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News, 05-12/02/03 (6) IRAQI/IRANIAN RELATIONS * Iran admits to having uranium * Iraqi FM in Tehran for Talks * Leader: American-Style Democracy for Arabs, Muslims as Destructive as Their Bombs TIGHTENING THE NET * Egypt Asks U.S. for Trade Pact, Aid Boost * U.S. Met With Iranians On War * U.S. tells some staff, family to leave four Mideast nations * US and Britain give Saddam just 48 hours to leave Iraq * Philippines' Baghdad embassy to close * Saudis set conditions for use of bases * Mandela requested to negotiate exit plan for Saddam ‹ report * Kuwaiti minister calls Iraq 'failed state' * Jordan Pressing U.S. to Offer Exile to Hussein ANTI-WAR PROTESTS * Turkey ends ex-Marine's 'human shield' protest trip * Kennedy to join Hyde Park march as he urges PM to clarify war aims * Protesters reject us military action against Iraq * Trade unions threaten to block military shipments * Iraq Grants Visas to 'Human Shields' IRAQI/IRANIAN RELATIONS http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,892492,00.html * IRAN ADMITS TO HAVING URANIUM by Dan De Luce, Tehran and agencies The Guardian, 10th February Iran acknowledged yesterday for the first time that it had uranium ore reserves and that it would reprocess the spent fuel. But it insisted the nuclear programme was designed solely for civilian use. The Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, made the surprise admission only days before the arrival of international inspectors and follows lobbying by European governments to reveal details of its nuclear power project. "Iran has discovered reserves and extracted uranium... we are determined to use nuclear technology for civilian purposes," Mr Khatami said in a televised speech. The reformist president said the uranium had been extracted in the Savand area, 125 miles from the central city of Yazd, and processing facilities had been set up in the central cities of Isfahan and Kashan. The US has accused Iran of planning to develop nuclear weapons. But the timing of yesterday's announcement indicated Iran may be trying to come clean over its nuclear programme ahead of inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency later this month. Diplomats say that Tony Blair urged Tehran to sign up to more extensive inspections during talks last week in London with Kamal Kharrazi, the Iranian foreign minister. Although Iran has signed the non-proliferation treaty, it has so far refused to sign an additional protocol to allow for more intrusive inspections of its nuclear programme. European diplomats hope Iran is considering signing the additional protocol. Iran, which Washington has labelled a member of an "axis of evil" alongside Iraq and North Korea, insists its nuclear plans are purely for civilian purposes, aimed at meeting the growing demand for electricity from its 65 million citizens. Washington has long been at odds with Russia over its help in building a £550m nuclear plant in the south-western port of Bushehr, which Tehran expects to come on stream by early 2004. US fears were somewhat assuaged by assurances from Moscow that all spent fuel from the plant would be returned to Russia, ensuring that it would not be diverted to a weapons programme. But Mr Khatami said that Iran intended to control the whole fuel cycle itself, from mining and processing the uranium ore to reprocessing the spent fuel. "If we need to produce electricity from our nuclear power plants, we need to complete the circle from discovering uranium to managing remaining spent fuel," he said. "The government is determined to complete that circle." In another development, state television quoted the defence minister, Ali Shamkhani, as saying Iran had developed the capacity to make composite solid fuels for its missiles. Iran makes medium-range missiles, anti-tank missiles, air-to-surface missiles and surface-to surface guided missiles that use composite solid fuel. Diplomats said that Mr Khatami's announcement stemmed from world pressure to come clean about the scope of its nuclear programme. "They seem to be making a creeping announcement of what their capabilities are," said one European diplomat. The head of the Iranian parliament's energy commission, Hossein Afarideh, told Reuters that the extracted uranium, after being processed, could be used as fuel at Bushehr. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Detailview.asp?Keyword=Iraq&Da=2/10/03&Cat=2&Num= 10 * IRAQI FM IN TEHRAN FOR TALKS Tehran Times, 10th February TEHRAN -- Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri arrived in Tehran yesterday for bilateral talks with high-ranking Iranian officials. The Iraqi foreign minister left the airport immediately to hold talks with his Iranian counterpart Kamal Kharrazi at Iran's Foreign Ministry's building. Political observers said that Sabri's visit to Tehran takes place following the recent visit by Kharrazi to Britain and his talks with officials there as well as EU Commissioner of External Relations Chris Patten's visit to the Islamic Republic, IRNA reported. They believe that the Iraqi minister's visit is an indication of Tehran's "important" role in political equations of the region as well as its "active" diplomacy in such crises. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Detailview.asp?Keyword=Iraq&Da=2/10/03&Cat=2&Num= 11 * LEADER: AMERICAN-STYLE DEMOCRACY FOR ARABS, MUSLIMS AS DESTRUCTIVE AS THEIR BOMBS Tehran Times, 10th February TEHRAN -- The democracy that the Americans claim they want to offer to Islamic and Arab countries is as destructive as their bombs and missiles, the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said in his annual Hajj message yesterday. The message distributed during the Hajj ceremonies in Arafat, said, the U.S. real aim is to appropriate OPEC and swallow up the region's oil resources, to offer a closer support to the Zionist regime and to plot more closely against Islamic Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Global imperialism -- that is the closely-knit network of oil cartels, arms manufacturers, world Zionism, and their ally governments -- threatened by the awakening of the Islamic ummah, is in a state of aggression accompanied with panicky moves. This aggression, which has political, media, military and terrorist dimensions, is today clearly visible in the violent and unabashed conduct and statements of the militarists in charge of the United States government and the Zionist regime, it said. What follows is the text of the message. The gathering of millions of Muslims during the Hajj ceremony is a wonderful and an unparalleled phenomenon. All Muslim nations from all over the world and from all walks of life gather here for several days in the House of Allah and the birthplace of Islam and its magnificent Prophet to perform the symbolic rites of Hajj. These observances, full of grandeur and meaning, teach Muslim nations, practically and allegorically, the hearts' communion with Allah the Almighty, their sense of empathy, of a constant movement around the axis of tohid (divine unity), of collective effort and endeavors, of rejection of Satan and disavowal of taghut (false gods), of remembrance, supplication and humility before Allah, and of honor and grandeur under the banner of Islam. Hajj rituals are embodiments of qualities such as compassion and coexistence amongst brethren, firmness and fortitude in confrontation with the enemies, liberation from the accretions of egoism and merging in the ocean of divine honor and greatness. Hajj represents a model for the Islamic ummah, and teaches the kind of conduct that the great ummah must adopt to achieve happiness. Hajj can be interpreted as a collective, purposeful, conscious and versatile movement in the same direction. The basic thrust of this movement is remembrance of Allah and harmony among His creatures. The purpose of this movement is establishment of a strong spiritual bulwark for a happy life of mankind. Allah has made the Kaaba, the Sacred House, a [means of] sustentation for mankind, and [also] the sacred month, the offering and the garlands...(5:97). Today the Muslim ummah is in need of a great purposeful movement in its real life corresponding to the model of Hajj, and one and all share this responsibility, Muslim states and nations alike. The Islamic countries have suffered irreparable losses during the last century. The tide of colonialism and expansionism released by the Westerners inflicted the biggest damages on Muslim nations, whose wealth and material resources had made them the target of the all round aggressions of the colonial states. The outcome of these encroachments on the Muslims was political and economic slavery and backwardness in scientific and material spheres, and exploitation of the material and human resources of Muslims for the colonialists, who sought to enhance their wealth and power through usurpation, oppression, warmongering and violence. After a long time the Muslim nations woke up. The tide of Muslim awakening that spread through the Islamic world and the struggle for freedom and justice opened new promising horizons and, finally, a new era dawned on the Islamic world with the establishment of the Islamic Republic in Iran. Obviously, the world's hubs of power and wealth will not submit to truth and justice so simply. The Muslim nations have a long and tough journey -- though finally a happy and rewarding one -- before them. But if those who travel on this road are steadfast, they will rescue themselves and the future generations from the humiliation of political, economic and cultural slavery and backwardness, and will attain to a refreshing life under the shade of Islam. This path is one of struggle in the fields of science and politics and that of a powerful defense of clear truth. In this arena, the Muslims defend their own honor, dignity and usurped rights. The human conscience and innate sense of justice is a keen and an uncompromising judge that endorses this struggle of the oppressed and the wronged, and Allah's modus operandi gives the good news of its definite success: Those who are fought against are permitted [to fight] because they have been wronged, and Allah is indeed able to help them (22:39). Global imperialism -- that is the closely-knit network of oil cartels, arms manufacturers, world Zionism, and their ally governments -- threatened by the awakening of the Islamic ummah, is in a state of aggression accompanied with panicky moves. This aggression, which has political, media, military and terrorist dimensions, is today clearly visible in the violent and unabashed conduct and statements of the militarists in charge of the United States government and the Zionist regime. Palestine, oppressed and drenched in blood, is a daily victim of the most ruthless measures of the usurper regime. The people of Palestine are victims of murder, plunder, destruction and torture, humiliation and insults and suffer every kind of hardship merely for the crime of having obtained the courage to make a serious demand for their usurped rights after half a century. The people of Iraq receive threats of war because the U.S. regime considers it necessary to establish itself in Iraq and take the destiny of its people into its hands and, as a consequence, the destiny as well of all countries of the Middle East, in order to establish its control over the vital flow of oil and to plunder the remaining oil resources of this region and to establish an effective presence close to the borders of Palestine, Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia. The people of Afghanistan were made to feel the brunt of American and British bombs and weapons of mass destruction for the past year and several months with their soul and body and to suffer the humiliating presence of their occupying forces because the U.S. administration has chosen to define its illegitimate interests in these terms. The greed of this imperialist and anti-human network knows no bounds. If during the last fifty years the United States wanted to be the master of Latin American countries, now it wants to be the absolute sovereign and dictator of the Muslim countries of the region in the current half century. The extravagant international objectives and plans of the United States are all indicative of this arrogant yet stupid ambition. There is no doubt that the United States and its allies will fail and once again the world will witness the collapse of a powerful yet drunken emperor, as we saw that his miscalculations came out wrong in Palestine and Afghanistan. However, if the Muslim ummah, the states and the peoples, do not take timely, wise and courageous decisions, they will suffer heavy damages which will take a long time to remedy. In the recent bout of its insane measures, which began after the strongly suspect incident of September 11, the United States has also launched a propaganda offensive. With the pretext of defense of democracy and war against terrorism it addresses a tirade to Muslim nations condemning chemical arms and weapons of mass destruction. Don't you think that the Muslims will ask as to what governments and companies have supplied these arms to Iraq in the first place? As 13,000 of the 19,000 chemical bombs, which according to you were formerly in the stockpiles of the Baathist regime of Iraq, were dropped on the heads of the Iranians, there must still exist 6,000 of them. You are justifying your future attack on Iraq on this basis. But from where did the Iraqi regime get these weapons and chemical arms? Who else than you and your allies share the guilt for this historic catastrophe? Do they not reflect that the claims of war against terrorism and accusing an unknown and obscure group cannot deceive Muslim nations who witness United States' support of the most barbaric terrorists of the world, the Israeli regime? This expensive and insane propaganda has led the United States to become a prime symbol of mendacity, deceit and chicanery in the eyes of the Muslim nations. The arrogant and imperialist United States has not realized its objectives in Palestine and Afghanistan, and its stupendous financial and human outlays have brought it nothing but loss. It will be the same story in the future, God willing. Also, in the case of Iraq, the U.S. claims that its objective is elimination of Saddam and the Baathist regime. This is, of course, a lie. Its real aim is to appropriate OPEC and to swallow up the region's oil resources, to offer a closer support to the Zionist regime and to plot more closely against Islamic Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. That which is certain is that in case of American control of Iraq, with or without war, the primary victim of this hostile occupation will be the Iraqi people and the honor, dignity and wealth of that historic nation. But if the people of Iraq and the neighboring