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[casi] News, 29/01-05/02/03 (2)

News, 29/01-05/02/03 (2)


*  Inspectors Answer U.N. Questions on Iraq
*  Inspectors dispute Bush's Iraq grievances
*  Iraq Invites Chief UN Inspectors for Talks in Baghdad
*  Inspectors: More Iraq Concessions Needed
*  Iraqi scientists refuse private interviews with UN team
*  Blix may call meeting of experts over medium-range missile test
*  Blix Says He Saw Nothing to Prompt a War
*  U.N. Inspectors Search Campus in Kurdish Zone, Provoking Anger


*  Diplomats: Jordan to OK Airspace Use
*  Turk council gives limited OK to U.S.
*  More Than 765,000 Pilgrims Have Arrived in Saudi Arabia for Hajj
*  Arab foreign ministers to discuss Iraq crisis
*  Anti-war feelings run high in Turkish parliament ahead of war decisions
*  3,000 protest US-British plans to attack Iraq     
*  Turkish leader hints Turkey preparing to support United States in Iraq
*  Kuwait declares border a military zone


by Dafna Linzer
Las Vegas Sun, 29th January

UNITED NATIONS (AP): The chief U.N. nuclear inspector Wednesday pleaded for
more time to search for banned weapons in Iraq, and Russia, France, Germany
- all opposed to near-term military action against Iraq - staked out
positions a day after President Bush's State of the Union.

"We need to make quick progress on all fronts," said Mohamed ElBaradei, head
of the International Atomic Energy Agency. "Time is running out" for Iraq to
comply and that the international community is growing "impatient,"
ElBaradei said as the as he headed into a Security Council meeting.

The closed-door meeting opened shortly before noon EST.

Russian U.N. Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said, meanwhile, that Moscow was not
easing its opposition to a U.S.-led attack on Iraq now. He claimed comments
by Russian President Vladimir Putin had been misinterpreted.

"He said, 'We believe that inspections must contine, and that if Iraq stops
cooperating with inspectors and starts blocking inspections we must look
into it,' " Lavrov said.

The Russian diplomat also challenged the long-standing no-fly zones over
northern and southern Iraq established after the 1991 Gulf War to protect
Kurds and Shiite muslims, respectively.

"I believe the no-fly zones were unilaterally declared in violation of
Security Council resolutions and this is the Russian position vis a vis no
fly zones like the position of overwhelming majority of United Nations
Security Council members."

Russia, Iraq's most powerful council ally, however, added to growing
pressure on Baghdad to comply with weapons inspectors who had reported on
Monday that cooperation isn't what it should be and that Iraq's arms
declaration is lacking.

Russia President Vladimir Putin said Moscow "may change its position" if
Baghdad doesn't comply.

Still, Moscow is waiting to examine U.S. intelligence for itself.

"We do not always assess specific sources of threats identically, but we
regard Russian American cooperation as an imperative in the resolution of
common tasks of the provision of security and stability in the world,"
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

On Wednesday, Lavrov was asked what kind of evidence from the United States
would convince Moscow that Iraq was in material breach of U.N. Security
Council resolutions.

"We would like to see undeniable proof," Lavrov said.

For the United States, Wednesday's closed-door session of the council will
be a first opportunity to gauge international support for going to war to
disarm Saddam Hussein after the president's annucal address Tuesday night.
Bush said the United States would consult with the council but if Saddam
does not disarm, "we will lead a coalition to disarm him."

The president also announced that on Feb. 5 Secretary of State Colin Powell
would present a special session of the council with "information and
intelligence about Iraq's illegal weapons programs, its attempts to hide
those weapons from inspectors, and its links to terrorist groups."

The announcement was welcome by allies skeptical of war and Iraq's ties to

"I'm delighted by this American decision," said French Foreign Minister
Dominique de Villepin. But at the United Nations, there was no indication
that France was ready to shift positions.

"I'm still waiting for some instructions from Paris but don't count on a
change," French Ambassador Jean-Marc de La Sabliere told The Associated
Press ahead of the council meeting where countries are expected to lay out
their positions.

But Russia, Iraq's most powerful council ally, turned up the pressure on
Baghdad to comply with weapons inspectors who had reported on Monday that
cooperation isn't what it should be and that Iraq's arms declaration is

Russia President Vladimir Putin warned that Moscow "may change its position"
if Baghdad doesn't comply.

Still, Moscow is waiting to examine U.S. intelligence for itself.

"We do not always assess specific sources of threats identically, but we
regard Russian American cooperation as an imperative in the resolution of
common tasks of the provision of security and stability in the world,"
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko said.

In Brussels, Belgium Wednesday, NATO delivered another setback to the United
States as four allies again blocked plans for the alliance to send planes
and missiles to defend Turkey if there is war with Iraq.

Officials said the U.S. proposals to start preparations to support Turkey in
the event of a war in neighboring Iraq were not even discussed at a meeting
of the alliance's policy-making North Atlantic Council, after the 19 allies
failed to agree in private talks Tuesday.

France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg say they do not oppose the U.S.
proposals as such. But they feel it is too early to start the military
planning while there is still hope of avoiding a war through diplomacy and
the U.N. weapons inspections process.

The American proposals include sending AWACS surveillance planes and Patriot
missiles systems to Turkey, intensifying naval patrols in the Mediterranean,
filling in for European based U.S. troops sent to the Gulf and an eventual
role for NATO in humanitarian or peacekeeping operations in a postwar Iraq.

In November, the United States managed to unite an often divided council
behind a tough Security Council resolution giving inspectors broader
authority to hunt for weapons of mass destruction. But under the terms of
the resolution, inspectors weren't burdened with having to prove Iraq is
rearming. Instead, Iraq was warned up front of "serious consequences" should
it fail to cooperate with inspectors and provide them with a complete
picture of the country's weapons programs.

On Wednesday, the council will quiz chief inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed
ElBaradei about elements of their report and their findings over 60 days of
inspections in Iraq. Their differing, but ultimately negative reports, were
used by Bush to strengthen arguments for possible war.

In his State of the Union address, the president said Iraqi officials were
spying on inspectors, had removed evidence from suspected weapons sites
before inspectors were able to reach them, and were posing as Iraqi
scientists wanted for interviews by inspectors.

by Dafna Linzer
Salon, 29th January

UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The top nuclear inspector in Iraq disputed President
Bush's claims that Iraqi intelligence agents are posing as scientists but
conceded Wednesday he would not be surprised if the inspections effort had
been infiltrated -- not necessarily by the Iraqis.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Mohamed ElBaradei of the
International Atomic Energy Agency also stood by his inspectors' findings
that aluminum tubes the Iraqis had tried to import were for rockets and not
for a nuclear program, as the president reasserted Tuesday in his State of
the Union address.

"We believe the tubes were destined for the conventional rocket program,"
ElBaradei said. He said the tubes could be modified for uranium enrichment,
but the process would be expensive, time-consuming and detectable.

On the Iraqi scientists, ElBaradei said it was unlikely his inspectors
"could be fooled in the nuclear area on who is a scientist and who is not."

"We know all the scientists from the past and I think our people could
easily detect if that person is a scientist or not."

In his annual speech, Bush said: "Iraqi intelligence officers are posing as
the scientists inspectors are supposed to interview. Real scientists have
been coached by Iraqi officials on what to say, and intelligence sources
indicate that Saddam Hussein has ordered that scientists who cooperate with
U.N. inspectors in disarming Iraq will be killed, along with their

Iraq's U.N. Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri dismissed Bush's allegations as
"lies" and said his government will fully cooperate with inspectors to show
"that these baseless allegations are nothing but fabrications."


The president said in his address that intelligence sources had revealed
that Iraqi security personnel were hiding documents and materials from the
U.N. inspectors, sanitizing inspection sites and monitoring the inspectors

ElBaradei said security was tight among inspectors but he wouldn't be
surprised if the teams had been infiltrated by any country eager to know
what exactly was going on.

"We are used to many efforts of infiltration, but I will not be shocked if
we have been infiltrated. We're trying to have a very tight security plan on
a need-to-know basis, and any intelligence we get is shared with not more
than three or four people maximum."

Blix agreed.

"I don't think anyone at a high level would contend that there have been
leaks," he told reporters.


Peoples Daily, 31st January

Iraq has invited chief UN arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei to
return to Baghdad before Feb. 10 for fresh talks on cooperation in Iraq's
disarmament, a Foreign Ministry statement said on Thursday.

Iraq has invited chief UN arms inspectors Hans Blix and Mohamed ElBaradei to
return to Baghdad before Feb. 10 for fresh talks on cooperation in Iraq's
disarmament, a Foreign Ministry statement said on Thursday.

The invitation was sent by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's science adviser
Amer al-Saadi to Blix, head of the United Nations Monitoring, Verification
and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), and ElBaradei, director of the
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Foreign Ministry statement said their meetings with Iraqi officials
would focus on "a number of questions related to enhancing cooperation and
transparency" between the two sides.

Both parties would discuss "ways to improve the mechanisms of cooperation
and consultation to re-establish a better monitoring regime," the statement

Their discussions would also include some questions on Iraq's disarmament
raised by the two chief inspectors in their reports to the Security Council
on Monday.

In the crucial report on Iraqi disarmament to the UN Security Council, Blix
and ElBaradei gave a better-than-expected assessment of Iraq's cooperation,
but called for more efforts on the Iraqi side to resolve remaining
unanswered questions.

They are scheduled to make their next update report to the UN Security
Council on Feb. 14.

It was not immediately known whether the two inspectors had accepted
Baghdad's invitation.

by Hamza Hendawi
Las Vegas Sun, 31st January

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): Top U.N. arms inspectors said Friday they would not
agree to new talks in Baghdad unless Iraq demonstrated more cooperation and
met unspecified conditions. One hinted it might be necessary to meet Saddam
Hussein to resolve the crisis.

Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the U.N. nuclear agency, and chief inspector
Hans Blix were invited Thursday by the Iraqis to return here for talks
before their crucial Feb. 14 report to the U.N. Security Council.

In New York, Blix said he and ElBaradei would spell out conditions for a new
meeting in a joint letter, which was sent to Iraq's U.N. Mission Friday
night. ElBaradei, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, said Iraq
must remove major obstacles, allow inspectors to interview scientists in
private and agree to the use of U-2 surveillance planes.

"We need to make sure before we go that they are ready to move forward ...
on these issues," ElBaradei told reporters in Vienna, Austria.

The Baghdad meeting would give Iraq the chance to accept U.N. demands before
the Feb. 14 report and possibly buy time before a threatened U.S.-led

In Washington, President Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair said
Saddam was not disarming and the world must hold him to account. "This is a
test of the international community," Blair said.

Both Blix and ElBaradei said they would like to meet the country's senior
leaders, perhaps including Saddam himself, if they return to Iraq, rather
than the lower-ranking aides and advisers with whom they held talks last

"It's very important that ... we meet at the highest level of the
leadership, and hear from them a clear commitment," ElBaradei said, hinting
at a meeting with Saddam.

Blix said if the Iraqis suggested a meeting with Saddam, "we would describe
the situation, the dangerous situation, and the main theme that we have -
cooperation in substance."

Despite Iraq's denials, the United States and Britain insist the Iraqis are
hiding banned weaponry - and have threatened to disarm them by force if
necessary. The United States alone has marshaled nearly 90,000 land, sea and
air forces in the Gulf region and the number is likely to double within two

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Iraq's foreign minister
claimed the United States - in its "feverish desire to launch war" -- might
use its "technological superiority" to plant evidence that Saddam was hiding
weapons of mass destruction.

Foreign Minister Naji Sabri also demanded that the United States present
proof that Iraq was still holding banned weapons.

"The American administration has in the past presented more than one report
that is filled with claims and accusations that lack any evidence," Sabri
said, according to a ministry statement.

U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell has pledged to present evidence about
Iraq's programs before the U.N. Security Council on Feb. 5.

In their invitation to Blix and ElBaradei, Iraq offered to discuss key
unresolved issues - including private interviews with scientists and
surveillance flights. It was not immediately clear, however, if new
concessions had been offered.

Maj. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, chief Iraqi liaison officer with the
inspectors, said Friday that Iraq would not oppose flights by U-2 aircraft,
as requested by the United Nations, as long as the United States and Britain
stop patrols over the "no-fly" zones of southern and northern Iraq while the
spy planes are in the air.

That way, he said Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries would not mistake the
reconnaissance plane for American and British jets and fire on it.


Sydney Morning Herald (from AFP ), 31st January

Two more Iraqi scientists refused to be interviewed in private by UN arms
experts today, the inspectors' spokesman Hiro Ueki said in his daily report.

"In both cases, the Iraqi individuals requested to be interviewed in private
showed up with a person at the agreed hotel and insisted on having the
individual with them during an interview. Consequently, no private
interviews took place," Ueki said.

Since inspections resumed on November 27 after a four-year break, UN arms
experts have unsuccessfully tried to conduct private interviews with 15
Iraqi scientists.

On the ground, Ueki said the disarmament monitors visited five suspect site
today, the 61st day of inspections.

Two UNMOVIC biological teams inspected the privately-owned Al-Tharthar
Distillery and Al-Awali Distillery, both of which produce arak, gin and
whisky northeast of Baghdad.

The UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) team at
Al Awali was lucky enough to be given, for the first time, a case of whisky.

"Yes, they offered them a gift: a case of 12 bottles. It shows the
generosity of the Iraqi people," inspectors' spokesman Hiro Ueki told AFP.

"It was a generous sign and the inspectors did not refuse the gift because
they want to be nice also," Ueki said.

A third biological team inspected an infectious diseases diagnostic
laboratory located in the Central Public Health laboratories building in
central Baghdad.

An UNMOVIC chemical team went by helicopter to inspect the State Company for
Petrochemicals Industry in Basra. This facility is primarily involved in the
production of chlorine and polymers, Ueki said.

One team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspected the
capital's 17th April Facility, which produces precision castings for
industrial purposes.

A second team performed a motorised radiation survey in areas south east of

Air sampling equipment has also been installed by the IAEA on the roof of
the Canal Hotel, the operations base for UN inspections in Baghdad, as a
first step towards the re installation of fixed and mobile air samplers in
Iraq, Ueki added.

by Mark Turner in New York and Kim Ghattas in Baghdad
Financial Times, 31st January

Hans Blix, the United Nations' chief weapons inspector, is considering
convening a meeting of international experts in New York - possibly as soon
as next week - to examine further the question of whether Iraqi medium-range
rockets, which have been flight-tested beyond the permitted range of 150km,
may constitute proscribed systems under UN resolutions.

In Monday's briefing to the Security Council, Mr Blix said two long-range
rocket systems, the Al Samoud 2 and the Al Fatah, "might very well represent
prima facie cases of proscribed systems" - the closest yet, suggest some
analysts, to the "smoking gun" that many have been demanding. Iraq had
declared the missile tests, including those beyond the permitted range, last

On Wednesday, more dovish diplomats suggested that it would be excessive to
demand war on the basis of rockets that exceeded permitted ranges by a few
kilometres. But that range is important in terms of distance from Iraq to
Israeli cities, including Tel Aviv.

Iraq has argued that the rockets would fall within permitted ranges once
loaded with warheads and guidance systems, but this remains to be

In a series of points issued to Security Council members on Wednesday, Iraq
rebutted many of Mr Blix's other criticisms, arguing that his
characterisation of Iraqi non-compliance was not substantiated.

Security Council members opposed to war said the tone of the rebuttal
suggested that Iraq was getting to grips with specific issues, but others
were unimpressed and said it contained some half-truths and falsehoods.

In Iraq, the tone remained defiant, with state-controlled television airing
images of Saddam Hussein meeting senior military officers and talking about
preparations for war.

Most recently pictured smoking a cigar while his men took notes, the Iraqi
leader talked about "successive defence lines, strategically calculated
trenches - and soldiers provided with top equipment".

"The Americans think Iraqi people and the army will not react in an
organised and calculated way, but they don't realise we've planned all the
details," said Mr Hussein. "We have even taught everybody, from farmers to
shepherds, how to deal with airborne soldiers."

Mr Hussein said the US was weaker than in 1991 and was in a vulnerable
position because of anti-US feelings around the world. He also said Iraq had
learnt from its confrontation with US forces in the Gulf war.

"Our new commanders are all young and have fought against the Americans
before as officers and soldiers," he said.

Members of the ruling Baath party have also given a glimpse of preparations.
Muthaffar el Adhami, a legislator and dean of the Baghdad University
political science department, showed journalists stocks of food, matches and
candles in his university office.

by Judith Miller and Julia Preston
New York Times, 31st January

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 30 ‹ Days after delivering a broadly negative report on
Iraq's cooperation with international inspectors, Hans Blix on Wednesday
challenged several of the Bush administration's assertions about Iraqi
cheating and the notion that time was running out for disarming Iraq through
peaceful means.

In a two-hour interview in his United Nations offices overlooking Midtown
Manhattan, Mr. Blix, the chief chemical and biological weapons inspector,
seemed determined to dispel any impression that his report was intended to
support the administration's campaign to build world support for a war to
disarm Saddam Hussein.

"Whatever we say will be used by some," Mr. Blix said, adding that he had
strived to be "as factual and conscientious" as possible. "I did not tailor
my report to the political wishes or hopes in Baghdad or Washington or any
other place."

Mr. Blix took issue with what he said were Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell's claims that the inspectors had found that Iraqi officials were
hiding and moving illicit materials within and outside of Iraq to prevent
their discovery. He said that the inspectors had reported no such incidents.

Similarly, he said, he had not seen convincing evidence that Iraq was
sending weapons scientists to Syria, Jordan or any other country to prevent
them from being interviewed. Nor had he any reason to believe, as President
Bush charged in his State of the Union speech, that Iraqi agents were posing
as scientists.

He further disputed the Bush administration's allegations that his
inspection agency might have been penetrated by Iraqi agents, and that
sensitive information might have been leaked to Baghdad, compromising the

Finally, he said, he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to Al
Qaeda, which Mr. Bush also mentioned in his speech. "There are other states
where there appear to be stronger links," such as Afghanistan, Mr. Blix
said, noting that he had no intelligence reports on this issue. "It's bad
enough that Iraq may have weapons of mass destruction."

More broadly, he challenged President Bush's argument that military action
is needed to avoid the risk of a Sept. 11-style attack by terrorists
wielding nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. The world is far less
dangerous today than it was during the cold war, he said, when the Soviet
Union and the United States threatened each other with thousands of
nuclear-tipped missiles. On balance, "nuclear non-proliferation has been a
success story," he said. "The world has made great progress."

Mr. Blix said he continued to endorse disarmament through peaceful means. "I
think it would be terrible if this comes to an end by armed force, and I
wish for this process of disarmament through the peaceful avenue of
inspections," he said. "But I also know that diplomacy needs to be backed by
force sometimes, and inspections need to be backed by pressure."

The decision to disarm Iraq through force was not his, he said, restating
what has become a veritable mantra: It has to be decided by the "Security
Council, and yes, by Iraq."

Mr. Blix reiterated his report's key finding that Iraq had not provided
anything like the wholehearted cooperation he needed to certify that Saddam
Hussein was not concealing nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. His
concern about Iraq's attitude, he said, led him to refrain from explicitly
asking for more time for inspections when he reported to the Security
Council on Monday.

"I haven't pleaded for continuing inspections because I haven't seen a
change of attitude on the part of Iraq," he said.

In the interview, Mr. Blix said that his examination of a liquid-filled
warhead that inspectors had discovered in a bunker on Jan. 16 found no signs
of any chemical weapons agent. The other 11 warheads found in the bunker
were empty, he said, adding that scores of samples his team had taken across
Iraq in the past two months had turned up "no trace" of either chemical or
biological agents.

Mr. Blix spent hours Wednesday in a closed meeting being questioned about
his report by members of the Security Council. Mr. Blix declined to discuss
his session with the Security Council. But diplomats said that the United
States ambassador, John D. Negroponte, had pressed Mr. Blix to make public
the "indications" he referred to in his report that Iraq had made weapons
with thousands of liters of anthrax it produced in the early 1990's.

Mr. Blix is said to have demurred, saying that the burden was on Iraq to
prove that it had destroyed any anthrax weapons. He also assured Mr.
Negroponte that he would probably be able to determine by Feb. 14 whether
two missiles Iraq has declared it is developing exceed United Nations range
limits. Mr. Blix stated in his report that the missiles seemed to be a
"prima facie" case of a violation by Iraq of Council resolutions.

In the interview, Mr. Blix reiterated his longstanding position that
"practical problems" prevented him from using the authority he was given to
interview Iraqi scientists alone, without Iraqi government minders present,
at a neutral place inside Iraq or outside the country. "We will at some
point ask somebody if he is willing," Mr. Blix said, noting that inspectors
were already "probing" the possibility of such interviews in their
discussions with scientists during inspections.

As for Mr. Bush's charges that Iraqi intelligence agents were posing as
scientists to be interviewed, Mr. Blix said he had seen scant evidence of
it. "There were some occasions where people didn't seem very knowledgeable,"
he said. "But if it has happened, it's not from the top," and "it's
certainly not anything that is common."

Mr. Blix said that the intelligence information being provided by Washington
had improved of late. But diplomats and American officials said that
tensions lingered over American suspicions that Iraq had infiltrated the
United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission, known as

Both sides agree that American satellites photographed what American
analysts said were Iraqi clean-up crews operating at a suspected chemical
weapons site they had identified within 48 hours after the information about
the site was shared with Unmovic. But the diplomats say inspectors concluded
that the site was an old ammunition storage area often frequented by Iraqi
trucks, and that there was no reason to believe it was involved in weapons

"It was a wild goose chase." one diplomat said.

But an administration official said there was "good reason" to believe the
site was suspect, and that Unmovic had waited a week before visiting it.

"Whether something was removed, or whether it was ever there remains an open
question," he complained. He noted that although the C.I.A. was still
providing inspectors with sensitive information, concerns remained about
Unmovic's ability to safeguard it.

"Iraqis may have bugged offices or hotel rooms of some Unmovic people," he
said, noting there were "several examples" in which Iraqis seemed to have
either "advance knowledge, or very good luck in going to places before

by C. J. Chivers
New York Times, 3rd February

IRBIL, Iraq, Feb. 2 ‹ United Nations weapons inspectors made a surprise
visit today to a university in the Kurdish region of northern Iraq,
searching two campus laboratories before being stopped by local officials
and returning to the part of Iraq under Saddam Hussein's control.

It was not clear what, if anything, the inspectors learned from their visit.
Nor was it clear what the rationale was behind it.

