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[casi] News, 22-29/01/03 (5)

News, 22-29/01/03 (5)


*  France Threatens to Veto Resolution on Iraq War
*  Algeria stokes oil fears
*  No Justification for Attack on Iraq Now - Canada
*  Schröder again plays Iraqi card to cheat defeat
*  Russian gas company signs contract with Iraq
*  NATO Fails to Agree on Iraq War Role
*   Spain Would Allow U.S. Use of Bases for Iraq Attack
*  CMs to 'lead' pro-Iraq rallies
*  World Economic Forum Criticizes US Over Iraq
*  Israeli Ambassador Slams Anti-Iraq War Demonstrations in Germany
*  Butler says US guilty of double standards on Iraq
*  US critics must either act or hold their peace


*  Diesel smugglers lose business as war looms
*  Turkish soldier, Kurd rebel killed near Iraq border
*  Kurdish Clans Organize Anti-War Mass Rally in Baghdad
*  Over 3,000 Kurdish political prisoners in Iraqi jails
*  Turkish gangs behind [drugs] trade


*  Baghdad claim denied
*  Allied Jets Hit Iraqi Anti-Aircraft Site
*  Allied planes strike targets in Iraq southern no-fly zone


Palestine  Chronicle, 22nd January

NEW YORK - As more US and British troops and columns of artillery poured
into the Gulf, in preparation for a looming American-led war on Iraq, France
raised the stakes for Washington as it hinted it might use its veto-wielding
power in the UN Security Council to stop a resolution authorizing military
action against Iraq.

At the Security Council on Monday, France's Foreign Minister, Dominique De
Villepin warned of a "dead-end" if plans for an attack on Iraq were pursued,
stressing that "nothing justifies cutting off inspections to enter into war
and uncertainty."

His statement has been seen as raising the possibility that a split between
the veto-holding powers in the Council-- the US, France, China, Russia,
Britain‹could arise.

Among these five permanent members, France, Russia and China have made it
clear that they are in support of allowing UN inspections to determine the
outcome of whether a war should launched on Iraq, thus placing the ball in
its court.

This is in sharp contrast with the stance of the US and Britain, which have
been steadily pouring weaponry and tens of thousands of troops in the Gulf
region in preparation for a possible war on Iraq.

"Using force like that would only be a last resort assuming all other
possibilities are exhausted," de Villepin said, adding that France was ready
to "go to the end" over this issue.

We would never "associate ourselves with military intervention that is not
supported by the international community," de Villepin added. "We think that
military intervention would be the worst possible solution."

The last time France used its UN veto against the US was during the 1956
Suez crisis when Washington opposed the Franco-British war with Israel on

Only last week, French President Jacques Chirac said after meeting with
chief UN inspector Hans Blix and International Atomic Energy Agency director
Mohamed El-Baradei "we have to give them the time they need."

In an interview in Monday's Le Figaro newspaper, Chirac said, "Military
intervention is only legitimate if it is founded upon a Security Council
decision, which can only be taken based on the inspectors' report.

"Obviously, if the United States were to intervene solely, we would be
forced to remark that this would be on the fringes of the international

France has nonetheless been careful not to make its threat of vetoing a
possible war explicit, in case hardcore evidence was found indicting Iraq
for alleged weapons of mass destruction in weeks to come.

Chirac said his country will "shoulder its responsibilities" as required,
should such a scenario arise, but also urged Baghdad to cooperate further
with UN inspectors.

Should the US and Britain launch a war on Iraq without UN consent, the world
body will be seen as a weak instrument that will not be taken seriously
should future crises arise.

In spite of France's opposition to a hasty military attack on Iraq, the US
reiterated its stand that it was ready to launch a war even if other
countries oppose it at the UN, downplaying the French threat to veto a
Security Council resolution supporting military action.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer played down France's declared opposition
to military action, saying Paris realises that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein
is "lying" about his weapons of mass destruction, AFP reported.

Fleischer reaffirmed the US position that it was ready to lead a coalition
against Iraq. Tens of thousands of US and now British troops are already
pouring into the Gulf region.

"There's no question the United States will not go it alone," Fleischer told

"The United States will, if Saddam Hussein does not disarm himself, lead a
coalition of the willing which will be rather large in number." He said
"many" countries were ready to join the action.


Gulf News, 23rd January

RIYADH: Opec will not be able to compensate an expected shortfall of
supplies of around five million barrels per day (bpd) in case of war on
Iraq, Algerian Oil Minister warned in remarks published yesterday.

Chakib Khelil told the Saudi newspaper Al-Watan that only two Opec members,
Saudi Arabia and the UAE, have a real excess production capacity.

"There is a question over Opec capability to supply the market needs because
the maximum available (extra) capacity is only three million bpd ... from
Saudi Arabia and the UAE," Khelil said.

The shortfall could occur because of a marathon strike in Venezuela and the
complete halt of Iraqi production in case of a US attack on Baghdad.

The Opec oil cartel agreed on January 12 to increase oil production by 1.5m
bpd in a bid to curb a surge in prices triggered by the strike in Venezuela
and the threat of war in Iraq.

This will raise the output ceiling of the Organisation of Petroleum
Exporting Countries from 23m bpd to 24.5m bpd, with effect from February 1,

Khelil said the price hike is being driven by the tense political situation
rather than supply and demand mechanism.

The adjusted ceiling will be reviewed at the next Opec ordinary meeting, on
March 11.

by David Ljunggren
Yahoo, 23rd January

OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States would have no justification for
attacking Iraq now because U.N. inspectors have not had enough time to probe
for weapons of mass destruction, Canada said on Thursday.

Foreign Minister Bill Graham told CBC television he sided with France and
Germany, which have both irritated Washington by insisting war must be the
last option on the table.

"I agree with the French and German analysis that at this particular time,
we couldn't justify a war," Graham said.

"But that doesn't mean no war would ever be justified if the U.N. was
satisfied that in fact there were conditions there that Iraq was resisting
in trying to develop a capacity for weapons of mass destruction."

Paris and Berlin said the inspectors under Dr. Hans Blix might need several
months to complete their work. Blix is due to deliver an interim report to
the United Nations Security Council on Jan. 27.

Polls show a vast majority of Canadians oppose the idea of backing a
U.S.-led attack on Iraq without U.N. authorization.

Prime Minister Jean Chretien said last week that Canada would stick by the
United Nations, but has brushed off questions as to whether there were any
circumstances under which Canadian troops might join a unilateral U.S.

"If I have to say 'No' (to Bush), I'll say 'No'. If I have to say 'yes',
I'll say 'Yes'," Chretien told a news conference on Thursday after a
day-long meeting of his cabinet.

"Canada is an independent country and we make our decisions by ourselves.
That's very clear in my mind."

Many observers suspect that despite Ottawa's insistence on the need to
tackle Iraq solely through the United Nations, Canada's dependence on the
United States means it will have no choice but to agree to whatever
Washington decides.

Canada sends 85 percent of its exports to the United States and a third of
its gross domestic product depends directly on the U.S. economy.

U.S. President George W. Bush is expressing impatience with his allies'
hesitancy over an intervention in Iraq amid increasing speculation about an
imminent attack.

Bush called Chretien on Wednesday to discuss the Iraq crisis. Officials said
Chretien made clear that Ottawa saw the Blix report as an interim step
rather than the basis for a definitive decision on whether to attack Iraq.

"If the Americans or Brits have great evidence that Saddam Hussein ... is
not following the instructions of the United Nations, if proof is made of
that, of course Canada will support an activity there," Chretien said.

"But we're not there yet."

Officials said Bush had not asked Chretien to commit any forces to a
possible U.S.-led campaign.

Next week Graham is due to fly to Washington for talks on Iraq with
Secretary of State Colin Powell.

"Ultimately, if there is a conflict, it must be a conflict that is
undertaken by the world," he told CBC.

"Otherwise the risk of destabilizing the Middle East and creating enmities
between the West and other countries becomes insurmountable and a terrible
additional problem for us."

by Haig Simonian
Financial Times, 23rd January

By playing the Iraqi card, Germany's Chancellor Gerhard Schröder has wielded
the final weapon in his increasingly ineffective armoury to stave off defeat
for his Social Democrats in two crucial regional elections next month.

On February 2 voters in Hesse and Lower Saxony go to the polls in the first
big test for Mr Schröder since he defied electoral gravity to win last
September's general elections.

In Hesse the outcome looks like a foregone conclusion as Roland Koch, the
tough Christian Democrat premier, consolidates his position after wresting
control from the SPD last time.

So the focus has shifted to Lower Saxony, the SPD-governed state where the
unstated, but paramount, question is: will the region that launched Mr
Schröder's rise to national power be the one that triggers his downfall?

With an estimated 30 per cent of voters still undecided and the SPD trailing
in the polls, the chancellor is hoping the Iraqi issue, which proved such a
winner in September, will work to his advantage again.

That may explain his decision at a rally this week in Lower Saxony to harden
further his opposition to a US-led war in Iraq.

If the SPD falters in the region it would be a devastating blow to the
German leader. Defeat would mark a further, perhaps decisive, setback to the
image and morale of his new government following its loss of popularity in
the aftermath of the general elections because of tax rises and broken

Losing control would further consolidate the opposition Christian Democrats'
control of the Bundesrat, the upper chamber of the federal parliament, where
the states are represented. It could convince opposition strategists to
alter their current policy of grudging co-operation in favour of a
full-blooded blockade - mimicking the SPD's own approach when it controlled
the Bundesrat in the mid-1990s.

The loss of Mr Schröder's home state would also be a bitter personal
setback. He was Lower Saxony's premier for eight years before becoming
chancellor in 1998.


Hoover's (Financial Times), 23rd January
Source: Interfax news agency, Moscow, in English 1109 gmt 23 Jan 03

Moscow, 22 January: Stroytransgaz has signed a contract to carry out
geological exploration work at the fourth block in Iraq's Western Desert,
the company said in a press release.

The contract, which is for 10 years with the right of extension, was signed
during a recent visit to Baghdad by a Russian delegation headed by First
Deputy Energy Minister Ivan Matlashov.

Talks between the Iraqi Oil Ministry and Stroytransgaz on this issue lasted
for two weeks.

The press release states that Stroytransgaz-Oil (a Stroytransgaz subsidiary)
will be responsible for work on the structure to explore oil and gas
resources at the block.

The fourth block, with an area of 12,600 sq.m., is located 150 km southwest
of the Iraqi capital. The block is poorly explored and there is practically
no infrastructure. There are currently no proven reserves at the block.

However, calculations based on seismic exploration carried out earlier show
that there is the possibility of discovering hydrocarbon reserves in
Cretaceous, Jurassic and Permian deposits at a dept of 2,000-3,500 metres,
the release said.

The planned programme for exploration work will last for five years and
involves a whole range of research, including the processing of seismic
information received earlier, carrying out new 2D and 3D research and
drilling two exploration wells.

Stroytransgaz-Oil's main activity is exploring and developing oil and gas

by Paul Ames
Newsday, from Associated Press, 23rd January

BRUSSELS, Belgium -- NATO has postponed its planning for a possible war in
Iraq under pressure from Germany and France, who have said they want to find
a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Diplomats stressed the 19 allies agreed Wednesday in principle that NATO
should provide a support role should war break out, but allies led by France
and Germany thought the timing was not right to start the military planning.

The United States last week requested limited help from the alliance should
war break out with Iraq, notably to protect Turkey, the only NATO member
that borders Iraq, as well to provide planning facilities, cover for U.S.
troops sent to the Persian Gulf and perhaps to take on a peacekeeping role
in a postwar Iraq.


Reuters, 23rd January

MADRID: Spain said publicly for the first time on Thursday it would allow
the United States to use Spanish bases to support a possible military strike
on Iraq.

"In the event a military intervention in Iraq becomes inevitable, the
government will not shy away from its political convictions," Foreign
Minister Ana Palacio told a parliamentary committee.

"(The government) will also take all measures stemming from its
responsibilities to friendly and allied countries. Of course, in this area,
I include, as in the past, authorization for the use of Spanish bases," she

Spain's support for the United States came as Germany and France rejected
U.S. criticism that they were isolated within Europe in their effort to
avoid war in Iraq.

Spain's center-right government, which took up a seat this month as a
rotating member of the U.N. Security Council, has backed the United States
in the Iraq crisis although opinion polls point to strong opposition among
ordinary Spaniards.

Speaking to reporters later, Palacio refused to be drawn on whether Spain
would support an attack on Iraq without a U.N. resolution authorizing force
and whether Spain would allow use of its troops in any conflict.

Dawn, 24th January

DERA GHAZI KHAN, Jan 23: The NWFP and Balochistan chief ministers and their
cabinet members will lead rallies in support of Iraq against the likely
American attack.

This was stated by Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam central secretary general Maulana
Ghafoor Haidry here at a news conference on Thursday.

He spoke against the US policy towards Muslims. He also strongly criticized
the policies of the new regime in Pakistan.

"Americans had shown their concern about our nuclear programme. Our nuclear
installations are not safe due to our regimes' unconditional support to the
US. Our new foreign policy is also flawed. The freedom fighters are being
declared terrorists by the US and our government was accepting their orders
without considering pros and cons," said the Maulana.

LFO: He said the MMA did not allow the Legal Framework Order to be made a
part of the constitution because one man could not amend the constitution.
Similarly, the Maulana added, the MMA would not permit institutions like
National Security Council supersede the parliament.

"Parliament is the supreme body in a democratic setup. National Security
Council would harm its sovereignty," he said. "However, our doors for
negotiations are always open," he added.

Maulana Haidry said Gen Musharraf was a government servant. He has to salute
defence minister and secretary being their subordinate. The general should
quit army if he wanted to be the president. "But, he cannot do so as he
thinks that it would put him in serious crises."

The Maulana claimed that the MMA held opinion polls in big cities like
Rawalpindi, Karachi, Gujranwala and Hyderabad. Their results indicated that
the residents of these cities and educated people supported the MMA's stance
on all national and international issues.

Earlier, the Maulana spoke to the members of the District Bar Association,
Dera Ghazi Khan, at a local hotel.
raq&catOID=45C9C78C 88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C&categoryname=Europe

by Dale Gavlak
Voice of America, 24th January

The United States is being criticized at the World Economic Forum in Davos
over its policy on possible war with Iraq. On Thursday, Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamed shocked the opening session of the elite forum by
telling the United States that "out terrorizing the terrorists will not

Although a number of political analysts have delivered several volleys at
the Bush administration's policy of preventive war against Iraq, Malaysian
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad's stinging criticism is the strongest yet
made by a head of state at the World Economic Forum.

"When war is declared against a country, a death sentence is passed on the
people. When war is executed, the sentence is carried out and still we talk
glibly about the sanctity of life," he said.

Mr. Mahathir said the United States would surely win a war against Iraq
because of its military superiority, but it too would lose by creating more
anger and calls for revenge and retaliation.

"The initiation must come from the good people. They must recognize that
people do not tie bombs to their bodies or crash their planes for the fun of
it," he said. "They must have a reason for it. We have to identify the
reasons and remove them. Out terrorizing the terrorists will not work, but
removing the causes for terrorism will."

Although the host of the forum, Swiss President Pascal Couchepin, said Iraq
must be disarmed of any weapons of mass destruction, he warned the use of
force should only be used as a last resort after all other means of
persuasion have been exhausted.

"Force must not be used before the matter is brought before the U.N.
Security Council. If war with Iraq were to become inevitable and if the
conflict were to protract, we need to be aware of the risks of the
resurgence of the Israeli-Arab conflict," he said.

The Bush administration has expressed irritation with key European allies
France and Germany over what they call a rush to war while U.N. inspectors
are asking for more time to disarm Iraq peacefully.

Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to address the forum on Sunday amid
the deepening rift between Washington and European and Middle Eastern allies
over the justification for using force against Baghdad.

Palestine  Chronicle, 24th January

BERLIN - Israeli ambassador to Germany, Shimon Stein, harshly criticized
ongoing demonstrations against a planned Iraq war in Germany, the German
edition of the daily Financial Times Deutschland reported Thursday.

"I miss the demonstrations against (Iraqi President Saddam Hussein). Because
the message to Baghdad could be that Europeans together with Saddam Hussein,
have formed a front against the Americans and Israelis -- and that's wrong,"
Stein said.

Germany has been the scene of large-scale anti-war demonstrations in recent
weeks as tens of thousands of people rallied in major German cities against
a likely US invasion of Iraq.

The German peace movement announced earlier more mass protests in light of
an imminent US attack on the Persian Gulf country.

It also welcomed earlier Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's steadfast refusal to
back an American assault on Iraq.

More than 70 percent of Germans oppose a US war in Iraq, according to
various opinion polls.

[Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle.

Jordan Times, 29th January
SYDNEY (R) ‹ Former UN arms inspector, Richard Butler, said on Tuesday that
Washington was promoting "shocking double standards" in considering taking
unilateral military action to allegedly rid Iraq of its weapons of mass

Butler, who led UN inspection teams in Iraq until they left in 1998, said
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein undoubtedly possessed weapons of mass
destruction, and was trying to "cheat" his way again out of the latest UN
demand to disarm.

But a US attack, without United Nations backing, and without any effort to
curb the possession of weapons of mass destruction globally, would be a
contravention of international law and sharpen the divide between Arabs and
the West.

"The spectacle of the United States, armed with its weapons of mass
destruction, acting without Security Council authority to invade a country
in the heartland of Arabia and, if necessary, use its weapons of mass
destruction to win that battle, is something that will so deeply violate any
notion of fairness in this world that I strongly suspect it could set loose
forces that we would deeply live to regret," Butler said.

Butler's successor as the chief UN weapons inspector in Iraq, Hans Blix,
reported on Monday to the 15-member Security Council that Baghdad had only
reluctantly complied with its latest demand to disarm.

Washington is pressing the United Nations to take firm action but says it is
prepared to go it alone and has amassed a considerable military force in the

Butler, addressing a conservative Australian think tank, The Sydney
Institute, said the stated US motive ‹ to rid Iraq of weapons of mass
destruction ‹ lacked credibility because of Washington's failure to deal
with others on the same terms.

Countries such as Syria are suspected of possessing chemical or biological
warfare capabilities, he said.

US allies Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear arsenals but have not
signed the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The United States and other permanent Security Council members were
themselves the possessors of the world's largest quantities of nuclear
weapons, he said.

"Why are they permitting the persistence of such shocking double standards?"
Butler said.

He said that, instead of beating the drums of war, the US should propose an
international mechanism ‹ similar to the Security Council ‹ to enforce the
application of the three main conventions controlling the proliferation of
nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry.

by Doug Bandow
Bangkok Post, 29th January

`We will not take part in a military intervention in Iraq," German
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said. Whether his government will oppose
war when the UN Security Council votes is less clear, though he has promised
not to "agree to a resolution that legitimises war".

France also offers resolute ambiguity, threatening but not promising a veto.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin plans to use the summit of
European Union foreign ministers to build a coalition against war.

Yet Washington doubts that its critics are serious. US Secretary of State
Colin Powell said he hoped "the French will come to the understanding of the
need for such a strategy". That is, he expects Paris to give in as it always

Even the refusal of Nato to approve America's request for assistance is seen
as temporary. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the problem as one
of "old Europe", asserting that most European nations were with the US.

America has heard tough talk from its allies before. Last autumn, in fact.

Mr Schroeder won re-election by running against the Bush administration's
plan for war in Iraq, but later promised to send German troops to Turkey to
crew Awacs planes sent by Nato. Paris similarly criticised the US, but
subsequently agreed to the Security Council resolution demanded by

Nor is that all. Over the years, Washington has learned that it can browbeat
and bully most nations into submission on most issues. America's critics are
paper tigers.

The inspectors' positive assessment of Iraqi cooperation merely delays a
showdown over Iraq. Still, that debate will give war opponents another
chance to block Washington. But simple criticism, whether from angry
demonstrators or frustrated diplomats, will not dissuade the Bush
administration from attacking Iraq. Concrete practical steps are needed.