nations are vigilant, the U.S. will not attain these objectives either, God willing. Imperialism knows that the source of the resistance of Muslim nations and states is Islam and its liberating teachings. This is the reason why they have started a wholesale psychological war against Islam and Muslims. After the incident of September 11, wherein innumerable circumstantial indications pointed the finger of accusation toward clandestine Zionist networks, the names of Islam and Muslims were hastily affixed on the list of the main accused and repeated day and night. In Afghanistan, America and other places, a number of Muslims were taken captive and dispatched to frightful prisons and torture cells. Neither the charges against these individuals were established, nor did any accused of note and established identity fall into the hands of the Americans. However, the psychological war against Islam and Muslims did not end, nor does it appear to end in the near future. Islam is a religion of freedom, justice and quest for truth. Real democracy is religious democracy established on the basis of faith and the sense of religious duty. As witnessed in the case of Islamic Iran, it works in a manner much more reliable, sincere and democratic than in democracies such as that of the United States. The democracy that the Americans claim they want to offer to Islamic and Arab countries is as destructive as their bombs and missiles. When the enemy offers us even a date, one cannot be sure that it has not been soaked in fatal poison. The Muslim ummah has experienced the truth of this in Africa, Middle East and West Asia recurrently in the past as well as in the more recent years. In this crucial and critical situation, the Muslim ummah needs, more than ever before, to take lesson from the model of Hajj: A purposeful movement, versatile, aware, and universal in the direction of Qoranic objectives on the straight path of Islam. Allah, the Most High, says: Those who have faith fight in the way of Allah, and those who are faithless fight in the way of the rebel. So fight the friends of Satan; indeed the stratagems of Satan are always flimsy (4:76). And God, the Most High, says: Moses said to his people, 'Turn to Allah for help and be patient. The earth indeed belongs to Allah, and He gives its inheritance to whomever He wishes of His servants, and the outcome will be in favor of the Godwary' (7:128). TIGHTENING THE NET http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A41886-2003Feb7.html * EGYPT ASKS U.S. FOR TRADE PACT, AID BOOST by Karen DeYoung Washington Post, 8th February Egypt has asked the United States for an additional aid package to defray anticipated costs of a possible war with Iraq and has renewed its appeals for a bilateral free-trade agreement. The appeal, made by a high-level Egyptian delegation visiting Washington this week, follows similar requests in recent months by Israel, Turkey and others seeking stepped-up U.S. assistance to offset whatever contribution they might make to an Iraq war, as well as declines in tourism and exports they expect would result from upheaval in the region. The Bush administration is still considering an Israeli appeal for $2 billion in new military assistance along with $10 billion in loan guarantees. Turkey has also requested as much as $14 billion in various forms of assistance, and Jordan is receiving more than a dozen new F 16 fighter planes. A free-trade agreement between Jordan and the United States recently went into effect, and early talks have started on a similar agreement with Morocco. "The Egyptians have said, 'If you can do it with Jordan, why not us?' " a U.S. official said. The State Department has been pushing for consideration of a U.S.-Egypt agreement as part of its Middle East Partnership Initiative, which aims to promote both economic and political reforms, but trade officials have resisted. Israel and Egypt are already the largest recipients of U.S. military aid. Under the Bush administration's fiscal 2004 budget proposal, Egypt would receive $1.3 billion, the same as that allocated for 2003. Egypt is also among the largest recipients of U.S. development aid. In terms of a new aid package, Foreign Trade Minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali said the Egyptians have submitted "outlines of what a conflict with Iraq would cost us" in meetings at the White House, the State Department and with trade officials. Although no specific figure has yet been mentioned, he said, "we will be submitting a set of requests on how to address it." Boutros-Ghali said Egypt's initial analysis indicated that once a war starts, "tourism drops the next day to zero." Tourism, he said, amounts to 10 percent to 15 percent of the country's gross domestic product and employs about 2.5 million people. The entire Middle East has been classified by insurers as a war zone since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and subsequent war in Afghanistan, Boutros-Ghali said, and further conflict with Iraq, he said, would send insurance premiums "through the roof" on goods entering and leaving Egyptian ports and traveling through the Suez Canal and Red Sea basin. Egypt is also one of the principal suppliers to Iraq under the United Nations-administered oil-for-food program, with exports totaling more than $5 billion a year. The Egyptian delegation also includes Osama Baz, senior adviser to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and Gamal Mubarak, the president's son, who is head of the policy planning committee of the ruling National Democratic Party. Asked about reports that the United States has discussed with countries in the region the possibility of creating a joint Arab force to administer Iraq after a military conflict, Baz said, "nobody has approached us" on the question. "We have been asked for certain facilities," he said, "but not for any [direct] participation." In order to consider such a proposal, he said, "we would have to be part of the whole thing. . . . informed . . . [and] consulted before starting a strike against Iraq." Right now, Baz said, "we still think there is a certain room for maneuver within the [U.N.] Security Council. War is not taken as a given or inevitable. It is something that is most likely, but not inevitable." http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A42556-2003Feb7.html * U.S. MET WITH IRANIANS ON WAR by Peter Slevin Washington Post, 8th February Bush administration officials held a rare private meeting with Iranian envoys in Europe last month to seek a promise of humanitarian help and an assurance that the Tehran government would not interfere in military operations if the United States goes to war against Iraq, U.S. officials said yesterday. U.S. diplomats carrying a carefully designed message also asked Iran to join search-and rescue missions for downed U.S. air crews, officials reported. They further requested that the Iranian government deny haven to fleeing Iraqis who might try to cross into Iran and regroup against a U.S.-supported government in Baghdad. A senior administration official said the White House hopes the Iranians "will stay out of the way" if U.S.