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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 * German parliament ponders role of U.S. bases in Iraq action * Chirac should accept a timetable * 8 European states back US over Iraq: Setback to France, Germany * 11 Security Council members oppose war against Iraq * Mandela denounces Blair over Iraq war * Poets see no rhyme or reason for Iraq war * Op-ed diplomacy makes its mark * The UN game and the logic of war * Australian PM First Victim of Iraq War NO FLY ZONES * US, British Planes Attack North Iraq 'No-Fly' Zone * Iraq Bombing Softens Air Defenses IRAQI OPPOSITION * Iraqi Opposition Leader Back in Homeland IRAQI/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A3685-2003Jan30.html * 'THE TRANSATLANTIC BOND IS OUR GUARANTEE OF FREEDOM': DECLARATION OF EIGHT EUROPEAN LEADERS IN SUPPORT OF UNITED STATES ON IRAQ Washington Post, 30th January What follows is the text of a joint declaration signed by the leaders of eight European states in support of the United States in its efforts to disarm Iraq. The declaration was published in various European newspapers. The real bond between the United States and Europe is the values we share: democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the Rule of Law. These values crossed the Atlantic with those who sailed from Europe to help create the USA. Today they are under greater threat than ever. The attacks of 11 September showed just how far terrorists - the enemies of our common values - are prepared to go to destroy them. Those outrages were an attack on all of us. In standing firm in defence of these principles, the governments and people of the United States and Europe have amply demonstrated the strength of their convictions. Today more than ever, the transatlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom. We in Europe have a relationship with the United States which has stood the test of time. Thanks in large part to American bravery, generosity and far-sightedness, Europe was set free from the two forms of tyranny that devastated our continent in the 20th century: Nazism and Communism. Thanks, too, to the continued co-operation between Europe and the United States we have managed to guarantee peace and freedom on our continent. The transatlantic relationship must not become a casualty of the current Iraqi regime's persistent attempts to threaten world security. In today's world, more than ever before, it is vital that we preserve that unity and cohesion. We know that success in the day-to-day battle against terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction demands unwavering determination and firm international cohesion on the part of all countries for whom freedom is precious. The Iraqi regime and its weapons of mass destruction represent a clear threat to world security. This danger has been explicitly recognised by the United Nations. All of us are bound by Security Council Resolution 1441, which was adopted unanimously. We Europeans have since reiterated our backing for Resolution 1441, our wish to pursue the UN route and our support for the Security Council, at the Prague Nato Summit and the Copenhagen European Council. In doing so, we sent a clear, firm and unequivocal message that we would rid the world of the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. We must remain united in insisting that his regime is disarmed. The solidarity, cohesion and determination of the international community are our best hope of achieving this peacefully. Our strength lies in unity. The combination of weapons of mass destruction and terrorism is a threat of incalculable consequences. It is one at which all of us should feel concerned. Resolution 1441 is Saddam Hussein's last chance to disarm using peaceful means. The opportunity to avoid greater confrontation rests with him. Sadly this week the UN weapons inspectors have confirmed that his long-established pattern of deception, denial and non-compliance with UN Security Council resolutions is continuing. Europe has no quarrel with the Iraqi people. Indeed, they are the first victims of Iraq's current brutal regime. Our goal is to safeguard world peace and security by ensuring that this regime gives up its weapons of mass destruction. Our governments have a common responsibility to face this threat. Failure to do so would be nothing less than negligent to our own citizens and to the wider world. The United Nations Charter charges the Security Council with the task of preserving international peace and security. To do so, the Security Council must maintain its credibility by ensuring full compliance with its resolutions. We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those Resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result. We are confident that the Security Council will face up to its responsibilities. Jose Maria Aznar, Spain Jose Manuel Durao Barroso, Portugal Silvio Berlusconi, Italy Tony Blair, United Kingdom Vaclav Havel, Czech Republic Peter Medgyessy, Hungary Leszek Miller, Poland Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark http://newsobserver.com/24hour/world/story/743025p-5397136c.html * GERMAN PARLIAMENT PONDERS ROLE OF U.S. BASES IN IRAQ ACTION by Tony Czuczka News & Observer, 30th January BERLIN (AP) - Legal experts in parliament argued Thursday that Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's pledge to let the United States use German bases in a war with Iraq need not apply if Washington acts unilaterally. While angering Washington by staunchly ruling out a German role in military action against Iraq, Schroeder said in November that the U.S. military could count on using crucial bases in Germany and German airspace. But a parliamentary study made a potentially significant distinction, concluding that accords on the stationing of U.S. troops in Germany guarantee base and overflight rights only for exercises or if the NATO alliance acts jointly. A copy of the study was obtained by The Associated Press. "Preventive military measures by an individual country ... are not covered by the current NATO troop statute," said the study, commissioned by conservative opposition lawmaker Hans-Peter Uhl. Schroeder has avoided revisiting the question of basing rights as U.S. pressure for action against Saddam Hussein has built. But he has insisted that any decision on war must be an international one, made by the U.N. Security Council. Schroeder's anti-war stance has aligned him with France and the German public, but he has found himself increasingly at odds with other European countries. The chancellor hinted Wednesday in the clearest terms yet that he is losing hope that war can be avoided. Speaking in the western town of Wesel, Schroeder said he was "concerned - more than one might sometimes think - concerned whether we will succeed" in preventing a war in Iraq. "We have to use all our strength to ensure ... that we avoid war and resolve the conflict peacefully," Schroeder said. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1042491363522&p=1012571727102 * CHIRAC SHOULD ACCEPT A TIMETABLE by James Rubin Financial Times, 30th January Europe is more divided than ever on how to deal with Saddam Hussein. The leaders of Britain, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic appear to back America's threat of war. The opposition of France and Germany has hardened. But before war comes, the US should make a last push for further international support. At today's Camp David summit with Tony Blair, George W. Bush should focus as much on giving Jacques Chirac a last chance to join the US-led coalition as on giving Mr Hussein a last chance to disarm. Without an eleventh-hour change of heart by Baghdad in favour of disarmament, or exile of Mr Hussein and his cronies via a coup, an American-led invasion of Iraq appears imminent. Such a war could be mercifully short, or nasty, brutal and longer than predicted. In either case, America and Britain would prevail - but they would be best served by having the maximum degree of international legitimacy and support. The endorsement of the United Nations Security Council would be important, to make it easier for Turkey and Arab allies to provide bases and political cover if a long siege of Baghdad is necessary. And when it comes to the aftermath of war, the occupation and rebuilding of Iraq and its reintegration into the international community, Washington should be seeking to share the burden and the responsibility. But the Bush administration will not wait long for a UN endorsement. For political and logistical reasons, a massive invasion force cannot be kept ready and waiting in the region for another six months. The two crucial issues facing Mr Bush and Mr Blair are evidence and time. The presentation by Colin Powell, secretary of state, to the UN next week is designed to persuade the world that the threat from Mr Hussein is so urgent and immediate that a year-long programme of inspections must be cut short. Unless there is dramatic new proof, the administration's belief that Baghdad's links with al-Qaeda will clinch the argument is likely to be mistaken. The Central Intelligence Agency has publicly disavowed the likelihood of Mr Hussein's handing over his most prized weapons to Osama bin Laden. The rest of the world will not accept that the mere possibility of such a transfer justifies immediate war. Instead, Mr Powell should focus on the argument the US and Britain are now winning, rather than the smoking gun they appear not to have found. Resolution 1441 requires Iraq to co operate actively with UN inspectors and disarm. Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, this week made it clear that Iraq was not doing so, bolstering Washington's case. Mr Powell should use Mr Blix's words to put on the spot those countries that see inspections as a form of containment rather than disarmament. As for timing, the French government has never answered the fundamental question: how much time would Paris allow for inspections without Iraqi co-operation in destroying the thousands of tonnes of chemical and biological agents that, as the UN confirms, are unaccounted for? Dominique de Villepin, French foreign minister, says the US is "impatient". But how long is long enough? It is France that cites the UN as the only source of legitimacy for international security. How long will the French allow Iraq to defy the very institution they say they treasure? Of course, after two years of America's gratuitous unilateralism - spurning the Kyoto protocol on climate change, the International Criminal Court, even Nato, and pronouncing a new security strategy of pre-emption - it is hard for France to believe that Washington wants to uphold the international order. Perhaps if the British prime minister were making the case, it would not be so easy for Paris to object. For it is Mr Blair who has been prepared to use force against the enemies of civilisation and international order - in Bosnia and Kosovo, in Afghanistan and in Iraq. Whoever makes the case, Mr Bush and Mr Blair can agree that if a short delay brought Paris on board - and with it UN endorsement - it would be worthwhile. But if Mr Chirac will not say how long is enough for inspections, or if he is prepared to give Baghdad another year in which to defy the UN, they should proceed without him. France should now clarify its stance or step aside. That should be the message from Camp David. The writer is a former US assistant secretary of state http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/31/int1.htm * 8 EUROPEAN STATES BACK US OVER IRAQ: SETBACK TO FRANCE, GERMANY Dawn, 31st January [.....] In Berlin, officials insisted it was "plain wrong" to describe the Germans as isolated and France said that all of Europe agreed on the need to enforce UN resolutions while urging weapons inspectors be given more time. But Russia, which wields veto power in the UN Security Council, warned that the aim of the United Nations was to disarm Iraq and not oust President Saddam. "The objective on Iraq is stated in the Security Council resolution - they should not have arms of mass destruction nor the means to produce them. This is the main problem," Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said during a visit to Sofia. "Some countries link the issue of weapons of mass destruction to a regime change in Iraq. But this goes against the resolution," he said. In Greece, which has joined France and Germany in criticizing the war plans of Mr Bush, a foreign ministry spokesman said the Greek EU presidency had not even been informed in advance about the letter. "We were not invited to sign that letter," the spokesman said, while Prime Minister Costas Simitis said the letter did not help attempts to create a common EU position on the crisis. The European parliament passed a resolution by a vote of 287 to 209 opposing any unilateral military action against Iraq. EU Chief slams "gang of eight": Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis, current president of the European Union, on Thursday criticized eight fellow leaders for a declaration on Iraq which he said was at odds with the EU's drive for a common position. The joint letter, signed by eight European leaders backing the United States over the crisis with Iraq, had highlighted and brought into the open the EU's divisions on the issue. "The way in which the initiative on the issue of Iraq was expressed does not contribute to the common approach to the problem," Simitis said in a statement in his role as EU president. "The EU aims to have a common foreign policy so on Iraq there is a need for coordination."