But the unexpected visit to a busy campus, and its implied suggestion that
Kurds might be collaborating with Mr. Hussein to produce or hide weapons of
mass destruction, infuriated the local Kurdish government, which represents
a population that Iraq attacked with chemical weapons in the 1980's.

"This is not just an insult, it is pouring salt on our wounds," said Sami
Abdul Rahman, deputy prime minister for the Kurdistan Democratic Party,
which controls the western Kurdish zone.

Livid with anger, he recalled the Iraqi campaign against Kurds in 1987 and
1988, known as Anfal, which included executions, deportations, chemical
attacks and the razing of villages. Tens of thousands of Kurds were killed,
among them as many as 5,000 in a chemical attack on the village of Halabja.

He said inspectors should have respected Kurdish history and the
sensitivities of the population. "The inspectors think Anfal and Halabja is
a passing summer's dream," he said. "It is a nightmare, and will be for
generations to come."

The episode also exposed the distrust simmering in northern Iraq, raising
questions about whether Kurds or other minority groups have sent tips to the
inspectors about places where prohibited weapons might be found, in order to
embarrass political rivals.

It began at about 11 a.m., when a convoy of United Nations and Iraqi
vehicles arrived at Salahaddin University, a campus of 11,000 students here
in the capital of Kurdish controlled Iraq. Witnesses said 10 inspectors
entered the campus, accompanied by 16 Iraqi minders. For about an hour they
toured a chemistry and biology laboratory at the College of Science and were
preparing to inspect other laboratories at the College of Education when the
university president arrived.

"I stopped them," said the president, Dr. Saedi Barzinji. Dr. Barzinji said
he ordered that the Iraqi minders be escorted from the science buildings on
the grounds that they were Iraqi intelligence agents. The Iraqis were
quickly driven back to a checkpoint at Kalak, where a highway passes from
the government-controlled zone of Iraq to the Kurdish-held north.

The Kurds then escorted the inspectors to a nearby United Nations compound,
where they had a tense meeting before the inspectors drove south. The
inspectors could not be reached tonight. But Kurdish officials spoke
bitterly of the incident. "We told them, 'We do not respect people who lie
to us,' " Mr. Abdul Rahman said.

Mr. Abdul Rahman said he met with inspectors on Jan. 15 to discuss the
possibility of searching northern Iraq for evidence of illegal weapons
programs. He said that inspectors would not say why they wanted to search
Kurdish territory, and that he had implored them not to confuse victims of
chemical attacks with the Baghdad leadership that used them.

Nonetheless, he said, they agreed that inspectors could enter northern Iraq
as long as they notified the Kurds and were not accompanied by Iraqis from
the south. They arrived unannounced today. "It's astounding really," said
Fawzi Hariri, assistant chief of the Kurdistan Democratic Party's foreign
relations bureau.

It was not the first time weapons inspectors have toured the area.

In 1994, in an earlier round of inspections, teams visited Sulaimaniya
University, in the eastern Kurdish zone controlled by the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan, a rival of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. They toured
laboratories and interviewed professors, said former students who recalled
the visits.

But those inspections, not long after Mr. Hussein ruled northern Iraq,
differed from the inspection today, after nearly 12 years of

Northern Iraq is a region crowded with competing parties, politicians and
militias. The area was locked in civil war in the mid-1990's, and Erbil
itself was briefly held by the Iraqi military in 1996, when the Kurdistan
Democratic Party invited Mr. Hussein to attack and expel the Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan.

Peace has only solidified recently, when the Parliament began meeting again
last year, but rumors of limited collaboration between some Kurds and the
government in Baghdad still circulate, typically offered without any
evidence. Kurdish officials said it was possible that opponents of the
Kurdistan Democratic Party had passed tips to the inspectors saying that
Kurds in Erbil were participating in a prohibited weapons program.

Mr. Abdul Rahman said he did not know what information led inspectors here,
but said the government would now change rules for United Nations vehicles
in the region, to ensure that inspectors would not surprise the Kurds again.

"We have the habit of not inspecting United Nations cars, and allow them to
pass quickly through our checkpoints," he said. "But from now on we will be
inspecting them. They have exploited this."


Associated Press, 30th January

AMMAN, Jordan: Jordan has agreed to base U.S. troops in the kingdom and to
allow the United States to use Jordanian airspace if Washington launches a
war against Iraq, Jordanian-based diplomats said Thursday.

In Washington, a senior Bush administration official familiar with planning
for possible war in Iraq also said Jordan had agreed to allow a U.S. troop
presence there, but he provided no details on the arrangement.

In another development, the United States will provide Jordan with three
anti-missile batteries in advance of any attack on Iraq, Jordanian officials

The diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the U.S. troop
presence initially would be limited to search and rescue operations but
could expand in the course of any war to include attack forces against
Western Iraq from along the Jordanian border.

Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Affash Adwan, however, denied the
kingdom would allow its territory or airspace to be used in an attack on

"Jordan's position in this regard is clear and firm, and we have stressed it
time and again," Adwan told the official Petra news agency. "We will not
participate in any form whatsoever in any possible war in the region, and we
will not allow our territory or airspace to be used from any side in this

There is strong resistance to a U.S.-led attack on Iraq among Jordanians and
the government has sought to portray itself as uninvolved in any
preparations for war.

Iraq is Jordan's key trading partner and eastern neighbor, and Jordan is
home to a large Iraqi expatriate community.

Iraq's Arab neighbors have called on the United States to find a peaceful
resolution to the standoff over whether Iraq is hiding weapons of mass
destruction. But with the United States appearing determined to attack Iraq,
claiming the U.N. inspection regime had failed, many Arab countries appear
resigned to war and are blaming President Saddam Hussein.

The Patriot anti-missile batteries, to be delivered to Jordan within a few
days, will be deployed mostly along the eastern frontier with Iraq, the
Jordanian officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
They declined to disclose other details.

In the 1991 Gulf war, Iraq violated Jordanian airspace when it launched 39
Scud missiles at Israel. Jordan refused to join the U.S.-led coalition in
that fight.

Last week, Jordan's army chief asked Gen. Tommy Franks, commander of the
U.S. Central Command, to provide the kingdom with the anti-missile
batteries. Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb has said Jordan will rely on
surface-to-air missiles to defend its airspace in the event Israel and Iraq
lobbed missiles at each other.

Jordan had negotiated an air-defense deal with Russia, which failed to
deliver quickly enough.

There was no immediate confirmation on the Patriot deal from Washington,
which delivered six F-16 fighter jets to Jordan on Wednesday in the first
batch of a donation of 16 attack aircraft to bolster Jordanian defense

Jordan is a key U.S. ally in the Mideast, but has crucial business ties with
Iraq. Trade with Baghdad amounted to $700 million last year. The kingdom
also receives all its daily requirement of 90,000 barrels of oil from
Baghdad ‹ half of it at preferential prices and the rest as a gift from
Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Jordanians are bound by close geographic, social, cultural and religious
ties with Iraq and are sympathetic to the Iraqis, who blame 12 years of U.N.
sanctions for the death of tens of thousands of people.

King Abdullah II, who has said Jordan will not be a launching pad for an
attack on Iraq, recently said chances of averting war with Iraq have "become

by Karl Vick
Houston Chronicle, from Washington Post, 31st January

ISTANBUL -- Turkey's influential National Security Council called on
Parliament Friday to make it possible for the United States to station
troops in Turkey for war against Iraq, but conditioned its decision on
"international legitimacy."

Turkish leaders have interpreted international legitimacy to mean a new
United Nations resolution authorizing war, and the National Security Council
did not specify how fast Parliament should act. As a result, the Bush
administration seemed to have moved forward in its quest to organize a
northern front against Iraq from Turkish soil, but without the final green
light it has sought for weeks from the hesitant Ankara government.

The National Security Council, which combines Turkey's military leadership
with the prime minister and other civilian leaders, is considered the
decisive voice in military affairs and foreign relations. Its call on
Parliament to act was thus likely to please U.S. war planners. But according
to the constitution, Parliament must vote on any decision to host foreign
troops, leaving final word to the governing Justice and Development Party
facing a public that strongly opposes war.

In a convoluted two-page statement issued after an overtime meeting, the
National Security Council was vague on timing, urging the government to call
a vote "according to a calendar to be determined by monitoring

U.S. officials have expressed fear that, given the political sensitivities
here, the vote will come too late for the Pentagon to position the forces
that could invade Iraq across its 250 mile border with Turkey. "The
important thing to us is timing, timing, timing," said a U.S. official.

When an attack might come remains unclear even in Washington. But the Bush
administration's conspicuous encirclement of Iraq assumes Turkish
cooperation: elements of the 1st Infantry Division, based in Germany,
already have received orders to deploy to Turkey as soon as they receive
authorization from Ankara.

The council's public statement made no mention of the size of the foreign
force Turkey might accommodate, although negotiations between Turkish and
American officials have concentrated on scenarios that would put no more
than 20,000 infantry troops on Turkish soil at any given moment. The Bush
administration has also asked Turkey to accept war planes at several
military bases in addition to Incirlik, from which U.S. and British flights
have enforced the no-fly zone above northern Iraq since the 1991 Gulf War.

Within the last 10 to 15 days, Baghdad has expelled families from a 20-mile
border strip between the autonomous Kurdish north and the rest of Iraq,
leading to speculation that Saddam is clearing a buffer zone to defend
against an invasion from the north.

Baghdad has reportedly moved forces of the Mujahedeen Khalq -- a militant
Iranian opposition group under Saddam's control -- near the boundary with
the Kurdish zone, said Rasool Razgai, an official of the Kurdistan
Democratic Party (KDP).

The Mujahedeen Khalq denied that its fighters were stationed in northern
Iraq or assisting Saddam's forces in any way.

Tehran Times, 30th January

RIYADH -- More than 765,000 Muslim pilgrims have arrived in Saudi Arabia for
next month's Hajj pilgrimage to the city of Mecca, Islam's holiest site, as
war looms large over neighbor and fellow Muslim state Iraq.

Up until Tuesday, 719,000 pilgrims arrived by plane, 35,300 by land and
10,800 by sea, according to Major-General Abdul Aziz Sajini, head of the
kingdom's passports department, quoted by the official SPA news agency.

Among the arrivals are 5,000 Iraqi pilgrims who crossed the Arar border post
in northern Saudi Arabia. Some 17,000 Iraqi pilgrims are expected to perform
the Hajj this year, AFP reported.

At least 600,000 more pilgrims are expected to arrive from all over the
world before the arrival cutoff date of February 5, six days ahead of the
Hajj climax, which is expected to fall this year on February 11.

These will be joined by at least half a million pilgrims from across Saudi
Arabia and another 200,000 to 300,000 faithful from Mecca itself.

In the shadow of a possible U.S.-led war on neighboring Iraq, the Saudi
cabinet on Monday called for a peaceful Hajj, advising hundreds of thousands
of pilgrims to stay away from trouble.

Last year, Saudi authorities deployed tens of thousands of police, soldiers,
national guards and special forces for an incident-free pilgrimage attended
by some 2.5 million people.

Gatherings, slogans and movements which are not part of the traditional
rites of the pilgrimage are totally banned.

All Muslims are required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once in
their lifetime, provided they have the means to do so.

Saudi authorities have stepped up preparations for the pilgrimage.

The Health Ministry has prepared some 21 hospitals and 300 medical centers,
with a capacity of 7,000 beds, in Mecca, the surrounding sites and the city
of Medina, some 450 km (275 miles) to the north.

An extra 9,500 medical staff including 115 specialists from the United
States, Britain and Malaysia have been brought in.

The Saudi Red Crescent Society set up 115 centers with 314 ambulances.

Saudi telecom boosted phone circuits to 40,000 from last year's 35,000 and
the mobile network has been expanded for more than 1.5 million lines.

by Nafez Kawas and Khalil Fleihan
Daily Star, Lebanon, 3rd February

Foreign Minister Mahmoud Hammoud said Sunday that Arab foreign ministers
would hold an emergency meeting in Cairo in the middle of the month to
discuss the imminent US-led war against Iraq.

Diplomatic sources said it was unlikely that an Arab summit scheduled for
March 23 would be moved up, although the host, Bahrain, has said it has no
objections to such a move and Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa
remained optimistic.

President Emile Lahoud said that an emergency meeting should "reflect a
consensus by Arab states on a united vision regarding the Iraqi issue,"
focusing on the need to implement US Security Council resolutions and not a
rush to the military option.

Lahoud, who made the remarks after a 30-minute meeting with Moussa, said any
aggression against an Arab country was an attack on all Arab countries,
particularly since UN weapons inspectors had failed to present convincing
evidence of an Iraqi threat to peace.

Speaking at the Foreign Ministry after conferring with Moussa, Hammoud said
he had contacted some 18 Arab foreign ministers and that consensus was
reached to hold the ministerial meeting on two issues, namely Iraq and
Palestine. Asked whether the Cairo meeting would be more effective than a
six-state meeting that was recently held in Istanbul, Moussa replied that
the Cairo meeting would be very important.

"We want to do all we can to avoid military action," Moussa said, stressing
that there was always room for diplomacy, especially after the latest
warning by US President George W. Bush giving Iraqi President Saddam Hussein
"weeks, not months" before a military strike.

In response to a question about whether he would visit Iraq to meet with
Saddam, he said he was ready to make such a visit should the need arise.

Moussa said he had nothing to say about Bush's claims of the involvement of
Iraq in the Sept. 11 attacks.

He had said earlier, based on last year's Beirut Arab summit, that all Arabs
were opposed to a military offensive against Iraq.

Speaking to reporters in Baabda Palace after meeting with Lahoud, Moussa
recalled one of the summit's unanimous resolutions: "The Arabs are opposed
to any aggressive action against any Arab country, including Iraq."

He predicted that the Arab summit, scheduled for March 23, would be held
"earlier than expected," adding that the date  would be set after
consultations. He said the Iraq crisis had not reached a "final stage" as
things were still under discussion, referring to a Security Council meeting
in mid-February.

Moussa, who arrived here from Damascus, said his meetings in Beirut were
aimed at "saving the entire region," and that the league was monitoring all
developments, starting with the reports by weapons inspectors, the extension
that should be given to them to finish their job and the evidence that US
Secretary of State Colin Powell is expected to provide on Iraq's alleged
banned weapons.

In response to a question about the chances of a US-led offensive against
Iraq, Moussa suggested that the question "should be put to the United
States, not us."

On Saturday, Hammoud had said that Saudi Arabia and Iraq favored holding a
ministerial level meeting aimed at discussing ways of avoiding a war.

Jordan Times, 3rd February
ANKARA (AFP) ‹ As Turkey's government debates whether and to what extent it
will back a possible future war against its neighbour Iraq, hostility to a
conflict is brewing among the lawmakers in parliament who will ultimately
vote on military action.

Under the constitution, the parliament is required to vote on all decisions
regarding military assistance. The National Security Council, the country's
top decision-making body, has triggered the future vote by asking the
government Friday to obtain approval for military measures in the event of

It is only a matter of weeks before the ruling Justice and Development Party
(AKP) will roll out the Iraqi question before parliament, where both its own
MPs and the opposition have openly attacked the idea of military action.

"War is an event that will have no benefit either for the future of mankind
or our country. We should not allow the door of evil to open," AKP
parliamentarian Mustafa Unaldi told AFP.

"It is our debt to humanity to try to prevent this war," he added.

Government officials have pushed for a peaceful resolution to the Iraqi
crisis, and fears that regional turmoil would drag down its recession-hit
economy and encourage breakaway Kurds in northern Iraq to declare

Ankara is under increasing US pressure to agree to a series of military and
logistical requests to help a possible operation to overthrow the Baghdad
regime, but has frustrated its key ally by avoiding to declare outright its

"We have to find ways to oppose both the war and Saddam. As long as Saddam
stays in power, the US will not cut speed" on its demands to topple him,
Omer Celik, also from the AKP, said.

Observers largely see the National Security Council's call as a reluctant
acceptance that Turkey cannot afford to stay out of an Iraqi war if it wants
to protect its interests and have a say in the future of the region.

But if the AKP government wants to secure parliamentary approval to support
a possible Iraqi war, it needs to ensure that its MPs, who hold a
comfortable majority in the 55O-seat assembly, cast yes votes, observers

One way to do that is for the party leadership to take a decision that would
be binding on all its deputies to vote in favour of the government's motion.

"As a member of the parliament's human rights commission, I would say no to
war, but if there is a group decision, I will evaluate my situation," AKP MP
Cahit Torun said.

Observers also say that the position taken by AKP's charismatic leader,
Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be of critical importance.

"If he puts his weight behind a motion (to support a US-led military
operation), the AKP would suffer less losses in its ranks," one
parliamentary source said on condition of anonymity.

But a decision to back an Iraq operation could be politically dangerous for
the AKP, costing the party valuable support from a public which remains
overwhelmingly opposed to a war.

by Alia Shukri Hamzeh
Jordan Times, 2nd February
AMMAN ‹ More than 3,000 people demonstrated in public on Saturday in protest
against US-British plans to wage war on Iraq.

The protest is the largest in the country since authorities banned public
gatherings and manifestations nearly a year ago.

Carrying portraits of His Majesty King Abdullah and Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein and waving Jordanian, Iraqi and Palestinian flags, demonstrators
from all ages chanted pro-Iraq slogans and called on Saddam to strike Tel
Aviv. The marchers also slammed US President George W. Bush's ³war campaign
against the entire region.²

³America redeploy your troops because they will be trampled upon by our
youth,² chanted demonstrators.

They called on Arab leaders to support the will of their people and to stand
against attempts at launching a military attack on neighbouring Iraq.

³Arab silence over the Zionist-American aggression is treason,² read one
banner, while demonstrators shouted ³Listen Bush, Baghdad will not kneel.²

The march, organised by the Opposition Parties Higher Coordination
Committee, was conducted under heavy security and ended peacefully.

Demonstrators walked from King Abdullah Gardens towards the United Nations
headquarters in Shmeisani. Organisers delivered speeches at the end of the
march calling for national unity and breaking the American will for war.

³Our message to the American administration and Zionist enemy is that your
war will not only be with Palestine and Iraq but the entire nation. If you
are capable of starting this war, you will not be able to end it because you
will be caught in a huge swamp from which you will not be able to emerge,²
Islamic Action Front Secretary General Hamzeh Mansour said.

The 13-member opposition bloc was granted the required licence to conduct
the march by Amman Governor Abdul Karim Malahme.

According to observers, Saturday's march is the first of many public
activities to come over the next few weeks, rejecting military action
against Iraq which has been under UN sanctions for more than a decade.

Others dismissed the public action as a muscle-flexing tool to attract
voters' attention ahead of the next parliamentary elections slated for late

Boston Herald, from Associated Press, 4th February

ISTANBUL, Turkey - Turkey's top politician warned lawmakers Tuesday that the
chances for war in Iraq are increasing and said Turkey risks losing a say in
the future of its neighbor if parliament doesn't back the United States.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's statements appeared to be aimed at preparing
legislators for a possible vote Friday on basing U.S. troops in Turkey ahead
of a possible Iraq invasion. The speech was a dramatic shift for Erdogan and
his fellow legislators, who in the past have only spoken of the need to
avoid war.

"The decisions we make for war are not because we want a war, but so we can
contribute to peace as soon as possible - at a point when it is not possible
to prevent war," Erdogan, leader of the Islamic-rooted governing Justice and
Development Party, told party lawmakers. "Our moral priority is peace, but
our political priority is our dear Turkey."

Turks overwhelmingly oppose a war, but analysts say that U.S. pressure is so
strong that Turkey could damage its relationship with Washington if it does
not allow in American troops to be based there.

Erdogan's comments came as President Bush's envoy to the Iraqi opposition,
Zalmay Khalilzad, arrived in Turkey for talks with top Iraqi Kurdish leaders
- Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and Nechirvan
Barzani, a high-ranking official from the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party.

The United States has reportedly asked Turkey for permission to base up to
80,000 soldiers in Turkey to open a northern front against Iraq. But
Turkey's leaders reportedly have asked Washington to scale back its request.

Turkey is concerned that a war in Iraq could encourage Iraqi Kurds living in
an autonomous region outside of Baghdad's control to try to form an
independent state. Turkey fought a 15 year guerrilla war with Kurdish rebels
in predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkey and fears a revival of the

On Monday, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul said he would ask parliament this
week to allow foreign troops in Turkey, a motion that could open the way for
basing U.S. troops in the country. Turkey's top generals, the president, and
government leaders on Friday endorsed stationing foreign troops in the

Erdogan said that Gul would explain in detail a government proposal Thursday
about basing foreign troops in the country.

"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."

"We are regretful to see that the Iraqi administration, which has to take
strong steps for peace, isn't taking the necessary steps," Erdogan said.
"Unfortunately, we face a situation where the innocent people (of Iraq) are
going to pay for their leader's blindness."

Erdogan, as head of the party, is considered the power behind the scenes in
Turkey. He was not allowed to run for a seat in parliament for legal
reasons, but he is expected to run in March by-elections and take over the
prime ministry after the voting.

The United States wants to upgrade several military sites in Turkey, a
staging point for air raids during the 1991 Gulf War, for possible use in a

The government has so far refused to elaborate on the proposal for basing
troops or when exactly it would be submitted to parliament. The semiofficial
Anatolia news agency said it would be brought up after U.S. Secretary of
State Colin Powell addresses the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday.

Turkish newspapers have quoted Gul as saying parliament might vote only on
allowing a small number of U.S. soldiers to come and repair several Turkish
bases and ports, and take up the subject of U.S. ground troops later.

Parliament recesses next week for a weeklong Islamic holiday and diplomats
say that the approval must come this week to avoid disrupting U.S. war

Dawn, from AFP, 5th February

KUWAIT, Feb 4: Kuwait's defence ministry declared on Tuesday northern areas
bordering Iraq a military zone closed to unauthorized personnel from Feb 15.

"No one will be allowed to enter these regions after this date without
official permission from the army," the news agency quoted a ministry
statement as saying.

It gave no reason for the closure, but the statement follows several weeks
of stepped-up US military exercises in northern Kuwait amid preparations for
a possible US-led attack on Iraq.

Kuwait is expected to be the launchpad for any assault.

Thousands of US troops are amassing in Kuwait and tensions are mounting
within the country as the possibility of an invasion looms.

Two Kuwait schools used by Western expatriates announced on Monday they
would close for six weeks as a security precaution.

A spate of attacks on Westerners by extremists in Kuwait in recent weeks has
raised security concerns among the 8,000 US civilians and the similar number
of European expatriates living there.

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