-led forces topple Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in favor of a pro-Western government. U.S. and U.N. officials report that signals from Tehran have been encouraging, although the Iranian government opposes military action. The overture to Iran, a member of what President Bush called an "axis of evil," demonstrates the extent of the administration's efforts to line up support in the Persian Gulf for an increasingly likely war against Iraq. Bush has condemned the politics of the Tehran government but is seeking its cooperation as agreements with Iraqi neighbors Turkey and Jordan fall into place. In London this week, Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi said a war would have repercussions in Iran. But he said Iran is prepared to settle Iraqi refugees temporarily along its border. During the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan on Iran's northern border, Iran offered to conduct search-and-rescue missions. "Iran is basically against war and is not going to support either side," Kharrazi said. There is no fondness in Iran for Hussein, who waged a bitter war against the country in the 1980s and allegedly used poison gas against its citizens. Yet, great ambivalence exists about the prospect of a new government next door endorsed by the United States. It has been barely a year since a U.S.-backed government took root in Afghanistan after the fall of the Islamic Taliban government. Analysts believe Iran has an abiding interest in the outcome of any conflict in Iraq. Tehran has long supported Muslim Shiite exiles from Iraq who intend to seek power if Hussein falls. Analysts predict Iran will not take an active role during any armed conflict, but will later seek influence in heavily Shiite southern Iraq and the central government. As a U.S. official put it, "They don't want to be shut out." In another development, the Bush administration has begun notifying U.S.-based humanitarian organizations that they will be issued licenses permitting them to work in Iran and northern Iraq. The groups will be surveying potential needs and positioning supplies in readiness for a potential conflict, said representatives of the organizations and the U.S. government. The aid organizations have been pressing the administration for months to make it easier to acquire the licenses. They are required because of U.S. economic sanctions against Iran and Iraq. The organizations welcomed the news but expressed frustration that time appears short to develop contingency plans in a region where relatively few humanitarian groups operate. U.S. relations with Iran, troubled since the Iranian revolution nearly 25 years ago, took a still more difficult turn when Bush grouped Iran with Iraq and North Korea as an "axis of evil" in January 2001. Later last year, Bush issued a statement sharply critical of Iran's conservative leadership and supportive of pro-democracy protesters. In last month's State of the Union address, Bush said the Iranian government "represses its people, pursues weapons of mass destruction and supports terror." Yet U.S. officials concluded that Iran should not be ignored in preparations for a potential conflict along its 904-mile border with Iraq. U.S. envoys sought a measure of help while also reassuring the Iranians that a prospective war for control of Baghdad would not target them, said a U.S. official who was briefed on last month's mission. The U.S.-Iran meeting, which involved two U.S. officials steeped in the region's politics and history, coincided with a larger gathering on the future of Afghanistan that included U.S. and Iranian delegations. The country in which the meeting was held could not be learned. The names of the U.S. envoys were withheld from publication at the request of U.S. officials. "We wanted to make clear to them that, just as we cooperated with them in Afghanistan, we'll cooperate with them in Iraq. We're able and willing to cooperate in Iraq," the official said. He added that the administration and the Iranians have been communicating regularly through partners in Europe and the Persian Gulf. To solidify its pledge that it seeks a representative government elected by Iraqis, the administration has also noted its acceptance of Tehran-based Shiite Muslim leaders among the Iraqi opposition. Indeed, members of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, whose militias are trained by the Iranian military, were welcomed with other opposition figures to Washington last year. Elsewhere yesterday, U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad tried to calm Kurds in northern Iraq by declaring that Turkish troops entering the region would report to a U.S. commander and would pose no threat. Kurdish groups fear Turkish forces may try to seize territory; the Turkish government worries that the Kurds may grab oil-rich zones in the north or seek political autonomy. http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134630619_iraqnotes08.html * U.S. TELLS SOME STAFF, FAMILY TO LEAVE FOUR MIDEAST NATIONS WASHINGTON ‹ The State Department yesterday advised nonessential U.S. diplomats and family members to leave Israel, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. Private American citizens also were advised to leave. Diplomats and family members would return home at U.S. expense, leaving only essential American personnel at the U.S. embassies in Tel Aviv, Amman, Damascus and Beirut and the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/02/09/wirq09.xml&s Sheet=/portal/2003/02/09/ixportaltop.html * US AND BRITAIN GIVE SADDAM JUST 48 HOURS TO LEAVE IRAQ by Julian Coman in Washington and Colin Brown Daily Telegraph, 9th February Britain and America are drawing up plans to give Saddam Hussein as little as 48 hours to flee Baghdad or face war, if UN weapons inspectors report this week that the Iraqi dictator is still refusing to disarm fully. The proposals will form the framework of a long-awaited second resolution, which could be put before the Security Council by next weekend. The deadline would be just long enough for Arab neighbours to make a last effort to persuade Saddam to leave the country, according to US officials, or for a coup to take place. The shortest timeframe to emerge from private diplomatic discussions has been two days. The phrasing of the new, deliberately concise UN resolution would deny Saddam a fresh chance to say that he will comply with Security Council demands. Britain will put forward the resolution because Washington "does not want to be seen to need it", according to a senior Security Council diplomat. Foreign Office officials confirmed that Saudi Arabia has offered to take Saddam if he goes into exile. Last month Donald Rumsfeld, the US defence secretary, said he would be "delighted" if Saddam fled Iraq. "To avoid a war, I would personally recommend that some provision be made so that the senior leadership and their families could be provided haven in some other country," he said. [.....] http://www.goasiapacific.com/news/GoAsiaPacificBNA_780936.htm * PHILIPPINES' BAGHDAD EMBASSY TO CLOSE Go Asia Pacific, 10th February The Philippines is closing its Baghdad embassy three days before United Nations' arms inspectors submit to the UN Security Council their official report on Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction. National Security Adviser Roilo Golez says the decision has been made because the embassy could be a target for forces sympathetic to Iraq. President Gloria Arroyo has been vocal in her support for moves taken by US President George W Bush. She recently called on Iraq to exhaust all diplomatic means to resolve its row with the United States. Secretary Golez says embassy staff will be moved to Amman ,Jordan. However, a four member team from the embassy will remain in the capital to take care of 60 Filipinos who are working for the United Nations in Baghdad and who have not been evacuated. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,892399,00.html * SAUDIS SET CONDITIONS FOR USE OF BASES by Julian Borger in Washington The Guardian, 10th February The Saudi government will allow the United States to run the air campaign against Iraq from its soil, but only under strict conditions limiting the types of aircraft that can be used, US defence officials have told the Guardian. The deal follows months of negotiations over the continued US military presence in the kingdom, a delicate issue for the Saudi royal family which is under increasing pressure from anti-western Islamic clerics. Saudi officials yesterday denied as "speculation" a report in the New York Times that the country's acting ruler, Crown Prince Abdullah, will ask the US to withdraw its forces after the widely expected conflict in Iraq as part of a programme of limited democratic reforms. But such reports have surfaced regularly since the September 11 attacks, in which most of the hijackers were Saudi extremists. Osama bin Laden's main rallying cry in the Gulf has been the call to drive US forces out of Saudi Arabia and its sacred Islamic sites. However, seeing a conflict as all but inevitable, the Saudi government appears to have dropped its earlier refusal to allow the US to use its main air base, Prince Sultan, near the capital, Riyadh, which also houses a newly built combined air operations centre (CAOC), intended to serve as the command post of the air campaign. "As things stand, we can use the CAOC and we can use Prince Sultan," a senior US defence official said. "But things can change out there, and if so, that's why we built al-Udeid in Qatar." Fearing the Saudi government would deny use of the CAOC, the Pentagon hastily built a back-up version in Qatar. It has also established a command post in the country for General Tommy Franks, who would orchestrate a US invasion from there. The senior official said that talks with the Saudi government had produced a precise set of limits on what the US air force can and cannot do from Prince Sultan base. It cannot fly aircraft on offensive missions, with the primary aim of dropping bombs on Iraqi targets, but planes launched from Saudi soil would be able to open fire or drop bombs in self-defence if fired upon or if Iraqi anti-aircraft radar locked on to them. The CAOC - with its array of communication equipment, computers and huge screens on which the air battle will be portrayed for the commanders - can be used to coordinate bombing sorties, according to the agreement. "It's a little theological at points, but there is an underlying logic to it," said a Pentagon source. There are about 80 aircraft stationed at Prince Sultan, but that number is expected to rise in the next few weeks. The first day of the air campaign is expected to involve 500 US planes, and up to 300 jets launched from five US aircraft carriers, dropping well over 3,000 precision-guided bombs. A US defence official said another 150 planes had yet to arrive in the Gulf before the air force reached peak readiness. The New York Times reported yesterday that the Saudi royal family had decided to introduce the first significant democratic reforms in its history, aimed at curbing the power of the conservative clergy. As a placatory move to help fend off an Islamist backlash, the US would be asked to withdraw its forces as soon as its campaign against Saddam Hussein was over. Soon after, elections would be held in which Saudi men elect representatives to provincial assemblies and eventually a national assembly. A fully democratic national assembly would emerge over a period of six years, said the report. However, a Saudi official denied that US troops would be asked to leave. http://www.jordantimes.com/Mon/news/news6.htm * MANDELA REQUESTED TO NEGOTIATE EXIT PLAN FOR SADDAM ‹ REPORT Jordan Times, 10th February JOHANNESBURG (AFP) ‹ Former South African President Nelson Mandela has been requested to negotiate an exit plan for Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in efforts to avert a US led war on Iraq, the Sunday Times newspaper reported. The Nobel Prize laureate has been asked by "distinguished people," including leaders of Arab states bordering Iraq, to persuade President Saddam to step down. Mandela's spokeswoman, Zelda la Grange, said he had been "approached from different angles,"but would only intervene if the United Nations requested him to do so. "Madiba (as Mandela is affectionately known) will support any request made by the UN, whether it be for President Saddam Hussein to step down or whatever else they may suggest," La Grange told the newspaper. Mandela last week criticised the architects of an Iraqi attack, saying US President George W. Bush "can't think properly" and that his war campaign could plunge the world into a holocaust. South Africa, chair of the Non-Aligned Movement and the African Union, has been vocal in its opposition to a war on Iraq, repeatedly saying the United Nations Security Council is the only body competent to deal with the Iraqi crisis. http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/02/10/sprj.irq.kuwait.sheikh/index.html * KUWAITI MINISTER CALLS IRAQ 'FAILED STATE' CNN, 11th February Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah talked to CNN's Aaron Brown on Monday. KUWAIT CITY, Kuwait (CNN) -- Kuwait's minister of state for foreign affairs on Monday said Iraq is a partitioned "failed state" that cannot be put back together so long as Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is in power. Sheikh Dr. Mohammed Al Sabah told CNN's Aaron Brown that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein only has firm control over the middle of his country. The north, he said, is ruled by the Kurds. The south is "lawless." "What we need to do is put the country back together," said Sheikh Mohammed. He said Iraq "with a proper government" can be a moderating influence in the region, but that if Saddam remains in power there will be "more wars, more bloodshed, more agony for the Iraqi people." He called Saddam a "serial liar" and said that there is no dealing with the Iraqi leader. "We have absolutely no illusion about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq," he said. "We have no illusions about the intent of Saddam Hussein to use these chemical weapons. We have no illusions that in the event of a war that Saddam is going to use these weapons against us, against Kuwait. This is our primary concern." The minister said that the other five nations in the Gulf Cooperation Council agree. Kuwait is a member of the loose political and economic alliance, along with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman. "That is why they are sending their boys to stand shoulder to shoulder with the Kuwaiti army," he said. "Nobody would shed a tear if that regime is gone." Asked about concerns expressed in some Persian Gulf countries about what changes in Iraq might do to the region's stability, Sheikh Mohammed said a post-Saddam Iraq is a concern not only for the Gulf but for Washington as well. "We all know how war starts. I don't think there is a person in this world that knows how war ends," he said. "Honestly, we were hoping for change from inside Iraq," he said, after the end of the Persian Gulf War in 1991. But he said Kuwait had "underestimated the brutality of this regime." Chances are slim that war with Iraq can be avoided, Sheikh Mohammed said, and the decision rests with Saddam. "The matter is up to Saddam Hussein. He has the power to save his people from such agony," he said. If Saddam were to go into exile, the minister said, it would "certainly open a big window and a big opportunity to solve this issue without a war." Sheikh Mohammed said Kuwait is ready to help its Iraqi neighbors if there is a war. The number of refugees, he said, will depend on what happens. If there is a chemical attack on Iraqis in the south, he said, refugees could number "in the millions." But if there is a conventional war, he said, "I don't believe there will be a large exodus because it will be a process of liberation and people will be celebrating their freedom." http://www.nytimes.com/2003/02/12/international/middleeast/12JORD.html * JORDAN PRESSING U.S. TO OFFER EXILE TO HUSSEIN by John F. Burns New York Times, 11th February AMMAN, Jordan, Feb. 11 ‹ Officials at high levels of Jordan's government say they are pressing the United States to offer President Saddam Hussein and perhaps 50 of his top aides a guarantee of safe haven elsewhere in the Arab world if they will quit power in Iraq. The idea of offering the Iraqi leadership exile is not new. It was floated last month by Saudi Arabian officials, and endorsed by senior figures in the Bush administration, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. But the proposal failed to gain momentum after it was contemptuously rejected by Iraqi officials, and implicitly by Mr. Hussein himself, in statements vowing to defeat an American invasion. But top Jordanian officials say they are pushing for incorporation of the idea in any new resolution on Iraq by the United Nations Security Council ‹ not so much because they believe Mr. Hussein will accept it, but because they are almost certain he will not. These officials, who declined to be further identified, said that by rejecting a formal offer of exile from the top body of the United Nations, Mr. Hussein would isolate himself from other senior Iraqi leaders, thus increasing the chances of a move to kill or overthrow him. In part, the significance of Jordan's advocacy of exile for Mr. Hussein and other Iraqi officials is that a neighboring Arab state heavily dependent on economic ties to Baghdad and cheap Iraqi oil has effectively abandoned any moves to preserve the current Iraqi leaders in place. At senior levels of the Amman government, officials say they regard an American attack on Iraq as unstoppable, and have moved beyond diplomatic maneuvering that might keep Mr. Hussein in power to a more "pragmatic" approach that seeks to accomplish Mr. Hussein's ouster without a war. The Jordanians say they have discussed the idea with other Arab leaders, and found broad acceptance of the idea with Saudi Arabia, Egypt and others. Saudi and Egyptian leaders have both met recently with Jordan's ruler, King Abdullah, who has been among the most active Arab leaders in seeking a consensus in reacting to the Iraqi crisis. Outlining King Abdullah's proposal for an amnesty for Mr. Hussein and other top Iraqi leaders, one official here who has met Mr. Hussein said he was almost certain to choose a fate akin to Hitler's death in his bunker in 1945 Berlin if American forces arrive at in Baghdad. Other top Iraqis, including both of Mr. Hussein's sons, Qusay and Uday, would be likely to choose personal survival over a cataclysmic end, these officials said. "Uday might be the first to shoot his father if he refused an amnesty," one senior Jordan official said. He added that Jordan's estimate of the Iraqi leaders was that many in the top 50 who might be included in an amnesty offer, including high-ranking generals, might summon up the resolve to kill Mr. Hussein if he refused an amnesty that was the last lifeline available to them. In his 23 years in power, Mr. Hussein has survived numerous assassination attempts, mostly by disaffected generals, and has executed dozens of alleged plotters. Senior Jordanian officials say they believe that a "quick war," with limited casualties and damage to Iraq's infrastructure, might lead to an equally rapid reversal of popular opinion across the Arab world. Scenes of Iraqis hailing their liberation, these officials reason, could send a powerful message to Arabs outside Iraq who until now have supported Mr. Hussein. In discussions with these Jordanian officials, there is barely any reference to the dispute between the United States and European nations over the best way of containing Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. These officials cite the American resolve to get rid of Mr. Hussein in saying the issue in Iraq is "regime change," not weapons, and they make clear they favor the switch. These officials say that most Arab leaders would be happy to see Mr. Hussein overthrown, despite the Iraqi leader's popularity with many ordinary Arabs. The Jordanian officials speak in unvarnished terms ‹ similar to those used in the reports of Western human rights groups ‹ of the terror they say Mr. Hussein has imposed on Iraq's 24 million people. The Jordanians also say they have told the Americans that the war with Iraq must be brief ‹ one top official specified a week, if possible ‹ and that American military commanders should do everything possible to limit civilian casualties. In contrast to senior officials in Washington who testified to Congress today that American controlled governance of Iraq might last more than two years, the Jordanian officials said they have urged the Americans to make plans for governing Iraq, ideally, for no more than three months. After that, they have told American officials, ultimate authority in Iraq should shift to a civilian authority appointed by a coalition of foreign states, but not necessarily one under United Nations leadership. This civilian leadership would work with American military commanders, the Jordanians say. One account given at authoritative levels here is that King Abdullah decided to prepare for an American attack on Iraq last July, after a meeting at the White House with President Bush. A Jordanian official familiar with that meeting said the 41-year-old king had asked Mr. Bush if there was any point in trying to persuade the American leader to abandon plans to topple Mr. Hussein. Mr. Bush, this official said, told King Abdullah that his mind was made up, prompting the king to shift his priorities to making preparations to cushion Jordan against the impact of a war. This approach contrasts starkly with that of King Abdullah's father, King Hussein, who died of cancer in 1999 after 46 years on the throne. The last few years of that reign were spent struggling with the consequences of the Persian Gulf war, which were difficult for Jordan. In 1990, after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, King Hussein sought to act as an intermediary, maintaining ties with the Iraqi leader and searching for Arab solutions to the Kuwait crisis in ways that infuriated the first President Bush. Ties with the United States went into the deep freeze for several years afterwards. ANTI-WAR PROTESTS http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/134630619_iraqnotes08.html * TURKEY ENDS EX-MARINE'S 'HUMAN SHIELD' PROTEST TRIP Seattle Times, 8th February ISTANBUL, Turkey ‹ Border police yesterday