First, US allies must look after their own interests. For instance, South
Korea and Japan are understandably focused on the prospect of North Korea
restarting its nuclear programme. But war in Iraq makes war in Korea more

Although President George W. Bush has proclaimed his pacific intentions in
the peninsula, no one should take him at his word. Once the conquest of Iraq
is complete, there will be rising demands within and without the
administration for military action against the North. At that point,
opposition by Seoul and Tokyo may be too little too late.

Australia has strongly backed the Bush administration. Yet war against Iraq,
by creating additional Muslim grievances and encouraging the use and
transfer of whatever weapons of mass destruction Baghdad possesses,
increases the likelihood of a future, more devastating, Bali-like bombing.
Countries ranging from Thailand to Taiwan also could be affected.

Second, France must do more than bluster. Only by vetoing any UN war
resolution can France hope to stop the Bush administration's war plans. And
only by making a commitment and sticking to it will Paris be able to
encourage China and Russia to join it.

A veto by two or three of the Security Council's permanent members,
supported by the negative votes of Germany and perhaps other states, would
demonstrate a shocking lack of international support.

Third, Germany's Mr Schroeder must prove that opposition to Washington is
more than a cheap election stunt. The administration, appropriately, has
nothing but disdain for a supposed ally that offers criticism while yielding
on substantive issues.

Put bluntly, the US doesn't need Berlin's approval if the Schroeder
government nevertheless allows unfettered American use of German airspace,
permits Washington to shift forces from bases in Germany, and even mans
Awacs planes supporting the war. If the chancellor believes Washington's
Iraq policy to be misguided, even dangerous, he must say so - and vote
against any Security Council resolution, bar the use of German troops in any
fashion, and deny Washington use of German airspace and bases.

Fourth, France and Germany must encourage other governments to join with
them. No single nation is likely to face down the globe's hyper-power. But a
veto by three nations is easier to sustain than a veto by one. A protest by
several European states carries more weight than criticism by one or two. An
opposition that included Pakistan and Syria - like Germany, temporary
members of the Security Council - as well as India and several Asian states
would be more impressive still.

Fifth, if America's critics, especially Berlin and Paris, aspire to greater
international influence, they should encourage Jordan, Saudi Arabia and
Turkey, where a new government faces a public that oppose war by a
nine-to-one margin, to stand firm against any war. A little bridge-building
with Ankara would be particularly useful, given the perceived snub over EU

Sixth, the British Labour party must say no to war in its name. Prime
Minister Tony Blair is supporting Bush administration policies, but this
will not be Tony Blair's war. It will be the Labour government's war.

Verbal criticism by backbenchers matters little. A public revolt before any
vote might force the prime minister, who has already temporised by urging
that the inspectors be given more time, to withdraw his unconditional
support for Washington.

Lastly, other governments must warn Washington that they will not bail it
out after any war. Almost all analysts believe that the occupation will be
more difficult than the invasion. The Bush administration is counting on
European nations to furnish many of the tens of thousands of troops who will
be needed for years to preserve some pretence of order among Baathists,
Kurds, Shiites and returning emigres. Berlin, Paris and others should tell
the US that not only will this be its war, it will be its peace.

If, instead, war opponents back down after publicly criticising American
policy, they will reinforce the justifiable contempt in which they are held
in Washington. Retreat now and war opponents ensure that US administrations
will continue to ignore them in foreign crises. And they encourage the
American government to believe not only that what Washington says goes but
what Washington says other nations will eventually, if reluctantly, obey.
And who could blame US policymakers for doing so?

The credibility of Washington's critics is at stake. If nations like Germany
and France give in - especially if they end up voting for and give military
support to the Bush administration - after taking such strong positions,
they will feed Washington's conviction that it can impose its will without

The Iraq process will inevitably repeat, with North Korea or Iran the next
military target, or with a plan for coercive "regime change" in Saudi Arabia
or Venezuela, or perhaps to forcibly disarm Pakistan.

It will be difficult to stop Washington's rush to war. But united foreign
opposition offers the only hope of doing so. Denied the fig-leaf of UN
approval, aid from Nato, and use of bases in neighbouring Middle Eastern
states, Washington would truly have to go it alone. And do so in the face of
opposition from many of the globe's most important players.

That might change President Bush's mind. Other nations can play a leading
role in shaping policy towards Iraq. If they are truly serious about doing

Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington. He is a
former special assistant to President Ronald Reagan and visiting fellow at
the Heritage Foundation and author and editor of several books.



HABUR, Turkey, Jan 25, 2003 (Inter Press Service via COMTEX) -- Every
morning the line of trucks waiting to cross this border post into northern
Iraq stretches for several kilometres. Drivers light up cigarettes and
impatiently stamp their feet to ward off the winter cold as they wait for
the guards to open the gates to the narrow bridge that spans the Tigris

The truckers want to cross to the town of Zakho where diesel can be bought
at prices well below the Turkish price of one dollar a litre in defiance of
the United Nations ban on any sales of Iraqi petroleum products outside the
food-for-oil program, introduced in 1996 under UN Resolution 986, limiting
Iraqi oil to be exported through the Kirkuk pipeline to Turkey or via the
Mina al-Bakr terminal on the Persian Gulf.

The official program revenues, which in 2000 amounted to 12 billion dollars,
is administered by the United Nations. Meanwhile as much as 6,000 tons of
crude oil was smuggled through this border town every day, a trade worth as
much as 600 million dollars a year enriching the Kurdish minority which
lives on both sides of the border.

In years past truckers say they could make 600 dollars for every trip until
the government decided at first to cash in by taxing the drivers and then
suddenly to shut down the trade almost completely in the past year.

"The decision was made purely for commercial reasons," Yusuf Buluc, deputy
under secretary for foreign affairs, told reporters. "There is an excess of
diesel fuel in Turkey. There is no point in allowing that material to come

But local people say that the real reason that Turkish government cracked
down on the cross border diesel sales was to cut off funds to the Kurdish
Democratic Party and the People's Union of Kurdistan who control northern
Iraq in defiance of the Baghdad regime, protected by the no-fly zones that
U.S. warplanes have established in the north of that country.

The Turkish government fears that the Iraqi Kurds might establish an
independent state if Saddam Hussein is defeated in a possible future war.
This state would potentially become a haven for militants from Turkey who
have staged a decades long guerrilla war for Kurdish autonomy.

The Kurdish minority who live on the Iraqi side of the border have
flourished as a result of the diesel trade. Supermarkets, internet cafes and
new vehicles can be easily spotted in northern Iraq while they are almost
unknown further south.

Now that this lucrative trade has come to an end, an estimated 50,000
abandoned trucks rust by the side of the road from Turkey to the Iraqi

"Normally the trip takes two days but now sometimes we wait for 15 days to
cross the border because of the war with America," says Mustapha Ozmez, a
trucker from Gaziantep who has been driving across the border for the last
ten years.

"The border guards make our life very difficult. We don't have proper
papers, in fact we are working illegally so the police can stop us but we
have no choice because there are no other jobs. We make just 35 dollars a
month but the border guards want 100 dollars for every trip. We have no
money for food and we cannot see our families for weeks at a time," he

Others have given up completely. Sayeed Darere, a trucker who gave up his
vehicle to become a day labourer for local wheat farmers says: " Almost
everybody in my village sold their tractors and animals to buy trucks. Now
none of them have any jobs at all."

The clampdown has been devastating for the villages in this region. Before
sunrise every day Kurdish women dressed in the colourful blouses can be seem
gathering twigs from the cotton fields in order to cook food and heat their

Fatima, an older Kurdish woman who lives near the town of Cizre, about 40
kilometres from the border, says she has to get up at 5 every morning to
gather wood with her daughters.

" We have been affected very badly by the economic situation. Even our
children have to help us in the fields or work as shoeshines in the towns.
We are only able to survive because of the grace of Allah," she says.

Back at the Habur gate, in the evening, the Turkish border guards allow a
few trucks with valid papers to return from Zakho carrying the official
quota of 400 litres of diesel to get them back to the west of the country.

The drivers say that if the situation is bad in Turkey, it is much worse in
Iraq. Abdul Kadir Kilij, a driver who drove over the bridge from Iraq where
he sold a container of electric pipes and soft drinks, says: "I was very
surprised when I first went to northern Iraq. They are really very poor.
They cannot even get food to eat - it is really heartbreaking."

But none of the truckers are in favour of a war to oust Saddam Hussein
either. Recep Yilmaz, a trucker from Ankara who crossed the bridge shortly
after Kilij, says war will simply make the people on both sides of the
border suffer even more.

" If somebody gave me a chance I would definitely go to Washington and say
to George Bush, don't go to war with Iraq. It would be better if the gate
was opened so that they can trade with us," he said.

Yahoo, 28th January

DIYARBAKIR, Turkey, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A Turkish soldier and a Kurdish
guerrilla were killed in armed clashes near Turkey's southern border with
Iraq, a security official said on Tuesday.

Turkey fears a looming war across its border in Iraq could stir unrest in
the mainly Kurdish southeast of the country and damage its fragile economy,
recovering from deep recession.

The latest fighting broke out on Monday in Sirnak province between Turkish
forces and the Kurdish PKK guerrillas.

"The PKK guerrillas opened fire and our units returned fire. The operation
is continuing with the back-up of special operations teams," the security
official said.

Turkey fears any U.S.-led war against Iraq could prompt the return of
Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) guerrillas holed up in the mountainous
terrain of northern Iraq.

Earlier this month, 12 guerrillas and a Turkish soldier died in fighting
some 285 km (177 miles) from Iraq, raising fears of a resurgence of the
violence that had subsided after the 1999 capture of Kurdish rebel leader
Abdullah Ocalan.

by Aws al-Sharqy
Palestine Chronicle, 28th January

BAGHDAD - Carrying banners reading "Kurdish clans are human shield to
protect Iraq," hundreds of Kurds, living in the autonomous cities of
Sulaymania, Arbil and Dahouk in northern Iraq, demonstrated Tuesday, January
28, before the U.N. headquarters in Baghdad to protest the looming U.S.-led
war on Iraq.

The demonstrators denounced the imperialistic and 'Zionist threats' to
strike Iraq, seize control of its oil fields and plunder its wealth, calling
on the international community to side with Iraq in its legitimate

Chiefs of different Kurdish clans submitted a petition to the U.N., calling
on U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to live up to the U.N. commitments to
Iraq, which complied with relevant U.N. Security Council resolutions,
including resolution 1441 which allowed U.N. weapons inspectors back in Iraq
to make sure that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction.

Speaking to IslamOnline's correspondent, chiefs of Kurdish clans said Kurds
stand ready to confront the U.S. aggression backed by "Zionist powers."

"We oppose any U.S. (military) presence in northern Iraq and vehemently
condemn the practices of agents, who made out of this region a fertile
ground to Mossad and the CIA," said Hushair Selim Bash, a chief of one
Kurdish clan.

"Known for their remarkable bravery and gallantry in fighting colonialism,
Kurdish clans will do everything in their power to defend the soil of their
country and will not allow the U.S. aggressors to desecrate their blessed
land. Iraq will, no doubt, be a graveyard to the invaders," averred another.

Salah Mohammed Akrawi, a chief of a third clan, said Kurdish fighters are
steadfast in their uphill struggle against the aggressors, since Allah
Almighty has endowed them with strength and unshakable faith to act in
unison alongside their Arab and Iraqi brothers against the barbaric

He asserted that Arab fighters would never ever be brought to their knees by
an aggressor.

Ali Abdallah asked Arabs to recall the perennial heroism of Salahudin
Al-Ayoubi who joined hands with his Arab brothers in standing up to the
venomous Crusade, which targeted Palestine and its capital Al-Quds, which
remain the capital of Muslims and Christians altogether.

Abdullah asserted that the U.S. wanted to wage another Crusade to occupy
Iraq, stressing that the U.S. aggression was predestined to fail.

"What does the U.S. want from Iraq?" Sherif Rasoul wondered.

"Iraq abided by all resolutions and provided all facilities for the U.N.
arms inspectors.

"The U.S. wants now to wage war on Iraq although the inspectors have found
nothing that could justify aggression."

Arab News ( Redistributed via Press International News Agency

by Tanya Goudsouzian
Gulf News, 29th January

Arbil, Northern Iraq: One cold December morning in 1983, a dozen security
officers barged into a classroom in Chamchamal, a town 40 km north of

In front of the bewildered schoolchildren, the officers grabbed their
23-year-old teacher and beat him to a pulp before dragging him off for
questioning. They stuffed him in the trunk of a car and drove away.

Anwar Shukur Mohammed, head of the Political Prisoners High Commission
(PPHC) in Arbil, recalls the harrowing details of his five years in Iraqi
prisons. He was kept in a tiny cell, and given a slice of bread a day.

He still bears the scars of the daily torture sessions. They pulled out his
fingernails, and stuck them into his arms. They tied him to a pillar, gave
him electric shocks, and beat him with barbed wires and pieces of wood.

Anwar was charged with cooperating with the Kurdish liberation movement. He
readily admits that he was encouraging the Kurdish youth to stand up against
the Iraqi regime during the war with Iran by distributing leaflets and other
peshmarga (partisan fighter) publications to his students.

He was sentenced to life in prison, and never expected to see freedom again.
But in 1988, the Baghdad regime declared a general amnesty. If the physical
scars have healed, the emotional wounds remain.

"They would record the screams of women, and play them repeatedly to the
prisoners," he claimed. "One day, they told me one of the women was my
sister, and if I did not confess, they would rape her."

The PPHC was established last November by 17 former prisoners. Their
objective is to raise international awareness over the plight of more than
3,000 Kurdish dissidents who are languishing in Iraqi prisons. They have
invested their own money and resources into the project.

"We have appealed to Amnesty International, the United Nations, U.S.
President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and many human
rights groups," said Anwar.

"We want to know what has happened to these political prisoners. We want
them to be released, and we are seeking compensation for the families of
those who were executed, as well as those who have spent long years in

Delsos Namiq Said, a founding member of the PPHC, spent three years in
prison. Her gentle demeanor reveals nothing of the brutality she experienced
at the hands of Iraqi prison guards.

In 1985, state security officers stormed into her home in the middle of the
night. Delsos and her younger brother were arrested and taken to a prison in
Suleimanieh. For three years, she endured the same torture routine as the
other prisoners.

"They did not differentiate between the male and female prisoners," she
said, simply.

She recalled one particular episode when she was tied to a ceiling
ventilator and left suspended for hours. When she was finally released, she
fell to the ground, and suffered extensive internal bleeding for months
afterward. As a result, she said she is unable to conceive children.

Delsos was accused of taking part in the clandestine movement to gather
support for the Kurdish liberation movement. She would creep into the
schools at nights to slip leaflets and other material into the students'

She was also released in 1988, and married seven years ago.

Asked how she would react if she were to run into one of her prison guards
on the street now, she replied: "It is unlikely. Many of them were killed
when the Suleimanieh Prison was raided in the spring of 1991 during the
Kurdish uprising."

When Arbil was under Baghdad's control, there were more than 25 prisons in
the governorate. Today, only one of these prisons remains operational, and
it is used by the local Kurdish authorities to detain convicted criminals.

According to Anwar, once the Iraqi regime is toppled, the plan is to expand
the PPHC's mandate to include political prisoners of all ideologies and
ethnic groups.