-AFP/Reuters http://www.dawn.com/2003/01/31/top16.htm * 11 SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBERS OPPOSE WAR AGAINST IRAQ by Masood Haider Dawn, 31st January UNITED NATIONS, Jan 30: At a closed-door UN Security Council meeting on Wednesday, 11 out of 15 members expressed their reservations against launching military action against Iraq until UN inspectors have completed their job. It became apparent that most council members are not convinced that the negative report from Chief Inspector Hans Blix that Iraq was not cooperating nor the case made against Iraq by President Bush, have changed any positions in the council. Supporting continued inspections were France, Russia and China, which all have veto power, as well as Germany, Mexico, Chile, Guinea, Cameroon, Syria, Angola and Pakistan. Only Bulgaria and Spain backed the United States and Britain in focusing on Iraq's failures rather than the inspections process. Mohamed ElBaradei, Chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency, again called for extension of months to allow inspectors to come to a conclusive judgment about Iraq's weapons programme. "I still believe that we have not exhausted the possibility for the peaceful resolution of the issue, and I will continue to plead for more time," ElBaradei said. Some Security Council diplomats told reporters that the possibility of a second resolution paving the way toward war was being widely discussed. The most likely scenario would set a relatively short deadline for Baghdad to meet certain steps to avert military action, the diplomats said. The United States and Britain are the only two countries to declare Iraq in "material breach" - which could trigger war. Diplomats said that after Powell's appearance, the two countries might try to get the entire council to declare Iraq in "material breach." US Secretary of State Colin Powell will present classified information on Iraq's weapons programme to the Security Council on Feb 5 to prove that Baghdad was still hiding its weapons of mass destruction. The presentation is likely to include a slide show behind closed-doors. President Bush, meanwhile, was given a boost by the support expressed by eight European community leaders. In a signed letter published on Thursday in newspapers including The Wall Street Journal and the Times of London, the leaders of Britain, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland and Denmark paid homage to the "bravery and generosity of America" in ensuring peace in Europe. France and Germany stood out as the two holdouts against the support given by their eight counterparts. At the UN the French Ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere, told reporters that "the majority in the council is in favor of giving more time to the inspectors," adding "as long as the prospect... of the disarmament of Iraq through peaceful means exists, we have to continue." The foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, Prince Saud, was scheduled to meet President Bush and the Secretary of State Colin Powell on Thursday. Mr Bush also planned to meet on Thursday with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and on Friday at Camp David with Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Tony Blair was due to go to Madrid late on Thursday afternoon for a two-hour stop to meet the Spanish prime minister before jetting across the Atlantic for Friday's meeting with Mr Bush at the Camp David retreat. Diplomats here are of opinion that Mr Bush and Mr Blair are expected to align military strategy for a possible attack on Iraq, but will agree to wait a few weeks for more UN weapons inspections before launching war. This week, Mr Blair has already talked by phone to leaders of France, Canada, Australia, Turkey and Greece. Next week Mr Blair is expected to visit France for a meeting with President Jacques Chirac, and Iran's Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi visits London, where British officials will put the case for war to Iraq's key neighbour. Mr Blair, the reports here say, has aligned his position closer with Mr Bush prior to his departure by explicitly linking Iraq with the militant Al Qaeda network blamed for Sept 11 and other attacks. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-561252,00.html * MANDELA DENOUNCES BLAIR OVER IRAQ WAR by Michael Dynes in Johannesburg The Times, 31st January NELSON MANDELA, South Africa's former President, made a scathing attack yesterday on plans for war against Iraq, denouncing the United States and Britain for seeking to plunge the world into "a holocaust". Condemning Tony Blair for his robust support of American threats to disarm Iraq by force with or without UN approval, Mr Mandela said that the Prime Minister had become "the foreign minister of the United States. He is no longer the Prime Minister of Britain." Mr Mandela asked: "Why is the United States behaving so arrogantly?" Saying that all America wanted was Iraqi oil, he accused President Bush and Mr Blair of undermining the authority of the United Nations because Kofi Annan, the Secretary-General, was black. "Is it because the Secretary-General of the United Nations is now a black man?" Mr Mandela said. "They never did that when secretary-generals were white." He called for the American people to rise up in protest against President Bush and urged all world leaders with vetoes in the United Nations Security Council to unite in opposition to the US-British plans for disarming Iraq. "One power with a President who has no foresight and cannot think properly is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust," Mr Mandela, 84, told a cheering audience at an international women's conference in Johannesburg. In recent months, Mr Mandela, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, has repeatedly criticised the policy of President Bush and Mr Blair towards Iraq, demanding that Washington and London respect the UN's authority. But yesterday's speech was far harsher and more personal than anything hitherto. Mr Mandela said that the United Nations was the only reason that there had not been a third world war, and that it should be up to the Security Council alone to decide how to deal with the regime of President Saddam Hussein. The United States, which had callously dropped atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had no moral authority to police the world, Mr Mandela said. "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." Mr Blair and Thabo Mbeki, the South African President, are to meet at Chequers tomorrow. Mr Mbeki is expected to give dire warnings about the consequences of a war against Iraq for Africa's prospects for economic recovery. Mr Mbeki, who will also be speaking for the African Union and the Non-Aligned Movement, is expected to exhort Mr Blair to pull back from using force to disarm