denied entry into Turkey to a former U.S. Marine who is leading an anti-war group of "human shields" headed for Iraq. Ken O'Keefe, the founder of the "Human Shield Mission" protest group who flew into Istanbul from Italy, was not let into the country when he presented a passport issued by the World Service Authority. A spokesman of Istanbul airport, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that Turkey does not recognize this passport. The spokesman said O'Keefe protested, shouting that he had traveled across the world with that passport and was a "citizen of the world." O'Keefe, 33, is a veteran of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. He gave up his U.S. citizenship four years ago to protest U.S. foreign policy. http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,892274,00.html * KENNEDY TO JOIN HYDE PARK MARCH AS HE URGES PM TO CLARIFY WAR AIMS by Michael White, political editor The Guardian, 10th February Charles Kennedy yesterday announced that he will take part in Saturday's peace march, to help ram home to Tony Blair the need for a full justification of the looming war against Iraq, and UN endorsement for any attack. The Liberal Democrat leader has faced criticism from some Lib Dem and Labour MPs for not gaining a higher profile outside parliament ,where his challenges to Tony Blair on the US UK Iraq policy have been notably more pointed than those of the pro-Bush Iain Duncan Smith. "There was a great opportunity for Charles to lay claim to the radical agenda if he'd been bolder," one Labour ex-minister said last night after Mr Kennedy signalled a change of heart on the London march to Hyde Park which organisers claim will attract 500,000 On BBC1's Breakfast with Frost the Lib Dem leader said he will "happily" join the march, as he did the Countryside Alliance march last year, though he will again be expressing broad concern rather than outright opposition to a war to disarm Saddam Hussein in all circumstances. Urging Mr Blair to provide greater clarity for British war aims, Mr Kennedy said military planners shared his concerns, especially about what will happen to post-war Iraq. "Once we prosecute such a war, what are we going to do about the peace? Who are we going to put in power? Who is going to police it? What is going to be the role of the British forces?" he asked. Mr Kennedy, who would support a war endorsed by the UN security council, had hesitated to attend the London march if it proved too small or sectarian. Now confident it will be a major event, he will speak if asked. To underline the risks of Mr Duncan Smith's uncritical stance his past and potential challenger for the Tory leadership, Kenneth Clarke, also warned Mr Blair that leaders pay a price if they try to take modern democracies to war without consent. "It is a broad analogy to draw between America and Vietnam, but what destroyed America in Vietnam was the bulk of the American public were never really persuaded of the case for fighting in Vietnam at all," Mr Clarke told BBC's World at One as his Tory ally, EU commissioner, Chris Patten, also warned war might destabilise the Middle East. Mr Patten said: "I think the the real worries in Iran and Turkey, for example, are that you take Saddam Hussein off the top of the box and you find that the country blows apart, as happened in Yugoslavia." Public unease about Iraq has reduced Mr Blair's approval rating to its lowest level since the last election, according to 1,903 people interviewed online for YouGov internet poll for The Mail on Sunday. The poll found that 44% of people believes Mr Blair is performing well, compared with 48% on January 3-4 and 62% in January 2002. Some 63% agree with Nelson Mandela's jibe that Mr Blair is behaving more like the foreign minister of the US than British prime minister; 32% disagreed while 5% did not know. Many Labour critics of Mr Blair's stance do not expect a vote on the war before it starts and realise that the prime minister will probably have a clear cross-party majority whenever such a vote takes place. Ministers too stress how important a second UN resolution will be and significantly, Gordon Brown, the chancellor, underlined his support for the Blair line on BBC1 when he pledge to help "find the money" for a war and occupation which experts predict could cost £30bn a year. "What Tony Blair is saying and what he's been doing is absolutely right, and I believe that the British people will come to the view that this is the right course of action, that we must stand up to dictators who defy the international community by having weapons of destruction and failing to disclose them and even trying to find the means of deceiving people about the disclosure," Mr Brown said. Downing Street said yesterday that three of the four junior officials named on a website version of the disputed intelligence report on Iraq were only recipients of the dossier, not among its authors. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/10_02_03/art23.asp * PROTESTERS REJECT US MILITARY ACTION AGAINST IRAQ Daily Star, Lebanon, 10th February Anti-war demonstrators were out in force in a number of world capitals over the weekend, calling on their governments to reject any US-led military action against Iraq. Perhaps the largest demonstration was held in Munich, Germany, where up to 20,000 protesters demonstrated peacefully Saturday while a massive force of 3,500 police protected a security conference attended by US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and other prominent defense and security officials. Demonstrators opposing war with Iraq carried signs through the snowy city saying "Rummy, go home" and "Welcome to Cuba" - a reference to Rumsfeld's remark lumping Germany in with US adversaries Cuba and Libya over their resistance to war. Police closed a large section of downtown Munich for two protests, one called by church and labor union leaders and another by anti-globalization protesters and other radical groups. More than 10,000 demonstrators joined a peaceful protest endorsed by Munich Mayor Christian Ude earlier Saturday. "Today Munich says yes to peace and no to war," said Roman Catholic Bishop Engelbert Siebler. The sentiment was echoed Sunday in Jakarta, capital of the world's most populous Muslim country. Indonesia's official Antara news agency put the number of protesters, who ranged from students to families with babies in arms, at "tens of thousands." Other observers said the crowd was closer to 7,000 when it marched past the US Embassy, pausing occasionally for speeches, songs and chants of "God is great." "Bush's war against Iraq equals state terrorism" read one sign. "Stop war. Save peace and humanity," said others, while a T-shirt slogan read: "No more blood for oil." Some 1,000 Austrians also rallied under the motto "No blood for oil." The protesters gathered in Austria's second-largest city, Graz, to demonstrate against a possible war in Iraq and were supported 50 different organizations. Organizers of the rally claimed that four-fifths of Europe's population are opposed to a war in Iraq. In Hungary, meanwhile, 60 members of right-wing organizations protested outside an air base being used by the United States to train Iraqi dissidents as translators, guides and guards for deployment alongside US troops in an Iraq invasion. Speakers for the Hungarian Interests Party, the Conscience Group and the Iraqi Historical Association accused the Hungarian government