"This regime must be removed. And freedom of thought and expression must be
allowed under the new regime," he said.

Located on Salahuddin Street, opposite the under-construction Sheraton
Hotel, the PPHC office receives about 100 visitors daily. Some are former
political prisoners who come to register their names. Others are family
members inquiring about loved ones who were imprisoned years ago.

"Once Saddam's regime is removed, and a democratic, multi-party government
is installed, we intend to lobby for the many prisons in Iraq to be
converted into institutions for public service, such as hospitals and
schools," said Anwar.

Daily Record, 29th January

NINETY-FIVE per cent of the drugs in Scotland come across the border from

The origins of virtually all the heroin and most of the cocaine recovered by
Scottish police forces can be traced back there.

Although cocaine enters England at a variety of locations, heroin comes
almost exclusively into north London, an area of the capital controlled by
Turkish and Kurdish drug barons.

With their connections back home, they are able to refine, package and
transport large shipments of heroin regularly through the Balkans or eastern
Europe and onwards into the London.

HM Customs sources have revealed that in the past year, the Turks and Kurds
have begun doing business with Jamaican Yardie gangs - some of whom have
recently been caught trafficking drugs in Edinburgh and Aberdeen.

But for years the Turkish drug barons themselves have been supplying
Glasgow's main players with huge amounts of drugs.

The purity of the heroin of which Ferris and company will take delivery of
will be at least 90 per cent.

Our source said: "Needless to say it will be cut many more times before it
gets to the punter."

And he insisted: "There will be no conning these guys about the purity. They
have even employed a former chemist to test it for them."


Gulf News, 23rd January

The US yesterday denied Iraq's claim it had shot down an unmanned Predator
spy plane and the White House accused President Saddam Hussein of "once
again" lying to the world.

"We did not lose a Predator," said Lt Daniel Hetlage, a Pentagon spokesman.

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said there was no truth to the Iraqi
claim and cited it as further proof of Saddam's willingness to lie.

Stepping up its public relations case for forcibly disarming Iraq if Baghdad
fails to do so voluntarily under UN resolutions, the White House on Tuesday
released a 32-page report on Iraqi propaganda called "Apparatus of Lies."

In Baghdad, an Iraqi military spokesman was quoted by the official INA news
agency as saying that Iraq's air defences "downed an American Predator spy
plane coming from Kuwait."

Newsday, from Associated Press, 25th January

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- Allied jets attacked an Iraqi anti-aircraft site Saturday
in the southern "no fly" zone in response to "hostile acts" by Iraqi air
defenses, the U.S. military said.

The aircraft from the U.S.-British coalition used precision guided weapons
in the raid against an anti-aircraft artillery site near Tallil, 170 miles
southeast of Baghdad, the U.S. Central Command said in a statement posted on
its Web site.

It was the 13th strike in the southern flight interdiction zone this month.

Iraq's official news agency Saturday reported that U.S. and British
warplanes attacked "civilian and military installations" in the southern
Babil province, injuring three people.

The agency didn't say when the attack occurred, but appeared to be referring
to an airstrike Friday in which American warplanes used precision-guided
bombs to target an air defense command and control site near al-Haswah,
according to the U.S. military.

The site, about 35 miles south of Baghdad, was targeted because it posed a
threat to pilots patrolling the southern no-fly zone, it said.

It made no mention of British warplanes.

The United States and Britain set up no-fly zones over northern and southern
Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to keep Saddam Hussein's government from
attacking Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north.

Iraq considers the zones to be violations of its sovereignty and frequently
tries to shoot down the patrolling aircraft, though it has not succeeded in
bringing down a piloted plane. Iraqi gunners have shot down unmanned
Predator spy drones.

Friday's strike was the first since Sunday, when American planes bombed two
communications sites in southern Iraq. American planes also dropped about
360,000 leaflets in southern Iraq Friday, urging Iraqis not to rebuild
bombed air defense sites and to listen to U.S. propaganda radio broadcasts.

The United States is moving thousands of troops into the Gulf region in
preparation for a possible war on Iraq to rid the Arab nation of mass
destruction weapons that Washington says the Iraqis are hiding. Iraq denies
the charge.

Houston Chronicle, (from AP), 26th January

DOHA, Qatar -- Allied jets patrolling the southern no-fly zone over Iraq
struck five communication relay sites today after Iraqi aircraft "violated"
the zone, the U.S. military said.

The aircraft from the U.S.-British coalition used prej`¿ló­apons in
theiÑ0d against sites that can be used to help target the allied patrols,
the U.S. Central Command said in a statement on its Web site.

The cable repeater sites were located between the towns of al-Kut and
an-Nasiriyah, each about 100 miles southeast of the capital, Baghdad.

On Saturday, allied planes hit an anti-aircraft artillery site near Tallil,
170 miles southeast of Baghdad.

The United States and Britain set up no-fly zones over northern and southern
Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War to keep Saddam Hussein's government from
attacking Shiite Muslims in the south and Kurds in the north.

Iraq considers the zones to be violations of its sovereignty and frequently
tries to shoot down the patrolling aircraft, though it has not succeeded in
bringing down a piloted plane. Iraqi gunners have shot down unmanned
Predator spy drones.

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