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News titles, 29/01-05/02/03 This collection was prepared prior to Secretary of State Powell's public hijacking of the UN Security Council and the reactions to it, which will probably generate quite a lot of print. It is unquestionably the best argument the pro-war side have yet produced on the 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' issue, and will probably have a noticeable effect on public opinion in the West. The major obstacle to a US invasion of Iraq, however, is not public opinion in the West but the hostility of Iraq's neighbours, none of whom want to see a massive US military presence, unconstrained by any local sovereign government, installed in their midst. Even the 'countries' (if they can be called that) most likely to co-operate - Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait - will find it difficult without the cover of a clearcut UN mandate. Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Jordan will find it all but impossible. So securing a UN mandate is for the Americans a military necessity not, as it is usually presented (moderate Powell v the hawks) a political choice. They may be able to go ahead without it but it will be much more difficult. At present, eleven members of the Security Council are opposed to providing such a mandate but for some of them this may just be a ploy to secure favours from the US (see 'Saddam get six more weeks', Iraqi/UN relations). Russia has a substantial interest in keeping Mr Hussein in power because of the contracts it has signed with him but if the US agrees to honour all, or most, of these contracts, their opposition may well crumble ('The UN game and the logic of war', Iraqi/International Relations). China seems unlikely to attract attention to itself by issuing a veto. It will probably abstain, as it did in 1991. And its difficult to imagine France holding out on its own. But indications are that Messrs Bush and Blair won't even try for a clear mandate for war. They will push for a 'second resolution' saying that Iraq is in 'material breach'. Unless Hans Blix changes his line quickly he has more or less ensured that a resolution along these lines would be irresistible. Another slice of the sausage, which may still not be enough for the Middle Eastern countries. The sausage slicing technique has been possible because 'the world' allowed it to begin. They accepted - took seriously - the first premise: that Iraq's possession or non-possession of 'weapons of mass destruction' is a real problem that requires immediate attention. Whereas the real problem that requires immediate attention is the United Nations' own refusal to allow the Iraqi people to engage in an economic activity that would ensure them a half decent life. As for the weaponry, every fair-minded person, to use a favourite phrase of Saddam Hussein's ('The Saddam Hussein Interview' Iraqi/UK relations) will agree that Iraq has a fundamental moral right, whatever a prostitute 'International Community' might declare, to the means of self defence. And it is certainly very probable that a country encircled by enemies and deprived of the means of maintaining its conventional weapons capacity, would turn to unconventional means. The circumstances under which Iraq used such means in the past - means that are, admittedly, every bit as vile as the 'shock and awe' tactics that we are preparing to use - were very extreme: a life and death struggle with the Iranian revolution. We would certainly have used equivalent means in an equivalent situation, and Geoff Hoon has said as much ('UK restates nuclear threat', Implications of War). Indeed, where Iraq was using them in what had become a defensive war, we are preparing to use them in a straightforward war of aggression. Iraq's neighbours, most of whom are very well armed, understand this perfectly well and are much less paranoid about the whole affair than we are. Besides which, between the dangers of having a well-armed Saddam Hussein or a well-armed George Bush as neighbour there isn't a lot to choose. If they collaborate with Mr Bush it is perfectly clear that it is not because they want to but because they are afraid not to. And that fear is itself very dangerous. The basic strength of militant Islam comes from the perception that the existing Muslim leadership is incapable of defending the Muslim world community from the non-Muslim west. When the West comes crashing in, establishing itself massively in the very heart of the Arab/Muslim world, then there will really be nowhere else for spirited young Muslims to go. Improbable as it may be, there is some light relief in this collection - see 'Iraqi spies said to be at work in US', Iraqi/US Relations; 'Iraq to Take U.N. Post'; and 'Guernica Reproduction Covered at UN', both in that hotbed of knockabout humour, Iraqi/United Nations Relations. Most gratifying news of the week is 'Australian PM First Victim of Iraq War', Iraqi/International relations. Otherwise the most interesting article, by quite a large margin, is 'Stockpiling Popularity With Food', Inside Iraq. News, 29/01-05/02/03 (1) FINGER TRYING TO POINT AT IRAQ * Al-Qaida and Iraq: how strong is the evidence? [Guardian attempt to summarise the evidence. It doesn't mention Qassem Hussein Mohammed, the prisoner held by the PUK who claims that 'Abu Wael' was a go-between for the Iraqi regime and al-Qaida ('The missing link? Mysterious Iraqi may tie Saddam to bin Laden' in News, 6-13/12/02 (2) and 'Militant Kurds training al-Qaida fighters' in News, 17-24/8/02 (4) ) It claims that Laurie Mylroie's Ramzi Youssef connection has been completely discredited, which may explain her current absence from the radar screen where one would have expected to see her frequently; and it throws in the rather bizarre information that Mullah Krekar, supposedly head of Ansar el-Islam and recently in custody in the Netherlands, is now living as a political refugee in Norway] * Saddam now holds key to war or peace in Iraq [Paul Wolfowitz uses the Condoleeza Rice South Africa, Ukraine, Kazakhstan argument now also picked up by Hans Blix; and he plays the usual trick of turning what UNSCOM says Iraq could have done into what they think he did do. That having been said, the article seems a bit half hearted compared to what one would expect. He must find having to explain himself to the other peoples of the world terribly tedious] * Powell to Go for Broke at the UN [It seems strange that the Security Council has agreed that a meeting in which new evidence is being presented and supported by audiovisual aids should be televised. Normally one would expect SC members to want time to study the material presented before discussing it in public. And is it normal for the US, rather than the office of the - by now apparently invisible - UN Secretary General to announce such a meeting and its arrangements?] * US says aluminium tubes are evidence of Iraq's nuclear goal [They haven't given up. But the more Iraq did to conceal this import, the more surprising it is that they picked something with unsuitable specifications. The article goes on to indicate that the US might continue the war even if Mr Hussein goes into exile] * Biological and chemical threats uncertain [Interview with ' Jean Pascal Zanders, an arms control expert at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute in Sweden', largely on problems of using biological and chemical weapons even if Iraq has them] * False trails that lead to supposedly Al Qaeda 'links' [Apparently detailed account of the US star exhibit, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Though why should we assume that Mullah Krekar is telling the truth when its quite clear that if he was allied to President Hussein it would be in his interest to deny it? And why should Ed Vulliamy who was so keen on the war against Serbia now be so particular about the evidence necessary to justify a war on Iraq? Is President Hussein better than President Milosevic?] * The C.I.A. and the Pentagon take another look at Al Qaeda and Iraq [Extract from inordinately long philosophical disquisition on the states of US intelligence, which wends its stately way towards the conclusion that just because there's no evidence of an Iraqi/al Qaida link doesn't mean there isn't one. The extract discusses the apparent change in George Tenet since he argued in October that Iraq did not present a threat] * Iraqi troops getting gas masks, Kurds say * Saddam's guard tells of arsenal and terror links [A personal bodyguard, who flees to Israel and gives Israeli intelligence the necessary stuff. So it is Prime Minister Sharon who is going to produce the smoking gun. This is surely a bit too 'good' to be true?] INSIDE IRAQ * Clues from ancient Babylon [Pepe Escobar's wandering but always readable thoughts for the week. Though I can't help feeling he exaggerates the importance of Osama bin Laden, who hasn't done much in over a year (touch wood). I agree with his view that Mr Hussein's major concern at the present time is probably what he should do in order to go down in history as an inspiring figure to future generations: 'One thing is certain: Saddam is no Shah of Iran. So how will he play it? As a martyr, like the last Abbasid caliph? Or as a philosopher-king, like Gilgamesh?'] * Stockpiling Popularity With Food [Long, detailed and impressive account of the Iraqi rationing system, one of the best kept secrets of the whole affair. The article, from the Washington Post, informs us that it 'is regarded by the United Nations as the largest and