of complicity in preparing for the war. "We all know that this conflict is only about oil and world power," Izabella Kiraly, of the Hungarian Interests Party, told the protesters. "America used to stand for democracy. Now it stands for aggression." The protest was held in a park, 300 meters from the base. Police prevented the group from getting any closer. Several hundred people braved chilly weather to stage an an anti-war rally in Moscow's Pushkin Square while across the seas in sunny Australia more than 700 women posed nude Saturday to protest against Australia's likely involvement in a potential war against Iraq. Lying naked end to end on a grassy knoll in the Australian beach town of Byron Bay, they formed a heart around the words "No War" for an aerial photograph opportunity. One middle-aged woman had the words "Bare it all for the boys Down Under" written on her back. In the Middle East, meanwhile, protests were held in Palestine, Jordan and Turkey. Around 500 Palestinians demonstrated their support Sunday in the southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah. Demonstrators burned US and Israeli flags and chanted slogans against Bush and in support of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. "You don't scare us," and "Saddam, hit Tel Aviv," the crowd shouted. In Jordan, the country's key opposition Islamic Action Front (IAF) urged people to turn out in force for a pro-Iraq march next week and observe a one-hour blackout to protest against any US-led war. "Turn off the lights and your television sets in each and every town and village across Jordan Š and light candles instead and spend that hour praying for the needy" in Iraq, the IAF said in a statement released in Amman.. "The wolves are massing around Baghdad waiting for zero-hour and are threatening to set ablaze everything in sight under false claims." It urged Jordanians to take part in a march on UN headquarters in Amman, organized by Jordan's opposition parties, on Feb. 15. Meanwhile,several hundred Turkish women held a demonstration at the border with Iraq, calling on the government in Ankara not to back any US military action against Turkey's southeastern neighbor, the media reported. The protest, organized by a variety of nongovernmental organizations, brought together some 300 civil activists from across the country and also included Kurdish women. "No to war," the women shouted, some of them holding their babies in their arms. "Remember your humanity," one of the placards read. "We are against Turkey taking part in this war," said one of the protesters. "We are against Turkey offering its air bases, ports and people to the service of the Americans." http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=%2Fnews%2F2003%2F02%2F11%2Fni rq11.xml * TRADE UNIONS THREATEN TO BLOCK MILITARY SHIPMENTS by George Jones and Benedict Brogan Daily Telegraph, 11th February Trade union leaders warned Tony Blair yesterday that the Government could face widespread industrial action if Britain joined an American-led war against Iraq. Rail workers might refuse to transport military materials if Britain took part in an invasion without the backing of the United Nations. Five union general secretaries attended a Stop The War Coalition press conference at Westminster to press for a special meeting of the Trades Union Congress to debate the Iraq crisis. Paul Mackney, of Natfhe, the lecturers' union, said there would be protests in every industry if the Prime Minister went to war against the country's wishes. Bob Crow, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, compared the anti-war movement to the revolution that brought down Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator. Mick Rix, general secretary of Aslef, the rail union, said some railway workers were already refusing to move materials that could be used in a conflict. The union leaders said the TUC constitution provided for a recall in the face of conflict and it should be enacted to help prevent military action against Iraq. All insisted they represented a majority of people opposed to war. They urged their 750,000-strong membership to turn out in support of the anti-war demonstrations planned for this weekend. Billy Hayes, leader of the Communication Workers' Union, said anti-war sentiment was comparable with that at the time of the Suez crisis, which cost Anthony Eden his premiership. The tensions within the Labour Party over Iraq erupted in the Commons later when Tam Dalyell, the longest-serving MP, walked out after staging a protest over the Government's "plagiarised" dossier on Saddam Hussein. The Labour MP, Father of the Commons, raised a series of points of order over the dossier on Iraq's concealment of its weapons, which was partly copied from a student's PhD thesis. He accused ministers of deception by using out-of-date information from "teenage scribblers" and presenting it as the latest British intelligence information. Mr Dalyell, 70, MP for Linlithgow, said it was not a "trivial" matter because such a document was used as a basis for sending young men and women to war and risking the lives of thousands of innocent civilians. The Speaker turned down his demand for an emergency debate and told Mr Dalyell to withdraw from the Chamber after he continued to protest. Mr Dalyell walked out, although the Speaker's officer later denied that he had been suspended. The MP said that he was the first Father of the House to be asked to leave the Chamber - although he was suspended from the Commons 20 years ago for accusing Margaret Thatcher of "lying" to the Commons over the sinking of the Belgrano during the Falklands war. The Tories criticised Charles Kennedy, the Liberal Democrat leader, for his opposition to the use of force against Iraq. Iain Duncan Smith, the Conservative leader, accused Mr Kennedy of searching for "cheap votes". Asked about Mr Kennedy's pledge to attend the Stop the War rally in London on Saturday, Mr Duncan Smith said it was comparable to Neville Chamberlain's appeasement of Germany. "What the Lib Dems do is mess around on the edge of politics in search of cheap votes," Mr Duncan Smith said in Gouda, Holland. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/archives/2003/feb/11/021105978.htm l?Iraq * IRAQ GRANTS VISAS TO 'HUMAN SHIELDS' Las Vegas Sun, 11th February ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP): Iraq granted visas to some 65 "human shields" traveling to the country to protest a possible U.S.-led war, a group member said Tuesday. The group, traveling from London to Baghdad in a convoy led by two double-decker buses with "Not in our name" written across the front, were granted the visas at Iraq's embassy in Ankara, said Tolga Temuge. Ambassador Talib Abid Salih greeted the group at the embassy late Monday, handing out white flowers to the activists as a peace gesture, television footage showed. The group is headed to Iraq through Syria. Temuge, a member of Greenpeace who joined the group in Turkey, said they did not expect to be in Baghdad before Monday. Temuge said he planned to stay in Iraq for "as long as it takes to stop this war." He said he did not plan to return if the war did start, adding that each activist would have decide on his or her own whether to stay in Iraq if war breaks out. _______________________________________________ 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 email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk