters) - In a bleak rocky outpost of north Iraq, Christian monk Bihman Samarchy chats about the year he spent recently in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem's old city. Dressed in the traditional black robes of the eastern Christian churches, he speaks softly in this lonely monastery perched on a mountainside between the city of Mosul and the Kurdish enclave in the far north of Iraq. "I stayed there for a year and right now there are four Iraqis there out of the six people at our monastery. For me it's just a service," said Samarchy, an Arab from a country with no relations with Israel and which glorifies Palestinians fighting Israeli occupation. But Samarchy is as free to talk about the forbidden land as he is to go there, indications of the freedom this Christian sect says it has enjoyed in the modern Iraq run by the Baath party since 1963. Iraq allows monks to serve time in the church's Mar Morqos monastery in East Jerusalem, on condition that no Israeli stamps are placed in their passports. "We had nothing to do with politics," Samarchy said. "As Christians our way is love and that's what makes us able to go. You know that in the story of Noah's ark, the snake lived next to the dove. In our own church tradition, the snake coiled itself around the dove in order to protect it." After his time in Israel, the church chose Samarchy, 32, as one of its four monks in residence at Mar Matta, the oldest monastery in Iraq, dating from the fourth century AD. Christianity has a long and distinguished history in Iraq, now a mainly Muslim country of 23 million. Tradition says one of Christ's apostles, Thomas, visited the ancient land, making it one of the first countries where the religion spread. With the spread of Islam after the Arab conquest of the Middle East region in the seventh century, the number of monasteries eventually fell to today's four from the dozens noted by medieval Muslim chroniclers. Today, the Baath regime has opened its doors to Iraq's Christians, and none of them is showing enthusiasm for a war which could even lead to the division of the country. The United States is threatening to invade because its says President Saddam Hussein is hiding weapons of mass destruction. A federated or divided Iraq could give sway to mainly Muslim Kurds, who dominate in north Iraq where most of the country's Christians also live. The Mosul district, where the various Christian denominations make up almost half of the population, was kept out of the Kurdish self-rule area set up after the 1991 Gulf war to end Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. "We have a place in society -- not as a sect, but as citizens. We feel we are part of this one body. We have one shared (Iraqi) citizenship and the state has a responsibility to protect everyone," said Archbishop Saliba Isaac, leader of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Mosul. Isaac said a significant number of Christians are members of the local Baath Party, founded by the Syrian Christian Michel Aflaq, who spent his final years in Baghdad. The Baath's secular Arab nationalist ideology has done much to keep religious extremism at bay in Iraq, though analysts say the decimation of the country's economy during 13 years of U.N. sanctions has led to heightened religious sentiment among Muslims. Slogans such as "one Arab nation with an eternal message" and "yes to one nation" show a strong presence in Mosul and the mainly Christian villages in the surrounding countryside. Samarchy said there are occasional problems with local Muslims and Kurds, who once pillaged furniture from the remote site, but not the authorities, who have carried out some renovations. "Our relations with the state are good; there is freedom of worship. Our fear is from the people, not the government," he said, adding that Saddam has paid three official visits to the monastery. Damage to Mosul during the 1991 war seems to have soured any taste among Christians for American "liberation" from three decades of one-party rule. The church of Mar Yousef in a Mosul suburb was bombed on the first day of Operation Desert Storm, killing four people, said Janan Abbo, the wife of the church's current pastor. "The shrapnel caused a gas container to ignite in a building next door and four then died in the fire," she said, standing in the simply-decorated church. "God knows why they hit us." "Didn't they know it was a church? Of course they knew," a friend of Abbo's added angrily. "I hope there will be no war, because it would be a war for nothing." http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/world/4996972.htm * SADDAM SAYS HE'S SMILING INSIDE DESPITE THREATS The State, from Reuters, 21st January BAGHDAD - Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Tuesday that under his often serious public demeanor he is all smiles. Addressing military leaders preparing for a possible war with the United States, he said: "Even when you don't see me smiling, you should know that I am actually smiling, and the basis of this smiling is my happiness about the path we have chosen." "Yes, I am smiling ... for while Zionism and America have been able to play around with large and medium-sized countries, they have not managed to play around with Iraq," he said in comments carried by the Iraqi News Agency. Saddam seemed unfazed in his latest morale-boosting meetings with senior military leaders, including son Qusay who supervises the elite Republican Guard. Monday he said he was not losing sleep over the threat of a U.S. invasion. Friday he said U.S. troops would be routed at the gates of Baghdad if they tried to attack the Arab country of 23 million. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk