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[casi] News, 29/01-05/02/03 (5)



News, 29/01-05/02/03 (5)

IRAQI/UK RELATIONS

*  Iraq War Not Justified, Say Labour MEPs
*  Starting a massive offensive
*  The Asylum Trail
*  Saddam gives Benn TV interview
*  The Saddam Hussein Interview
*  Two Plaid Euro-MPs on Iraq visit
*  Safe havens plan to slash asylum numbers

IRAQI/US RELATIONS

*  Iraqi spies said to be at work in US
*  Anthrax vaccination day for US Marines in Gulf
*  Bush reverses drift in poll
*  Building a buzz for peace

IRAQI/UNITED NATIONS RELATIONS

*  Iraq to Take U.N. Post
*  Saddam gets six more weeks
*  Guernica Reproduction Covered at UN


IRAQI/UK RELATIONS

http://news.scotsman.com/latest.cfm?id=5697217

*  IRAQ WAR NOT JUSTIFIED, SAY LABOUR MEPS
by Geoff Meade
The Scotsman, 30th January

Labour Euro-MPs were accused of defying Prime Minister Tony Blair this
afternoon by backing a resolution declaring that Iraq has done nothing yet
to justify war.

Conservative MEPs refused to support the European Parliament vote which
condemned Hussein, emphasised the need to remove Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction and insisted that everything must be conducted through the
United Nations Security Council.

British MEPs were deeply split on one sentence in the cross-party
resolution, which declared that "breaches of UN Security Council resolution
1441 currently identified by the inspectors with regard to weapons of mass
destruction do not justify military action".

Tory leader in the European Parliament Jonathan Evans said: "Labour MEPs'
support of this resolution can only be seen as a deliberate snub to the
Prime Minister weakening his diplomatic and political credibility on the eve
of his visit to Washington.

"Today's vote reflects not just a rebellious party but one in open revolt
against the Government.

"The Prime Minister has clearly failed to convince his own party of the need
for decisive action against the threat Saddam Hussein poses  and if he
can't carry the support of his own party, he is clearly losing the battle to
convince the British people."

Labour leader Gary Titley said the Tories were playing party politics: "This
is Tory extremism as its worst, it flies in the face of international
community's efforts to find common ground and a reasonable way forward."

"Tory MEPs have voted against a resolution which condemns Saddam Hussein and
which makes it clear that disarmament is essential and calls for a common
European approach.

"This statement recognises the threat Iraq poses to the region and the need
for complete disarmament, it stresses that if there are breaches then the
Security Council must decide what to do."

He said the decision to emphasise that there is no justification  so far 
for military action is in line with UK government policy: "We have voted for
motherhood and apple pie and I don't understand how the Conservatives can
reject this at a time when all efforts should be focused on building an
international consensus."

The emergence of yet another European rift on Iraq will not be welcome in
London  especially with only four of the UK's 14 current EU partners openly
supporting America's stance.

The other three countries now backing Mr Blair come from the 10 nations
which will join the EU next year bringing on board the Czech Republic,
Poland and Hungary.

That enabled Mr Blair today to proclaim eight European states, including the
UK, which support America.

But those opposing military force pointed out that if Mr Blair is playing
the numbers game, the eight Europeans represent less than one third of the
25 Europeans in the expanded EU club.


http://news.scotsman.com/features.cfm?id=121012003

*  STARTING A MASSIVE OFFENSIVE
by Stephen Dalton
The Scotsman, 31st January

Robert del Naja turned 37 two weeks ago. Like any selfrespecting British pop
star, the spiky-haired creative dynamo behind Massive Attack spent the night
getting wasted in overpriced London dives with celebrity friends like Kate
Moss and Blur's Damon Albarn. Except that this was hardly a typical birthday
party.

Just hours earlier, Del Naja had marched on Westminster at the head of a
demonstration against war in Iraq. He and Albarn had lobbied parliament,
lending a dash of pop glamour to a deadly serious business. Later,
mid-festivities, when an invitation call came through to discuss the march
on Newsnight, the Blur frontman was all for storming the studio with Del
Naja in his highly refreshed state. Thankfully, Del Naja's voice of reason
prevailed - two drunk celebrities arguing their corner on national
television would only confirm most people's suspicions about pop stars
dabbling in politics, he argued. And with a new album about to be released,
he was reluctant to let his anti-war efforts look like a "branding
exercise".

"Going on the march was really interesting because you suddenly realised how
many different types of people were against this," says Del Naja, sipping
beer in a deserted Bristol pub. "It wasn't just left-wing people or what the
papers will try and give out as a typical anti-war campaigner. It was the
exact opposite, every type of person: teachers, academics, people of every
race and every age group."

Massive Attack's high-profile anti-war stance is no dilettante pose. They
have already spent 22,000 of their own money on huge "Wrong War" adverts in
the music press, with more to come. They have been methodical in joining
forces with CND and Stop the War and even helped fund a legal challenge to
military intervention in the international courts. Funny how it took a band
so often caricatured as lethargic stoners to kickstart rock's sleeping
conscience in 2003.

Recent music press tributes to Joe Strummer, a personal hero, spoke volumes
to Del Naja about generational alienation, he says. "They were almost
embarrassed by his politics," he scowls. "Then you think, well, what
happened to all that? The wheel's moved into a different place now. I was
chatting to Paul Weller about it and he said when he got involved in all
that stuff it did become about ego politics. That's why he got out of the
whole thing."

Del Naja's opposition to military intervention sprung from a disgust he
shared with Albarn about apathy among their pop peers - but also from a
growing global awareness gleaned while touring the world. "It comes from
getting older, getting more and more frustrated by the transparency of
everything," he shrugs. "We came out of a period where conspiracies were
mysterious and exotic, the truth behind the shadows. But some of the things
that are happening politically, globally, are just so transparent I find it
amazing. It's like daylight robbery - it's so blatant nobody can believe it.
Being on tour, you meet people from so many countries, you get a real global
feel about what people really believe about Britain and America, about our
imperial history and our imperial nature now.

"It seems like a long time since the British Empire, but it's only 100 years
ago. Gandhi said that one small island, Great Britain, is holding the whole
world in chains. That was 50 years ago and we're still doing it now with
corporate fXXXing imperialism. There's no change, but the boundaries have
now bled, you can't see right from wrong anymore, because we're all
consumers."

In the past, he admits, Massive Attack might have shrugged their shoulders
and carried on living in their pop bubble. During the last Gulf War, they
were even persuaded by a paranoid Radio1 to drop the second half of their
name lest it be misconstrued. But age and experience have hardened them.

"Ten years ago Saddam Hussein was a clear enemy," he argues. "He'd invaded
Kuwait, so everyone was fighting for freedom and justice, even though I
don't think anyone was sure about the way they bombed Baghdad. It was very
confusing. Obviously there were much greater politics involved in the whole
region with Israel, Palestine and all the other Gulf states. But no, I
didn't get involved then. We decided to drop the 'Attack' from our name,
under a great amount of duress, but also because a convincing argument was
put forward that if people don't know who you are, you could be seen as
making a pro-war statement. We went along with it, but it became apparent
later that it was bullshit. I even thought about dropping it again for this
album as an anti-war statement, but then I'd be buying into the whole notion
that music and words and opinions are offensive. And they're not. Bombs and
bullets are."

[.....]


http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2-562133,00.html

*  THE ASYLUM TRAIL
by Richard Ford and Daniel McGrory
The Times, 1st February

IRAQIS living in the UK will not face draconian security curbs in the event
of war, ministers have decided.

The Home Office has decided against using internment camps or forced mass
deportation, despite intelligence service warnings that Iraqi terrorists may
slip into the country as refugees. Iraqis are now the largest group seeking
asylum in Britain.

The Government is anxious to avoid a repeat of the chaos before the 1991
Gulf War when scores of Iraqis were jailed or forced to leave the country.

David Blunkett, the Home Secretary, will leave it to MI5 and Scotland Yard's
Anti-Terrorist Branch to identify those who are potential security risks and
can be detained under existing terror legislation.

One Whitehall source said yesterday: "You can forget the idea of any mass
round-ups and internment camps.

"Government has taken on board the disastrous moves made in 1991 and ever
since emergency terror legislation has been introduced in the UK, David
Blunkett has been very careful about detaining someone without trial. This
time there will be an intelligence-led operation."

Leaders of Britain's 60,000-strong Iraqi community are seeking assurances
that there will be no crackdown on them or on refugees who reach the UK,
insisting that most oppose President Saddam Hussein's regime.

Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, want to meet ministers
and strongly oppose any repeat of 1991 when the security services were
accused of glaring mistakes over the names and addresses of suspects they
had identified. Kenneth Baker, then Home Secretary, had to revoke
deportation orders.

Iraqis who had lived in Britain for years had their visas cancelled and some
Iraqi students who had been in the military were held in army camps on
Salisbury Plain.

Intelligence chiefs have given warning of a possible new security threat
from among the thousands of Iraqi asylum-seekers who arrive in Britain every
month. They fear that terrorist "sleepers" could be posing as refugees
fleeing Iraq before war breaks out.

Immigration investigators and the security services say that they are
already stretched tracking down missing Algerian asylum-seekers after the
discovery of a suspected terrorist cell allegedly making ricin in a North
London flat and that they do not have the resources to monitor the 3,000
Iraqis a month now entering Britain.

Investigators have uncovered evidence of how smuggling gangs instruct new
arrivals on how to use Britain's asylum laws. They are told to destroy all
identity documents and claim to be Iraqi Kurds who fear Saddam Hussein.

The numbers arriving make it impossible to verify their stories. One
security source said: "You don't need many to slip in and set up terrorist
cells. It took fewer than 20 people in the US to carry out the September 11
attacks and since the summer 12,000 Iraqis have arrived in the UK."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,887578,00.html

*  SADDAM GIVES BENN TV INTERVIEW
by Suzanne Goldenberg in Baghdad
The Guardian, 3rd February

Saddam Hussein went over the heads of hostile world leaders for a direct
appeal to a global television audience last night, granting a rare audience
to the veteran former Labour MP Tony Benn.

The one-hour encounter was the first TV interview the Iraqi leader had
granted to a western interlocuter for 12 years.

The eleventh hour visit by the British peace campaigner was a reprise of Mr
Benn's meeting with President Saddam on the eve of the 1991 Gulf war which
helped to secure the release of Britons held as human shields after the
invasion of Kuwait.

Mr Benn said his mission was undertaken in the hope of stopping a war, and
that the Iraqi leader was "courteous and forthcoming" during the interview.

"I think the cause of peace requires us to hear the president just as we
hear President Bush and prime minister Blair," Mr Benn told a press
conference last night.

He said he had informed Tony Blair and the Foreign Office of his trip, but
that he was not carrying any official message from Britain.

The interview, which was filmed by an official Iraqi television crew, is to
be put up for sale by the recently launched Arab Television network, on
condition that it is broadcast in its entirety, Mr Benn said.

He refused to reveal President Saddam's answers to his questions, but said
he was optimistic they would further the cause of peace.

His questions were fairly obvious - does Iraq have weapons of mass
destruction or links with al-Qaida?

But while Mr Benn's conversations with President Saddam appeared relatively
straightforward, they provoked a degree of consternation from a couple of
American reporters, who suggested that he had allowed himself to be used by
the Iraqi leader.

Mr Benn said he had anticipated hostility to his visit and expected more
when he returned to Britain. But, the 77-year-old added: "I've reached an
age where I am too old to bother."


http://www.channel4.com/news/home/z/stories/20030204/saddam_benn.html

*  THE SADDAM HUSSEIN INTERVIEW
Channel 4 News, 4th February

Tonight a world exclusive - Saddam Hussein in his own words.

At the weekend, the veteran labour politican Tony Benn travelled to Baghdad
to meet and interview the Iraqi President. Tonight we hear why - according
to  Saddam - Iraq has no interest in war and possesses NO weapons of mass
destruction.

Here is the transcript:

Tony Benn: I come for one reason only - to see whether in a talk we can
explore, or you can help me to see, what the paths to peace may be. My only
reason, I remember the war because I lost a brother. I never want to see
another war. There are millions of people all over the world who don't want
a  war, and by agreeing to this interview, which is very historic for all of
us,  I hope you will be able to help me, be able to say something to the
world  that is significant and positive.

Saddam Hussein: Welcome to Baghdad. You are conscious of the role that
Iraqis  have set out for themselves, inspired by their own culture, their
civilisation and their role in human history. This role requires peace in
order to prosper and progress. Having said that, the Iraqis are committed to
their rights as much as they are committed to the rights of others. Without
peace they will be faced with many obstacles that would stop them from
fulfilling their human role.

Tony Benn: Mr President, may I ask you some questions. The first is, does
Iraq have any weapons of mass destruction?

Saddam Hussein: Most Iraqi officials have been in power for over 34 years
and  have experience of dealing with the outside world. Every fair-minded
person  knows that when Iraqi officials say something, they are trustworthy.

A few minutes ago when you asked me if I wanted to look at the questions
beforehand I told you I didn't feel the need so that we don't waste time,
and  I gave you the freedom to ask me any question directly so that my reply
would  be direct.

This is an opportunity to reach the British people and the forces of peace
in  the world. There is only one truth and therefore I tell you as I have
said on  many occasions before that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction
whatsoever. We challenge anyone who claims that we have to bring forward any
evidence and present it to public opinion.

Tony Benn: I have another which has been raised: do you have links with Al
Qaeda?

Saddam Hussein:If we had a relationship with Al-Qaida and we believed in
that  relationship we wouldn't be ashamed to admit it. Therefore I would
like to  tell you directly and also through you to anyone who is interested
to know  that we have no relationship with Al Qaeda.

Tony Benn: In relation to the inspectors, there appears to be difficulties
with inspectors, and I wonder whether there's anything you can tell me about
these difficulties and whether you believe they will be cleared up before Mr
Hans Blix and Mr Elbaradei come back to Baghdad?

Saddam Hussein: You are aware that every major event must encounter some
difficulty. On the subject of the inspectors and the resolutions that deal
with Iraq you must have been following it and you must have a view and a
vision as to whether these resolutions have any basis in international law.
Nevertheless the Security Council produced them.

These resolutions - implemented or not - or the motivation behind these
resolutions could lead the current situation to the path of peace or war.
Therefore it's a critical situation. Let us also remember the unjust
suffering of the Iraqi people. For the last thirteen years since the
blockade  was imposed, you must be aware of the amount of harm that it has
caused the  Iraqi people, particularly the children and the elderly as a
result of the  shortage of food and medicine and other aspects of their
life. Therefore we  are facing a critical situation.

On that basis, it is not surprising that there might be complaints relating
to the small details of the inspection which may be essential issues as far
as we are concerned and the way we see the whole thing. It is possible that
those Iraqis who are involved with the inspection might complain about the
conduct of the inspectors and they complain indeed.

It is also possible that some inspectors either for reasons of practical and
detailed procedure, or for some other motives, may complain about the Iraqi
conduct. Every fair minded person knows that as far as resolution 1441 is
concerned, the Iraqis have been fulfilling their obligations under the
resolution.

When Iraq objects to the conduct of those implementing the Security Council
resolutions, that doesn't mean that Iraq wishes to push things to
confrontation. Iraq has no interest in war. No Iraqi official or ordinary
citizen has expressed a wish to go to war. The question should be directed
at  the other side. Are they looking for a pretext so they could justify war
against Iraq?

If the purpose was to make sure that Iraq is free of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons then they can do that. These weapons do not come in small
pills that you can hide in your pocket. These are weapons of mass
destruction  and it is easy to work out if Iraq has them or not. We have
said many times  before and we say it again today that Iraq is free of such
weapons.

So when Iraq objects to the conduct of the inspection teams or others, that
doesn't mean that Iraq is interested in putting obstacles before them which
could hinder the efforts to get to the truth. It is in our interest to
facilitate their mission to find the truth. The question is does the other
side want to get to the same conclusion or are they looking for a pretext
for  aggression?

If those concerned prefer aggression then it's within their reach. The super
powers can create a pretext any day to claim that Iraq is not implementing
resolution 1441. They have claimed before that Iraq did not implement the
previous resolutions. However after many years it became clear that Iraq had
complied with these resolutions. Otherwise, why are they focusing now on the
latest resolution and not the previous ones?

Tony Benn: May I broaden the question out, Mr President, to the relations
between Iraq and the UN, and the prospects for peace more broadly, and I
wonder whether with all its weaknesses and all the difficulties, whether you
see a way in which the UN can reach that objective for the benefit of
humanity?

Saddam Hussein: The point you raised can be found in the United Nations
charter. As you know Iraq is one of the founders and first signatories of
the  charter. If we look at the representatives of two super powers -
America and  Britain - and look at their conduct and their language, we
would notice that  they are more motivated by war than their responsibility
for peace. And when  they talk about peace all they do is accuse others they
wish to destroy in  the name of peace. They claim they are looking after the
interests of their  people. You know as well as I do that this is not the
truth. Yes the world  would respect this principle if it was genuinely
applied. It's not about  power but it is about right and wrong, about when
we base our human relations  on good, and respect this principle. So it
becomes simple to adhere to this  principle because anyone who violates it
will be exposed to public opinion.