Baghdad, and to grant UN weapons inspectors more time. Fearing the effects of a 1970s-style oil-shock, in which prices could reach $80 (£48) a barrel, Mr Mbeki will tell Mr Blair that such a development would effectively mean saying goodbye to African economic progress. The four to five hours of largely one-to-one talks will also cover Zimbabwe, the war against terrorism, the Middle East and other regional issues such as the New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad), although there is no formal agenda, British diplomats said. Mr Mbeki, who has said that Iraq has not hindered the UN inspectors, earlier called on all South Africans to join the world peace movement to help to prevent a US-led war against Iraq. He 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. "It is clear to us that it is necessary to give additional time to the inspectors," he said. "We are united in our conviction that weapons of mass destruction must be liquidated, but there is no need to go to war to do this. War would create new and enormous problems. This is not necessary. Nothing has happened to suggest that the Security Council must take a route that leads to war," Mr Mbeki added. Mr Blair is likely to give Mr Mbeki a cordial hearing. But Mr Mbeki has already stated publicly that he has no power to alter the course of events. Although South Africa's ruling African National Congress cultivated close ties with the British Labour Party during its years in exile, relations between the two since Mr Blair came to power in 1997 have undergone periods of severe strain. Britain remains by far the largest foreign investor in South Africa and is also its third largest trading partner. But Pretoria's post-apartheid foreign policy has been preoccupied with developing new ties with Africa and the rest of the Third World rather than with the West. Britain has denounced President Mugabe's illegal land seizures in Zimbabwe, the destruction of the rule of law and last year's fraudulent presidential election. But South Africa has consistently refused to condemn Mr Mugabe's regime, saying that Africans should be left alone to sort out Africa's problems. South Africa also recently found itself the target of intense Western criticism after voting for Libya, a former sponsor of terrorism with an appalling record on human rights, to take the chair of the United Nations Human Rights Commission. Mr Blair, initially an enthusiastic supporter of Nepad, in which the West promised billions of pounds in aid and investment in exchange for a commitment to uphold democracy, the rule of law and good governance, is now calling for African leaders keep their part of the bargain. http://www.swissinfo.org/sen/Swissinfo.html?siteSect=143&sid=1601260 * POETS SEE NO RHYME OR REASON FOR IRAQ WAR by Robert Melnbardis Seissinfo.com, 31st January MONTREAL (Reuters) - A group of more than 100 English-language poets who banded together to produce a electronic book of poems speaking out against a war on Iraq hopes to expand the project, its editor says. Todd Swift, a 36-year-old published Montreal poet who lives part of the year in Paris, edited poems sent in by writers from around the world over just one week. They were published in an electronic anthology coinciding with the report earlier this week by U.N. chief weapons inspector Hans Blix. Entitled "100 Poets against the War," the 95-page electronic book can be download free at "www.nthposition.com," a London-based online magazine. Swift encourages those interested to host, share, swap and print the collection. Download instructions include tips on how to fold and staple the pages into book form. A revised version of the anthology will be available for download on Monday, and some better known names from the international poetry community will be added, Swift told Reuters. "I don't want to give the impression that we're just trolling for big names now, but there are a few very fine poems by well-known and lesser-known poets that will be added," he said on Thursday. Swift said the impetus to cobble together a book of poems by those opposed to armed conflict against Iraq came from a desire to do "something more dynamic" than simply signing a petition against war. Relying on an e-mail network of fellow poets around the world, Swift sent out the call, challenging 75 of them to submit a poem within the week while passing on the word. He received more than 400 poems by e-mail, and after sifting through them, selected and edited those that would make it into the book. Several of the submissions were entitled "collateral damage." Swift said the project was inspired by legendary poets such as Americans Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell, who opposed the war in Vietnam during the 1960s. "I don't think a book of poetry can stop a war from happening," Swift said. "But what I am hoping is this kind of cultural activity crosses into the mainstream and encourages people to be brave with their opinions -- and that can have a ripple effect." Swift said he was struck by both the poems produced and the public response to them. In the flood of verses sent in were many from first-time poets or those who had not previously been published. "These are very sincere and moving poems and I actually included one or two of those because they were so strong -- an effective use of language and imagery," he said. http://www.iht.com/articles/85505.html * OP-ED DIPLOMACY MAKES ITS MARK by William Safire International Herald Tribune, 4th February WASHINGTON: Even before seven brave astronauts aboard Columbia perished in what President George W. Bush called "the service to all humanity" by reaching for the stars, leaders of nine nations of Europe made plain their appreciation of what America stood for in the service of freedom here on Earth. A politically weak chancellor of Germany, followed by a president of France eager to exploit popular anti-Americanism, had joined to drive a rift in the Atlantic Alliance. "Old Europe," in Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's apt phrase, was presuming to speak for all the nations of Europe in resisting an American-led disarmament and liberation of Iraq. The underlying purpose of the push by Gerhard Schröder and Jacques Chirac was less about protecting or defanging Saddam Hussein than it was about a much more parochial goal: to assert permanent Franco-German bureaucratic dominance over the growing federation of European states. Opposition to American superpower, they thought, was their lever of Archimedes to move the Old World. But then, by happy accident, a new form of statecraft was born. "Op-ed diplomacy" has its antecedents -- Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah's demarche last year through my Times colleague Tom Friedman was one - but mediation-by-media bloomed last week at the instigation of Michael Gonzalez, an op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal in Brussels. "I knew that the Schröder-Chirac view of Saddam's threat was not shared by other European leaders," he tells me, "so I called Rome to get a piece by Prime Minister Berlusconi." That started the ball rolling, which soon got out of The Journal's hands. The Italian leader liked the idea, but apparently didn't want to go it alone, and contacted Jose Maria Aznar, the like-minded Spanish prime minister. Aznar, even after the Bush mistake in letting the Koreans deliver a boatload of missiles to Yemen, wanted to make clear Spain stands with the United States on nonproliferation. He signed on and got in touch with his counterpart in Portugal and then in Britain with Tony Blair, the European trying hardest to hold the Atlantic Alliance together. The journalistic interest of two Journal editors, Paul Gigot in New York and Therese Rafael in London, was not in the op-ed copy itself, which at that point was being negotiated among a half-dozen prime ministers without their editorial help. What the journalists wanted was that whatever document the politicians worked out would be exclusive to their newspaper. The media-savvy Blair said no; it had to be made available to an op-ed page of a newspaper in each country whose leader signed on. The op-ed diplomats were obliged to make that concession. (How many divisions has the Journal?) The draft document was then circulated by the Europeans among other leaders thought to be (1) critical of the Franco-German proposal to assert dominance in the European Union; (2) genuinely worried about their nations' exposure to weapons of mass destruction being developed by Saddam; and (3) eager to express solidarity with the United States, which three times in the past century had saved them from tyrannous takeover. As deadline time approached, Schröder and Chirac, not invited to sign, got wind of the document and leaned hard against it. The Netherlands caved in. But Denmark and Poland did not waver. Hungary, where the United States is training a thousand Iraqi oppositionists (no Kurds allowed, lest Turks take offense), held firm. The Czech Republic, in the throes of government transition, was on the fence, but at the last minute the departing president, Vaclav Havel, was reached and unhesitatingly signed. Slovakia followed. In all, nine European nations issued a historic op-ed article calling Saddam "a clear threat to world security." Despite polls showing much local sentiment for appeasement, the leaders stated: "We cannot allow a dictator to systematically violate those (UN) resolutions. If they are not complied with, the Security Council will lose its credibility and world peace will suffer as a result." Signatories to the new op-ed diplomacy laid it on the line to forgetful French and "ohne mich" (without me) Germans: "Today more than ever, the trans-Atlantic bond is a guarantee of our freedom." As U.S. citizens receive condolences in the aftermath of America's latest space disaster, they value most those from people who understand that Americans often risk their lives "in the service of all humanity." http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EB04Ak04.html * THE UN GAME AND THE LOGIC OF WAR by Pepe Escobar Asia Times, 4th February CAIRO - The date is virtually set for a deadly cargo of 3,000 bombs and missiles to start falling on Iraq in the first 48 hours: March 3, after the climax of the hajj Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, a day which, according to American meteorologists, presents the ideal conditions. The logic of war, imposed by America from the start, prevails. From now on, it's just a question of procedure. In a crucial Anglo-French summit this Tuesday in the north of France, British premier Tony Blair will pull all stops in trying to convince French President Jacques Chirac that the UN must authorize the use of force against Saddam Hussein's regime. This happens exactly one day before US Secretary of State Colin Powell is due to deliver at the Security Council his "smoking gun" evidence to convict Iraq. But whatever the spinning, Asia Times Online has learned from European diplomatic sources that it all amounts to a single issue, and one issue only. The Bush administration - including words by Powell himself - may in the past have promised to hold Iraqi oil fields "in trust" for the people of Iraq. Nobody seriously believed that this would happen. The Bush administration instead is now promising behind closed doors to spread the riches among American, French, Russian and Chinese oil companies by enforcing contracts signed by Saddam Hussein himself. Saddam had already offered French giant TotalFinaElf exclusive rights to Iraq's largest oil field, the Majnoon, which may hold 30 billion barrels of oil. Iraq has also signed a contract with Russia's Stroytransgaz to develop Iraq's Western desert. And Russia and China want to strike deals to explore the West Qurna and Rumaila fields. If that is the case, it means no French, Russian or Chinese veto in a second Anglo-American sponsored Security Council resolution authorizing an attack on Iraq. Germany - which is presiding over the Security Council in February - will most certainly abstain. Meanwhile, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak maintains his frantic but vain diplomacy "doing everything to spare the Iraqi people from a military operation". Greek Foreign Minister Georges Papandreou - currently in the European Union presidency - launched a tour of Arab countries trying to sound out possible peaceful solutions for the crisis. The Turkish government, in its continuous highwire act, said that it is not - yet - demanding parliament's approval for a massive deployment of American troops on Turkish soil; but Turkish troops are already massing at Iraq's Kurdistan borders. But these are all peripheral developments. The fact is that the war is being decided in Washington, London and Paris. France - and most European Union member countries for that matter - maintain the position that as long as the inspectors are working on site, there is no risk of weapons proliferation in Iraq. Tony Blair, once again playing the go-between, at least persuaded George W Bush last Friday in Washington to pay lip service to the acceptance of a second and final resolution at the Security Council. It all amounts, once again, to a - crucial - problem of interpretation. A second resolution, according to Bush, has absolutely nothing to do with a resolution as viewed by most of the members of the European Union: this would be a sort of ultimatum to Saddam, and if he was judged to be in breach, a definitive authorization for the use of force. Bush thinks that he already has the authorization in his hands, provided by Resolution 1441, because, as the mantra goes, "Saddam is not disarming". Moreover, he would prefer not to take any risks with a second resolution. American and British diplomats have been drafting a second resolution for days now. But supposing that there is a vote in the Security Council this Wednesday, after Powell's presentation, Bush will be certain to collect only four "yes" votes to war: the US, Britain, Spain and Bulgaria. European diplomats keep stressing that the key question, now, is not whether Iraq is cooperating or not: it is to establish beyond any doubt whether Saddam's regime represents a menace to the international community, and then discuss ways to deal with it. As a Portuguese diplomat puts it, "We have to answer three questions, and there should be no doubts about the answers. Is he a menace to world peace? Is a war necessary now? And is this war legal?" For the European Union - as well as for Arab countries - war is the last option after all other possible options have failed. As France stresses officially, Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, did not say that the inspectors could not work; himself, along with the International Atomic Energy Agency's chief Mohamed ElBaradei, will be back to Baghdad on Sunday for more talks with the Iraqi leadership. Any imaginable Iraqi weapons program is frozen as long as the inspectors are working. But this interpretation of Resolution 1441 cannot possibly be accepted by Washington because it delays a war indefinitely. Powell's case - the ultimate pitch of his career - runs the risk of not swinging most European Union member countries. His pitch won't swing the vast majority of European public opinion either, because there's absolutely no proof of the far-fetched Saddam link to al Qaeda. To top it all, there's an image problem. Bush, the character, travels not badly but miserably. And not only to Europe, but to Latin America, Africa and Asia, not to mention the Muslim world. A great deal of Americans may find a connection to his blunt language, stripped-to the-bone vocabulary, cartoon images and religious fervor. But as far as the rest of the world is concerned, his is a major public relations disaster. The UN game is a very serious matter. France is carefully considering its implications. A key actor in the Middle East since Napoleon fell in love with the pyramids, France knows that it cannot afford to be excluded from the post-Saddam regional new order. It cannot afford to lose its billionaire oil contracts already signed with Iraq. And it cannot afford to see the Security Council dismissed by the Americans in case Bush and his hawks decide to go along with their "coalition of the willing". Diplomats comment in private that if France, through Chirac, feels it can unify the European Union, the Arab world, Asia and the rest of the world for that matter around a pacifist, legal, no-war solution for the Iraqi crisis, it would certainly defy the US with its own "no" vote in the Security Council. Germany has a different kind of problem: it is boxed in in its resolute no-war stance. German public opinion remains overwhelmingly anti-war. But Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's Social Democrats have just suffered a thunderous defeat this Sunday in regional elections in Hesse and Lower Saxony, the chancellor's home state. Apart from all the effusive praise to the solid Franco-German alliance recently celebrated in Versailles by Chirac and Schroeder, France is now obviously considering how weak the chancellor might become. But anyway, their position on Iraq remains the same. Ultra-pacifist and extremely popular German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer - who will preside over Powell's pitch on Wednesday - has already said on the record that in the event of a smoking gun being found in Iraq, this means only that the UN inspectors must continue their mission for as long as it takes, so that Saddam can be made to disarm peacefully. France is skillfully playing the diplomatic game. It has maintained enough balance to allow it to swing either way. Blair is clearly the US's ally in the European Union: the issue is how to restrain and isolate Britain within Europe. European public opinion - including the business elite - also regards the American Middle East game plan as extremely dangerous, with the very concrete possibility of a nasty fallout contaminating Europe itself. Britain is already al Qaeda's top European target. In the end though, France might even go along with the Anglo American axis. After all, there's too much oil at stake. The UN game is nowhere near its climax. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;$sessionid$SLSWJJJQBXMKJQFIQMGSFF 4A * FRANCE TALKS PEACE BUT SENDS WARSHIPS EAST by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard Daily Telegraph, 4th February Watch what Jacques Chirac does, not what he says. Meeting Tony Blair for an awkward mini-summit in Le Touquet today after months of Anglo-French skirmishing, the French president continues to bask in his star role as Europe's "conscience" and leader of restraint. His public posture is to resist the slide towards an "unjustifiable" war that is opposed by the citizens of every European state. But early today a French armada including an aircraft carrier, nuclear submarine and other warships slipped out of Toulon and headed for the eastern Mediterranean. France's defence minister, Michele Alliot-Marie, said the mission was a routine training exercise, but added: "French military forces will be ready to intervene in Iraq, should the decision be taken." Unlike Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, M Chirac has been careful not to "exclude" the option of war, if all else fails. It suggests that he 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. Geoffrey Van Orden, a Tory MEP and vice-chairman of the European Parliament's foreign affairs committee, predicted that M Chirac would come off the fence once he had guaranteed France's share of the post-reconstruction and oil contracts in Iraq and, more important, once he had exploited the acute vulnerability of Tony Blair, who is struggling to prevent his loyalty to America from shattering his European policy. M Chirac is walking a political tightrope at home, where public opinion is set against any military action not sanctioned by the UN and where an immigrant population of four million Muslims exercises an unspoken influence on policy. Muslim youths in Paris and other cities are carrying out a low-level "intifada" against French authority, burning cars in nightly raids, mostly unreported in the national news. The risk of escalating violence is real. EU diplomats in Brussels said M Chirac had nothing to gain by aligning France too quickly behind the Bush administration, and is taking some pleasure in letting Downing Street squirm for a while by holding back support for the war. "Britain has been making too much of the running without paying the price of EU influence, which of course is joining the euro, so there's an element of taking Blair down a peg or two," said one official. But M Chirac has to watch his back as well. The letter published last week by Europe's "Gang of Eight" backing US policy in Iraq was a warning that France and Germany no longer call all the shots in the EU. http://palestinechronicle.com/article.php?story=2003020510014929 * AUSTRALIAN PM FIRST VICTIM OF IRAQ WAR Palestine Chronicle, 5th February CANBERRA - Australian Prime Minister John Howard suffered a historic defeat Wednesday, February 5, in an unprecedented no-confidence vote by Australia's Senate over his handling of the Iraq crisis. The Labor opposition, left wing Greens, Democrats and Independent senators used their upper house majority to pass the motion by 34 votes to 31, following an emotional, 11-hour debate over the looming conflict, reported Agence France-Presse (AFP). It was the first time in the 102 year history of the Australian parliament that the upper house has censured a serving prime minister with a vote of no confidence. Howard's conservative Liberal-National government was also censured in the motion, which condemned its decision to deploy troops to the Gulf without reference to parliament and contrary to public opinion. Australia and Britain have been the only countries to join the United States in deploying troops to the Gulf in preparation for war in Iraq. Labor Senate leader John Faulkner moved the motion, saying no explanation had been offered to the Australian people for sending defense personnel to the Middle East. "The prime minister has made a unilateral decision and sent 2,000 of our defense personnel off to a war undeclared in the northern hemisphere without any cogent explanation of his actions," Faulkner said. The motion expressed the Senate's full support and confidence in Australia's servicemen and women while expressing opposition to the government's decision to forward deploy them. It declared opposition to a unilateral military attack on Iraq by the United States, insisted the disarmament of Iraq proceed under UN authority and expressed total opposition to any use of nuclear arms. Greens senator Bob Brown said the censure marked a historic condemnation of the prime minister. "The prime minister made the decision to deploy 2,000 defense personnel with no reference to the parliament, without the backing of the Australian people, without a request from the United Nations. "He stands condemned, censured and without the confidence of the house of review, the Senate in Australia," he said. The debate, in which speakers from both sides vented passionate feelings on the issue preoccupying Australia, continued Wednesday in the House of Representatives, in which a government majority ensures it stays in office. NO FLY ZONES http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=2150011 * US, BRITISH PLANES ATTACK NORTH IRAQ 'NO-FLY' ZONE by Will Dunham Reuters, 31st January WASHINGTON: Warplanes taking part in a U.S.-British patrol staged their first attack in Iraq's northern "no-fly" zone in nearly two months on Friday, dropping precision-guided munitions after coming under fire from Iraqi air defenses, the U.S. military said. An Iraqi air defense spokesman said in a statement in Baghdad that one civilian was wounded when U.S. and British planes bombed civilian targets near the northern city of Mosul, 230 miles north of Baghdad. The warplanes patrolling the northern no-fly zone attacked a site located 10 miles east of Mosul after drawing fire from Iraqi integrated air defenses, said Maj. Timothy Blair, a Pentagon spokesman. All the coalition planes departed the area safely, Blair added. No details were provided about damage to the Iraqi targets. The Iraqi air defense spokesman said the Western planes flew 16 sorties over wide areas in the north before attacking civilian installations near Mosul. Iraqi air defense units opened up at the attacking planes, forcing them to return to bases in Turkey, the spokesman added. The U.S. military says the patrolling aircraft never target civilian sites and "go to painstaking lengths" to avoid hurting civilians. The vast majority of attacks by the U.S. and British aircraft come in the southern no-fly zone. The previous attack in the northern no-fly zone was on Dec. 4, Blair said. [.....] http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/jan/31/013101376.html * IRAQ BOMBING SOFTENS AIR DEFENSES by Pauline Jelinek Las Vegas Sun, 31st January WASHINGTON (AP): American bombers are hitting hard inside Iraq, getting a head start toward disabling Saddam Hussein's defenses in the south, while other U.S. forces are on the ground in the north preparing for war. U.S. and British warplanes bombed three dozen sites in January, most associated with air defense communications in the southeast. That's the route invading U.S. ground troops probably would take if war should come. The Pentagon also has acknowledged it has inserted a small number of troops into the north, although it refuses to describe their mission. Meanwhile, pilots have nearly doubled the supplies of leaflets dropped over the south to undermine the rule of Iraqi President Saddam, to 3 million this month. "We're kind of getting a head start," Lexington Institute military analyst Loren Thompson said, speaking of the increasing airstrikes. "We're taking advantage of the situation to reduce Iraqi defenses so we can use the full weight of our air power when the war does come." [.....] Pilots go out with lists of predetermined targets, parts of the air defense system officers want destroyed. Last fall they would hit one or perhaps two targets in response to Iraqi gunners. But of the 12 days in which coalition pilots have bombed so far this month, half have seen pilots bombing three, four, five or eight sites on the basis of one Iraqi move. Most of the multiple sites targeted were cable repeater sites, stations built at intervals along a fiber-optic cable network to strengthen signals passing through the network. This cable system, which connects elements of the air defense system, helps Iraqi defenders process a larger volume of communications data and better protect data against eavesdropping by American electronic warfare planes, officials said. It was one of the reasons U.S. and British aircraft conducted a larger-scale attack in February 2001, although their success was limited in part because more than half the bombs missed their mark. A few months after the attack, Iraq had largely reconstituted the network, and the United States protested to China, which officials have said was helping Iraqis build the system. This month, coalition planes targeted cable repeaters frequently in the southeast, five times near Al Kut, four near An Nasiriyah and twice near Basra, the country's main port, according to U.S. Central Command press releases put out after each mission. Because the command now refuses to say whether it hits or misses targets in the zones, it was impossible to learn whether pilots flying the repeat strikes were going after missed targets or hitting new targets near the same towns. Defense officials also have said that pilots frequently have to go back and strike the same areas because Iraqis constantly rebuild or replace what is damaged. "A lot of it is not terribly sophisticated," Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said of parts of the air defenses. He said Iraqis have learned to buy multiple supplies of things to keep replacing what is bombed. Officials differ on the extent of damage that has been done to the air defense system, with one saying it's been severe, another less effective than that and still another that it has damaged the morale of those who must rebuild it more than the system itself. >From time to time, strikes have focused on wearing down other important Iraqi targets. A spate of bombings in September and October focused on Tallil Air Base, a facility key to Saddam's defense against any invasion. It's also in the south. IRAQI OPPOSITION http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/jan/31/013101277.html * IRAQI OPPOSITION LEADER BACK IN HOMELAND by Borzou Daragahi Las Vegas Sun, 31st January SALAHUDDIN, Iraq (AP) - Returning to his homeland for the first time in nearly five years, a prominent Iraqi opposition leader entered the Kurds' autonomous enclave with the help of Iran and declared Friday he would stay there to battle Saddam Hussein's government. "If we want to fight Saddam, we'll fight Saddam in Iraq," Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, said in an interview with The Associated Press. Chalabi said he returned to Iraq "to be on the stage" in the formation of a post-Saddam administration. He promised to work with Kurdish opposition groups to form a provisional government to rule once Saddam is gone. Chalabi, who enjoys support within the U.S. Congress but is a controversial figure within the fragmented opposition, entered Iraq with four colleagues on Thursday. They crossed the Iranian border at Hajj Omran after spending a week in Tehran meeting with Iranian political leaders and Iraqi opposition figures. The five are part of a 65-member steering committee, set up during a conference in London last month. The committee is to meet in mid-February in this enclave, which is protected by U.S. and British planes patrolling the northern "no-fly" zone. The committee hopes to form the basis of a transitional government if the United States - which threatens to attack Iraq if Saddam does not give up alleged banned weapons - topples the Iraqi regime. The opposition members are to meet Feb. 15, according to the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which controls the western section of the autonomous region. Chalabi's links to Iran, which the Bush administration has designated as part of an "axis of evil" along with Iraq and North Korea, may cause concern among his conservative backers in Washington. His Iraqi National Congress, based in London, has received millions of dollars from the United States for such projects as a satellite television channel tailored for Iraqi viewers. The INC officials said they informed Zalmay Khalilzad, an adviser to the Bush administration, that they were headed to northern Iraq before they left London for Iran eight days ago. In the interview, however, Chalabi said the United States should not dominate the composition of any future government in Iraq. "There must be no gap in the sovereignty of Iraqis over Iraq," he said. "People who have come to the idea of removing Saddam recently must understand that this fight has been going on for decades and has cost tens of thousands of lives. It's a major mistake to think you can sidestep the opposition." Chalabi sidestepped questions about reports that the United States did not entirely trust the exiled opposition groups. "We're not an exile group because we're in Iraq now," he said. "It's difficult to call us exiles when we're in our own country working for freedom." U.S. relations with the INC have been complicated by what State Department officials see as the group's financial mismanagement. Chalabi was convicted of fraud in a banking scandal in Jordan in 1989 and sentenced to 20 years in prison. He fled the country before the trial began and has refused to return until the government agrees to reverse the conviction. Furthermore, Iraq's opposition has long been split along ethnic and political lines and its history has been marked by infighting and betrayal. While Chalabi's congress is often portrayed as closest to the United States, it has never been fully accepted by U.S. administrations. One INC official, speaking on condition of anonymity in London, described relations with Washington, especially the State Department, as "long, tangled and convoluted." Chalabi, a Shiite Muslim from a wealthy family who fled Iraq in 1958, formed the Iraqi National Congress in 1992. He is an MIT graduate with a doctorate from the University of Chicago who has been active in anti-Saddam efforts since the early 1970s. The Iraqi National Congress tried to start a revolt against Saddam from within the northern no-fly zone in the mid-1990s. The group blamed their failure on the U.S. government, which didn't provide support, believing they had no chance of succeeding. The visit is Chalabi's first to Iraq since 1998, when he briefly visited the Kurdish-controlled city of Sulaimaniyah to meet with Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which governs the eastern section of the Kurdish autonomous zone. More significantly, it marks the first time Chalabi has visited the western part of Kurdistan, controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic Party, since August 1996. In that year, the leader of the KDP, Massoud Barzani, invited Saddam to help liberate the city during a war with the rival Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. About 130 fighters from the Iraqi National Congress were killed in the fighting or executed thereafter. Kanan Makiya, a Brandeis University professor and Iraqi opposition member, said the Iraqi National Congress and the Kurdistan Democratic Party have mended fences. "I believe a very genuine reconciliation has taken place," he said. "It's not a tactical maneuver. The single most important thing is to bring the KDP back into the fold of Iraqi opposition politics," Makiya added. "Without them, we can't say we have a really representative government." _______________________________________________ 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