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[casi] News, 22-29/01/03 (6)

News, 22-29/01/03 (6)


*  U.K. May Face Arab Boycott If it Backs U.S. on Iraq: Qaradawi
*  For Saudi royal family, rising fears of a postwar Iraq
*  Turkish speaker refuses to meet US ambassador
*  Turkey strikes blow against Bush's war
*  Turkish Leader Calls U.S. Hypocritical
*  Iraq told to actively cooperate with UN : Regional conference in Istanbul
*  Iraq's 1980s war with Iran: from Camembert to coffins, from wealth to war
*  America, From Ally to 'World's Biggest Terrorist State'
*  Turks open borders to 20,000 US troops
*  Iraq says it might strike Kuwait in case of US attack
*  Syrians protest war plans
*  Bahrainis rally against war on Iraq
*  Jordan to get Patriots in weeks


Palestine  Chronicle, 23rd January

LONDON - A leading Islamic scholar warned Britain last Tuesday, January 21,
that it faces a trade boycott from the Arab world if it backs a possible
U.S.-led war against Iraq.

Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi said there were many people in the Muslim world who
are pressing for the imposition of sanctions against British products, just
as American and Israeli products are boycotted, Agence France-Presse (AFP)

"The majority of scholars have so far refuted this, but if Britain goes to
war with Iraq, Britain would have to be boycotted too," Qaradawi told a
conference in northwest London organized by the Muslim Association of

Qaradawi presents a weekly discussion program on the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera
satellite channel.

"A war of aggression is about to be waged against Iraq. This war will bring
nothing but destruction, this war will bring nothing but death. It has no
justification or reasonable excuse," he said.

Qaradawi, who is also the president of the European Council for Fatwa and
Research, has already issued several fatwas (religious decrees) on Muslims
to boycott all Israeli and American goods leading to a drop in trade with
those countries in the Islamic world.

Qaradawi said that the means to support Palestine Muslim brethren is a
complete boycott of the enemies' goods.

"Each riyal, dirham Šetc. used to buy their [U.S., Israeli] goods eventually
becomes a bullet fired at the hearts of a brother or a child in Palestine,"
he said. "For this reason, it is an obligation not to help them. To buy
their goods is to support tyranny, oppression and aggression. Buying goods
from them will strengthen them; our duty is to make them as weak as we can."

"American goods, exactly like 'Israeli' goods, are forbidden. It is also
forbidden to advertise these goods," Al-Qaradawi added. "America today is a
second Israel. It totally supports the Zionist entity. The usurper could not
do this without the support of America.

"Israel's unjustifiable destruction and vandalism of everything has been
using American money, American weapons, and the American veto. America has
done this for decades without suffering the consequences of any punishment
or protests about their oppressive and prejudiced position from the Islamic

Al-Qaradawi added that the time has come for the Islamic Ummah (people) to
say "No" to America, "No" to its companies, and "No" to its goods, which
swamp our markets.

If the consumer buying Jewish or American goods is committing a major sin,
surely the merchant selling these goods and acting as an agent is the
greatest sinner, he added. Even if the company works under a different name,
they know they are deceiving people.

He said the war was about oil, not Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass

"The U.S. wants to impose its control of oil fields all over the world and
embroil others. Amongst others those mostly likely to be embroiled is the

He said Britain should adopt an "independent policy" in line with public
opinion against the war, saying it would be a conflict where the strong
would devour the weak and called on the British government to avert a war by
pulling out of any armed conflict.

"Unfortunately if the British authorities don't respond to public opinion,
and follow America, that will lead to placing Britain within the list of
enemies," he added.

Another prominent scholar in Syria, Dr. Mohammad Saeed Al-Bouti said in July
2002 that it is not permissible to purchase American products manufactured
in the Arab and Islamic world as long as part of its profits goes to the
mother American company.

Al-Bouti who is also the head of the Beliefs and Religions Department in
Islamic Law (Shariaa) School, Damascus University, received a question about
"the Islamic ruling on purchasing American products manufactured locally,
even if most of the profit goes to the local owners."

In his fatwa, Al-Bouti said: "The American products which must be boycotted
are those whose revenues go to the U.S. such as American cigarettes and
restaurants. There are too many of these companies in our countries."

There have been recent reports on businesses selling American brand names,
products and services in the Middle East fear that a U.S.-led war in Iraq
would trigger an even stronger Arab boycott campaign against them.

Organizers of the 25-month campaign told AFP they were preparing to revive
the boycott to protest not only against war in Iraq but also an escalation
of Israeli military aggression against the Palestinians.

A mass boycott drive was launched after the Palestinian uprising erupted in
September 2000, and was intensified when Israel reoccupied the West Bank at
the end of March 2001 before it lost steam three months later, businessmen
said. A third wave could be even stronger, they fear.

"The coming wave is going to be a tsunami wave, a catastrophe," warned
Mahmoud El Kaissouni, an executive with an Egyptian industry association
representing 22 fast food chains, December 2002.

Sales at more than 550 fast food restaurants in Egypt dropped by around 20
percent in April 2002 and plunged by 65 percent at the end of June before
returning to normal in October and November, said Kaissouni.

People like Kaissouni have fought back in the media, saying the boycott is
mainly missing the intended target and hitting Arab businesses, as many U.S.
franchises are Arab-owned and many products are made regionally under
license. He urged the Egyptian government to help wage a counter-campaign.

Though the boycott hit fast food franchises in Egypt and other Arab
countries hardest, it also undercut sales of soft drinks, as well as a range
of supermarket and pharmaceutical products in the region, industry sources

In Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria, some private hospitals stopped buying
products from Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), but most have since resumed
purchases, said Mustafa Hassan, BMS vice president for sales and marketing
in the Middle East.

Hassan said the pharmacists' syndicate in Egypt had agreed verbally with
pharmaceutical firms not to boycott U.S. brand names made under license in
Egypt, which account for 91 percent of the Egyptian market.

However, he said a few pharmacists earlier this year refused to prescribe
even Egyptian made products and he expected them to lead a new boycott wave
if there is a U.S.-led war in Iraq.

[IslamOnline & News Agencies (] Published at the Palestine

by Patrick E. Tyler
International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 23rd January

RIYADH: It is hard to say what the princes here fear more - a war in Iraq
that leads to chaos or a war that brings democracy to the Arabian peninsula.

Members of the Saudi royal family and close advisers to Crown Prince
Abdullah, the day to-day ruler, say that chaos from the breakdown of the
existing order in Iraq has become an overarching fear.

It has motivated the Saudi leader to try to persuade President George W.
Bush to go along with an 11th-hour strategy in which a decision to go to war
would be followed by a pause for intensive diplomacy - even coup making - to
remove Saddam Hussein.

But at the same time, many Saudis have begun to realize that if Bush
succeeds in removing the Iraqi leader, the potential emergence of a new
Iraqi state - allied with the West and empowered by its oil wealth to create
new markets, economic power and military strength - could set the winds of
change sweeping through the region.

The transformation of Iraq is about all that anyone in power is talking
about in the Gulf. But nowhere is the conversation so intense as in the
Saudi royal family, which struggled for 40 years to unite the disparate
tribes of the peninsula and create a sense of nation for 14 million Saudis.

That nation exists in an arrested state of political development, however,
under a monarchy anchored in a deeply conservative Islamic ideology that
represses women's rights and excoriates foreigners and "infidels." It also
suffers from extensive corruption that arises from its enormous oil wealth.

"I am sure that if Iraq becomes a new kind of democratic state, those people
in Iraq will put great pressure on these regimes - they will have to change
or be overthrown," said a stalwart of Saudi Arabia's business establishment
and friend to the crown prince for 40 years. He has counseled his royal
friend unsuccessfully to open the society and create a transparent,
democratic state. He spoke on the condition that his name not published.

"When Iraq changes, it is going to be a turning point in the history of the
Middle East," he said.

Some members of the royal family scoff at the notion that they fear a
positive transformation of Iraq, which for decades has posed a military
threat to Saudi Arabia.

"I would rather be threatened with democratic principles than with war,"
said a leading prince.

Far from an onslaught of democratic principles, what worried the prince most
was the potential disintegration of Iraq, a country of deep religious,
ethnic and tribal divisions woven into a bloody history of internecine

Saudi Arabia's unifier in the last century, King Abdulaziz al Saud was still
wielding his sword in tribal warfare when British gerrymandering at the end
of World War I cobbled together the Ottoman provinces of Basra, Baghdad and
Mosul to form an Iraqi state.

The Saudi monarchy has always believed that it takes an iron fist to hold
together the three main religious and ethnic groups that comprise Iraq, a
Shiite majority dominant in the south, a Sunni minority that has ruled from
Baghdad and a Kurdish minority in the north known for rebellion and its
aspirations for an independent Kurdish state.

"Iraq can only achieve democracy if there is a peaceful transfer of power,"
the senior prince said. "It will never survive a breakdown in order. It can
only survive if the civil institutions are preserved."

But while fretting about the worst-case scenario, Saudi Arabia is quietly
pursuing other strategies toward Iraq, another senior prince said. For one,
Saudi intelligence has been working for months with Saudi and Iraqi tribal
leaders whose clans range across borders.

They are urging the tribes to take an active role in preventing chaos if
military operations cut off Baghdad from the rest of the country.

Through the tribal network, Saudi messages have been passed to Iraqi
military officers, urging them to break with Saddam if a moment comes when
Bush and the United Nations offer him a chance to leave the country to avert

"We found out how much he has been paying the tribal leaders and we paid
them more," said the prince, whose responsibilities combine intelligence and
diplomacy. "The tribal leaders have already sold Saddam and he doesn't know

Yet the hardest thing to get out of a member of the Saudi royal family is an
answer to the question: What if things go well? What if Saddam Hussein is
removed, the country holds together and democracy takes hold?

Iraq would stand second only to Saudi Arabia in oil resources, with 10
percent of the world's proven reserves. It might also stand athwart the
Tigris and Euphrates valley like a new colossus, though many specialists on
Iraq are intensely skeptical that the country and any new government will be
able to mediate a century of internal grievances and ethnic divisions once
the iron fist is removed.

But it could happen, some admit. And if it did, what would be the effect?

The Saudi royal family has always talked a good deal about reform over the
last two decades but has seldom acted on its stated intentions.

Now that he is effectively ruling the country as King Fahd fades in ill
health, the crown prince presides over a kingdom where no citizen can know
the income derived from pumping 8 million barrels a day of oil and no one
knows how many billions the royal family skims for personal use - though,
judging by the scores of opulent palaces throughout the country, it is not
chump change.

Dawn, 23rd January

ANKARA, Jan 22: Turkish parliament speaker Bulent Arinc said on Wednesday he
had turned down an invitation from US ambassador Robert Pearson to discuss
the crisis in Iraq at his Ankara home, the Anatolia news agency reported.

Arinc said he had refused the offer because Pearson had failed to pay him a
courtesy call when he was appointed as speaker last November.

"A Turkish parliament speaker will not attend an ambassador's lunch if the
latter has not first paid him a visit," the report quoted Arinc as saying.

Turkish media reported that the heads of the parliament's foreign affairs
and defence committees declined similar invitations from Pearson, arguing
that it was up to the ambassador to make the trip into parliament.

Last week, several Turkish deputies had travelled to meet Pearson at his
home, sparking a chorus of media criticism.

Washington is seeking both military and logistic support from Ankara in a
possible war against Iraq, but the government has said it will not clarify
its position until the UN Security Council adopts a second resolution
authorising military action against Baghdad.

Turkey, the only Muslim member of NATO, opposes military strikes against its
southeastern neighbour, fearing both economic and political fallout from a

It has invited the leaders of Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Syria to
a meeting in Istanbul this week to explore ways to resolve the crisis over
Iraq without resorting to war. AFP

by Patrick Seale
Daily Star, Lebanon, 24th January

Displaying more initiative and political courage than its Arab neighbors,
Turkey has taken the lead in rallying a group of moderate Muslim countries
in opposition to American war plans in Iraq. This is the meaning of the
recent tour of the region by Prime Minister Abdullah Gul. He began with
Syria, a country with which Turkey's relations have greatly improved after
years of antagonism. This is also the meaning of the meeting Turkey's
foreign minister, Yasar Yakis, hosted this week for the foreign ministers of
Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Syria and Jordan.

For greater effect, the Turks would have preferred the meeting to take place
at the level of heads of state, but Arab fears, hesitancies and rivalries
prevented this happening. Just as France is hoping to rally the European
Union in opposition to American war plans, so Turkey wants to make
Washington understand that the Middle East region is against war.

But there should be no misunderstanding: there are limits to how far Turkey
can go. It cannot afford to offend the United States or break its ties with
Israel, however much it seeks friendship with the Arabs and feels sympathy
for the Palestinian cause. Turkey's crisis ridden economy is heavily
dependent on aid from the International Monetary Fund. As a loyal NATO
member, it has intimate and long-standing strategic relations with the
United States. Since the mid-1990s, it has also developed close military and
economic ties with Israel, earning it the valuable political support of the
US Jewish Lobby. Its opposition to American (and Israeli) war plans and its
opening to the Arab world are, therefore, all the more remarkable - and

How far has Turkey gone in voicing its opposition?

It has refused to sanction the opening of a "northern front" against Iraq
from its territory. Some six weeks ago, a leading US hawk, Deputy Defense
Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, visited Ankara to request the stationing of 80,000
US troops in Turkey. The Turks said no. They will not allow more than 10,000
to 20,000 US troops - not enough to pose a serious threat to Iraq, but
perhaps enough to keep the situation in Iraqi Kurdistan under control if the
Iraqi state disintegrates. This is a serious blow to American war plans
because, freed from a threat in the north, Saddam Hussein may concentrate
the bulk of his forces in the south opposite Kuwait, posing a tougher
problem for an American invasion force.

The Turks have, however, agreed to allow 150 US experts to inspect their
ports and air bases to determine what upgrading may be required in the event
of war. But they have not so far authorized the upgrading to proceed, in
spite of the visit to Ankara this week of General Richard Myers, chairman of
the US joint chiefs of staff.

Taking a cue from the French, the Turks have said that, before they make any
move, they must await a decision by the UN Security Council. They cannot and
will not act in advance of a Security Council Resolution. If the Council
authorizes the use of force, Turkey will then submit the matter to its
Parliament. In effect, this sets up a further obstacle to Turkish
participation in a war. Dominated by the Justice and Development Party
following its victory at the Nov. 3 elections, the Turkish Parliament
reflects grass-roots opinion - and Turkish opinion is overwhelmingly against
the war. A negative vote in the Turkish Parliament could, therefore, prove
highly embarrassing for the United States.

In negotiations with Washington, the Turks have stressed that they have lost
between $50 billion and $100 billion in trade revenues over the last dozen
years because of economic sanctions against Iraq. Hardest hit were the
provinces bordering Iraq, prompting disgruntled, unemployed young Kurds to
turn to politics and take up arms against the state. The $2 billion which
the US is said to have offered in compensation is considered wholly
inadequate. The Turkish argument is that a war will inflict further damage
to trade with Iraq and would require large-scale compensation.

Turkey wants to trade with Iraq, not make war on it. In a highly significant
gesture at a time of great regional tension, a delegation of 350 Turkish
businessmen, led by a minister, visited Baghdad earlier this month. Turkey
is involved in several infrastructure projects in Iraq - including the
rehabilitation of the Baghdad electricity system - and does not want these
valuable commercial ties to be disrupted.

Another striking development is that the key players in Turkey, who have
traditionally been at odds - the military chiefs, the powerful National
Security Council, the civilian politicians, the Foreign Ministry bureaucracy
- have moved to a common position, which was thrashed out at a recent
"summit" meeting at the Turkish presidency. All the players recognized that,
caught between Washington's eagerness for war and a public wholly opposed to
it, Turkey was caught in a dilemma. Hence the need for unity, and great
caution by the military. Last week, General Hilmi Oskok, chief of the
general staff, declared that a war "would be against Turkey's interests."

Turkey's overriding fear is that an American invasion will lead to the
break-up of Iraq, inciting the Kurds in the north to declare an independent
state of their own. Any such development could re-ignite separatist fires
among Turkey's own Kurds, and threaten Turkey's territorial integrity. No
one in Turkey has forgotten the bitter 15-year war against the PKK which
ended in 1998.

Last week, a clash in eastern Turkey between security forces and separatist
guerrillas led to the death of 12 guerrillas, believed to be PKK members. It
was a reminder that the movement was far from dead and an ominous sign of
what could happen if the situation in northern Iraq were to spin out of

Turkish sources are unanimous in saying there is no confidence, among either
the military or the politicians, that the United States could control the
situation in the north if the Iraqi state were to fall apart. The Afghan
precedent, where warlords in far-flung provinces continue to challenge the
authority of Kabul, is not encouraging. Turkey, which at present heads the
international force in Afghanistan, is looking forward to ending its
commitment there and pulling out.

What the Turks will seek from the US, in the event of war, is a green light
to cross into northern Iraq whenever they judge that Kurdish separatism
needs knocking on the head.

In brief, the Turks fear the aftermath of a war against Iraq, rather than
the war itself, which they have little doubt the United States could win
with ease, with or without its allies. However, they predict a long period
of chaos and instability which, by encouraging Kurdish ambitions, could
infect and disturb all Iraq's neighbors.

By taking the lead in opposing the war, and by reaching out to the Arabs and
Iran, the new regime in Turkey has aroused the anger of the
neo-conservatives and Zionist extremists who have captured American foreign
policy. Last week, William Safire, a prominent New York Times columnist
close to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, wrote a stinging rebuke of
Turkey. And, as a senior American official put it privately the other day,
"Unless Turkey hops on the American bandwagon pretty soon, it risks hearing
a busy signal when it next tries to ring Washington."

Turkey's new regime has endured and survived a baptism of fire in its first
weeks in office. Its campaign for EU membership failed to secure a clear
"Yes," causing Turkish elites to fear that Europe might say "No" at the end
of the day. The Cyprus issue is on the boil, with Ankara facing a
confrontation with the Turkish Cypriot leadership. On the economic front,
the government is wrestling with the worst recession since the World War II.
And, if this were not enough, the United States threatens the whole region
with a conflict of unpredictable consequences, and is pressuring Turkey to

PM Gul and party leader Tayib Recep Erdogan have so far conducted themselves
with admirable coolness, caution and good sense. They need, and deserve, all
the support they can get from Europe and the Arab world.

Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East analyst, wrote this commentary for The
Daily Star

by Scheherezade Faramarzi
Las Vegas Sun, 24th January

ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP): Turkey's top politician harshly criticized the United
States on Friday, calling its drive to disarm Iraq hypocritical, and said
his country would not decide whether to support U.S. military action until
the U.N. Security Council weighs in.

Turkey was a key U.S. ally in the 1991 Gulf War and was expected to play a
similarly important role in any new war against Saddam Hussein.

The new NATO military commander, U.S. Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, met
with Turkey's top general on Friday to discuss Turkish cooperation, which
would be essential in opening a northern front from which U.S. forces could
invade Iraq. NATO has promised military support to member-nation Turkey if
it comes under attack from Iraq.

Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan's issued his comments amid a deepening split
between the United States and Europe over Iraq. In Istanbul, the visiting
German foreign minister, whose country has been one of the most outspoken
opponents of military action, said the trans Atlantic allies should "cool
down" the sharpening debate.

Still, Erdogan made the strongest comments yet by a Turkish leader against
the U.S. campaign against Iraq. Turkey is under heavy American pressure to
allow the use of its bases to attack Iraq, but public opposition to war is
strong in the country.

Erdogan, who heads the ruling party and is considered the behind-the-scenes
leader of the government, said eliminating nuclear, biological and chemical
weapons in Iraq was a worthy goal.

"But let's not kid ourselves," he told reporters at the World Economic Forum
in Daovs, Switzerland. "No one is interested in eliminating their own
weapons of mass destruction. They're interested in strengthening their own
weapons of mass destruction."

Asked if he was accusing the United States of hypocrisy, Erdogan said: "I
meant all the countries in the world. The United States is also included."

He said his government would wait for a U.N. decision before deciding
whether to support military action. "The decision which is important for us
is the decision of the U.N. Security Council," said Erdogan, who is expected
to become prime minister after he runs in parliamentary by-elections in

Turkey has long said it would prefer to have U.N. approval for any attack on
Iraq, but its top ally, the United States, wants it to allow tens of
thousands of American troops to use its bases to open a northern front
against Iraq. Washington said it does not need U.N. approval to launch a

Turkey has been reluctant to give permission and has reportedly asked
Washington to scale down its planned deployment.

Erdogan noted the "major price" Turkey paid after the 1991 Gulf War - a
flood of Kurdish refugees, lost lives and economic disruption, which he put
at $100 billion. "We do not want to pay the same prices one more time," he

British military chief, Adm. Sir Michael Boyce visited Turkey's Incirlik air
base - the hub of British and U.S. warplanes enforcing the northern no-fly
zone over Iraq. Incirlik is expected to be a key attack base if the United
States strikes Iraq again.

Hoping to avert a war, Turkey hosted a gathering this week of foreign
minister from Iraq's neighbors and Egypt, who on Thursday urged Iraqi leader
Saddam Hussein to cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.

Many observers expect Turkey will eventually bow to U.S. pressure and allow
use of the bases. But the government is eager to show the Turkish public it
has made an effort to prevent conflict.

Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said Friday that allowing U.S. troops
to use Turkish soil to launch an attack on Iraq puts military pressure on
Saddam to comply with U.N. inspectors.