most efficient food distribution system of its kind in the world.' It started before the 'international community' started pretending to a humanitarian interest in Iraq (quite the opposite)] AND, IN NEWS, 29/01-05/02/03 (2) INSPECTIONS PROCESS * Inspectors Answer U.N. Questions on Iraq [The article mainly turns on the position of Russia but also on NATO's lack of enthusiasm for a US proposal to 'defend' Turkey] * Inspectors dispute Bush's Iraq grievances [On US charges of possible infiltration by Iraqi agents] * Iraq Invites Chief UN Inspectors for Talks in Baghdad [The Chinese People's Daily says: 'Blix and ElBaradei gave a better-than-expected assessment of Iraq's cooperation'] * Inspectors: More Iraq Concessions Needed [Amin says Iraq will accept the U2 planes (are there more than one?) so long as the US and Britain agree not to penetrate the No Fly Zones while they are in the air ...] * Iraqi scientists refuse private interviews with UN team [and the inspectors visit 'the privately owned Al-Tharthar Distillery and Al-Awali Distillery' and are given a crate of whisky] * Blix may call meeting of experts over medium-range missile tests [Al Samoud 2 and Al Fatah missiles, which may be able to go beyond the permitted 150 km and reach Tel Aviv, but which have been declared. So can Iraq be attacked for things it has declared?] * Blix Says He Saw Nothing to Prompt a War [Interview with the New York Times, more or less rubbishing specific US charges, but still insisting that Iraq hasn't given whole hearted co-operation: '"I haven't pleaded for continuing inspections because I haven't seen a change of attitude on the part of Iraq," he said.'] * U.N. Inspectors Search Campus in Kurdish Zone, Provoking Anger URL ONLY: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-562093,00.html * US satellites 'spot Iraqis hiding suspected arms' by Elaine Monaghan The Times, 1st February ['"It's pretty clear. While the inspectors are getting into cars, the Iraqis are in full panic moving boxes, crates, bulldozers and a couple of huge vans which look like mobile labs," he said, referring to biological weapons laboratories. "That will be in the briefing."'] IRAQI/MIDDLE EAST RELATIONS * Diplomats: Jordan to OK Airspace Use [Anonymous people say they will; people with names say they won't] * Turk council gives limited OK to U.S. [The Turkish National Security Council has agreed to recommend a limited presence to the Parliament - which, under the Constitution, has the final say - provided there is 'international legitimacy', meaning a second UN resolution. So that's no great change. Note that the Security Council includes the military and can be assumed to be more pro US than the Parliament] * More Than 765,000 Pilgrims Have Arrived in Saudi Arabia for Hajj * Arab foreign ministers to discuss Iraq crisis [In Cairo, in mid-February. Hopefully they'll do better than they did in Istanbul] * Anti-war feelings run high in Turkish parliament ahead of war decisions [US pressures undermine what there is of democracy in the country they like to present as the model of a Muslim democratic state] * 3,000 protest US-British plans to attack Iraq [in Jordan] * Turkish leader hints Turkey preparing to support United States in Iraq ["If we remain outside the equation at the beginning of the operation, it might not be possible to ... affect developments after the operation," Erdogan said. "And if that happens Turkey's long term interests and, God forbid, its security might be endangered." The Parliament is expected to vote on Friday 'to avoid disrupting U.S. war plans'.] * Kuwait declares border a military zone AND, IN NEWS, 29/01-05/02/03 (3) IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS * 'The transatlantic bond is our guarantee of freedom': Declaration of Eight European Leaders in Support of United States on Iraq [Text of letter from five EEC and three not-yet EEC members which expresses great admiration for the USA and suports a tough stand over Mr Hussein's supposed weapons capacity, but still sees the final responsibility as belonging to the UN Security Council] * German parliament ponders role of U.S. bases in Iraq action [Argument that Germany isn't obliged to let the US use its bases on German soil, or fly over the territory, if the US acts unilaterally] * Chirac should accept a timetable [James Rubin, Madeleine Albright's old sidekick, hasn't lost his touch. While appearing as a moderate and champion of the United Nations route, he demands: 'Iraqi co-operation in destroying the thousands of tonnes of chemical and biological agents that, as the UN confirms, are unaccounted for,' thus insinuating into our minds the idea that because material is 'unaccounted for', therefore it must exist. He finishes by very moderately suggesting that if France doesn't play ball then the US should tear up the UN Charter and attack anyway (he doesn't bother himself with the views of the non-permanent members of the Security Council, all of whom, except Spain and Bulgaria, are currently in the anti-war camp - see '11 Security Council members oppose war against Iraq')] * 8 European states back US over Iraq: Setback to France, Germany [Extract, mainly on reactions from Germany and Greece] * 11 Security Council members oppose war against Iraq [and a flurry of diplomatic activity, including Prime Minister Blair visiting France next week and the Iranian foreign minister visiting London] * Mandela denounces Blair over Iraq war ["If there is a country that has committed unspeakable atrocities in the world, it is the United States of America. They don't care for human beings." And after that poor Mr Mbeki has to go to meet Mr Bush. With regard to the Rice/Blix/Wolfowitz South African analogy, Mr Mbeki 'has also offered the services of R.F. "Pik" Botha, the former Foreign Minister, who played a key role in co-operating with the International Atomic Energy Agency over the destruction in 1993 of the seven atomic weapons built by apartheid South Africa, in helping Iraq "to improve its co-operation" with UN weapons inspectors. Defending Pretoria's "no war at any cost" position, Mr Mbeki said that it took UN inspectors two years to verify South Africa's disarmament.' Though I suppose Mr Wolfowitz et al could reply that Iraq has already had twelve years] * Poets see no rhyme or reason for Iraq war [Website with 100 poems against the war, should such a thing take your fancy] * Op-ed diplomacy makes its mark [William Safire says the statement by the Gang of Eight (he makes it nine, adding Slovakia) originated as a brainchild of reporters with the Wall Street Journal and started with their contacting Mr Berlusconi - not the most respectable member of the list. Media-savvy Mr Blair insisted that it could not be an exclusive to the WSJ] * The UN game and the logic of war [March 3rd, according to Pepe Escobar. Who tells us that the US has agreed to honour contracts signed by the Iraqi government with Russian and French oil companies, so their resistance can be expected to crumble very quickly] * France talks peace but sends warships east [Chirac 'may copy President François Mitterrand's tactics in the first Gulf war, which was to join the US-led coalition at the last moment after extracting every ounce of possible advantage.'] * Australian PM First Victim of Iraq War [Australian senate passes a motion of no-confidence in Australian Prime Minister John Howard because of his support for the US war] NO FLY ZONES * US, British Planes Attack North Iraq 'No-Fly' Zone [Near Mosul, Friday, 31st January] * Iraq Bombing Softens Air Defenses [Extract on the significance of cable repeater sites] IRAQI OPPOSITION * Iraqi Opposition Leader Back in Homeland [Chalabi's return to the Kurdish zone (not exactly his homeland), marking a reconciliation with the KDP, who allowed Saddam Hussein's forces to expel and massacre the INC in 1996. He says that, now that he's on 'Iraqi' soil, he's no longer an exile.] AND, IN NEWS, 29/01-05/02/03 (4) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Kurds will not take part in U.S.-led war - Barzani [Interview with Massoud Barzani, who says that the Kurds are not making any exceptional military preparations and that 'no attack will be made from Kurdish-controlled areas', which effectively means no attack from Turkey, unless my sense of geography is very much mistaken. Nonetheless he assumes that regime change is about to take place. Note also that, asked if Baghdad is in breach of Resolution 1441 he says: 'I don't have any concrete information on the matter to judge whether Iraq has violated the resolution.', which contrasts with both th SCIRI and, I think, the PUK who say they've loads of evidence but that nobody seems to be interested in it] * Growing activity reported at air base in Kurdish northern Iraq [Activity at Harir airstrip. Barzani - 'Kurds will not take part in U.S.-led war', above - insists that these are routine Kurdish military operations. This article proposes three or four different possible explanations] * Saddam May Be Creating War Buffer Zone [On border between Iraq and the Kurdish autonomous zone] * A War Crime or an Act of War? [Stephen Pellettiere doesn't stress his well known argument that Iran, not Iraq, might have been responsible for the gassing at Halabja. Instead, he insists that, whoever did it, it was done as an act of war, not from a simple desire to massacre civilians: 'Iraq used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town, which is in northern Iraq not far from the Iranian border. The Kurdish civilians who died had the misfortune to be caught up in that exchange. But they were not Iraq's main target.' This is a much stronger argument. He also argues that control of water might be as strong a motivation for the forthcoming war as control of oil.] * Iraqis and Kurds fear ethnic bloodletting when bombing stops [Impressions of Kirkuk: '"Photo me. Photo me," pleads a fresh-faced young Iraqi soldier as he poses with his friend for my cameraman. "Me too," cries another ... There is something bizarre about these Iraqi boys in their crisp uniforms out in the spring sun, demanding to be pictured by a television crew hailing from the same clime as the RAF pilots.'] * Exiled Turkmen lay claim to oil riches [round Mosul and Kirkuk] * Once a Site of Death, Now a Whirl of Fun [Site of former Iraqi interrogation centre turned into an amusement park in Sulaimaniya] * Interview: PUK will not attack Baghdad - Talabani [Talabani confirms Barzani's view that there will be no attack from the Kurdish zone: 'America's plans do not include the Kurdish-controlled areas in northern Iraq, nor do they include using Kurdish forces.' But he also says: 'We are expecting Turkey to grant permission to the Americans. When the U.S. army crosses the Turkish border and enters northern Iraq, we expect a reaction from the Iraqi regime.' Rather surprisingly, he refers to Mosul and Kirkuk as 'Arab cities'.] * Iraqi Islamist denies link with Baghdad [The case of Mullah Krekar is very strange. He makes no secret of his importance in Ansar al-Islam yet, after four months in a Dutch jail, 'He was released for lack of evidence. His lawyer, Victor Kope, suggested yesterday that Mr Krekar had been detained because of US pressure.'] * Ansar al-Islam leader threatens to document his links to US [In interview with Al-Hayat. The article also says he 'has enjoyed political refugee status in Norway since 1991' leaving one wondering what he has to do with Ansar, which is usually presented as a quite recent phenomenon] URL ONLY: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/02/international/middleeast/02INTE.html * Split at C.I.A. and F.B.I. on Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda by JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON New York Times, 2nd February [not a split between them. Both are agreed that President Bush is exaggerating evidence that is still very 'murky'. But its all quotes from the sort of anonymous official we don't take very seriously when its the other side that is quoting them] AND, IN NEWS, 29/01-05/02/03 (5) IRAQI/UK RELATIONS * Iraq War Not Justified, Say Labour MEPs [Resolution passed in the European Parliament. It condemns Saddam Hussein, wants his weapons of mass destruction removed and says this should be done by the Security Council. So far, so much in line with the 'vast numbers' of European countries who support Donald Rumsfeld. But they also say: "breaches of UN Security Council resolution 1441 currently identified by the inspectors with regard to weapons of mass destruction do not justify military action" - in line with Mr Blix's own view of the matter.] * Starting a massive offensive [Massive Attack against the war. We learn that the BBC persuaded them to change their name during the United Nations' Gulf War. And he (Robert del Naja) makes this rather good observation: "We came out of a period where conspiracies were mysterious and exotic, the truth behind the shadows. But some of the things that are happening politically, globally, are just so transparent I find it amazing. It's like daylight robbery - it's so blatant nobody can believe it."] * The Asylum Trail [No internment camps or mass deportations for Iraqis living in the UK] * Saddam gives Benn TV interview * The Saddam Hussein Interview [the full, completely uninspiring, text. What a wasted opportunity] * Two Plaid Euro-MPs on Iraq visit * Safe havens plan to slash asylum numbers ['Officials stress that care needs to be taken that the scheme is not seen as "dumping asylum seekers on the poorer nations" ...', which is exactly what it looks like] URL ONLY: http://www.guardian.co.uk/weekend/story/0,3605,885299,00.html * Why we should go to war by Julie Burchill The Guardian, 1st February [Julie Burchill compares the present anti-war movement unfavourably with 'the common sense and progressiveness of arguments against American intervention in Vietnam, Chile and the like' - which isn't quite how I remember it. I remember being expected to sing rousing choruses of 'Ho Ho Ho Chi Minh' and refusing to do so, not because I had anything against Ho Chi Minh but because I reckoned I didn't know enough about him, or about the wishes of the population of Vietnam, to be expressing such enthusiasm. At least nobody's expecting me to express any enthusiasm for Saddam Hussein. A national liberation movement is easy to support because we don't know how its going to perform in government. It becomes more difficult now we're dealing with people who have had their hands bloodied by actual power. Though Julie Burchill's commonsense and progressive left didn't have too many problems with Russia and China. The Julie Burchills, Tony Blairs and Jack Straws are the sort of people who were in CND at the time when we were facing the comparatively credible threat of the Soviet Union but, now that that is gone, they're all on board for the Strategic Defense Initiative. Burchill goes on to complain that 'Military inaction, unless in the defence of one's own country, is the most extreme form of narcissism and nationalism' so it appears she wants intervention everywhere. But is it just the USA and UK who are to be allowed to intervene, or can everyone have a go? Saddam Hussein liberating the two thirds of the population of Kuwait who were completely deprived of citizenship rights under the Kuwaiti constitution, for example? If military inaction is the most extreme form of narcissism, and if that is a bad thing, then surely everyone has to engage in military action. But I've left her strongest argument to the end, dreading the moment when I would have to face up to it. Its about the company we keep. She's on board with the groovy Condoleeza Rice, while we're stuck with the Mothers' Union and the faggotty Catholic Church and pop music establishment.] IRAQI/US RELATIONS * Iraqi spies said to be at work in US [My favourite article of the week. So that explains all those demos ... I thought there was something funny about that chap with the big moustache on the Chicago Town Council ...] * Anthrax vaccination day for US Marines in Gulf ['"It makes it very real when they start giving you vaccinations for things you hadn't even heard of before," said 22-year-old Carrie Cornell ...' Carrie Cornell, it seems, hasn't heard of anthrax or smallpox. One wonders if she's heard of Gulf War Syndrome] * Bush reverses drift in poll ['about half of all Americans say the United States should take military action even without the endorsement of the United Nations' according to new Washington Post-ABC News poll.] * Building a buzz for peace [Long account of problems US peace movement has with the US media] IRAQI/UNITED NATIONS RELATIONS * Iraq to Take U.N. Post [Iraq, it seems, is due to hold the chair of the disarmament conference in Geneva for four workweeks from March 17 to May 25 because, it seems, its done in alphabetical order and Iran, perhaps out of a sense of humour, 'abruptly stood aside, giving no explanation'] * Saddam gets six more weeks [Extract which mentions US bribes offered to other members of the Security Council. The bribes mentioned are still trifling. They should obviously hold out for much more than that] * Guernica Reproduction Covered at UN [I have some dim memory that Eric Gill was asked to do a frieze for the UN Security Council chamber but his proposed subject - Christ driving the money changers from the temple - was turned down for much the same reason as here. Not that it was inappropriate but because it was too appropriate] AND, IN NEWS, 29/01-05/02/03 (6) IMPLICATIONS OF WAR * The recolonisation of Iraq cannot be sold as liberation [Extracts. Although the prospects it offers for the future occupation of Iraq are grim, they could look quite attractive when compared to the present state of affairs. Direct foreign government might be an improvement on intense foreign pressure on a supposedly independent government] * Iraqis want to be rid of Saddam [David Hirst broadly thinks all Iraqis are in favour of the war. He thinks it will be good for them, but bad for the US. And he gives this clear and succinct account of the ambitions of the 'neocons': 'The Middle East stands on the brink of geopolitical upheavals unlike anything since the break-up of the Ottoman Empire, and the US is embarking on a quasi colonial enterprise, involving direct, physical conquest and occupation, comparable to the one which it strongly opposed when, 80 years ago, the old colonial powers, Britain and France, were doing the colonizing. The basic idea is to install a client regime in Iraq, then turn this potentially rich and strategically pivotal country into the fulcrum of a wider design that will bring the entire region firmly under American-Israeli control: for such are the neoconservatives' personal, professional and ideological ties with Israel, and right-wing Israel at that, that the agenda is patently Israeli as much as American.'] * Blair backs Kosovo-UN model to rule after Saddam ['Officials said Britain favours a model inspired by the experience in Kosovo whereby civil affairs in Iraq would be run by the UN while security would remain in the hands of American-led forces.'] * Imperial America is about to strike ['Hailed as a triumph of anti-war European diplomacy, UN resolution 1441 has in fact provided cover for a US military build up.' Patrick Seale, developing an argument rather like David Hirst's - also in the Lebanon Daily Star - sees this as a triumph for 'a cabal of Zionist extremists who have shaped America's political and military agenda', and a catastrophe for the USA. he has this nice phrase about 'Britain's Prime Minister Tony Blair, who ... is fond of saying, in the teeth of a great deal of contrary evidence, that America is a "force for good" in the world!'] * Why the Left is wrong on Saddam [David Aaronovitch argues passionately in favour of humanitarian intervention of the sort that didn't occur in Bosnia and Rwanda. I agree with him that those who argued in favour of the intervention in Kosovo and against the intervention in Iraq are being inconsistent; but if Mr Aaronovitch wants to be consistent, should he not be arguing in favour of intervention in Israel/Palestine?] * Saddam 'plans to use UN staff as hostages' ['a senior Iraqi official told the London-based Arab language newspaper Al Sharq Al Awsat.' One wonders why a senior officer should say such a thing. Or why an Arab language paper shoulod print it. We are also told that the Special Republican Guard's 'chemical and biological unit has been ordered to prepare missiles armed with chemical warheads for deployment in Baghdad.' So now we know.] * Bush approves nuclear response [in National Security Presidential Directive 17, September 2002, with discussion on extent to which it represents a new departure] * Grounded by War? ['According to a new study commissioned by a major airline and obtained by Time, half of America's large airlines could be bankrupt within months if war ‹ even a brief one ‹ breaks out in Iraq.'] * UK restates nuclear threat ['He (Geoffrey Hoon) said: "We have always made it clear that we would reserve the right to use nuclear weapons in conditions of extreme self defence."' As for example if Britain found itself about to go under to the forces of the Ayatollah Khomeini. Which were the conditions in which President Hussein 'gassed his own people' at Halabja] * Iraqi water and sanitation systems could be military target, says MoD [The war against Serbia was won entirely by targeting the electricity system with the deliberate intention of disrupting civilian life. See the Select Committee on Defence Minutes of Evidence, Thursday 20th June 2000, Lord Gilbert, para 1046. Though the elected President Milosevic may have been more concerned for the wellbeing of his civilians and therefore more susceptible to that kind of pressure than President Hussein] * US chooses Saddam's successor [and guess who it is! Interview with Mohamed al-Jabiri, a sidekick of Saddam's successor who was involved in the drafting of a new Iraqi legal system and constitution. 'He said a new government would be in place three months after Saddam's removal and elections for a national parliament after one year.' We shall see. He also says: 'He said that they (the bad guys - PB) would be prosecuted in Iraqi courts, not in the International Court of Justice in the Hague. "We don't want to give Saddam the chance like [former Yugoslav leader Slobodan] Milosevic to use it for propaganda," he said.' But didn't the US go to great lengths to prevent Mr Milosevic from being tried in Serbia?] * Only justice can bring peace to Middle East conflicts [Extract giving proposals of the 'Iraqi Initiative for Democracy' for defanging Mr Hussein without an outright war. The intiative has the support of Chibli Mallat - who has launched an effort to indict Prime Minister Sharon in Belgium - and Edward Said. It sounds to me a bit like the sort of thing John Hemmings has been suggesting on the list] * Iraq's 'ghost' troops ready for war: exiles [Tawfik al-Yassiri thinks the Iraqi army will put up a good fight, but it will be a guerrilla hit and run affair. Is this pride in what used to be his own army? a suggestion that the professionalism of his own, rather neglected, military group is necessary? or just a straightforward assessment by one who is in a position to know?] * Wage war in Iraq for the sake of peace in the Middle East [Rosy but confused account of the possible consequences of a US victory, by David Owen. The article reads as if it has been badly edited] * Peace will cost more than war [Anonymous MoD source tells The Scotsman they are planning to instal 20,000 troops in Iraq for three years. Apparently to prevent power from getting into the hands of those who are currently called 'the opposition', principally the Kurdish and Shi'i parts of it] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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