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News, 22-29/01/03 (6) IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS * 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 debt * 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 IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN RELATIONS http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=20030123024417458 * U.K. MAY FACE ARAB BOYCOTT IF IT BACKS U.S. ON IRAQ: QARADAWI 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) reported. "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 Britain. 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 world." 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 destruction. "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 British." 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 said. 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 (islamonline.net).] Published at the Palestine Chronicle. http://www.iht.com/articles/84346.html * FOR SAUDI ROYAL FAMILY, RISING FEARS OF A POSTWAR IRAQ 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 conflict. 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 war. "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 it." 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. http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/23/int8.htm * TURKISH SPEAKER REFUSES TO MEET US AMBASSADOR 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 war. 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 http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/24_01_03_d.htm * TURKEY STRIKES BLOW AGAINST BUSH'S WAR 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 praiseworthy. 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 control. 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 participate. 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 http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/jan/24/012405122.html * TURKISH LEADER CALLS U.S. HYPOCRITICAL 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 March. 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 war. 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 said. 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 action. [.....] http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/24/top12.htm * IRAQ TOLD TO ACTIVELY COOPERATE WITH UN : REGIONAL CONFERENCE IN ISTANBUL 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 precautions." http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/nation/5023783.htm * IRAQ'S 1980S WAR WITH IRAN: FROM CAMEMBERT TO COFFINS, FROM WEALTH TO WAR DEBT 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 flags. 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 destruction. 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. http://www.villagevoice.com/issues/0305/khatchadourian.php * AMERICA, FROM ALLY TO 'WORLD'S BIGGEST TERRORIST STATE' 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." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F01%2F28%2Fwi rq428.xml * TURKS OPEN BORDERS TO 20,000 US TROOPS 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 state. 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. http://sg.news.yahoo.com/030128/1/36wat.html * IRAQ SAYS IT MIGHT STRIKE KUWAIT IN CASE OF US ATTACK 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. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=75455 * SYRIANS PROTEST WAR PLANS 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 disarm. "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 mouthpiece. 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 demonstration. The demonstrators also voiced anger over what they called Israeli violence aimed at quelling a 27-month-old Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation. 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. http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=75460http://www.gulf news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=75460 * BAHRAINIS RALLY AGAINST WAR ON IRAQ 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. http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/homenews/homenews3.htm * JORDAN TO GET PATRIOTS IN WEEKS 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. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk