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[casi] News, 15-22/01/03 (7)



News, 15-22/01/03 (7)

IRAQI/US RELATIONS

*  Public Not Persuaded on War With Iraq
*  US 'obstructing aid to Iraq'
*  America didn't seem to mind poison gas
*  Chicago City Council Rejects War on Iraq
*  Powell: US Will Present Evidence Iraq Has Banned Weapons
*  Rumsfeld: Saddam exile could avoid war
*  [Senator Edward] Kennedy slams Bush on Iraq
*  US special operations teams lead hunt to track down Saddam
*  US retired general to plan Iraq's future
*  Hart says he opposes Iraq war
*  US details Iraq's 'apparatus of lies'

IRAQI/UK RELATIONS

*  Bishops Condemn Plans for War with Iraq
*  US, British leaders to meet on Iraq
*  McConnell fights rebels over Iraq
*  Rough ride at Holyrood for Blair's Iraq line
*  Enthusiasm for Iraq war wanes, poll finds
*  Lengthy conflict could cost British taxpayers 5bn
*  Plan to lock up Iraqis


IRAQI/US RELATIONS

http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030117/ap_on_go_pr_wh/ir
aq_attitudes_4

*  PUBLIC NOT PERSUADED ON WAR WITH IRAQ
Yahoo, 16th January

WASHINGTON (AP): President Bush has yet to convince Americans that war with
Iraq is justified, according to a poll that suggests the White House has
much work to do to win public support for military force.

"I think a little more diplomacy would be in order," said Creig Crippen, an
84-year-old retired Air Force veteran from Deland, Fla.

There is widespread support for removing Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, but
that support is conditional on proof of a threat from Iraq and on the
support of allies, said the poll by the Pew Research Center for the People &
the Press. The poll was released Thursday as the United Nations said it had
discovered empty chemical warheads south of Baghdad.

Two-thirds or more in the Pew poll and other recent polls say they favor
military action against Iraq  but only under certain circumstances.

For example, the Pew poll suggested that support for war is strong, 76
percent, if United Nations inspectors find nuclear, biological or chemical
weapons. The support is evenly split if they find no weapons but determine
Iraq has the ability to make these weapons.

The public does not buy the administration's argument that Iraq must prove
it does not have these weapons. Almost two-thirds, 63 percent, believed that
Iraq's failure to show such proof would be insufficient reason for a war.

More than half, 53 percent, say the president has not yet explained clearly
what's at stake to justify the United States using military force to end
Saddam's rule, according to the poll. Some 42 percent say he has.

The number who say Bush has clearly explained what's at stake has eroded
since his September address to the United Nations, when it was 52-37 saying
he had given a clear explanation.

At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan said Bush continues to work
with other countries on a peaceful solution.

"But if Saddam Hussein will not disarm peacefully and it becomes necessary
to disarm him by force, then what we would be doing is not only disarming a
real and growing threat, but liberating Iraqi people from a brutal,
oppressive regime," McClellan said.

The Pew poll of 1,218 adults was taken Jan. 8-12 and has an error margin of
plus or minus 3 percentage points.

"I believe that this is an action that is due because of Saddam Hussein's
complete lack of respect for the democratic world and his people," said
Philip Pederson a 65-year-old sales manager from Wheatland, Calif. He is a
Vietnam veteran.

Though the president has been making his case against Iraq in earnest since
last September, White House officials say the heavier lifting doesn't begin
until Jan. 28, when Bush delivers his State of the Union address. That's one
day after U.N. weapons inspectors issue their preliminary report.

The drumbeat for war continues Jan. 31, when Bush meets at Camp David with
his staunchest anti-Iraq ally, British Prime Minister Tony Blair. If Bush
chooses to go to war, whenever that might be, there would be a final, Oval
Office address in which he would spell out reasons, White House officials
say.

Democratic lawmakers like Michigan Sen. Carl Levin caution that the United
States "must not prejudge the outcome" of the inspections.

Some in the public will be skeptical no matter what the president tells them
about Iraq.

"I think they've made it very clear," said 23-year-old Rachel Wheatley of
Washington, "that they're not really interested in what the inspectors have
to say."

Associated Press writer Danny Freedman contributed to this story.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2667287.stm

*  US 'OBSTRUCTING AID TO IRAQ'
BBC, 17th January

Aid organisations in the United States have complained that the American
Government is blocking their attempts to plan for a possible war with Iraq.

InterAction, which represents more than 160 American NGOs, says a
bureaucratic log jam is preventing them from sending people and equipment to
the region.

The delays could threaten the lives of Iraqis if war breaks out, the
organisation says.

"It isn't clear the Bush administration is putting into action the concern
for the Iraqi people expressed by President Bush," InterAction's head Mary
McClymont said in a statement.

"The stakes could not be higher."

The BBC's John Leyne in Washington says InterAction members are questioning
whether the Bush administration is really committed to helping the Iraqi
people.

By law, these organisations need permission from the US Government to send
money, equipment and staff to countries which appear on the State
Department's list of "state sponsors of terrorism", which includes Iraq,
Iran and Syria.

Even imports of chlorine bleach into Iraq have to be approved.

But the completion of paperwork is reportedly taking from four to five
months.

Ms McClymont said requests that the White House speed up the licensing
process met with "unsatisfactory results".

The State Department expressed general support for the aid organisations and
their wish to help the Iraqi people.

"But that doesn't mean that we can approve every licence for everybody to go
wherever they might be thinking," a spokesman told reporters on Thursday.


http://www.iht.com/articles/83625.html

*  AMERICA DIDN'T SEEM TO MIND POISON GAS
by Joost R. Hiltermann
International Herald Tribune, 17th January

AMMAN, Jordan: In calling for regime change in Iraq, George W. Bush has
accused Saddam Hussein of being a man who gassed his own people. Bush is
right, of course. The public record shows that Saddam's regime repeatedly
spread poisonous gases on Kurdish villages in 1987 and 1988 in an attempt to
put down a persistent rebellion.

The biggest such attack was against Halabja in March 1988. According to
local organizations providing relief to the survivors, some 6,800 Kurds were
killed, the vast majority of them civilians.

It is a good thing that Bush has highlighted these atrocities by a regime
that is more brutal than most. Yet it is cynical to use them as a
justification for American plans to terminate the regime. By any measure,
the American record on Halabja is shameful.

Analysis of thousands of captured Iraqi secret police documents and
declassified U.S. government documents, as well as interviews with scores of
Kurdish survivors, senior Iraqi defectors and retired U.S. intelligence
officers, show (1) that Iraq carried out the attack on Halabja, and (2) that
the United States, fully aware it was Iraq, accused Iran, Iraq's enemy in a
fierce war, of being partly responsible for the attack. The State Department
instructed its diplomats to say that Iran was partly to blame. The result of
this stunning act of sophistry was that the international community failed
to muster the will to condemn Iraq strongly for an act as heinous as the
terrorist strike on the World Trade Center.

This was at a time when Iraq was launching what proved to be the final
battles of the war against Iran. Its wholesale use of poison gas against
Iranian troops and Iranian Kurdish towns, and its threat to place chemical
warheads on the missiles it was lobbing at Tehran, brought Iran to its
knees.

Iraq had also just embarked on a counterinsurgency campaign, called the
Anfal, against its rebellious Kurds. In this effort, too, the regime's
resort to chemical weapons gave it a decisive edge, enabling the systematic
killing of an estimated 100,000 men, women, and children.

The deliberate American prevarication on Halabja was the logical, although
probably undesired, outcome of a pronounced six-year tilt toward Iraq, seen
as a bulwark against the perceived threat posed by Iran's zealous brand of
politicized Islam. The United States began the tilt after Iraq, the
aggressor in the war, was expelled from Iranian territory by a resurgent
Iran, which then decided to pursue its own, fruitless version of regime
change in Baghdad. There was little love for what virtually all of
Washington recognized as an unsavory regime, but Iraq was considered the
lesser evil. Sealed by National Security Decision Directive 114 in 1983, the
tilt included billions of dollars in loan guarantees and other credits to
Iraq.

Sensing correctly that it had carte blanche, Saddam's regime escalated its
resort to gas warfare, graduating to ever more lethal agents. Because of the
strong Western animus against Iran, few paid heed. Then came Halabja.

Unfortunately for Iraq's sponsors, Iran rushed Western reporters to the
blighted town. The horrifying scenes they filmed were presented on prime
time television a few days later. Soon Ted Koppel could be seen putting the
Iraqi ambassador's feet to the fire on Nightline.

In response, the United States launched the "Iran too" gambit. The story was
cooked up in the Pentagon, interviews with the principals show. A newly
declassified State Department document demonstrates that U.S. diplomats
received instructions to press this line with U.S. allies, and to decline to
discuss the details.

It took seven weeks for the UN Security Council to censure the Halabja
attack. Even then, its choice of neutral language (condemning the "continued
use of chemical weapons in the conflict between the Islamic Republic of Iran
and Iraq," and calling on "both sides to refrain from the future use of
chemical weapons") diffused the effect of its belated move. Iraq proceeded
to step up its use of gas until the end of the war and even afterward,
during the final stage of the Anfal campaign, to devastating effect. When I
visited Halabja last spring, the town, razed by successive Iranian and Iraqi
occupiers, had been rebuilt, but the physical and psychological wounds
remained.

Some of those who engineered the tilt today are back in power in the Bush
administration.

They have yet to account for their judgment that it was Iran, not Iraq, that
posed the primary threat to the Gulf; for building up Iraq so that it
thought it could invade Kuwait and get away with it; for encouraging Iraq's
weapons of mass destruction programs by giving the regime a de facto green
light on chemical weapons use; and for turning a blind eye to Iraq's worst
atrocities, and then lying about it.

The writer is preparing a book on U.S. policy toward Iraq, with partial
support from the Open Society Institute and the MacArthur Foundation.


http://abcnews.go.com/wire/US/ap20030117_438.html

*  CHICAGO CITY COUNCIL REJECTS WAR ON IRAQ
ABC News, from The Associated Press, 17th January

Calling Saddam Hussein a tyrant and saying he needs to be removed from
power, the city of Chicago nonetheless balked at a war with Iraq.

The City Council voted 46-1 Thursday in favor of a resolution opposing a
pre-emptive military attack unless Iraq is shown to be a real threat to the
United States.

In so doing, Chicago became the largest U.S. city to speak out against a
possible war.

The nonbinding resolution, however, gives unconditional support to U.S.
military personnel.

"Everybody's against war," Mayor Richard Daley said after the resolution
passed. "No one is for war."

The resolution talks about the potential financial impact of a war, which it
says would cost billions of dollars and likely mean cuts in federally funded
programs that benefit Chicago and its residents.

"The war will be financed by deficit-spending and drastic cuts in domestic
spending. In either case, our neighborhoods, our great city will suffer the
consequences of a sagging economy and even more cuts in federally funded
projects and programs," said Alderman Joe Moore, who introduced the
resolution with the support of other aldermen.

"Just about every initiative that improves the quality of life in this city
and in our neighborhoods is supported at least in part by federal dollars,"
he said.

Chicago isn't alone in it's anti-war sentiment.

Anti-war statements have been passed in other U.S. cities, including
Evanston, Ill., Baltimore, Seattle, Ithaca, N.Y., Berkeley, Calif., and
Kalamazoo, Mich. No such resolutions have been passed in New York or Los
Angeles, the two U.S. cities larger than Chicago.

A copy of Chicago's resolution is to be forwarded to President Bush and the
Illinois congressional delegation.

Voting against the resolution was Alderman James Balcer, a veteran who
represents an area on Chicago's South Side.

"I have struggled long and hard with this issue, and I have said before my
concern is that this man poses a threat to the United States," Balcer said.

The resolution calls Saddam "a tyrant who should be removed from power" for
the good of the people of Iraq and neighboring countries.

But, the resolution continues, "it is not at all clear that a unilateral
U.S. military action would result in the installation of a free and
democratic Iraqi government."


http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030117232730709

*  POWELL: US WILL PRESENT EVIDENCE IRAQ HAS BANNED WEAPONS
Palestine  Chronicle, from Voice of America, 17th January

WASHINGTON - U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell says the United States has
evidence showing that Iraq is not cooperating with U.N. weapons inspections.

In an interview with a German newspaper, Powell says Iraq's lack of
cooperation will be proven by the end of the month. He says the United
States will present its evidence in the coming days.

Weapons inspectors report to the U.N. Security Council January 27 on whether
Iraq is complying with a resolution ordering Baghdad to cooperate with
inspections and give up its alleged weapons of mass destruction.

[.....]


http://www.cnn.com/2003/US/01/19/sprj.irq.us.iraq/index.html

*  RUMSFELD: SADDAM EXILE COULD AVOID WAR
CNN. 19th January

WASHINGTON: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said Sunday that exile for
Saddam Hussein and other members of the Iraqi leadership would be a "fair
trade" to avoid a military conflict.

"I ... would recommend that some provision be made so that the senior
leadership in that country and their families could be provided haven in
some other country," Rumsfeld said on ABC's "This Week." "I think that that
would be a fair trade to avoid a war."

"I think that the people in his country know what a vicious regime [Saddam]
runs. And they may decide to throw him out," he said.

"He and his family may decide that they've run their string and that they'll
leave. ... Certainly, either of those courses would be preferable to the use
of force."

[.....]


http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/01/21/kennedy.speech/index.html

*  KENNEDY SLAMS BUSH ON IRAQ
by Sean Loughlin
CNN, 21st January

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- In a stinging rebuke of the Bush administration's
foreign policy, Sen. Edward Kennedy predicted Tuesday that a military strike
against Iraq would "undermine" the war against terrorism, "feed a rising
tide of anti-Americanism overseas" and strain diplomatic ties.

"Surely, we can have effective relationships with other nations without
adopting a chip-on the-shoulder foreign policy, a my-way-or-the-highway
policy that makes all our goals in the world more difficult to achieve,"
Kennedy said a speech delivered to the National Press Club.

While Kennedy's opposition to the administration's Iraqi policy is not
surprising, his comments were particularly strong and come at a time when
the president is struggling to build an international coalition to support a
U.N. resolution authorizing military action against Iraq.

Kennedy said U.N. weapons inspectors need more time to discover what kind of
weapons Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein may be amassing in Iraq.

"I continue to be convinced that this is the wrong war at the wrong time,"
Kennedy, the Senate's leading liberal said. "The threat from Iraq is not
imminent and it will distract America from the two more immediate threats to
our security: the clear and present danger of terrorism and the crisis with
North Korea."

Kennedy said Bush had displayed "impressive leadership" after the September
11, 2001 terrorist attacks, but suggested the administration was embarking
on "a new unilateralism" that would prove dangerous.

[.....]


http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=76312003

*  US SPECIAL OPERATIONS TEAMS LEAD HUNT TO TRACK DOWN SADDAM
The Scotsman, 21st January

AMERICAN special operations forces, including some already inside Iraq, are
leading Pentagon efforts to track down - and possibly kill - Saddam Hussein.

Teams of US troops and CIA paramilitary units, backed by their British
counterparts, are being used alongside satellite imagery, radio intercepts
and airborne reconnaissance to locate the Iraqi leader. Nearly 100 special
operations soldiers and more than 60 CIA operatives have lead reconnaissance
missions in Iraq's deserts and outside its major cities since September, USA
Today newspaper reported, citing US and Arab officials. Their missions
include monitoring troop movements at army bases used by the Iraqi
Republican Guard.

[.....]

US efforts to locate Saddam include a converted military Boeing 707 flying
over Iraq ten hours a day, recording conversations of top Iraqi officials
and pinpointing the location of those speaking, USA Today reported. Two spy
satellites, code-named Micron and Trumpet, were reported to be intercepting
calls and transmissions from Saddam's motorcade and his palaces.

[.....]


http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/22/top16.htm

*  US RETIRED GENERAL TO PLAN IRAQ'S FUTURE
Dawn, 22nd January

WASHINGTON, Jan 21: The United States has tapped a retired army officer -
Maj-Gen Jay M. Garner - to head the Pentagon office planning for a
post-Saddam Hussein administration in Iraq.

Garner is "beginning the process of thinking through all things necessary
for Iraq," Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told a Reserve Officers
Association conference in Washington on Monday.

Rumsfeld once again laid out the administration's case against Saddam and
sounded a warning note that war was drawing nearer - within weeks, rather
than months.

"Clearly, in the case of Iraq, we are nearing the end of a long road, where
every other option has been exhausted," Rumsfeld said. "No one wants war....
Either they will cooperate or they won't. And it won't take months to make
that judgment."

Garner has experience directly applicable to the job. Just after the 1991
Persian Gulf War, then- Maj-Gen Garner commanded a task force comprised
mostly of Marines that created a welcome station for more than a million
Kurds fleeing an Iraqi crackdown.

He was also responsible for facilitating their eventual return back to their
homes. In doing so, Garner worked closely with non-governmental
organizations to quickly extricate the US military from long-term
humanitarian work.


http://www.denverpost.com/framework/0,1413,36~64~1126816~,00.html

*  HART SAYS HE OPPOSES IRAQ WAR
by Mike Soraghan
Denver Post, 22nd January

Wednesday, January 22, 2003 - NEW YORK - Former U.S. senator and potential
presidential candidate Gary Hart said Tuesday that the United States
shouldn't invade Iraq, putting him in the minority among prominent
Democrats.

"I think there are a lot of ways to deal with this before an invasion," Hart
told members of the Council on Foreign Relations. "I don't think (Saddam
Hussein) can build nuclear weapons without our satellites in the sky seeing
it."

Hart said the Bush administration should admit that its policy in the Middle
East, including Iraq, is guided by U.S. dependence on imported oil.

"It's almost like there's a fear of saying 'oil,' because people who maybe
have a child in the service will ask, 'Is it worth my son or daughter's life
to drive the kind of car I drive?"'

Hart, a Democrat and Denver lawyer who dropped out of the 1988 presidential
contest amid accusations of marital infidelity, returned to public life as
co-chairman of the U.S. Commission on National Security, which predicted
terrorist attacks on the United States months before Sept. 11, 2001.

He recently began considering a new presidential campaign. Tuesday's speech
to more than 100 policy elites was the first of four major addresses he
plans as he tests the waters.

A majority of Democratic U.S. senators voted to authorize military action
against Iraq. The highest-profile Democratic presidential contenders - Sens.
Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, John Kerry of Massachusetts and John Edwards
of North Carolina - support the use of force.

Hart said that inspectors could be kept in Iraq to ensure that Hussein does
not develop weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. policy in the region is "inextricably intertwined" with dependence on
Middle Eastern oil, Hart said. North Korea's lack of oil partly explains why
Bush is not pushing an invasion there, he said.

But the main reason, he said, is that North Korea has a stronger army. That
inconsistency blows a hole in Bush's policy that the United States should
attack countries if necessary to "pre-empt" a threat.

Bush hasn't explained how much war would cost and how many people - American
soldiers and Iraqi civilians - would die, Hart said.

"It cost us 50,000 lives in Vietnam to learn the lesson that the American
people must not be misled, lied to or treated as incompetent on military
engagements," he said.

The country has failed to restructure its approach to security since the
fall of communism and the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, he said.

The country's security "tool box" must be "filled with more than weapons,"
and bolstered by trade and aid programs to dry up "the swamp of despair, the
breeding ground of future terrorists," he said.

"How short is the time before suicidal young people with nothing to gain and
nothing to lose blow themselves up in U.S. shopping malls in a tragic search
for martyrdom?" he asked.

Today Hart travels to Iowa - an early stop on the campaign trail - to talk
to college students about the influence of money in politics.

A Zogby International poll of 480 likely Democratic caucus voters released
Tuesday showed that Hart is well-known to Iowa voters but that many have
negative views of him.

Five percent of those polled said they would vote for Hart, tying him for
fourth place with Edwards. Missouri. Rep. Richard Gephardt led with 19
percent.

Nineteen percent of those surveyed said they would never vote for Hart. Only
New York activist Al Sharpton had a bigger rating in that category.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/americas/2683561.stm

*  US DETAILS IRAQ'S 'APPARATUS OF LIES'
by Roger Hardy
BBC, 22nd January

As part of its campaign to show that Iraq has concealed the truth about its
weapons programmes, the United States has issued a detailed report called
"Apparatus of Lies".

It has been produced by a newly-created office within the White House - the
Office of Global Communications - set up by President George W Bush as part
of a more aggressive effort to influence world opinion.

It is a catalogue of allegations designed to bolster the US administration's
case and demonise Saddam Hussein

The report - replete with photographs and satellite images and quotations
from Iraqi officials - seeks to expose what it calls Iraq's "brutal record
of deceit" from the Gulf crisis of 1990 until today.

It accuses the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, of putting civilians in harm's
way, exploiting sick and malnourished children, staging funerals and hiding
behind a phoney rhetoric of Islamic piety.

The report doesn't say anything new about Iraq's alleged development of
weapons of mass destruction.

Rather, it is a catalogue of allegations designed to bolster the US
administration's case and demonise Saddam Hussein.

As the Iraq crisis enters a crucial phase, the administration is stepping up
its efforts to sway world opinion.

A series of speeches on Iraq by top officials - including Richard Armitage
and Paul Wolfowitz - will pave the way for the president's State of the
Union address on Tuesday next week.

The overall message is that America will go to war to disarm Iraq - with or
without a new UN resolution - and will do so sooner rather than later.

That is certainly what Mr Bush wants Saddam Hussein to believe.

But despite its tough talk, the administration seems well aware that to
fight a controversial war with such limited international support would be a
risky undertaking.


IRAQI/UK RELATIONS

http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=5635948

*  BISHOPS CONDEMN PLANS FOR WAR WITH IRAQ
by Martha Linden, PA News
The Scotsman, 15th January

Church of England bishops have issued their strongest criticism yet of plans
for military action in Iraq, it was disclosed today.

A conclusive case has yet to be made in favour of military action against
Saddam Hussein and without compelling new evidence a war could not be
"morally justified", the House of Bishops said.

"We do not believe that the evidence presented to date suggests a clear link
exists between Iraq and al Qaida or that Iraq poses an immediate threat to
international security," said a statement.

"Without compelling new evidence to the contrary, we contend that military
action could not be morally justified."

The bishops said that it was crucial that the work of the UN weapons
inspectors should be allowed to run its course.

To launch military action while there remained the potential to secure a
peaceful resolution would be "ill-judged and premature", they said.

The Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Rev Richard Harries, warned Prime Minister Tony
Blair that any military action against Iraq could only be justified if there
was a fresh UN resolution.

He told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: "I do think that Iraq is a
threat... but the point is that we have contained this threat over the last
10 years by a policy of deterrence and containment, and there is absolutely
nothing new now which would justify us going over the awesome threshold of
war with all the unpredictable consequences in the Middle East and the
almost certain rise of terrorism around the world and in this country."

The bishops' criticism comes after Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan
Williams attacked the Government last month over its apparent readiness to
launch military action against Iraq.

In his Christmas message, Dr Williams recalled the biblical story of the
Three Wise Men as he mocked strategists who end up creating "yet more havoc
and suffering" despite their intimate knowledge of politics.


http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2003-01/16/content_691756.htm

*  US, BRITISH LEADERS TO MEET ON IRAQ

WASHINGTON, Jan. 15 (Xinhuanet) -- US President George W. Bush and British
Prime Minister Tony Blair will meet at the Camp David presidential retreat
near Washington on Jan. 31 to discuss the Iraq issue, agencies reports said
Wednesday.

The timing of the summit believed to be significant because of two closely
related events: UN weapons inspectors plan to report to the UN Security
Council about Iraq's compliance with UN resolution 1441 on Jan. 27, and
President Bush is slated to deliver his State of the Union address the
following day.

The White House reportedly hopes that coupled with the two events, the
meeting in Camp David, Maryland, can help build momentum against Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein.

US officials said last month that the Bush administration had set the last
week of January as a make-or-break point in its stand-off with Iraq.

Although the US military has since speeded up its military buildup in the
Gulf region, Washington insists that it has yet decided on whether it will
go into a war with Iraq.


http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=55362003

*  McCONNELL FIGHTS REBELS OVER IRAQ
by Hamish MacDonell and David Scott
The Scotsman, 16th January

JACK McConnell last night issued an ultimatum to any Labour MSPs planning to
rebel against the government's hard-line stance over Iraq when he warned
them they would not deserve to be in the party.

The First Minister was forced to act as Tony Blair prepared to fly to
Scotland today to calm waverers worried about attacking Saddam Hussein.

Deep divisions over the government's approach will be exposed in the
Scottish Parliament today, where Labour faces a rebellion from the Liberal
Democrat party and at least one of its own back-benchers on the issue.

But the arrival of the Prime Minister north of the Border is certain to
highlight further the gulf between the government's stance on Baghdad and
that of some of his party's members and coalition partners in Scotland.

The First Minister will defend Mr Blair's approach to Iraq in a debate in
the parliament, arguing that a second United Nations resolution is not
necessary for an attack on Iraq.

But the Liberal Democrats told Mr McConnell yesterday that they would not
support this line and they have shelved the coalition agreement, for only
the second time, for the debate.

Faced with the loss of the Liberal Democrats, Mr McConnell told Labour
back-benchers that their support was vital and warned that any MSP who
failed to support the Labour line would "not deserve" to be in the party.

This was interpreted as a clear threat that any MSP who rebelled would be
disciplined. But John McAllion, the maverick MSP for Dundee East, said he
remained determined to oppose war at all costs, regardless of any threats
against him.

Labour is confident of winning the vote, heading off challenges from the
SNP, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Socialists. But the party will
succeed only with support from the Conservatives - which will deeply
embarrass Mr McConnell.

David McLetchie, the Tory leader, said: "The SNP motion is irresponsible,
the Lib Dems' conduct equally so. They seek to drive a wedge between
Scotland and the rest of the UK at a time when national unity is important."

The debate represents the first real test of Labour opinion on action
against Iraq, and one MSP described the mood on the Labour benches as
"extremely cautious", with most MSPs opposed to any British involvement
without a clear, second, resolution from the UN. This is not the approach
being pursued by Mr Blair and Mr McConnell, both of whom believe it would be
wrong to tie military action into a second resolution .

The two leaders are due to meet today, when Iraq is expected to be high on
the agenda. The Prime Minister will later attend a closed question and
answer session with Labour Party members, where it is expected he will be
given a rough ride. He will meet George Bush, the president of the United
States, at Camp David later this month to discuss Iraq.

Mr McAllion was unrepentant last night, insisting he would not leave the
Labour Party and that if the leadership wanted to silence him, they would
have to throw him out . He added: "I am opposed to this war and will vote
accordingly. Even if there are consequences for me I will not be changing my
decision."

He denied reports that he might quit the Labour Party, adding: "I represent
a strand of opinion in the party and will go on doing that until they throw
me out."

Alex Salmond, the Westminster leader of the SNP, praised the Scottish
Parliament for having a debate on Iraq, unlike the Commons.

Mr Blair yesterday faced down rebellious Labour MPs with a passionate
defence of his hardline stance on Iraq.

He told the Commons: "This issue of weapons of mass destruction is a real
threat to the world.

"I believe it is only a matter of time before it is linked with
international terrorism.

"The threat is real and if we don't deal with it, the consequences are that
our weakness will haunt future generations."

Today's debate has been brought by the SNP, who warn that the government is
"pursuing an inevitable path to war".

Labour has put down an amendment to the motion, endorsing the government's
line.

The Liberal Democrat amendment argues that a second UN resolution has to be
adopted before war can take place, as well as the clear endorsement of the
Commons.

The Scottish Socialists are opposed to any military action, demanding a
campaign of civil disobedience if war should break out.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,876404,00.html

*  ROUGH RIDE AT HOLYROOD FOR BLAIR'S IRAQ LINE
by Kirsty Scott
The Guardian, 17th January

Tony Blair took his hardline stance on Iraq to Scotland yesterday only to
find himself undermined by the Scottish parliament, where a stormy debate on
the issue saw Labour abandoned by its allies and some of its own.

Holyrood has no responsibility for foreign affairs or defence issues, but
MSPs were determined to discuss the threat of war.

As Mr Blair prepared to address anxious Scottish Labour party members in
private, his views were being picked apart in the parliament. Labour was
able to disarm a Scottish Nationalist party motion on the issue with the
help of the Conservatives, having been abandoned by their Liberal Democrat
coalition partners.

The Labour MSP John McAl lion rebelled, voting with the Scottish Socialists,
who advocated civil disobedience to oppose war. Other Labour MSPs voiced
disquiet at the government's stance.

The debate was instigated by the SNP whose leader, John Swinney, accused the
UK and US governments of moving inexorably towards war.

He said: "I fear there can only be one conclusion: the US and UK governments
are pursuing an inevitable path to war. And I believe it is our duty to
steer the government away from this approach."

The SNP motion demanded no commitment of UK forces without a specific
mandate for military action in the form of a further UN security council
resolution based on "clear, compelling evidence" from weapons inspectors.

At the final vote, a Labour amendment underlining Westminster's
responsibility for the issue with a Tory call to support British troops was
agreed by 67 votes to 51.

Labour is said to have warned its MSPs not to embarrass the executive or
Westminster. Executive ministers did not speak, leaving Labour MSP Tom
McCabe to attack the SNP for forcing the debate.

"When the SNP accuses the government of pursuing an inevitable path to war,
it is as opportunistic as it is repugnant," he said.

The Scottish Conservatives said the prime minister had to be supported at
such a time, as did British troops.

The Scottish Socialist party leader, Tommy Sheridan, meanwhile challenged
Labour's belief that Holyrood was not the forum to debate the issue. "It is
important that we discuss whether or not we think unleashing a new hell on
the people of Iraq is right or wrong, just or unjust, legal or illegal,
moral or immoral," he said. "This is about shoring up cheap oil supplies to
the USA and it is about time we told that truth to the people of this
country."

John McAllion, the Labour MSP, backed Mr Sheridan, saying his amendment was
the only one which was genuinely anti-war. His Labour colleague Bill Butler
said he was backing his own party but wanted to voice his opposition to any
bombing of Iraq. "Military action to remove Saddam Hussein before exhausting
the UN option would be disastrous," he said.

Both Labour and Lib Dem officials insisted their differences on the issue
would not destabilise the executive.


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=371354

*  ENTHUSIASM FOR IRAQ WAR WANES, POLL FINDS
by Andrew Woodcock, Political Correspondent, PA News
The Independent, 21st January

The British are becoming less enthusiastic about the idea of a war with Iraq
and almost two thirds disapprove of the way Tony Blair has handled the
crisis, according to a poll released today

Mr Blair's passionate defence of his policy in the House of Commons last
week, followed by the discovery of empty chemical warfare shells in Iraq,
does not appear to have swayed a sceptical public, the Mori Social Research
Institute found.

More than three-quarters of Britons (77 per cent) would oppose military
action in Iraq if it did not have UN backing - up from 70 per cent in
September last year - the poll found.

And the proportion who would support Britain joining military action, even
if it was approved by the UN, fell 10 per cent in the same period, from 71
per cent support in September to 61 per cent now.

Both Tony Blair and US President George W Bush are facing a loss of public
confidence in the way they are handling the situation, the survey found.

Almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of those quizzed said they disapproved of
the way Mr Blair is handling the crisis - compared to 47 per cent in a
similar Mori survey in October last year.

And 68 per cent disapproved of Mr Bush's performance on the issue, up from
59 per cent in September.

Mori interviewed 955 British adults between 17 and 20 January.


http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/politics/story.jsp?story=371647

*  LENGTHY CONFLICT COULD COST BRITISH TAXPAYERS 5BN
by Nigel Morris
The Independent, 22nd January

A prolonged war in Iraq could cost Britain more than 5bn  including a 1m
bill for taxpayers every time a cruise missile is fired against Saddam
Hussein's forces.

The Treasury insisted last night that Gordon Brown's spending plans were
robust enough to withstand the impact of a conflict. The Chancellor has so
far set aside only 1bn for the cost of war, meaning he would have to dip
into the Government's emergency reserves again if Britain joined a US-led
onslaught on Baghdad.

Expenditure of 5bn would be equivalent to about 2p in the pound on the
basic income tax rate or to a 7 per cent boost to the nation's health
spending.

The last Gulf War cost the country the equivalent of 2.5bn to 3bn at
today's prices, but much of the bill was picked up by allies including Japan
and Germany. Whether other nations would be prepared to follow suit this
time is in doubt.

The Treasury's contingency fund has come under pressure in recent years to
help to meet the costs of military action in Bosnia and Sierra Leone and
from cushioning the impact of the foot-and-mouth epidemic. In addition,
British expenditure on military action in Afghanistan has reached 600m and
continues to rise.

With 40,000 servicemen and women heading for the Gulf, the bills are already
starting to mount.

Military chiefs have had to order 20,000 pairs of boots and 90,000 sets of
jackets and trousers, as well as gloves, socks, thermal fleeces and sleeping
bags. In addition, they will need medicine and field hospitals to cover the
cost of illness and injury.

Professor Keith Hartley, an expert on conflict costs from York University,
said an operation similar to the 1991 Gulf War could approach 3.5bn. He
said: "The economic dimension of any UK involvement in a war with Iraq
cannot be ignored. Governments have the unenviable and difficult task of
including the economic dimension alongside military, political, legal and
ethical aspects in reaching a final conclusion."

 Downing Street announced yesterday that Sir Nigel Sheinwald, Britain's
ambassador to the European Union, would move to No 10 to become Tony Blair's
foreign policy adviser.


http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/page.cfm?objectid=12558204&method=full&sit
eid=89488

*  PLAN TO LOCK UP IRAQIS
by Anna Smith
Daily Record, 22nd January

UK-BASED Iraqis suspected of having terrorist links are to be jailed if
Britain goes to war with Saddam Hussein, it was claimed last night.

Prison chiefs met the Scottish Executive in Edinburgh yesterday to discuss
internment plans - which may have to be fired into action within weeks.

The Government's plans would apply to anyone considered a potential
terrorist threat.

The plan came to light yesterday as Prime Minister Tony Blair told the
Commons it was "inevitable" Britain would be targeted by terrorists.

Earlier this week, MI5 said they had identified 300 potential terrorists or
sympathisers in the UK. But with Scots jails already bursting, finding room
for them would prove impossible.

More complex would be the human rights problems involved in jailing people
without trial.

Last night, a prison source told the Record: "The Scottish Executive have
been asked to explore, with prison authorities, how they would accommodate
such a plan.

"Our jails are already overcrowded and it would be very difficult to deal
with any numbers of foreign nationals coming into our system.

"The whole issue is complex and will no doubt raise questions from anti-
racist groups."

Internment powers are reserved to Westminster and Home Secretary David
Blunkett but Holyrood Social Justice Minister Jim Wallace would be informed
of any plans.

Last night, a Downing Street spokeswoman would only say: "There are all
sorts of contingency plans but we can't comment on every meeting."

Internment was dogged by blunders when it was used against 91 Arab nationals
- mainly Iraqis and Palestinians - during the 1991 Gulf War.

They were held without trial in a camp on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire and
threatened with deportation. But many were opponents of Saddam's regime
seeking political refuge.

A student was even freed after three weeks when MI5 admitted they had mixed
him up with someone else with a similar name.

It later emerged police had arrested people on the basis of MI5 information
which was 20 years out of date and they were released without charge.

At the time, Blunkett called the process "very worrying". However, 11 people
of Middle Eastern origin are currently in jail without charge under the
anti- terrorism law rushed through after September 11.

Kate Allen, of Amnesty International UK, said: "If it was done during the
last Gulf War, it would not be a surprise to learn that it will happen
again.

"All Mr Blunkett needs to do is point to secret intelligence material and
someone could be imprisoned in a top security jail. It is time for
internment measures to be repealed."

The internment plans were being drawn up as Blair told MPs it was
"inevitable" al- Qaeda would attack Britain "in some form".

But the PM warned Britain could not avoid being targeted by stepping back
from the war on terror and with Iraq.

He said: "There is no point in us hiding. We are going to be in the
frontline whatever happens. There are no limits to the potential threats."

He admitted there was no proven link between al-Qaeda and Iraq, but
justified his stance against Saddam adding: "If we end up where there is a
potential nuclear conflict, every country in the world will be drawn in."




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