"The more there is military pressure on Iraq, the more it is likely to reach
a peaceful solution," Yakis said.

He was speaking at a joint news conference with his German counterpart
Joschka Fischer who is in Turkey as part of German efforts to prevent a war.
Fischer said Berlin was also concerned by "the risks" of a U.S. military


Dawn, 24th January

ISTANBUL, Jan 23: Six leading Muslim nations urged Iraq on Thursday to show
"more active" cooperation with UN arms inspectors, and embark on policies to
inspire confidence in its neighbours, at the end of a day-long meeting here.

"We call solemnly on the Iraqi leadership to move irreversibly and sincerely
towards assuming its responsibilities in restoring peace and stability in
the region," they said in their declaration, read aloud to reporters by
Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis.

The statement, adopted by the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Iran,
Syria, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, urged Iraq to continue cooperating with the
arms inspectors from the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection
Commission and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

"We request Iraq ... to demonstrate a more active approach in providing
Iraq's inventory of information and material concerning her capabilities of
weapons of mass destruction," it said.

Earlier, on his arrival in Istanbul, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al
Faisal said: "I hope a joint position will be outlined in order to prevent
war in Iraq ... We will also discuss what could be done to ensure Iraq
complies with UN resolutions."-AFP

Our Correspondent adds from Riyadh: Saudi Arabia has again reiterated that
there is no pressing need for a war on Iraq.

Prince Saud has been quoted in the press here as saying: "We do not see any
pressing need for military action or to set a particular date (for war). The
focus should be on finding a peaceful solution which would spare us a great
deal. We are still hopeful that the current diplomatic efforts will lead to
a peaceful solution."

Prince Saud was addressing a news conference on the eve of a regional
meeting in Turkey to look for ways to avert a war.

Prince Saud said Arab states should be given a chance to try to resolve the
crisis peacefully, even if the United Nations authorized military action.
"Should the United Nations reach a decision to use force, we hope that there
would be a grace period left for the Arab countries to intervene and resolve
the crisis peacefully," he said.

Prince Saud denied reports that the meeting in Turkey would discuss exile
plans for President Saddam Hussein. He said the talks would be dedicated to
"finding a way to handle the crisis without resorting to war".

Prince Saudi said Saudi Arabia had not made arrangements to deal with any
possible influx of refugees from Iraq. "We hope nothing would happen to our
Iraqi neighbours. All the neighbours (of Iraq) are taking actions and

by G.G. Labelle
The State, 24th January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): In a park near the Tigris River, twin monumental
sculptures - with swords crossing high overhead, gripped in fists said to be
modeled on Saddam Hussein's hands - commemorate the long, bitter conflict
that the Iraqi leader proclaimed the Qadissiya War.

Saddam, who often identifies his deeds with the epic past, took the name
from a famous 7th century victory of Arab Muslims over a Persian army. But
Saddam's Qadissiya - the 1980-88 war against Iran, the Persia of today - had
no such decisive outcome.

It was bloody and ruinous, undermining Iraq's once vibrant economy and
setting the country on a path of conflict with former friends, both in the
region and in faraway Washington.

Begun with an Iraqi thrust into Iran in September 1980, the war dragged on
for eight years before sputtering out in stalemate. Popular support,
grounded in ancient enmity, withered as tens of thousands of coffins arrived
from the battlefields.

Oil earnings that had built a modern Iraq were shunted into armaments. After
the conflict ended, huge war debts to then-allies like Kuwait helped set the
stage for Iraq's invasion of its smaller neighbor - and for the economic
devastation suffered by the Iraqi people to this day.

Ali Abdel Amir, a reserve officer in the war, said the conflict aggravated
the split between Iraq's Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni Muslims who
dominate politics. Iran is predominantly Shiite.

Saddam tried to silence anger at the mounting death toll by giving free cars
and houses to families who lost fathers, sons and brothers. But such
gestures did little to quell anti-war feeling.

"How can a man be silent before this tragedy?" asked Abdel Amir, who now
lives in Jordan and is editor of Al-Massala magazine published by Iraqi
writers in exile.

More than 1 million people died on both sides of the conflict. In Baghdad,
bitterness grew as more and more black banners were draped across house
fronts to mourn the war dead. One devastating banner recorded a family's
loss of "the eighth and last son" to the conflict.

At the war's start, some Iraqi officials promised victory in a month. Iran
was thought to be in chaos just a year after Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini's
Islamic revolution, and the purges to rid the army of the last vestiges of
the Shah of Iran's rule.

Iraq, by contrast, was flush with oil money. It had built the best
universities and hospitals in the Arab world. Its arts were thriving. Older
parts of Baghdad had been torn down and replaced by elevated highways and
modern apartment buildings with the occasional Moorish touch - all put up by
Japanese, South Korean and European contractors reaping profits from the
1970s oil boom.

The ostensible causes of the war were border disputes that went back
centuries, especially where to draw the border in the Shatt al-Arab, the
estuary that divides the countries in the south and is Iraq's only outlet to
the sea.

Saddam also was fighting Iran's pledge to spread Islamic revolution across
the world. His Baath Party prided itself on its secularism. He won backing
from nervous monarchies in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia - and from the United
States, whose diplomats had been held hostage by Iranian radicals for 444
days inside the U.S. Embassy in Tehran.

Saddam envisioned a greater role for himself in the Arab world, too, after
Egypt, the traditional regional power, had been isolated for its 1979 peace
treaty with Israel.

To ensure popular backing for the war, Iraq's government used its oil
earnings to flood the country with European luxury goods unknown to most
Iraqis. One woman recalls her first taste of Camembert cheese came at the
start of the Iran-Iraq war.

Saddam underestimated the Iranian resistance, typified by young zealots
pouring across mine fields to attack Iraqi troops who had occupied their
land. There would be no quick victory.

"After three or four months, even the leaders of troops in the field
realized the war may take longer," said Abdel Amir, the reserve officer.

Before long, the homefront was suffering, too, since even oil-rich Iraq
could not afford both guns and butter. Funds for development and imported
Western goods were slashed. Civil service jobs were cut.

Abdel Amir recalled desertions skyrocketing. "A few soldiers, then hundreds,
then even thousands ran away from the battlefront," he said. Many were
Shiites from the south who felt they had little stake in fighting for
Saddam's Sunni-dominated regime.

In 1984, Iranian forces briefly advanced across the highway from Baghdad to
Basra in southern Iraq, and the city, once a playground for Kuwaitis
escaping their strict religious state, was blacked out at night, its main
buildings protected by sandbags.

At a cavernous, back-alley Basra nightclub, a young Shiite drafted into the
army was being given a last fling by friends. The reed-thin young man,
perhaps 18 or 19, was in tears as a chubby Egyptian bar girl translated his
lament: "He doesn't want to die."

The fears were not limited to the Shiites in the south. In Baghdad, a
middle-aged professional explained in a whispered conversation how Saddam's
regime was forcing men to go to the front as part of a popular militia.

"If I am an old man, even then they can tell me I have to go into the
People's Army. I have to sign a paper saying it is of my own free will. I
cannot explain that I am old or I have the only income for my family. I must
sign; if I do not, then my family is finished."

With progress in the war faltering, Washington provided Iraq with
intelligence and poured billions of dollars into arms and economic aid.

"Iraqis realized they needed a big and strong friend and they found that in
the United States," said Abdel Amir.

For eight years, fierce campaigns were interspersed with stalemate. Missiles
rained on Iraqi and Iranian cities. Iran attacked ships in the Persian Gulf,
and the United States was drawn deeper into the conflict, sending Navy
warships to protect Kuwaiti tankers temporarily outfitted with American

On July 20, 1987, the U.N. Security Council adopted resolution 598 demanding
a cease-fire. Iraq was agreeable, but Iran refused.

The demand of Ayatollah Khomeini for ending the war sounds familiar in 2003
- he wanted the ouster and trial of Saddam Hussein.

The battles raged on. Iraq's forces, which had used mustard gas on Iranian
soldiers, used it on minority Kurds in Iraq who rebelled in the north in
March 1988. Starting that April, Iraq began recapturing lands Iran had
seized after driving out Iraqi invaders from its own territory.

Iran was wearing down. Convinced by his generals that Iran could not win,
Khomeini accepted resolution 598 nearly a year after it was adopted.

The war officially ended under the U.N. cease-fire on Aug. 20, 1988. Neither
side gained land. The only result was death and destruction.

In Iraq, weary soldiers returned from the front to find few jobs available.
Saddam desperately needed money to pump up the economy and demanded that
Kuwait and Saudi Arabia forgive debts incurred during the war with Iran.

When the answer was no, Saddam accused Kuwait of stealing Iraq's oil through
wells pumped under the two countries' border. Summoning the past again -
saying Kuwait was historically an Iraqi province - he invaded the country on
Aug. 2, 1990.

That brought on the Gulf War in which the United States led an international
coalition to drive its former ally from Kuwait. And it brought U.N.
sanctions limiting Iraq's oil income. The sanctions, the Security Council
ruled, could not be ended until Iraq gave up its weapons of mass

Today, the United States is threatening a new war on Iraq, accusing Saddam
of continuing to hide chemical and biological weapons. A dozen years after
the Kuwaiti invasion, Iraq's 24 million people still are living under U.N.
economic sanctions.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Associated Press correspondent G.G. LaBelle covered the
Iran-Iraq war during 15 years as a reporter in the Middle East.

by Raffi Khatchadourian
Village Voice, 25th January
ANKARA, TURKEY‹Under the watchful gaze of police in riot gear, roughly 1500
antiwar protesters marched in zigzag formation across central Ankara on
Saturday, chanting "No war!" and carrying signs that denounced "American
aggression" and labeled the United States a terrorist state.

The demonstration, which quickly dissipated in a small pedestrian square in
the Kizilay city district, is the latest in a series of protests held across
Turkey, a critical U.S. ally that has expressed deep reservations over the
Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein by force.

Turkey is the only NATO member with a predominantly Muslim population, and
shares a heavily guarded border with Iraq. It was an important U.S. and
British military staging ground during the Persian Gulf War, but that
conflict triggered a devastating blow to the Turkish economy, as well as a
refugee crisis caused by Kurds fleeing northern Iraq.

Many Turks now fear that renewed warfare in the Middle East would again send
the country's fragile economy over the edge. War talk has already caused the
stock market to dip. "Our economy is hanging by a thread," said one
protester named Bircan, who declined to give his last name. "If there is
war, it will fall from under us."

Today, however, as rain clouds gathered overhead, and a crowd of students
with fists raised chanted antiwar and anti-American slogans, other
demonstrators expressed concerns extending far beyond the country's economic
problems. Turkey's antiwar movement draws equally from rightwing, Islamic,
and leftist groups.

