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[casi] News titles, 19-26/02/03

News titles, 19-26/02/03


The anti-war movement made a decision very early on in the present crisis
which has proved - so far - to be very astute but which was, nonetheless, in
principle, wrong. It decided to support the inspections process. I call it
wrong in principle because it appears to endorse the idea that Iraq's
possible possession of 'weapons of mass destruction' is a major and urgent
problem and, worse, that until this urgent problem is resolved, Iraq should
be subjected to an extraordinary regime of 'containment,' It accepted that
the 'international community' - insofar as that mythical entity is embodied
in the United Nations Security Council - has a moral right to judge the
Iraqi government, even though it is itself responsible for the deliberate
murder of many thousands of Iraqi citizens. It puts the decision as to
whether or not there should be a war into the hands of that same infinitely
guilty UN Security Council.

But the present success of the anti-war movement - and its success has been
quite astonishing - has, or seems to have been, dependent on getting the
support of all sorts of people who supported the blockade on Iraq, the war
on Serbia, the war on Afghanistan. I find their position difficult to
understand. It seems to me that there are much stronger grounds for a war on
Iraq than there were for the war on Serbia. Saddam Hussein's 'Arabisation'
(though I'm not sure that that is his word. 'Ethnic cleansing' was not a
term used to my knowledge by any prominent Serb leader) of Kirkuk, and the
draining of the marshes and destruction of the 'Marsh Arabs' are much worse
than anything the Serbs were doing in Kosovo - where a large part of the
problem was that the Albanians refused to recognise the government and
therefore to exercise their political rights. Mr Milosevic could have been
voted out of office in 1993 if the Albanians had not boycotted the vote.
These are not the terms in which anyone is discussing the politics of Iraq.

It is frustrating to have to rely on the argument that war cannot be waged
without a second resolution of the UN Security Council. One even feels a
twinge of sympathy for the US government. After all, so the argument goes,
inspections are 'working'. The Iraqi government is complying. Why? because
of the USUK military buildup. If it is a good thing that Iraq should comply
then the military buildup is a good thing and we should all be grateful for
it. We really shouldn't be easing up on the pressure with all our peace
marches and our backbench rebellions.

But I am of the view that the inspections were a scam from the start, whose
only purpose was to provide an excuse for prolonging the blockade and
consequent sufferings of the Iraqi people. Once it was clear that the
process was endless (and how could it end when, as Mr Rumsfeld now
constantly reminds us, it was impossible to be absolutely sure that nowhere
in a country the size of California was there a laboratory producing
quantities of sarin) I believe the Iraqi government was right not to let the
inspectors back in. They did not kick the inspectors out as is so often
stated - but had they done so they would have been quite within their rights
so far as I am concerned. And they would also have been within their rights
to reconstruct a capacity for defence. And it would have been perfectly
understandable if, given the impossibility of importing the means of
mounting a conventional form of defence, this had taken an unconventional
form. If Donald Rumsfeld et al are genuinely convinced that Saddam Hussein
has built an unconventional capacity, it is probably because they know very
well that that is what they would have done in similar circumstances.

These are all of course things it would be impolitic to say. But because
they are not said, much of the mainstream argument against war - the
arguments of Charles Kennedy, or Jacques Chirac, for example - is
gobbledegook. How could it not be when these people supported the blockade,
which is already a generally recognised form of war (a siege). The proposed
shooting war is simply a culmination of the state of war that has been going
on with these people's approval for the past twelve years.

What one hopes is happening, however, is that people who did not take much
notice of the invasion of Panama; who supported the UN war on Iraq, together
with the subsequent blockade and bombing raids; the failed invasion of
Somalia; the war on Serbia; the war on Afghanistan - perhaps with a steadily
declining level of enthusiasm - are now beginning to see a pattern: the
projection of US power into every part of the globe except, perhaps, Africa,
considered to be not worth the bother. Its hardly a new pattern, but it has
become more flagrant now that the old excuse - the need to confront Soviet
power - is no longer valid.

If this is the case then, even if the present arguments against the war are
a little thin the feeling behind them (the much maligned and in fact utterly
admirable 'anti-americanism') is genuine and is unlikely to turn overnight
into enthusiasm for the war in the event of a second resolution. Looking
beyond the immediate nightmare, the job is to fortify that feeling with
better, more principled, arguments than those that are being used at the
present - to build a more solid, more resilient world view. In the present
collection, the two articles by George Monbiot (both under Anarchy in the
US) may be particularly valuable from this point of view.

Descending from the general to the particular, the question of Turkish
support for the war still remains unresolved and the quite astonishing
patience the US are showing indicates just how important that support is. I
have long argued and still hold that that is where the really important
drama is taking place. If the Turks hold good, the war may simply not be

Quite plainly, even if the leadership has really succumbed as we are assured
(and as we have been assured many times before), there is still no certainty
that the Parliament will oblige. Does Mr Erdogan, head of the Justice and
Development (not Justice and Democracy as misstated in the last news
mailing) Party want them to oblige? Maybe not. He wants to show the
Americans he has done his best; he may not want to succeed. He may not want
to be forced into the situation where he has to confront the Iraqi Kurdish
parties, where the Turkish/Kurd civil war could be reignited, where the
Turkish army will press for emergency legislation (as evoked in one of the
article in The Enigmatic Turk below).

But a strange thing has happened. A week ago, we were talking about perhaps
20,000 US troops. The US was offering $26 billion, and the Turks wanted $32
billion. Now we are talking about 62,000 troops and $16 billion. This seems
to be going in the wrong direction. I have seen no explanation for it but it
surely requires explanation. Has a substantial concession been offered
elsewhere? In Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan, for example? Are the Kurds
about to be sold down the river once again?

Their position is indeed dramatic. Yes, they've been enjoying autonomy and
its being going reasonably well since the last bout of civil war between
them in 1996. But this autonomy is limited to three provinces which they
could have had from the Baath Party back in the 1970s. They refused because
they insisted on wanting Kirkuk. Everything they suffered at the hands of
Saddam Hussein in the 1980s as a result of their disastrous decision to
support Iran in the Iran/Iraq war they suffered for the sake of Kirkuk. And
now if there is one thing that is generally agreed on all sides it is that
Kirkuk is still going to be refused to them. Perhaps their only hope is that
the Turks hold good in their refusal and the US are forced to fall back on
them. No wonder Talabani is offering to turn the whole of Kurdistan into one
huge airstrip if that's what they want.

Meanwhile, the US press is beginning to wake up to the fact that the most
substantial non Kurd component of the 'Iraqi National Congress' is a
militant pro-Iranian Islamic Fundamentalist militia of the type we're all
supposed to disapprove of. And to add to the complications - although they
are well armed, the SCIRI are probably not representative of the Iraqi Shi'i
population who are not, generally, pro-Iranian. So if there is a Shi'i
rising as envisaged by Pepe Escobar ('At the gates of heaven - or hell' in
Shifty Arabs, below) it might well take the form of a conflict among the
Shi'i themselves as well as against the Baath establishment and the
occupying power.

As for the centre of the officially - ie US - recognised 'opposition', Mr
Chalabi and his friends, who hope to form the next Iraqi government
(remember Mr Chalabi suggesting the Russians should renegotiate their oil
contracts with him?), the strength of their support is being cruelly exposed
in 'Camp Freedom', in Hungary. A nervous Hungarian government limited the
numbers allowed to receive training there to 3,000 - not an unreasonable
figure out of 4 million exiles burning with the desire to overthrow a
vicious dictatorial regime. So far they've been able to rustle up perhaps
160, on the very eve of the war (see articles in Opposition/Collaboration).
But what, we wonder, has happened to the Iraqi National Coalition - the
military alliance established with no little publicity a few months ago
under the leadership of Tawfiq al-Yasiri? Where are the snows of yesteryear
- though who knows, given that they did seem to have a substantial base
among exiled army people (and they have an impossibly flashy website) they
might pop up again unexpectedly.

Finally its quite possible that the most important article in what follows
will turn out to be 'Allies hushed up weapons' under Weapons of Mass
Distraction. Hussein Kamel's testimony - given at a time when he was trying
to provoke a US invasion of his country - is very strong evidence that they
did in fact destroy all existing stocks in the immediate aftermath of the
war and before the arrival of the inspectors.

News, 19-26/02/03 (1)


*  US offloads ammunition in Turkey [Hundreds of armoured vehicles and
*  Why Turkey is reluctant to see a war [Impression of life on the
Turkish/Iraqi border now that smuggling is no longer feasible: "Bush says he
wants to take away Saddam's weapons of mass destruction," said Cumhur Ozpun,
58, a Kurdish trucker waiting last week to cross into Iraq at Habur gate,
Turkey's only legal border crossing. "That's fine. But the Americans have
already used a weapon of mass destruction against us ‹ the embargo."]
*  Turkey's leader blames EU for failing to give political support in crisis
[He isn't complaining at not getting NATO support for the war but saying
Turkey would have been better placed to resist US pressure if it had had
more certainty of EU accession]
*  Turkish military calls for return of emergency rule [in Kurdish
*  A Turkish 'no' to U.S. would make it tougher [Extract, giving some
details of the purely military considerations]
*  Ankara tries to play both sides [Article from Lebanon Daily Star arguing,
evidence in hand, that Turkey has sold the pass. The evidence includes the
following: 'Turkey exerted intense pressure on the recent Istanbul meeting
of six Middle Eastern foreign ministers to declare Iraq solely responsible
for the current crisis. Washington was absolved of any responsibility.']
*  Turkey fouls up the US works [Extracts. Turkey insisting on new UNSC
resolution; and possible alternatives, including Saudi Arabia and Jordan, if
they don't comply. 'Mitchell' is Phillip Mitchell, a ground-forces analyst
at the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies;
'Flournoy' is a senior adviser for the Washington-based Center for Strategic
and International Studies]
*  Worried about war? Imagine what it's like in Turkey [Norman Stone shows
how things look from Turkey's point of view - complete with a rather
sceptical attitude toward the Kurds: 'There is also no single Kurdish
language. Abroad, efforts are being made to standardise "Kurdish", but on
the ground they make no sense because there are at least seven strikingly
different variants. In Iraq an Arabic alphabet is used, in Turkey a Latin
one. It is sometimes claimed that Turkey bans Kurdish publications, but this
has not been true for years. In fact, people do not buy them. The PKK, the
communist guerrilla movement with which Turkey has had to contend all these
years, itself used Turkish and announced that Turkish would be the official
language of "Kurdistan".']
*  Blame Turkey's mood on the U. S. [Delightful article from the Baltimore
Sun on the US mishandling of Turkey, incuding the disastrous effort to
shoehorn Turkey into Europe]
*  Haunted by Gulf War memories, Turkey dithers over US-led Iraq war
[Account of what happened in 1991: 'Ozal had calculated ‹ wrongly, as it
rapidly became clear ‹ that his wholehearted backing for the US-led war
effort would pay handsome dividends for Turkey. We're going to gamble one
and win three," he told a sceptical public, in words that have since been
the subject of satire.']     
*  Vote is nearing in Turkey on American use of bases [Extract in which
Turkish foreign minister, Yasar Yakis calls for the Kurdish militias to be
*  Turkey's Cabinet Approves Plan, With Details Lacking, for U.S. Troops
[Leading to question if it is wise to put an incomplete agreement before
Parliament or, if it is done, Parliament's approval will then be sufficient
to deploy, prior to a final agreement being reached]
*  Turkey Delays Final Vote on U.S. Troops [Extracts. A Deputy Prime
Minister (there seem to be more than two) urges a vote against deployment]
*  Turkoman minority offers gateway for Ankara's influence [Mustafa Ziya of
the Turkoman Front seems to be broadly in favour of a US military

by Bradley Graham and Peter Slevin
Washington Post, 20th February
[This article is notable for the following splendid euphemism: 'Turkey,
whose Islamic-led government is torn between popular sentiment about the war
and a desire to accommodate a fellow member of the NATO alliance'.]
by Dexter Filkins
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 26th February
['One senior member of the Turkish government said Tuesday that many members
of Parliament were excoriated by their constituents when they returned home
for the recent Muslim holiday of Kurban Bayram. The lawmakers were reminded,
this government official said, of how staunchly opposed the Turks are to
their country's involvement in a war with Iraq. "They have a very tough
time, I can tell you," said the Turkish official, who spoke on the condition
of anonymity. "All the people attacked them. The feeling is very

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (2)


*  Bahrain peace delegation leaves for Iraq [Impressive demonstration from
Bahrain (home of the US fleet). It includes a letter of appreciation to
Germany: "Your support has overwhelmed us. As citizens of the world, Arabs
and non-Arabs alike we thank you and raise our voices with yours against
this unjust war on the Iraqi people."]
*  Arab governments 'reserving their places' for after war in Gulf [Lebanon
Daily Star roundup of Arab press. War is a certainty. Arab leaders are
impotent and/or corrupt. The Arab order is cracking under the strain]
*  7,500 students demonstrate in Egypt against Iraq war [and 'earlier in the
day, police prevented 3,000 Egyptian and Arab lawyers from venting their
anger at the United States in the streets of the capital.' Also a protest in
the Lebanon]     
*  Fresh doubts cast on US case, but buildup to war continues [Lebanon Daily
Star roundup of Arab press. Saudi-backed al-Hayat has an article advocating
a little belatedly that the Arab nations should pre-empt Washington by going
in themselves to disarm and depose President Hussein. Al-Quds al-Arabi
provides a summary of the present state of play:  '"America won't respect
either its promises or its allies," he warns them. "What it wants are not
allies but clients, which it can quickly discard once it has used them, just
like paper tissues (not to use a more fitting metaphor). Thus it has
abandoned the Kurds and sold them out to Turkey, agreeing to disarm them and
end their current special status, and shattering their dreams of a federal
or independent state."'
*  At the gates of heaven - or hell [Pepe Escobar gives a general roundup of
regional and international opposition to the war, then evokes the spectre of
the US finding itself in the same position as Saddam Hussein in 1991 -
having to put down a massive popular Shi'i revolt: 'unlike 1991, Washington
won't be able to count on a Saddam to smash them. The liberators will have
to do it themselves.']

Daily Star, Lebanon, 21st February
[Lebanon Daily Star roundup of rather predictable Arab press - largely on
the conflict between pragmatists who might ompromise and rejectionists who
won't (and for the most part probably won't have to)]


*  Morality for sale: Building a coalition against Iraq is costly [The
Guardian reflects on the price of the various elements that will go to make
up the Coalition of the Willing, especially those parts of it that are
currently on the UN Security Council. One hopes that, like Turkey, they all
have the wit to get it down in writing]
*  A trigger for war? New axis of peace throws UN into chaos [The USUK
resolution and the French/German memorandum]
*  Text: U.S.-British Draft Resolution Stating Position on Iraq [The
resolution turns entirely on the declaration submitted by Iraq. It says this
declaration contained 'false statements'. Is that true?]
*  Text: Memorandum Opposing U.S. Iraq Policy [French/Russian and German
memorandum for the Security Council. Though I hate all the nonsense about
Iraq's WMDs posing a terrible threat that has to be dealt with immediately,
still, this is the sort of thing one would do if one took it all seriously]
*  France and Germany Call for Long Inspections ['Asked if France would use
its veto to block a new American-British resolution, Mr. de Villepin said
the question was not important because Washington was unlikely to win the
nine votes on the Security Council needed for passage.']

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (3)


*  PM caught out over Iraqi letters [of 'four so-called independent Iraqis',
two of whom turned out to be closely connected with the INC and the US State
*  Iraqis will not be pawns in Bush and Blair's war game [Kamil Mahdi's
article is doubly excellent because it gives some real political background,
helping to explain the horrors Iraqis have undergone over the past twenty
five years instead of just reacting to them. He arfgues that the predictable
effect of USUK policy has been consistently to strengthen the repression and
weaken the real, unceasing, native Iraqi opposition to the regime. He is
strongly opposed to an invasion: 'the main historical opposition to the
Ba'ath regime - including various strands of the left, the Arab nationalist
parties, the Communist party, the Islamic Da'wa party, the Islamic party
(the Muslim Brotherhood) and others - has rejected war and US patronage over
Iraqi politics. The prevalent Iraqi opinion is that a US attack on Iraq
would be a disaster, not a liberation, and Blair's belated concern for
Iraqis is unwelcome.']
*  No votes for Saddam [The Guardian sits down in despair at the complexity
of it all]
*  The West must not win the war only to lose the peace [Surely only John
Major could unblushingly use the phrase 'the wily Kurds']
*  Both the military and the spooks are opposed to war on Iraq [Richard
Norton-Taylor gives a very good account of the reason why security people
should have doubts, though not much evidence that they actually do]


*  US army's 'Mad Arab' tipped for governor role [General John Abizaid, a
Californian of Lebanese descent, who is fluent in Arabic, with a masters
degree in Middle Eastern studies at Harvard University. Sounds perfect]
*  Top Bush aide savages 'selfish' Chirac [Some straight talkin' from an
Observer interview with Richard Perle. Perle insists that the US supports
Ahmad Chalabi and doesn't want to impose a military governor, whatever
anyone else might say]
*  U.S. reaches out to Iraqi-Americans [Paul Wolfowitz addressing an adoring
Iraqi American audience in Dearborn, Michigan: "We may someday look back on
this moment in history as the time when the world defined itself for the
21st century, not in terms of geography or race, or religion, or culture, or
language, but in terms of values -- the universal values of freedom and
democracy." Golly, we do live in exciting times.]
*  Two men driving Bush into war [Karl Rove and Paul Wolfowitz. Particularly
interesting on Rove. But did Wolfowitz's 'Defence Planning Guidance' really
advocate the pre-emptive use of chemical and biological weapons?]
*  Too much of a good thing: Underlying the US drive to war is a thirst to
open up new opportunities for surplus capital [This article should have
appeared last week but I missed it. It is one of the very few articles that
manage to go beyond the idiocies of Good and Evil (an idiocy that affects
our side as much as it does theirs) to the underlying pressure of - in this
case economic - Necessity. Monbiot is just about the best we have at the
present time]
*  Out of the wreckage: By tearing up the global rulebook, the US is in fact
undermining its own imperial rule [George Monbiot once again sees the wider
picture. The US is shedding the appearance of legitimacy that had previously
so effectively disguised its true rapacious nature. It is by no means clear
that this is in its longterm interests: 'America's assertions of
independence from the rest of the world force the rest of the world to
assert its independence from America. They permit the people of the weaker
nations to contemplate the global democratic revolution that is long
*  Bush aide: Inspections or not, we'll attack Iraq [sez Richard Perle]

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (4)


*  Iraqi Opposition Figures Delay Meeting [because of a snowstorm. And the
KDP arrest 'the security chief of the Iraq Turkoman Front' saying he was an
agent of Saddam Hussein wanting to sabotage the meeting (though the
opposition seem to me to be perfectly capable of sabotaging their own
meetings without any help from Saddam Hussein)]
*  Iraq Shi'ite group [SCIRI] denies troop build-up in N.Iraq [but Reuters
don't appear to believe them]
*  Shiites ready to fight, but on their own terms [Somewhat breathless
account of SCIRI, reminiscent of certain pre-Afghan war articles we used to
read about the Northern Alliance]
*  Al-Sharif Ali [Constitutional Monarchist. Ahmad Chalabi's closest ally, I
thought] movement boycotts Irbil meetings
*  US rule in post-Saddam Iraq 'would bring terrorist attacks' [Says
Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim. Who should know. He also says force to
overthrow Mr Hussein should have a UNSC resolution]
*  Iraqi Opposition Leaders Gather [In a state of discontent in Irbil. What
happened to Salahuddin? apparently they include members of 'the Kurdistan
Communist Party, which polled 10 percent of the vote in Irbil municipal
elections last year and has military bases in several northern Iraqi
*  Iraqi Dissidents Get Military Training ['Though the first group included
only about 50 Iraqis, the Army says more have arrived and will begin
training this week.'
*  U.S. drill sergeants train Iraqi exiles on remote base [Amusing article
about the attempt to make soldiers out of Mr Chalabi's not very numerous
friends in Hungary. They come over as quite loveable. 'When Sgt. Carl Debose
told another recruit that his bunk wasn't made properly, the Iraqi responded
angrily: "I am well educated and I don't think that you are," Sgt. Debose
recalls.' The article also reminds us of the disgraceful way in which Iraqi
exiles were treated in Saudi refugee camps for many years after the war.
'Another group, likely to number slightly more than 100 ... is expected
before the end of February.' That will bring the total up to around 160]
*  Regional Squabbling Scuttles an Iraqi Opposition Meeting [The title is an
exaggeration, I think. Journalists coming from Turkey hoping to cover the
conference refused entry because of Kurdish fears that they might be
accompanied by Turkish spies]
*  U.S. Said to Doom Iraqi Opposition Conference [US doesn't want the
conference to set up a provisional government or formally condemn the idea
of a US military dictatorship]

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (5)


*  Saddam's simpletons [Australian gossip columnist - as I imagine from the
style of the article - heaps abuse on Big Brother star, Gordon Sloan, who
has offered himself up as a human shield in Iraq. The article retained my
attention because it mentions that one Richard Butler was present,
apparently as a supporter, at a massive anti-war rally, Sunday 16th Feb, in
Sydney's Hyde Park]
*  What would you suggest? [Jonathan Freedland (whose use of the word 'we'
referring to himself and the anti-war campaign I find a little jarring)
suggests that 'we' should change the anti-war campaign into a
use-the-threat-of-war-to-force-democracy- and-human-rights campaign. The
suggestion, though it has its attractions, presupposes a saintly willingness
on the part of the USUK forces to sit in the desert looking threatening for
years to come]
*  Marchers oppose war [in Hungary. Some hope for the new Europe yet?
(though its a pity about The Blood and Honor Cultural Association)]
*  The 'Axis of Evil' film fest [Movies from Iraq, North Korea and Iran,
together with Cuba, Syria and Libya. Sounds like a good idea to me]
*  Chirac Fortifies Antiwar Caucus: 52 African Leaders Endorse French Stance
Toward Iraq
*  The Left's unholy alliance with religious bigotry [Nick Cohen complains
that the Stop the War Coalition is allied to the Muslim Association of
Britain which, he says, is attached to the Muslim Brotherhood which believes
in the Qu'ran as a system of law. Mr Cohen, however, is an enthusiastic
supporter of the Iraqi National Congress, and what is the most substantial
Arab component in the INC? The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq - the Iraqi equivalent of Hizbullah - is it not?]
*  Los Angeles Council Adopts Resolution Against Iraq War ['After the 9-to-4
vote, Los Angeles became the country's largest city to oppose such a war,
joining more than 100 other cities and counties including Chicago,
Philadelphia and Detroit.']
*  Malaysian premier uses Non-Aligned summit to call for end to war [Two day
summit of the 116-nation Non-Aligned Movement, representing more than half
the globe, assembles and condemns unilateral invasion. But who cares what
116 nations representing more than half the globe thinks? Malaysian Prime
Minister Mahathir Mohamad 'seems intent on reinventing the group as an
anti-war movement that could reach out to doves in rich countries - which he
refers to collectively as "the North" - to form an influential voice to
oppose the "slaughter of people for whatever reason."']


*  Europe's Family Feud: President Jacques Chirac puts pressure on E.U.
candidate countries to toe the French line on Iraq [Difficult to know why
Chirac should have been so unnecessarily rude. Despite the servile tone of
the letter there was nothing in the substance of it that France and Germany
couldn't have endorsed. They could have killed this little manoeuvre off by
offering to sign it]
*  Greece reported setting up U.S.-Iraq meeting [Between retired U.S.
general Anthony Zinni and two unnamed Iraqi generals]
*  US-EU tug-of-war hides cultural divide [Interesting Lebanese view of the
divisions in 'the West' and the possibility of averting the 'clash of
civilisations' longed for by Richard Perle and Osama bin Laden]

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (6)


*  Britons are urged to quit Iraq as war looms
*  Iraq minister raps Blair for misinformation [A 'spirited rebuttal of
British Prime Minister Tony Blair's critique of Iraq being better off before
Saddam Hussein' from Iraq's trade minister Mohammed Mahdi Saleh]
*  10 million land mines lie in wait inside Iraq [Despite "the most
intensive, extensive and expensive de-mining campaign in history" US
bomblets (or is it all mines, including the bomblets? - PB) have killed
1,700 people and injured another 2,300 since the Gulf War ended. Hardly any
de-mining has been done in Iraq.]
*  What is the US really up against? [Attempt by Pepe Escobar to understand
in some detail how the Baath system in Iraq operates and what its means of
resistance are. Much of it seems to be based on conversations with Iraqi
historian and sociologist Faleh Jaber, a researcher at the University of
*  Prominent Iraqis appeal for democracy [Desperate attempt to put a postwar
government under the aegis of the UN not the US. In another account of what
appears to be the same appeal - the continuation of 'U.S. Said to Doom Iraqi
Opposition Conference', above - the signatories are given as former cabinet
ministers Adnan Pachachi, Abid al-Jadir, Issam al Chalabi, Ahmad al-Habubi
and Abed al-Hassan Zalzala, and two former government undersecretaries,
Fadhil Chalabi and Mundir Uraim. Also a petition from the Cairo Institute
for Human Rights Studies opposes war and calls for democratic reform within
*  Arslan meets with Saddam to show Lebanese support [Visits to Saddam
Hussein by Lebanese Minister of State Talal Arslan and 'Maan Bashour, the
head of the Association of Leagues and Committees, who visited the Iraqi
president for the first time since he and Minister of State Beshara Merhej
broke away from the Iraqi Baath Party 30 years ago'. To Bashour, presumably
an old comrade, Mr Hussein manages to say something quite insteresting: '"In
the 1950s Israel led Britain and France against (former Egyptian President
Gamal Abdel) Nasser, and that war proved to be the beginning of the end for
the European powers' influence ... Now Israel is doing the same with the
United States. This war against Iraq will end America's influence in the
world; therefore both the Iraqis and the Americans will be victims of a war
planned by the Zionists." Bashour is impressed by his tranquillity: '"Facing
a superpower like the United States makes him feel like Salaheddine and
getting defeated by it would make him feel like a martyr, like Hussein was
... In both cases for him, it's a victory."']
*  Saddam Hussein Rejects Going Into Exile [Account of interview with Dan
Rather. The article says 'the Iraqi president indicated he wouldn't heed a
U.N. demand to destroy Iraq's Al Samoud 2 missiles', and that has been the
burden of most of the headlines referring to this, but it isn't borne out by
the transcript of the interview posted to the list (Feb 27) by Ibrahim


*  Norway Expels Islamic Extremist Leader [Mullah Krekar starts out on his
travels again]
*  KDP arrests agents of Iraq regime ["This threat was real, genuine and
credible." The style of the language sounds familiar. It seems the Kurds are
indeed learning the ways of democracy]
*  Move to freeze assets of Islamic group [Ansar el-Islam. But does it have
any assets in British banks? Foolish of it if it does]
*  Iraqi Kurd leader says strong moral case for war [Barham Salah, wouldn't
you know: 'The scenes in Baghdad will not be too different from the scenes
witnessed in Paris and Rome in 1944," he told Radio 4's Today programme.']
*  Feud Between Kurdish Clans Creates Its Own War [Feud between the -
formerly pro Baathist - Sourchi and Barzani famlies]
*  Iraqi Kurds terrified by prospect of Turkish invasion ['"It will be bad
for the reputations of the US and the UK to see two of their allies ­ the
Turks and the Kurds ­ at each other's throats."']
*  U.S. Slow To Sanction Terror Group [Now we know why the Bank of England
has suddenly been ordered to freeze Ansar's assets (whatever they might be).
And everywhere that Mary went the lamb was sure to go]

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (7)


*   Expert dismisses dirty bomb risk [Some common sense on weapons of mass
destruction from Brigadier Malcolm Mackenzie-Orr, former head of the
Australian National Counter Terrorism and Protective Security Organisation.
"CBR weapons have received only desultory attention from old terrorist
organisations and almost none from new. Al Qaeda have shown no interest."]
*  Exclusive new column: America leaves rest of world out in the cold [This
article really belongs to last week but it is by Richard Butler, the
exciting new columnist for theAustralian Sunday Telegraph. He believes that
Iraq has WMDs ('beyond doubt') but is opposed to US unilateral action. He
gives an account of the Security Council meeting on the 15th and says of
Dominique Villepin: 'But an astonishing event took place as he finished his
speech. Against all the rules, and in an unprecedented way, the packed
security council chamber erupted in applause. That applause, like the shot
that sparked World War I, was heard around the world.']
*  Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage' [The 'tips' in question are the bits
and pieces of intelligence information that have been handed over]
*  Defiance on missiles could be war trigger [and Igor Ivanov says pressure
is being applied to the inspectors 'to provoke them to discontinue their
operations in Iraq, as happened in 1998']
*  Iraq's date with destiny [Richard Butler tells us that 'Following last
week's events in the Security Council ­ particularly what the Americans
consider to be grandstanding by the French Foreign Minister ­ Washington has
insisted that Blix's next report be delivered in writing.' No more watching
C.Powell's face turn to ice. But what was Powell's own TV show if it wasn't
'grandstanding'? Shouldn't it have been delivered in writing and put on the
*  Why Saddam will never disarm [According to William Shawcross (getting
some of his information from Amatzia Baram, of the Saban Centre at the
Brookings Institution in Washington) 'WMD are tied into his (Saddam's) sense
of survival and his sense of destiny'. He says 'In 1999 a Shia revolt in the
town of Najaf was crushed by Saddam's security forces accompanied by troops
in white uniforms wearing gas masks'. With this perspective, Iraq MUST have
WMDs as a matter of mathematical certainty, therefore the failure to produce
them is a breach of resolution 1441. QED.]
*  Baghdad seeks peaceful resolution after Blix demands destruction of
al-Samoud missiles
*  Allies hushed up weapons' destruction [Very important revelation that,
after his defection, Hussein Kamel, while revealing much that was very
harmful to the government (and people) of Iraq, confirmed that the pre-1991
chemical and biological stocks had indeed all been destroyed.]
*  Iraq 'discovers' documents relating to weapons disposals


*  U.S. Bombs Iraqi Communications Sites [Cable relay sites between al-Kut
and Basra]
*  Iraq says U.S. and British jets hit southern areas [Disputed strikes near
Basra and Dhi Qar, Saturday evening and Sunday morning, 22nd and 23rd
*  US and Britain pound Iraqi defences in massive escalation of airstrikes
*  U.S. Bombs Northern, Southern Iraq [near Mosul and Basra, 25th February]

AND, IN NEWS, 19-26/02/03 (8)


*  Iraq says able to ensure food flow in case of war [No humanitarian
snivelling for Saddam!]
*  Israel worried about unstable postwar Iraq [Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, a
former intelligence chief who has been chosen by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon
to serve as an Israeli spokesman during the war makes a reasonable
assessment of the dangers, from Israel's point of view. he does not share
the Richard Perle/Donald Rumsfeld illusion that 'democracy' in Iraq would
lead to an Arab-Israeli rapprochement: 'Moreover, he predicted that a
U.S.-style democracy could be at odds with the goal of stability because it
could empower anti-American, anti Israeli Shiites in Iraq, if not the
*  British forces take road back to scene of defeat and victory [The
Scotsman outlines the proposed USUK strategy, with special emphasis on the
British role in Basra. The article presupposes a definite - if limited-
co-operation from Jordan]
*  Lack of funds delays Iraq contingency plan ‹ UNHCR ['Sten Bronee of the
UNHCR said only 14 per cent of an estimated need of $154 million was
available to accommodate an envisaged 600,000 refugees in Jordan, Turkey and
Iran for six months.']     
*  Living in poverty and fear of abandonment, the barely functioning state
that trusted its saviours [The world walks away from Afghanistan, as it has
done so many times before]
*  The Dividends of Delay: Allies' foot-dragging has strengthened U.S. war
strategy [William Arkin outlines current strategic thinking. His most
surprising observation is this: 'According to a senior military officer, the
administration is loath to commit itself publicly to withdrawing the
majority of its forces and reshaping the U.S. presence in the Persian Gulf
after Hussein is gone. But a secret promise to do so has prompted virtually
all the neighboring states to offer at least tacit support for military
action.' It is a Powellish orientation that presupposes the sudden
disappearance from the scene of Messrs Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and Perle. And
considerable ignorance on the part of the neighbouring states who should
know by now that secret agreements with the US aren't worth the paper they
aren't written on]
*  White House Outlines Postwar Aid for Iraq [which has been entrusted to
the reliable hands of Elliott Abrams]
*  Iran: Won't take Iraqi refugees without financial help ["We are not ready
to take any more money out of Iranian pockets because of a war the United
States is once again starting."]
*  Army Chief: Huge Force Would Occupy Iraq [Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, at a
hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee: 'Iraq is "a piece of
geography that's fairly significant"', he said. 'Defense Secretary Donald
Rumsfeld said he believes Iraq has chemical and biological weapons that are
"more lethal and dangerous today than they would have been in '91, but I
don't know that for sure."' Best not to take any chances]
*  U.S. would counter Iraqi propaganda with media access ['U.S. pilots may
be ordered to avoid bombing certain power facilities in Baghdad so local
citizens -- whom the U.S. is hoping to turn against their ruler -- can watch
Pentagon-produced newscasts of the war. A former Iraqi TV anchor now living
in Virginia will deliver programs beamed in by airborne transmitters.']

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