Tony Benn:There are people who believe this present conflict is about oil,
and I wonder if you say something about how you see the enormous oil
reserves  of Iraq being developed, first for the benefit of the people of
Iraq and  secondly for the needs of mankind.

Saddam Hussein: When we speak about oil in this part of the world - we are
an  integral part of the world - we have to deal with others in all aspects
of  life, economic as well as social, technical, scientific and other areas.
It  seems that the authorities in the US are motivated by aggression that
has  been evident for more than a decade against the region. The first
factor is  the role of those influential people in the decision taken by the
President  of the US based on sympathy with the Zionist entity that was
created at the  expense of Palestine and its people and their humanity.
These people force  the hand of the American administration by claiming that
the Arabs pose a  danger to Israel, without remembering their obligation to
God and how the  Palestinian people were driven out of their homeland.

The consecutive American administrations were led down a path of hostility
against the people of this region, including our own nation and we are part
of it. Those people and others have been telling the various US
administratio ns, especially the current one, that if you want to control
the world you  need to control the oil. Therefore the destruction of Iraq is
a pre-requisite  to controlling oil. That means the destruction of the Iraqi
national  identity, since the Iraqis are committed to their principles and
rights  according to international law and the UN charter.

It seems that this argument has appealed to some US administrations
especially the current one that if they control the oil in the Middle East,
they would be able to control the world. They could dictate to China the
size  of its economic growth and interfere in its education system and could
do the  same to Germany and France and perhaps to Russia and Japan. They
might even  tell the same to Britain if its oil doesn't satisfy its domestic
consumption.  It seems to me that this hostility is a trademark of the
current US  administration and is based on its wish to control the world and
spread its  hegemony.

People have the right to say that if this aggression by the American
administration continues, it would lead to widespread enmity and resistance.
We won't be able to develop the oil fields or the oil industry and therefore
create worldwide co-operation as members of the human family when there is
war, destruction and death. Isn't it reasonable to question this approach
and  conclude that this road will not benefit anyone including America or
its  people? It may serve some short-term interests or the interests of some
influential powers in the US but we can't claim that it serves the interest
of the American people in the long run or other nations.

Tony Benn: There are tens of millions, maybe hundreds of millions of people
in Britain and America, in Europe and worldwide, who want to see a peaceful
outcome to this problem , and they are the real Americans in my opinion, the
real British, the real French, the real Germans, because they think of the
world in terms of their children. I have ten grandchildren and in my family
there is English, Scottish, American, French, Irish, Jewish and Indian
blood,  and for me politics is about their future, their survival. And I
wonder  whether you could say something yourself directly through this
interview to  the peace movement of the world that might help to advance the
cause they  have in mind?

Saddam Hussein: First of all we admire the development of the peace movement
around the world in the last few years. We pray to God to empower all those
working against war and for the cause of peace and security based on just
peace for all. And through you we say to the British people that Iraqis do
not hate the British people. Before 1991 Iraq and Britain had a normal
relationship as well as normal relations with America. At that time the
British governments had no reason to criticise Iraq as we hear some voices
doing these days.

We hope the British people would tell those who hate the Iraqis and wish
them  harm that there is no reason to justify this war and please tell them
that I  say to you because the British people are brave - tell them that the
Iraqis  are brave too. Tell the British people if the Iraqis are subjected
to  aggression or humiliation they would fight bravely. Just as the British
people did in the Second World War and we will defend our country as they
defended their country each in its own way. The Iraqis don't wish war but if
war is imposed upon them - if they are attacked and insulted - they will
defend themselves. They will defend their country, their sovereignty and
their security.

Interview background:

Saddam -- rarely interviewed, rarely appears in public, knows he's a target,
assassination a permanent fear.

Tony Benn -- focus of the anti-war cause in Britain, though he's no longer
in  Parliament

When last they met, on the eve of the first Gulf War, the Allies were
preparing to liberate Kuwait. Their meeting didn't stop the war, though Mr
Benn returned with 15 British hostages held by Saddam as human shields.

This time, the die already appears cast. Mr Benn arrived in Baghdad this
weekend in the wake of the Bush/Blair summit. Still time for diplomacy, they
said, but no one doubts the Americans willingness to go to war.

As Colin Powell takes his much trailed "new evidence" to the UN, the
pressure's mounting on Saddam to convince Hans Blix and his team of
inspectors of a new and sudden era of cooperation. Barring that, or his
sudden demise, war seems inevitable.

What we normally see of Iraq's President are staged Cabinet meetings - fed
to  the world by Iraqi TV.

This is the first time in this crisis Saddam Hussein has faced questions
from  a foreign visitor - albeit one known to be anti-war. Every word, every
nuance  will be eagerly scrutinised across the world.

Tony Benn knew full well the interest in his promised encounter. The
questions are his. and he thinks the answers make war less likely.

Saddam continues to turn down all requests from journalists, but he wanted
his interview with Mr Benn to appear worldwide.

An Iraqi camera-crew filmed the interview and the tapes were given to a
London-based television production company ATV.

Channel 4 News paid ATV for access to the material to prepare this
broadcast.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2718879.stm

*  TWO PLAID EURO-MPS ON IRAQ VISIT
BBC, 2nd February

Two Welsh MEPs are heading for Iraq along with 32 other members of the
European Parliament in a controversial visit that comes at a sensitive time.

The delegation say they want to reiterate a "No to War" message and to
assess the damage already done to Iraq after sanctions were imposed more
than a decade ago.

The two MEPs on the unofficial visit are Plaid Cymru's Jill Evans and Eurig
Wyn - but even amongst their Euro-colleagues, the trip is criticised.

Most Liberal and Conservative members of the parliament - including some
Socialists - have condemned the visit.

This is despite a vote in the Brussels based parliament to back the United
Nations efforts to disarm Saddam Hussein's regime and against a unilateral
American strike.

The visit comes in the wake of an anti-war march in Swansea at which Jill
Evans spoke in strongly anti-American terms.

"We must not let the leaders of any militarily or economically powerful
nation set the future scene for more bullying, posturing and intimidation.

"Any weapons of mass destruction and the political hegemonies they encourage
do not promise a secure future for anyone on this earth," she said.

Some fear the trip will be manipulated by the Iraqis for their own benefit.

Conservative leader Jonathan Evans called it "a disgraceful act of political
ego that dangerously serves to support Saddam Hussein".

Meanwhile, Labour MEP Gary Titley has said the trip was "pointless".

"It has no official status and it is hard to see what can be achieved."

As the two prepared to leave with the delegation, Labour Euro MEP Glenys
Kinnock - who is not in the party - spoke of her feelings of concern about
the Iraqi situation.

"I'm in the camp that believes that we should go for a clear second mandate,
but based upon substantial evidence from the weapons inspectors," she said.

Speaking on GMTV's Sunday programme, she added: "I know that a six-week
timescale has now been agreed.

However, I don't think you should be setting timescales.

"I fear that the US is hell-bent upon a unilateral response to Saddam
Hussein, who is of course an appalling despot and someone who needs to be
tackled.

"But the prospect of war worries me very much indeed, in terms of the forces
involved, but also of the suffering of the people of Baghdad and of Iraq
generally."

While in Iraq the delegates will be briefed by UN humanitarian and other
relief organisations such as the World Food Programme, World Health
Organisation, UNICEF and UNHCR, before splitting-up on the last day.

On the last of their 4 day visit on February 6, half the delegation will
visit Erbil in the autonomous Kurdish region in the north, while the other
half will fly to the southern city of Basra.

Delegates hope to visit a children's ward in the local hospital and tour the
demilitarized zone separating Iraq and Kuwait.

Hans Blix the chief weapons inspector will arrive in Iraq as the Euro-MP's
depart to Brussels.

He has been invited back for a 2 day visit by the Iraqi authorities as the
count down to a possible war now seems to be between 4 and 6 weeks away.

Meanwhile Welsh soldiers are making their way to the Gulf as part of the
largest deployments of British troops since 1982.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,3604,889014,00.html

*  SAFE HAVENS PLAN TO SLASH ASYLUM NUMBERS
by Seumas Milne and Alan Travis
The Guardian, 5th February

A confidential government plan to slash the number of asylum seekers coming
to Britain by deporting most of them to UN "protection areas" in their
regions of origin has been drawn up by Whitehall and is to be presented to
the prime minister this week.

The official figures for 2002 to be published later this month are expected
to show that asylum claims topped 100,000 for the first time last year. Tony
Blair has demanded weekly reports on asylum arrivals and has already made
clear he wants to see a radical reduction in the number coming to Britain.

Under the terms of the "restricted" joint Cabinet Office-Home Office policy
document, which has been passed to the Guardian, the large majority of
asylum seekers would lose their right to claim asylum in Britain and would
be returned to "regional protection areas", where their applications would
be processed.

Among locations mentioned for the regional protection areas, as part of a
"new global asylum system", are Turkey, Iran and Iraqi Kurdistan for Iraqi
refugees; northern Somalia for refugees from southern Somalia; and Morocco
for Algerians. It also suggests Ukraine or Russia to stem the flow of
economic migrants from the east of the new enlarged EU border.

Officials stress that care needs to be taken that the scheme is not seen as
"dumping asylum seekers on the poorer nations" nor as "using money to enable
us to wash our hands of the refugee problem".

Asylum seekers would stay in the UN special protection areas for six months
while the position in their home country stabilised. The scheme envisages
that those in need of longer term protection could be resettled in Britain
and other European countries under a burden sharing quota scheme determined
by each country's population.

The report also sets out a case for international inter vention to reduce
the flow from the main refugee-producing countries with a graded response
ranging from aid packages through sanctions to armed intervention as a key
element of what it calls a "new vision for refugees".

While conceding that "any coercive intervention in other states is of course
controversial", the Whitehall policy document argues for international
recognition of the need to intervene to reduce "flows" of refugees,
including "military action as a last resort".

The report, which would require international agreement and funding, is to
be presented to Ruud Lubbers, the UN high commissioner for refugees, when he
meets senior British ministers in London on Monday.

Under the policy, the UNHCR would be responsible for the regional protection
areas and, if it agrees to take on the role, the detailed plans for the
first pilot schemes could be ready this summer. Initially it could be taken
forward by a coalition of five EU states will ing to fund the scheme. The
officials raise the possibility of Australia joining as well.

It is thought the plan could be carried out without changes to the Geneva
convention or European convention on refugees. The plan makes clear that the
quality of protection in the UNHCR areas will have to be high enough to
satisfy a British court that the human rights of those removed from Britain
were not being abused by the scheme.

Deporting asylum seekers to protection areas should "rapidly reduce the
number of economic immigrants using asylum applications as a migration
route", the report argues, as well as being a deterrent to "potential
terrorists".

The restricted policy document says the plan "should gradually reduce the
number of asylum seekers who enter the UK and need to be processed in the
UK. Therefore this takes the burden off the current asylum system but will
not completely replace it".


IRAQI/US RELATIONS

http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=121422003

*  IRAQI SPIES SAID TO BE AT WORK IN US
The Scotsman, 31st January

IRAQI spies have been sent to Washington and New York to stir-up anti-war
demonstrations, according to US reports.

A classified US government document obtained by the New York Daily News also
revealed a plot by militants linked to al-Qaeda to attack US targets in
Zimbabwe and elsewhere in the event of a US attack on Iraq.

The report, which was compiled by a unit in the Homeland Security
Department, said operatives from the Iraqi Embassy in Ottawa, Canada, were
sent to Washington and New York to "intensify spying activities and to carry
out anti-US demonstrations to stop a war against Iraq".

The attacks on US citizens in Zimbabwe were being plotted by
Tablik-i-Jama'at and would be carried out in the event of an attack on Iraq.
The document also suggests that the group could be a "conduit for
communication" between al-Qaeda and Iraqi leaders.

In recent days, Britain and the US have been trying to emphasise links
between Iraq and al Qaeda. In his State of the Union address, George Bush,
the US president, said intelligence shows that Saddam Hussein "aids and
protects terrorists, including members of al-Qaeda".

Tony Blair, the Prime Minister, said on Wednesday the government "knew" of
links between al-Qaeda and Iraq.

However, the claims have been treated with caution by experts on Osama bin
Laden and his terrorist organisation. Rohan Gunaratna, a researcher on
terrorism and political violence at St Andrews University and an acclaimed
author of six books on terrorism, including Al Qaeda: Network of Terror,
said he had never found any evidence of a connection.

However, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, is expected to provide
evidence of just such a link when he provides new information to the UN
Security Council next Wednesday.


http://www.jordantimes.com/thu/news/news6.htm

*  ANTHRAX VACCINATION DAY FOR US MARINES IN GULF
Jordan Times, 30th January
    
ABOARD USS TORTUGA (R)  Sailors and Marines of the amphibious asault ship
USS Tortuga were inoculated against anthrax and smallpox in the Gulf on
Wednesday as the military gathered its forces for a possible aggression
against Iraq.

"It makes it very real when they start giving you vaccinations for things
you hadn't even heard of before," said 22-year-old Carrie Cornell, a third
class petty officer from Philadelphia, after her smallpox jab.

A medical technician administers the inoculation with a two pronged needle,
jabbing the patient's shoulder 15 times to pierce the skin without going too
deep.

"I've had three tattoos and this had to be the worst," said Lance Corporal
Kent Jackson who drives an assault vehicle.

The anthrax vaccination, which is said to feel like a bee-sting, is
administered three times at two week intervals and then again in the sixth,
12th and 18th month from the first. "It's a little bit scary but dying of
anthrax is more scary," said Ensign Robert Cripps after his vaccination.

The inoculations are part of a range of preparations for a possible war
against Iraq which the United States accuses of concealing chemical and
biological weapons.

"We're ensuring we'll be able to fight the war on terrorism," said
Lieutenant Browin Richards, the navy doctor on the Tortuga, one of three
ships carryingaround 2,300 Marines of the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit.

The Marines on board the three warships could be among the first to be
called upon if President George Bush launches a war.

[.....]


http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=76090

*  BUSH REVERSES DRIFT IN POLL
by Richard Morin & Claudia Deane
Gulf News, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service, 3rd February

Washington: President Bush has reversed the downward drift in public support
for war with Iraq despite widespread fears that the conflict would continue
for many months and produce large numbers of U.S. casualties, according to a
Washington Post-ABC News poll.

After the president's State of the Union speech on Tuesday in which he laid
out the case for a U.S.-led invasion, the survey found that 66 per cent of
Americans favor taking military action against Iraq, up from 57 per cent two
weeks ago and the most support for war since mid-September.

Slightly more than six in 10 respondents also approve of the way Bush is
handling the situation in Iraq; two weeks ago, half the country endorsed the
job that the president was doing. Bush's overall job approval rating stands
at 62 per cent, up slightly from mid January.

And for the first time in Post-ABC News surveys, about half of all Americans
say the United States should take military action even without the
endorsement of the United Nations.

A total of 855 randomly selected adults were interviewed by telephone
Thursday through Saturday for this survey. Margin of sampling error is plus
or minus 4 percentage points.

Support for war is growing even though most Americans are realistic about
the consequences.

Two-thirds of those interviewed said they expect "significant" numbers of
U.S. military casualties if the United States attacks Iraq. Less than one in
five 19 per cent  believe the conflict would be over in a "few weeks,"
while 32 percent say it would probably last several months and 45 per cent
predict that it could continue for a year or more.

Taken together, nearly four in 10 respondents expected the conflict to be
relatively long and relatively bloody. But even among those who most fear a
high-cost war, a narrow majority  52 per cent  still favor taking military
action against Iraq.

Fifty-four per cent of the country said the administration has presented
enough evidence to demonstrate the need for military force, up from 48 per
cent in mid-January. Just under half worry that Bush is moving too fast to
war, down slightly from two weeks ago.

But most Americans  57 per cent  would like to see Bush present more
evidence before using force. Two thirds said the United States should be
prepared to offer its own hard evidence to the United Nations to support an
attack.


NO URL (sent through list)

*  BUILDING A BUZZ FOR PEACE
by Hilary E. MacGregor
Los Angeles Times, 4th February

One afternoon last week on the Fox Studios lot, a van pulled up at Stage 5.
Tyne Daly and Amy Brenneman, co-stars of the show "Judging Amy," leapt out
and were met by a cameraman, a boom operator, a director and a couple of
lighting technicians, who pulled the actresses inside and swung into action.

The camera rolled.

"I love my country and I want to keep America safe," read Brenneman. "I
believe we can contain Saddam Hussein through inspections."

"Attacking Iraq makes us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the
future," Daly said. "We do not need to go to war, killing American soldiers
and innocent Iraqi people."

Brenneman looked solemnly into the camera. "We can win without war," she
said.

In 25 minutes, the pair were back in the van, eating box lunches, zooming
back to work. Within days, the footage was to be edited into a 30-second
television spot, the latest in a series of antiwar ads filmed by Artists
United to Win Without War and paid for by TrueMajority.com, a liberal
activist group started by Ben & Jerry's co-founder Ben Cohen. The first
spot, featuring Susan Sarandon, aired last week, before and after President
Bush's State of the Union speech. CNN rejected the spots, Cohen said. But
TrueMajority is spending $200,000 to place the ads on local cable stations.

The art of the antiwar protest is conventional, crude, creative and
continually evolving, varying with the era and the mass medium of the
moment. But the point has always been to raise awareness by getting
attention. Today, peace and antiwar groups are protesting not only possible
war with Iraq, but also the lack of coverage of the nascent movement in the
mainstream media by spending scarce funds on newspaper ads and airtime.

>From Republicans to Democrats to Hollywood celebrities, from labor unions to
church groups, from middle-class suburbanites to college students, concerned
citizens have pooled their resources in recent months to take out full page
ads in the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Wall Street Journal, the New
York Times and dozens of smaller papers across the country. Some are simply
lists of names; others are notices for marches. A group of Republican
business executives bought a page in the Wall Street Journal on Jan. 13 for
"A Republican Dissent on Iraq." The same week, a group of Democrats calling
itself Americans Against War With Iraq ran a full-page ad in the Los Angeles
Times. "Who's against a U.S. War on Iraq?" it asked. "2 out of 3 Americans.
7 out of 8 Brits. 1 out of 1 Popes." It included 2,000 signatures.

To generate buzz -- essentially free advertising -- for its own antiwar
television spot, MoveOn.org hired Fenton Communications, the same company
that promoted Arianna Huffington's recent anti-SUV ads.

The Bush administration, of course, doesn't have to resort to advertising to
get its message out, says Robert McChesney, a professor of communications at
the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. "There is a frustration
among peace activists that they feel they have to buy ads to even get news
coverage. It ultimately reflects their dissatisfaction and powerlessness,
politically and with the press."

John Hanson, 30, is a volunteer organizer for International A.N.S.W.E.R.
(Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), a group formed three days after the
Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as a response to the war on terrorism at home and
abroad. It helped organize an antiwar march Jan. 11 in downtown Los Angeles
and ran an ad in The Times' California section five days before to promote
it. "We have been blasting the media with information about what is going
on," Hanson said, "but we have had trouble getting coverage for different
events, protests." This approach, he said, was born out of necessity.

Historians and media critics say complaints about a lack of coverage by the
mainstream media are nothing new. "Antiwar demonstrations, labor
demonstrations, they are the weak spot of traditional journalism," McChesney
said. "The problem has only gotten worse in the last 15 to 20 years."

Former newspaper editor Bill Kovach, who heads the Washington-based Project
for Excellence in Journalism, said the lack of media coverage is a cause for
legitimate concern.

"The most troubling examples I know firsthand are here in Washington," said
Kovach, who is also a former curator of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism
at Harvard. "The first antiwar demonstration in Washington last October was
abysmally under-covered. The New York Times missed it entirely the first day
and had to play catch-up with a story that wasn't good. It was the same with
the Washington Post. The coverage was not even pro forma; it was dismissive.

"I went to see the second demonstration for myself a couple of weeks ago, so
I could compare what I saw with the coverage.... The thing that disturbed me
most, in terms of journalism, was that there were a lot of speakers taking a
lot of different positions and perspectives. That wasn't in the coverage. It
all was anecdotal, as if they were covering a picnic....

"I can't really figure out why," Kovach said. "Editors with whom I spoke
said they'd made a mistake the first time but that they'd catch up. They
didn't do that, according to my judgment. It reminded me of when I was
growing up in this business in east Tennessee in the late 1950s, and there
was some coverage of the behavior of some young blacks at the lunch counters
over in Greensboro, N.C. My local newspaper treated it with the same sort of
dismissive story they'd given a panty raid at the local college about six
months before."

Lila Garrett, founder of Americans Against War With Iraq, said her group was
the first to run a national newspaper ad protesting the possible war, back
in September 2002. To date, it has spent $90,000 on three full-page ads in
major papers, and more are planned. "We felt we were representing the
opinion of the majority of Americans and that that opinion was not being
represented in the mainstream media," Garrett said.

Other activists say their perspectives are covered by the media, but are
often misrepresented, belittled or marginalized. "It's not that there isn't
coverage," said Eli Pariser, 22, international campaigns director for
MoveOn.org. "It's that the coverage fails to describe the character of the
opposition in the terms in which I see it -- as a mainstream and very
widespread movement.... If you read the news articles, it still looks like
this fringy thing. When you get the Sierra Club and the National Council of
Churches and the NAACP and the big unions, when you get them in a room
talking and they agree, that is not fringy."

MoveOn.org was formed during President Clinton's impeachment trial as a
grass-roots effort to get Congress to "move on" to other issues. It has
since reinvented itself as an online civic group that specializes in
mobilizing support through the Internet on issues ranging from campaign
finance to tax policy and, now, opposition to a war with Iraq.

The group, which claims more than 660,000 members, says it raised $400,000
from 11,000 people, much of it in contributions of $35 or less, to pay for a
five-day television campaign in 13 major markets, including Los Angeles.

Its ad, which raises the specter of nuclear war if the U.S. attacks Iraq, is
a remake of the classic 1964 Lyndon Johnson campaign ad that suggested
electing Barry Goldwater president could lead to a nuclear war. The new ad,
which aired last month around the country, shows a little girl counting
flower petals in a field of daisies, then cuts to a nuclear explosion. "Let
the inspections work," it reads against the background of a mushroom cloud.

Organizers of antiwar protests and grass-roots events say ads are not only a
way to be heard, but also a way to reach beyond their core constituency and
legitimize their position. "There are a lot of people who are in mainstream,
middle-class society," Hanson says, "who think reading the Los Angeles
Times, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal brings an air of
respectability. They will see that [ad] and feel that it is OK that they
have had these feelings.... They are more likely to participate in an event
if they read about it in a publication that a lot of people read. They
think, 'Maybe I'm not the only one.' "

Other organizers stress that they are not abandoning traditional forms of
protest by embracing ads. They are simply adding to the mix.

Wes Boyd, 44, founder and president of MoveOn.org, believes ads allow older,
more mainstream Americans who don't want to carry picket signs to express
their views. "At $35 a person, for 11,000 people, an ad is a great way for
middle-class people to 'march,' to get out and be heard," Boyd said.
MoveOn's goal is to show that resistance to war with Iraq is broad, and
"nothing is more mainstream than television," he said.

Charles Chatfield, a retired professor at Wittenberg University in
Springfield, Ohio, who has studied the history of antiwar sentiment, says
the repertory of protest remains largely unchanged. But the media -- and
particularly television -- tend to focus on the newest and most dramatic
forms.

During the Vietnam War, for example, there was education in the newspapers,
lobbying in Congress, and Southeast Asian specialists all speaking out,
Chatfield said. "But nobody paid attention. That wasn't the peace movement.
TV had convinced people that the peace movement was marches, young people
and the counterculture."

Today, though, "marches are not so novel anymore," Chatfield said, and for
that reason, news of demonstrations is routinely "buried."

Not everyone believes ads are the picket signs of the 21st century, however.
"Resources are scarce for peace groups," said media critic McChesney. "If
you are running them over and over, they start to have diminishing returns."
He said the cost of a few full-page ads in major papers could pay for a
full-time organizer for a year.

Director-producer Robert Greenwald, co-founder of Artists United to Win
Without War, a group of Hollywood actors, producers and directors who
followed a celebrity press conference in December with a full-page ad in the
New York Times pleading with President Bush to "Let the Inspections Work,"
said he can see McChesney's point. "Initially, the ad was important to show
there was opposition," Greenwald said. "There is no secret now that there is
widespread, deep, diverse opposition. We need to think about other tactics
now."

But Norman Solomon, author of "Target Iraq: What the News Media Didn't Tell
You" (to be published this month iby Context Books) and executive director
of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a nationwide consortium of public
policy researchers, said print ads can be a compelling way to air a
dissenting perspective.

"There is a difference between being quoted in a news article or being
sound-bitten, on TV or radio, and having an unfiltered opportunity to make a
case," Solomon said. "One of the things print ads allow is the chance to
convey a sense of logic that is usually truncated, if not shredded, by news
accounts."

Those who have placed ads -- especially television ads -- say there is no
denying their effectiveness. A week after its TV ad first appeared on the
news, MoveOn.org reported that its membership had grown by 100,000. The ad
was covered on virtually every major network. It was shown and discussed on
news programs in Australia, Pakistan, Russia and Japan. The tally is
ongoing, but the ad generated at least 110 television news stories and
dozens in print, according to an Interim Media Coverage Report by Fenton
Communications.

As MoveOn's Boyd says, "Controversial ads get covered."

Times staff writer Tim Rutten contributed to this report.


IRAQI/UNITED NATIONS RELATIONS

http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/01/international/middleeast/01DISA.html

*  IRAQ TO TAKE U.N. POST
New York Times, 1st February

UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 31  In an embarrassing coincidence for the United
Nations, Iraq is to take over as chairman of the disarmament conference in
Geneva for four workweeks, officials here announced today.

Just as the United States is preparing to go to war to disarm Iraq by force,
it was announced that the country would step into the chairman's position
from March 17 to May 25 after Iran abruptly stood aside, giving no
explanation.

The country to lead the conference is chosen by English-language
alphabetical order; each country serves for four workweeks. The conference
will observe several weeks of holiday during Iraq's tenure.

The conference is nominally the United Nations' main forum for discussion of
disarmament issues, but in more than two decades it has never been able to
agree on a program of work.


http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,886823,00.html

*  SADDAM GETS SIX MORE WEEKS
by Patrick Wintour and Julian Borger in Washington
The Guardian, 2nd February

[.....]

US and British officials have embarked on a wide diplomatic offensive to win
the backing of a majority of the 15 members of the UN security council for a
resolution mandating military action. Over the last few days the US has
agreed to blacklist three rebel Chechen groups, a long-standing request from
Russia; approved $4.1m (2.48m) for the resettlement of returnees to Angola;
and approved an extra $2.1m for Liberian refugees hosted by Guinea, another
council member.

Only four of the 15 members currently favour a war, but a British source
predicted an eventual majority of 13, with only Syria and Germany voting
against. The US and UK need to win the backing of at least nine members for
a resolution, which is expected to be tabled in a few weeks.

[.....]


http://www.artdaily.com/noticiaframe.asp?not=11&fnot=2/2/2003

*  GUERNICA REPRODUCTION COVERED AT UN
Art Daily, 2nd February

NEW YORK.- The "Guernica" work by Pablo Picasso at the entrance of the
Security Council of the United Nations has been covered with a curtain. The
reason for covering this work is that this is the place where diplomats make
statements to the press and have this work as the background. The Picasso
work features the horrors of war. On January 27 a large blue curtain was
placed to cover the work.

Fred Eckhard, press secretary of the U.N. said: "It is an appropriate
background for the cameras." He was questioned as to why the work had been
covered.

A diplomat stated that it would not be an appropriate background if the
ambassador of the United States at the U.N. John Negroponte, or Powell, talk
about war surrounded with women, children and animals shouting with horror
and showing the suffering of the bombings.

This work is a reproduction of the Guernica that was donated by Nelson A.
Rockefeller to the U.N. in 1985.




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