Yilmaz Demirel, 48, a stage actor, stopped to explain: "War with Iraq? It is
just another example of American imperialism. In my opinion, the United
States is the world's biggest terrorist state, and should remove its
presence from the Middle East‹Turkey, included."

Currently, squadrons of U.S. and British fighter planes leave from Turkey's
Incirlik Air Base, located on the country's eastern Mediterranean coast, to
patrol and enforce the U.N. mandated no-fly zone over northern Iraq.

In recent weeks, Washington has been pressuring Turkey for increased access
to Incirlik, along with a number of other Turkish military installations, so
that U.S. war planners could potentially open a northern front against
Saddam Hussein's regime.

On Sunday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Richard Myers,
visited Incirlik. The following day, amid an earlier round of antiwar
protesting in the Turkish capital, Meyers came to Ankara to speak with
Turkey's defense minister, Vecdi Gonul, as well as the country's top army
officer, Gen. Hilmi Ozkok.

Publicly, the Turkish government has refused to participate in a war
conducted without explicit U.N. Security Council approval.

Earlier this week, Turkey hosted a regional summit intended to alter the
climate of inevitability growing around the path to war, and to create the
political room for peaceful resolution to the crisis. The summit included
foreign ministers from Turkey, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Syria -all
neighbors of Iraq - as well as diplomatic representatives from Egypt.

Most recently, Turkey's highest political leader, Racip Tayyip Erdogan -
speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland - excoriated the
U.S. government for its war fever. "Let's not kid ourselves," he said. "No
one is interested in eliminating their own weapons of mass destruction.
They're interested in strengthening their own weapons of mass destruction."

Turkey's popular anti-war sentiment ‹ one poll puts it at 80 percent ‹ has
been a significant factor in the diplomatic tightrope Turkish leaders have
had to walk between satisfying a frustrated electorate, wary neighbors, and
the world's only superpower. But some analysts believe that Turkey's open
criticism of U.S. war plans will, in the final analysis, not prevent it from
providing at least some form of military support for a coalition assembled
to attack Iraq.

The current government, which has been lead by the pro-Islamic Justice and
Development Party, or AKP, since November, is held in deep suspicion by a
large number of Turks, including the country's powerful generals, who favor
the secular system of government established here by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk
in 1924.

"Our leaders are not serious about looking for a peaceful option, they are
just trying to demonstrate their willingness to listen to people," said
Ismail Boyraz, deputy director for the national office of Turkey's Human
Rights Association, which co-sponsored today's protest, as well as a "peace
train" of approximately 90 demonstrators who traveled from Istanbul to
Incirlik. "In the end, they will decide to cooperate with the Americans."

That decision may be aided by a $14 billion U.S. financial assistance
package, reported to be on the table as compensation for whatever losses
Turkey may incur during a potential war. But the cost to the United States
may be much greater.

Boyraz, sitting in an office riddled with bullet holes from an assassination
attempt on the Human Rights Association's former executive director put it
this way: "Right now nearly the entire country is against a war, and
anti-American sentiment is growing. If the United States commits itself to
an attack, those sentiments will only get stronger."

by Amberin Zaman in Istanbul
Daily Telegraph, 28th January

The United States is to send up to 20,000 troops through Turkey and into
northern Iraq, allowing it to open up a second front against Saddam Hussein,
according to reports yesterday.

Under the deal struck between the Turkish military and the Pentagon, Ankara
will allow an initial deployment of a mechanised division that would travel
through Turkey to Kurdish controlled northern Iraq.

The US troops would be based at the Incirlik base in Turkey's southern
province of Adana and at bases in the south-eastern provinces of Batman and
Diyarbakir, according to the pro establishment daily Milliyet.

The newspaper reports that, in exchange, Washington has agreed to the
presence of Turkish troops in northern Iraq, who would halt any influx of
Kurdish refugees as well as prevent the creation of an independent Kurdish

The US was also working on an aid package with Turkey that was designed to
cushion the country from the economic shock of a war with Iraq. The package
would be designed to offset losses that could be £2.5 billion or more,
according to US officials.

Milliyet said units of the US 4th Infantry Division, which would form the
bulk of forces, were already heading towards the Turkish port of Mersin on
the Mediterranean.

A senior Western diplomat said the news made "perfect sense from a military
standpoint". US military technicians began last week surveying 10 Turkish
bases and two ports for possible use against Iraq.

Turkey, a key US and Nato ally, has been under mounting pressure from the
Bush administration to allow the deployment of up to 89,000 US ground forces
but the newly elected government has baulked at the demand, citing sharp
public opposition to a war.

Yahoo, 28th January

Iraq will not rule out launching an attack against Kuwait if that country is
used as a base for a US military operation against Iraq, Iraqi Deputy Prime
Minister Tareq Aziz said in an interview with Canada's CBC television.

"Kuwait is a battlefield and American troops are in Kuwait and preparing
themselves to attack Iraq," said Aziz.

"If there will be an attack from Kuwait, I cannot say that we will not
retaliate. We will of course retaliate against the American troops wherever
they start their aggression on Iraq. This is legitimate," he added.

In an editorial last Thursday in Baghdad's Babel newspaper signed "Abu
Sarhan," under which Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's oldest son Uday is
said to write, the paper said the September 11 attacks "will be like a walk
in the park when compared to the blood they (the United States) will spill
if they launch a large-scale attack on Iraq."

Asked whether Uday Saddam Hussein's threat meant that Iraq would try to
launch an attack on US territory, Aziz said: "No, it doesn't, because we
don't have the means and we don't have the wish to make any mischief to the
United States inside the United States."

Aziz also said Iraq would more readily satisfy all UN weapons inspectors'
requests, as they continue investigating whether Iraq is hiding weapons of
mass destruction by order of UN resolution 1441 of November 8.

Aziz told the CBC there were only two issues on which Iraq and the UN
inspectors did not see eye-to-eye: overflight of Iraqi territory by U2
surveillance planes and the conditions under which Iraqi scientists could be
interrogated by UN experts.

"All other aspects of cooperation have been met and we promise to be more
forthcoming in their future replying to all their needs in way that will
satisfy them," Aziz said.

Gulf News, 28th January

Damascus, Reuters: Thousands of Syrians, branding U.S. President George W.
Bush a "butcher", yesterday protested in the streets of Damascus against a
possible U.S. military strike against Iraq.

The demonstrators gathered in front of a United Nations office in the Syrian
capital hours before a deadline for a report by UN arms inspectors on Iraq's
cooperation in their hunt for weapons of mass destruction.

The protesters chanted slogans, calling Bush a "criminal and a butcher" and
demanding Washington ditch its "plan" to attack Iraq. "We sacrifice our
souls and blood for Iraq," chanted young demonstrators.

"America wants to dominate us, it wants to weaken us and to destroy Iraq to
control its oil," said student Housam Halabi, echoing a view shared by many
Syrians and Arabs.

The protest was organised by several groups, including anti-war activists.
No political protest can be held in public in Syria without a tacit
government blessing.

Syria, a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, is convinced Iraq
has shown sufficient cooperation with UN inspectors and insists the United
States should respect its part of a resolution which requires Iraq to

"Iraq has cooperated with the inspectors' team despite the sensitivity and
complexity of the issue and feelings of anger over (compromising) national
dignity...What else is required?" asked Teshreen newspaper, a government

Syria has voiced diplomatic support for Iraq but diplomats say it is not
expected to lend Iraq any military assistance.

The demonstration steered clear of a district of Damascus where several
Western embassies, including the U.S. mission, is located.

Syrians raided the U.S. embassy in October 2000 after a peaceful protest
against U.S. policies in the Middle East escalated into a violent

The demonstrators also voiced anger over what they called Israeli violence
aimed at quelling a 27-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli

At least 1,802 Palestinians and 698 Israelis have been killed since the
start of the uprising for an independent state after peace talks stalled in
September 2000.         

by Mohammed Almezel
Gulf News, 28th January

Dozens of Bahraini youth, protesting against the U.S. plans to attack Iraq,
urged the world powers yesterday to spread "love and peace" instead of war
and destruction.

His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain, meanwhile, assured
local politicians that Bahrain will not be used as a launching pad for any
military action against Iraq.

In the latest of anti-U.S. demonstrations in the kingdom, 100 girls and boys
spent over an hour singing "peace, love and liberty" outside the UN House in
Manama while carrying white balloons and banners that called on the U.S. to
give up its plans to invade Iraq.

The colourful and peaceful rally was organised by the Bahraini Youth
Organisation and the Bahraini Committee to Support the Iraqi People. "We
don't support war; nobody should support war which only brings suffering and
destruction to all sides," said a girl who held a small Iraqi flag.

Mohammed Saleh, from the Committee to Support the Iraqi People, told
reporters he was against the Iraqi regime but the world community should
look for a peaceful way to deal with the issue.

He said the "Zionist lobby" in Washington was behind the U.S. administration
drive to attack Iraq because it believes the sanctions-saddled Arab country
poses a threat to the security of Israel.

"The Zionist propaganda has brainwashed the American public opinion," he
explained, "Why doesn't the world stop the Israeli terror against the
Palestinian people?"

During a meeting with the presidents of Bahrain's 14 political groups on
Sunday evening, King Hamad said he supported the anti-war public rallies as
long as they were conducted peacefully and within the legal limits. "It
proves that our society is vibrant and I support that," he was quoted
yesterday by the official news agency as saying.

He told the politicians Bahrain was exercising full sovereignty over its
territories, skies and waters. "Of course, we hope there would be no
military action but if it does happen, Bahrain will not be used as a
launching pad to attack Iraq," he said.

The King, who will visit the U.S. during the first week of February, said he
will discuss the Iraqi and Palestinian issues with American officials in
addition to economic matters.

However, he urged the Iraqi government to show more cooperation with the UN
saying a peaceful solution was "in the hands of the Iraqi leadership".

Sheikh Ali Salman, leader of the opposition group, Al Wefaq, told Gulf News
that King Hamad stressed the need to consolidate national unity during these
turbulent times in the region.

Jordan Times, 29th January     
AMMAN (AFP) ‹ Jordan will receive three Patriot anti-missile batteries from
the United States soon in order to bolster the Kingdom's defensive arsenal,
a Jordanian official said Tuesday.

The missiles will be delivered "in a few weeks," said the official, who
spoke on condition of anonymity.

A diplomat here, who also asked not to be identified, said delivery would be
at the "beginning of February," adding that the missiles would be
accompanied by a team to train the Jordanian army in their use.

On Jan. 23, His Majesty King Abdullah told the visiting commander of US
forces in the Gulf, General Tommy Franks, that Jordan was determined to buy
an air defence system.

The King said Jordan, which is traditionally equipped by the United States,
France and Britain, wanted "to control the airspace and protect it against
any foreign intervention."

An unnamed source has recently told The Jordan Times and Al Rai that "three
Patriot anti missile batteries are expected to be included" in an air
defence system that the Kingdom is trying to buy from the US.

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