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[casi] News, 26/02-05/03/03 (3)

News, 26/02-05/03/03 (3)


*  U.S. Intelligence Categorizes Iraqis to Punish, or to Deal With
*  U.S. Diplomat Resigns, Protesting 'Our Fervent Pursuit of War'
*  Mystery still shrouds motives for war
*  Pentagon Contradicts General on Iraq Occupation Force's Size
*  The Pashtun prophet who shapes U.S. policy
*  Iraq now the rallying call for champions of freedom
*  The American camel noses itself into the Middle East tent
*  War is coming, deal with it


*  Blair rocked by biggest revolt over war on Iraq
*  UK taxpayers forced to pay millions for Iraq arms
*  Britain to Close Yemeni Embassy
*  The first privatised war


by Thom Shanker and David Johnston
New York Times, 26th February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 25 ‹ United States intelligence officials have specifically
identified more than 2,000 members of the Iraqi elite, including some to be
captured as possible war criminals and many more the American military will
try to turn against Saddam Hussein during any invasion, senior government
officials said today.

The officials said the computer database, whose existence was previously
undisclosed, divided the Iraqi leadership into three categories: hard-core
allies of Mr. Hussein; senior Iraqis whose allegiances are uncertain but who
may be willing to cooperate with United States forces; and another group of
people who are believed either to secretly oppose the government or whose
technical expertise is deemed crucial to running a post-Hussein government.

President Bush seemed to have some of these officials in mind when he told
reporters that Iraq's generals should "clearly understand that if they take
innocent life, if they destroy infrastructure, they will be held to account
as war criminals."

But not all of Mr. Hussein's commanders face the possibility of harsh

"If they prevent use of weapons of mass destruction or if they surrender
their troops without fighting, that would mitigate whatever punishment is
coming to them," a senior Bush administration official said today.

The list was assembled by a number of government agencies and departments,
including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon and the Justice
Department. Senior officials acknowledged that the idea of identifying the
leadership of a potentially hostile country was not a new one. But they
described it as the largest effort of its kind, one that dwarfs work by
American intelligence to identify Taliban leaders during the war in
Afghanistan or to analyze the military and political leadership in Belgrade
during the war in Kosovo.

Mr. Bush's warning, along with the comments of senior officials throughout
the government, is part of a coordinated American effort to encourage acts
that undermine Mr. Hussein's authority, unsettle his leadership circle and
perhaps persuade him to leave the country, the officials said. Exile for the
Iraqi leader is an option that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld raised
anew today in a speech in Washington and that Condoleezza Rice, the national
security adviser, spoke of on Monday at the White House.

To that end, public discussion of the new intelligence database could prompt
those members of the Iraqi leadership who are not in Mr. Hussein's immediate
inner circle to contemplate cooperation with the American military.

"Clearly, our desire is to have as small a number as possible with any stake
in the survival of the regime," said one senior administration official.


A senior Bush administration official said it was unlikely that the
government, either on its own or with allies, would engage in extensive war
crimes prosecutions. "Don't think Nuremburg," one senior official said.
"Think about the Tokyo war crimes trials," in which Gen. Hideki Tojo and a
few dozen of his lieutenants were tried after Japan's surrender. The Iraqi
people may also be encouraged to develop so-called truth commissions similar
to those in postapartheid South Africa or post-Communist Eastern Europe.

A senior Defense Department official said today that the list was available
only to the most senior people in the administration ‹ as well as C.I.A.
officers and Special Operations forces who already had been working inside
Iraq and were expected to spearhead the hunt for Mr. Hussein and his inner

by Felicity Barringer
New York Times, 27th February

UNITED NATIONS, Feb. 26 ‹ A career diplomat who has served in United States
embassies from Tel Aviv to Casablanca to Yerevan resigned this week in
protest against the country's policies on Iraq.

The diplomat, John Brady Kiesling, the political counselor at the United
States Embassy in Athens, said in his resignation letter, "Our fervent
pursuit of war with Iraq is driving us to squander the international
legitimacy that has been America's most potent weapon of both offense and
defense since the days of Woodrow Wilson."

Mr. Kiesling, 45, who has been a diplomat for about 20 years, said in a
telephone interview tonight that he faxed the letter to Secretary of State
Colin L, Powell on Monday after informing Thomas Miller, the ambassador in
Athens, of his decision.

He said he had acted alone, but "I've been comforted by the expressions of
support I've gotten afterward" from colleagues.

"No one has any illusions that the policy will be changed," he said. "Too
much has been invested in the war."

Louis Fintor, a State Department spokesman, said he had no information on
Mr. Kiesling's decision and it was department policy not to comment on
personnel matters.

In his letter, a copy of which was provided to The New York Times by a
friend of Mr. Kiesling's, the diplomat wrote Mr. Powell: "We should ask
ourselves why we have failed to persuade more of the world that a war with
Iraq is necessary. We have over the past two years done too much to assert
to our world partners that narrow and mercenary U.S. interests override the
cherished values of our partners."

His letter continued: "Even where our aims were not in question, our
consistency is at issue. The model of Afghanistan is little comfort to
allies wondering on what basis we plan to rebuild the Middle East, and in
whose image and interests."

It is rare but not unheard-of for a diplomat, immersed in the State
Department's culture of public support for policy, regardless of private
feelings, to resign with this kind of public blast. From 1992 to 1994, five
State Department officials quit out of frustration with the Clinton
administration's Balkans policy.

Asked if his views were widely shared among his diplomatic colleagues, Mr.
Kiesling said: "No one of my colleagues is comfortable with our policy.
Everyone is moving ahead with it as good and loyal. The State Department is
loaded with people who want to play the team game ‹ we have a very strong
premium on loyalty."

by Patrick Seale
Daily Star, Lebanon, 28th February


Instead of a stable and democratic Middle East in harmony with the US and
Israel, one can predict massive loss of life and material destruction in
Iraq; the collapse of central government leading to mob rule and vicious
killings in many parts of the country; a huge flood of desperate refugees
seeking shelter across borders; the drying up of trade, investment and
tourism throughout the Middle East, dealing a harsh blow to the fragile
economies of Egypt, Syria, Jordan and also Israel; a ruthless scramble for
Iraq's oil by the world's leading governments and oil companies; an upsurge
of Islamic and nationalist outrage expressed in a wave of individual attacks
on American and British targets, evolving gradually into more organized
guerrilla warfare against their occupying armies and against the docile
government they may hope to put in place.

American (and British and Israeli) expectations in Iraq could in fact be
torpedoed by their closest ally, Turkey. Ever since its foundation in the
1920s, the modern Iraqi state has felt threatened on both its western and
eastern flanks by Turkey and Iran. It was only in 1926, and under strong
British pressure, that Turkey gave up its attempt to win back the oil-rich
northern part of Iraq, governed by the Ottoman Empire until its
dismemberment in World War I. Turkey has always been especially interested
in the district of Mosul, inhabited to this day by Kurds and Turkmans as
well as Arabs. A collapse of the Iraqi state and the ensuing chaos might
revive these dormant Turkish ambitions.

In any event, Turkey is determined to crush the aspirations for independence
of the Iraqi Kurds and is preparing to send tens of thousands of troops into
northern Iraq the moment war breaks out. If Iraq is defeated, as seems
likely, the Turkish Army will race for Kirkuk and its oil fields to prevent
them falling into Kurdish hands. Violent clashes between Turkish troops and
Kurdish irregulars can be expected.

If Turkey takes a bite out of Iraq, Iran could do so as well. It might seek
total control of the Shatt al-Arab waterway which marks the disputed border
that triggered the Iraq-Iran war of the 1980s and which for centuries
envenomed relations between the Ottoman and Persian empires. The Islamic
regime in Tehran would no doubt also like to extend its influence over the
Shiite holy cities of Najaf, Karbala and Al-Kazimain, all located in Iraq
and which act as a magnet for Shiite communities everywhere. Some reports
suggest that units of Iranian trained Iraqi exiles - the so-called Badr
Brigades of the Tehran-based Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq - are preparing to intervene in the north, center and south of Iraq.
The invading US armies might have to deal not only with Saddam's forces but
with disgruntled and suspicious Kurds and Shiites who fear that the United
States will betray them yet again and install another Sunni Arab regime in

Rather than "taming" the Arabs, as the US and Israel hope, an attack on Iraq
- seen as illegal, unjustified and unprovoked by much of the world - might
inspire a new and more militant Arab generation to seek the true
independence which the present Arab generation has patently failed to secure
and defend.

Patrick Seale, a veteran Middle East analyst, wrote this commentary for The
Daily Star

by Eric Schmitt
New York Times, 28th February

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27 ‹ In a contentious exchange over the costs of war with
Iraq, the Pentagon's second-ranking official today disparaged a top Army
general's assessment of the number of troops needed to secure postwar Iraq.
House Democrats then accused the Pentagon official, Paul D. Wolfowitz, of
concealing internal administration estimates on the cost of fighting and
rebuilding the country.

Mr. Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, opened a two-front war of words
on Capitol Hill, calling the recent estimate by Gen. Eric K. Shinseki of the
Army that several hundred thousand troops would be needed in postwar Iraq,
"wildly off the mark." Pentagon officials have put the figure closer to
100,000 troops.

Mr. Wolfowitz then dismissed articles in several newspapers this week
asserting that Pentagon budget specialists put the cost of war and
reconstruction at $60 billion to $95 billion in this fiscal year. He said it
was impossible to predict accurately a war's duration, its destruction and
the extent of rebuilding afterward.

"We have no idea what we will need until we get there on the ground," Mr.
Wolfowitz said at a hearing of the House Budget Committee. "Every time we
get a briefing on the war plan, it immediately goes down six different
branches to see what the scenarios look like. If we costed each and every
one, the costs would range from $10 billion to $100 billion."

Mr. Wolfowitz's refusal to be pinned down on the costs of war and peace in
Iraq infuriated some committee Democrats, who noted that Defense Secretary
Donald H. Rumsfeld and Mitchell E. Daniels Jr., the budget director, had
briefed President Bush on just such estimates on Tuesday.

"I think you're deliberately keeping us in the dark," said Representative
James P. Moran, Democrat of Virginia. "We're not so naïve as to think that
you don't know more than you're revealing."

Representative Darlene Hooley, an Oregon Democrat, also voiced exasperation
with Mr. Wolfowitz: "I think you can do better than that."

Mr. Wolfowitz, with Dov S. Zakheim, the Pentagon comptroller, at his side,
tried to mollify the Democratic lawmakers, promising to fill them in
eventually on the administration's internal cost estimates.

"There will be an appropriate moment," he said, when the Pentagon would
provide Congress with cost ranges. "We're not in a position to do that right

At a Pentagon news conference with President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan,
Mr. Rumsfeld echoed his deputy's comments.

Neither Mr. Rumsfeld nor Mr. Wolfowitz mentioned General Shinseki, the Army
chief of staff, by name. But both men were clearly irritated at the
general's suggestion that a postwar Iraq might require many more forces than
the 100,000 American troops and the tens of thousands of allied forces that
are also expected to join a reconstruction effort.

"The idea that it would take several hundred thousand U.S. forces I think is
far off the mark," Mr. Rumsfeld said.

General Shinseki gave his estimate in response to a question at a Senate
Armed Services Committee hearing on Tuesday: "I would say that what's been
mobilized to this point ‹ something on the order of several hundred thousand
soldiers ‹ are probably, you know, a figure that would be required." He also
said that the regional commander, Gen. Tommy R. Franks, would determine the
precise figure.

A spokesman for General Shinseki, Col. Joe Curtin, said today that the
general stood by his estimate. "He was asked a question and he responded
with his best military judgment," Colonel Curtin said. General Shinseki is a
former commander of the peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

In his testimony, Mr. Wolfowitz ticked off several reasons why he believed a
much smaller coalition peacekeeping force than General Shinseki envisioned
would be sufficient to police and rebuild postwar Iraq.

He said there was no history of ethnic strife in Iraq, as there was in
Bosnia or Kosovo. He said Iraqi civilians would welcome an American-led
liberation force that "stayed as long as necessary but left as soon as
possible," but would oppose a long-term occupation force. And he said that
nations that oppose war with Iraq would likely sign up to help rebuild it.

"I would expect that even countries like France will have a strong interest
in assisting Iraq in reconstruction," Mr. Wolfowitz said. He added that many
Iraqi expatriates would likely return home to help.

In the 1991 Persian Gulf War, many nations agreed in advance of hostilities
to help pay for a conflict that eventually cost about $61 billion. Mr.
Wolfowitz said that this time around the administration was dealing with
"countries that are quite frightened of their own shadows" in assembling a
coalition to force President Saddam Hussein to disarm.

Enlisting countries to help to pay for this war and its aftermath would take
more time, he said. "I expect we will get a lot of mitigation, but it will
be easier after the fact than before the fact," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Mr. Wolfowitz spent much of the hearing knocking down published estimates of
the costs of war and rebuilding, saying the upper range of $95 billion was
too high, and that the estimates were almost meaningless because of the

Moreover, he said such estimates, and speculation that postwar
reconstruction costs could climb even higher, ignored the fact that Iraq is
a wealthy country, with annual oil exports worth $15 billion to $20 billion.
"To assume we're going to pay for it all is just wrong," he said.

At the Pentagon, Mr. Rumsfeld said the factors influencing cost estimates
made even ranges imperfect. Asked whether he would release such ranges to
permit a useful public debate on the subject, Mr. Rumsfeld said, "I've
already decided that. It's not useful."

by Barrie McKenna
Globe and Mail, 1st March

Washington ‹ When U.S. President George W. Bush needed help on how to
overthrow the Taliban, rebuild Afghanistan, plan for an Iraq without Saddam
Hussein and arm-twist Turkey, Zalmay Khalilzad was there.

The Afghan-born Mr. Khalilzad, the highest-ranking Muslim in the Bush
administration, has quietly emerged as a key architect of Washington's
ambitious plans for remaking the political landscape of the Persian Gulf and
Central Asia.

This week, Mr. Khalilzad led a historic U.S. mission into Kurdish-
controlled northern Iraq for a summit of Iraqi opposition leaders. Making a
dramatic arrival at the Kurdish resistance's mountain stronghold of
Salahuddin, along with an entourage of heavily armed U.S. agents, he laid
out the Bush administration's vision of a prosperous and democratic post-
Saddam Iraq.

"The horrors of the past will become a memory," Mr. Khalilzad assured the 56
opposition delegates assembled there. "A new Iraq will join the family of

Officially, Mr. Khalilzad, 52, is White House senior director for Persian
Gulf, Southwest Asian and other regional issues, working directly for U.S.
National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice.

The title minimizes his growing influence as a strategist, emissary and
troubleshooter for Mr. Bush's doctrine of pre-emption in the region.

Mr. Khalilzad, a Middle East scholar and former oil-industry consultant, is
also working as a key negotiator with Turkey, which has been resisting U.S.
pressure to allow its troops to use Turkish soil as a key launch pad for
invading Iraq.

Mr. Khalilzad has toiled in the shadows for decades as a foreign- policy
expert in the Republican administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush
Sr. He is regarded as a protégé of U.S. Undersecretary of State Paul
Wolfowitz, and a confidante of Defence Secretary Donald Rumseld and
Vice-President Dick Cheney, the administration's leading foreign-policy
hawks. When Mr. Bush became President in 2000, Mr. Khalilzad headed up Mr.
Rumsfeld's transition team at the Pentagon.

Mr. Khalilzad, a native Pashtun who came to the United States as a graduate
student, moved over to work at the White House four months before the Sept.
11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

His remarkably prophetic pre- Sept. 11 warnings about the Taliban regime in
Afghanistan, his early advocacy of overthrowing Mr. Hussein and his Muslim
heritage have made him a respected voice within Mr. Bush's inner circle.

"Afghanistan is a haven for some of the world's most lethal anti-U.S.
terrorists and their supporters," Mr. Khalilzad, then a political scientist
at the Rand Corp., wrote along with colleague Daniel Byman in a winter,
2000, article.

"Bin Laden is only the most famous of a large and skilled network of
radicals. . . . Owing to Taliban tolerance, the network bin Laden helped
created flourishes in Afghanistan, where terrorists have a place to train,
forge connections and indoctrinate others. They pose a threat to U.S.
soldiers and civilians at home and abroad, to the Middle East peace process
and to the stability of our allies in the region."

Warning against neglect, he and Mr. Byman urged the United States to
undermine the Taliban regime by working with the Pashtun-led Northern
Alliance, pressing Pakistan to cut off ties, providing humanitarian relief
and then organizing a grand tribal council to plan a new government.

That strategy quickly became U.S. policy in the weeks after the terrorist

Mr. Khalilzad was similarly ahead of the curve on Iraq. In 1998, he joined
Mr. Wolfowitz and others in signing an open letter to the Clinton
administration, urging Mr. Hussein's overthrow. A decade earlier, he sparred
with former secretary of state George Schultz by suggesting the United
States should dump Iraq as a strategic partner in favour of closer ties with

Mr. Khalilzad's views have evolved considerably over his career, inside and
outside government.

In the mid-1990s, while a consultant to U.S. oil company Unocal Corp., he
worked on forging closer ties between the United States and the Taliban.
Unocal had been seeking to build a $2-billion (U.S.) natural-gas pipeline
through Afghanistan. As late as 1998, he was still urging the United States
to "re- engage" the Afghan regime on the grounds that "the Taliban does not
practise the anti-U.S. style of fundamentalism practised by Iran."

In the early 1980s, he was an active supporter of the Afghan mujahedeen
fighters in their struggle against the Soviet invasion. After joining the
Reagan administration in 1985, Mr. Khalilzad and Mr. Wolfowitz were among a
group of State Department policymakers who argued successfully that
Washington should arm the mujahedeen with Stinger missiles.

As a young student in the 1970s, friends and associates said, he was overtly
pro Palestinian, a stance out of step with the current administration's
staunch support of Israel.

Abdelwahab El-Affendi
Daily Star, Lebanon, 3rd March

The other day as I was discussing the Iraq crisis with a Palestinian
neighbor, I told him Saddam Hussein had recently said that if the Americans
attacked Iraq, the Iraqis "would fight in a way that makes all Arabs proud."

"Allahu Akbar!" shouted my young friend, who happens to be a Christian. I
was taken aback by this enthusiasm for Saddam from the young man who also
happens to be a pop singer.

I was even more surprised when I had another discussion with a young
Palestinian who had been in the Occupied Territories when the last Gulf War
erupted in 1991. He told me that when Scud missiles hit Israel, he and other
young people went on rooftops cheering and urging Saddam to use chemical
weapons. I said to him that was weird, since they would have become victims
as well.

"We did not care," he said. "We were that desperate."

It is not the anger of those who see themselves as victims of Saddam's
enemies that is the mystery here. It is to be expected that a person held
hostage by one thug would only welcome another to vanquish him and release
him from his bonds, despite the uncertainty thereafter. A significant
section of Arab opinion supported Britain in World War I against Turkey,
which they saw as the more immediate oppressor. When Britain betrayed its
allies, many found it easy to sympathize with Germany in World War II, since
it was the power that humiliated the British and French colonialists. Like
Britain in World War I, Germany also promised Arabs liberation, with much
less credibility.

Today, the Iraqi opposition pins its hopes on American intervention and
dismisses any misgivings and fears about a repeat of 1918, when Western
powers failed to keep their promises and instituted the colonial policies
that are at the root of the ongoing instability in the region. And one can
perfectly understand their sentiments. Like the Palestinians, the Iraqis
find their position so intolerable that any alternative is welcome. The
increasing desperation creates entangled webs of amoral (even immoral) but
unavoidable alliances that breed more instability and even deeper

But that is beside the point and to some extent understandable. What is
remarkable in this crisis is the way in which Saddam Hussein's regime is
shaping up to become the symbol of heroic resistance to "greedy and callous
Western domination." Iraq is now the world's most visible cause celebre and
the rallying cry for the champions of freedom and international justice.
Meanwhile, many perceive those who claim to be the champions of freedom and
world peace as villains and warmongers. Those rallying to their support are
the usual assortment of right-wing fanatics and latter day imperialists. It
is Saddam Hussein and the good guys on one side, George W. Bush, Tony Blair
and all the bad guys on the other.

This is indeed remarkable. To be the villain of the piece in a picture where
Saddam is hero takes some hard work. How did Bush and Blair work that

It was much easier for Bush than for Blair. Being a socialist allying
himself with the most right-wing regime to hit the White House since Ronald
Reagan - and to fight the battles of the ultra-hard-liners in the Pentagon
from the turf of the British Labor Party, which until a few years back
advocated unilateral nuclear disarmament - is a tough call indeed for Blair.
But no less significantly, war mongering just doesn't appear to be Blair's
forte. Try as he may, he cannot convince many people that this is his
agenda. And this may be his Achilles heel. He is just not your regular
imperialist. People can perfectly understand why an American right wing
president who believes in Armageddon may want to make his own personal
contribution to ending life on earth. They may not sympathize with his quest
but they can see that it is in his character. What they cannot fathom is
what Blair is doing in this party (pun unintended).

The irony is that if it succeeds in removing Saddam, the war could do the
Middle East a world of good, though not in the way the Bush-Blair faction
intended. It could do Blair some political good as well. Most of the million
Iraqi refugees knocking at Britain's door at the moment would turn back, and
many Iraqis living in the West would go home. That would be one less problem
for the British prime minister to worry about. But what the invasion will
not do is absolve the US and Britain from taking tough decisions in support
of political reform in the region and a just peace in the Middle East.

Some US policymakers entertain the illusion that occupying Iraq and
reasserting military dominance in the Arab world will enable them to reshape
the Middle East like a fresh piece of clay. This is also the main worry of
those who oppose US intervention. Both sides are grossly mistaken. American
presence in the region since the last Gulf War has not given America any
edge in dealing with the region's problems, and these problems are today
much worse than when they started. Rather than stabilize the region, the US
is now itself facing the danger of destabilization, and its democratic
traditions are under serious threat. A deeper intervention in the area is
going to worsen its already marked instability and create a greater threat
to world peace.

Ironically, deeper involvement in the region is going to increase demands on
the powers involved to do more to solve its problems, although it is
doubtful whether the countries in question will be able to shoulder this

However, the people of the region would be right to lay claims on them in
this regard, just as the people of Afghanistan today demand and get
international support in all areas - something no one would have believed
them entitled to had it not been for the American invasion. The people of
the Middle East would have a louder voice in Washington, New York and
London, and the international community would feel obliged to deliver on
peace, prosperity and reform.

One could then safely say that the war may be good for the people of the
Middle East, but it is certainly not going to be good for Britain, America
or Israel. The true American and British patriots should, therefore, be out
among the war protesters; but those who would like to see change for the
better in the Middle East should keep silent and allow Bush to sleepwalk
into that quagmire.

Abdelwahab El-Affendi is a Senior Research Fellow at the Center for the
Study of Democracy, University of Westminster. He wrote this commentary for
The Daily Star

by Nuruddin Mahmud Kamal
Lebanon Daily Star, 4th March

For over a century the Americans have been creating abundance for themselves
by setting and continually breaking world's record in the development and
use of energy. This has been their special genius pioneering modern,
industrial society. Not only they have shown the rest of the world how to
develop nature's energy resources, but also to satisfy their own needs, they
have spread out over the planet with their know-how and capital and
developed other nations' resources. Their history books prate much about
political, social and cultural events, foreign policies and wars. But it is
what they have done about energy that has changed their history, improved
their lives and raised their expectations. In his unrestrained exuberance
and pursuit of many goals, the US president George Bush has suddenly created
a new energy ego for himself to acquire new oil and gas reserves, outside
the United States, in Iraq.

In fact Iraq has long been a sore point for the Americans. In the history of
oil exploration one would find Great Britain, France and Holland realised
the importance of oil and were determined to keep American oil explorers out
of Middle East and Far East. Iran, for instance, under concession to the
British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company was the only major oil producing country
in the eastern hemisphere. However, Iraq which had been part of Turkey was
known to have great oil prospects. Under an agreement in the League of
Nations, to which the US did not belong, all the oil rights to the former
Ottoman empire were given to Iraq Petroleum Company, jointly owned by the
British, French and Dutch. Americans were inflamed by this closed door
policy, and an international diplomatic war began. In 1921, a joint American
company received about a quarter of interest of Iraq, which soon became one
of the most lucrative oil areas in the world.

>From 1930 onwards the international oil game turned into a horse race
between British Dutch oil companies and American majors such as Standard Oil
of California (Socal), Gulf, Texaco and Mobil. Later, these five US majors,
and Shell and British Petroleum (BP) came to be known as Seven Sisters in
the oil parley of the world. Socal discovered oil in Bahrain in 1932. Its
success influenced King Ibn Saud of neighbouring Saudi Arabia to give the
company an exclusive oil concession on all the Saudi Arabia for 66 years.
Meanwhile, the Gulf Oil Co. obtained an option to acquire a prospective
property on a British concession in Kuwait, which adjoins Saudi Arabia and
was outside Iraq Petroleum Company's restricted area. The US State
Department intervened. Slowly, the American camel nosed all of itself into
the Middle East tent.

An interesting episode would reveal how the Americans influenced the Saudis
or shall I say how the Saudis gave up themselves to the Americans. In 1932,
when Socal first approached king Ibn Saud for a petroleum concession, he
called the Royal Council of the ruling family to consider the proposal. The
Council opposed permitting the Americans to enter the country on the grounds
that its offer of four shillings gold or its equivalent in dollar or
sterling per ton royalty was too little. The king overruled their objections
saying, "The Koran says on fertile land a tithe of one-tenth, on unfertile
land, one-half as much. The Americans are offering about one-fourth. Are you
unsatisfied with one-fourth when Allah is satisfied with one-tenth?". The
deal was made. Saudi Arabia, at that time, was so isolated from the so
called civilized world that the first American geologist arrived wearing
beards and Arab dress (like Laurence of Arabia) in order to avoid attracting
attention. Socal discovered oil in neighbouring Bahrain, but it was five
years before Socal and its new partner, Texaco, discovered oil in Saudi
Arabia. The US government sent a group of experts to the Middle East to
establish proven and probable oil reserves. The mission was headed by E L De
Golyer, world famous geologist and appraiser of oil reserves, and Dr W E
Wrather, another geologist of the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
They reported the startling and sobering fact that "The centre of gravity of
world oil production is shifting from the Gulf Caribbean areas to the Middle
East, to the Persian Gulf area, and is likely to continue to shift until it
is firmly established in that area." At that time such a conclusion was as
momentous as Columbus' proclaiming the world was round, not flat. The
Americans knew the game well.

Profit sharing in Iran became a pawn in a political struggle, involving
riots, bloodshed, international intrigue. CIA's direct participation (Ref:
The Invisible Government, David Wise and Thomas B Ross, February, 1974, New
York) bankrupted the country. The wrestle between CIA and Dr Mohammad
Mossadegh, Prime Minister of Iran, ended in a fiasco. It is said that
guerilla raids are small actions compared to an operation that changes a
government. It clearly indicated that there is no doubt at all that the CIA
organised and directed the 1953 coup that overthrew Premier Mossadegh. But
few people know that the coup that toppled the government of Iran was led by
a CIA agent who was grandson of President Theodore Roosevelt. Kermit Kim
Roosevelt, also a cousin of President Franklin D Roosevelt, is still known
as Mr Iran around the CIA for his spectacular operation in Tehran,
accomplished more than fifty years ago. He later left the CIA and joined the
Gulf Oil Corporation. Gulf named him a vice president in 1960. Another key
player involved in the operation was Fazollah. General Fazollah Zahedi, the
man the CIA chose to replace Mossadegh, was also a character worth of spy
fiction. He fought the Bolsheviks, was captured by the Kurds, and in 1942,
was kidnapped by the British, who suspected him of Nazi intrigues. During
World War II, the British and Russians jointly occupied Iran. After the war
Zahedi rapidly moved back into public life. He became minister of Interior
when Mossadegh became premier in 1951. It was against this background that
the CIA moved to oust Mossadegh and install Zahedi.

The majors already had suffered a severe setback in Iraq, the second largest
oil producing Middle East country. Meanwhile, a military dictator, General
Abdul Karim Kassem, had chosen a pro-nationalist policy. He wanted the Iraq
Petroleum Company, with its British, French and American ownership, to
relinquish the majority of the area of its monopoly oil concession which had
been converted to a fifty-fifty profit sharing basis. The whole thing was
not to General Kassem's taste. He created the Iraq National Oil Company to
develop the country by themselves. But the Americans staged two consecutive
coups in which President Arif was shot dead and President Kassem was hanged.
Thus began the longest, strangest deadlock in oil history, lasting until
Iraq nationalised the company. This time the Americans played a new game. A
rift was created between Iran and Iraq which ultimately turned into a long
drawn war between them. Now both Iran and Iraq distrust the Americans.

Still underlying all the economic uncertainties of the international oil
scene are the dangerous petropolitical hazards that exist. The oil dagger as
a political weapon has never been sheathed. Now that the danger man Aerial
Sharon has been reelected, his mentor President George W Bush is doubly
enthused to do the worst. Failing to produce new evidence against Iraq in a
bid to convince wary allies that Baghdad is flouting UN demands to disarm,
George Bush has decided to even go alone and strike Baghdad any time. But to
US's misfortune antiwar protestors came out in their millions in London,
Rome and Paris in February, and the Americans look increasingly isolated
over a possible invasion in Iraq. Meanwhile, the UN Security Council has
given an effective slap in the face of Americans hope of gathering support
for forcible overthrow of Iraq's President Saddam Hussein. Even the
staunchest ally of the Americans, British Prime Minister Tony Blair thinks
that UN inspectors should be given more time, as they need. However, there
is nothing to be happy about because the second government in the United
States, the invisible one known as CIA, must be active as before. Because of
its massive size and pervasive secrecy, the invisible government's meddling
in the affair of Iraq has not become public as yet. When that happens, the
result will be a disaster for the Americans!

by Michael Young
Lebanon Daily Star, 5th March

It may be worth the jet lag to cross the Atlantic and see how different are
European and American perceptions of the upcoming war in Iraq. Where many
Europeans feel the military Leviathan can still be stopped, Americans are
well into planning for what comes afterward.

This lag in perceptions is interesting for several reasons, not least of
which is that the Europeans opposed to a war are making a big mistake. By
ignoring the obvious - that war is inevitable - they ensure their
irrelevance in a post-war Iraq. This is disturbing given that the Bush
administration's hubris makes metastasizing Iraqi complications almost a

Many Europeans would quietly welcome an American fiasco in the Gulf. This
spite is largely fueled by a view that the Bush administration is a warren
of arrogance, and that the president, George W. Bush, is an insufferably
pious idiot. If the contempt for Bush sounds personal, that's because it is:
The president's purported defects are a recurring theme in European anti-war

The administration might have tried to better engage France. Bush's
entourage was so convinced the protests of French President Jacques Chirac
emanated solely from political calculation that it did not consider an
alternative: France was blending self-interest and high principle, so that
its anti-war stance could have been neutralized by both satisfying its
appetite for advantages in Iraq and recognizing, through consultations, its
status as a world power.

Opponents of war have also erred in dealing with America. France and Russia
have been so taken up with avoiding a conflict that they seem indifferent to
whether Iraq really disarms. Even the doggedly bland Hans Blix has insisted
that Baghdad failed to account for chemical and biological agents. There is
no doubt, therefore, that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is hiding
something, as indeed numerous weapons discoveries have shown.

Yet rather than admit this, Paris and Moscow have interpreted UN Security
Council Resolution 1441 in a minimalist way, focusing on the limited
progress Saddam has allowed, rather than the obstacles he has placed before
inspectors. They argue that the progress proves inspections are working, but
they know Saddam has allowed them to partially work to buy time and provide
momentum to the anti-war coalition. One can hardly expect the US to play

At this point those opposing war should reconsider. A conflict is coming and
nothing will prevent the Bush administration from pursuing its aims in Iraq.

One might disagree with these, but US failure is not in Europe's interest.

While the Bush administration may open a Pandora's box in trying to install
a democratic regime in Baghdad, it makes no sense for Western countries to
actively undermine this to the benefit of the region's anti-liberals.

The president's disciples have mobilized a surplus of confidence on Iraq to
compensate for a deficit in knowledge. The problem, however, is not their
belief in the possibility of a democratic Middle East, but the assumption
that an American military occupation can bring it about. Who in the region
will buy the democracy argument when the administration is plainly as eager
to use Iraq to advance less idealistic goals, such as using its oil against
the Saudis? Rather than undercutting the US, the European governments
rejecting war are better off trying to shape post-war Iraq. This includes
holding the Bush administration to account on establishing a democratic
government. Already, an opportunity has been missed to warn Washington that
a military deal with Turkey may so threaten the Kurds that any talk of Iraqi
democracy is futile.

The US is mistaken if it assumes it can enter Iraq without an international
consensus. Opponents of a war won't prevent one from happening, but they can
impose a post-war consensus that helps the Americans if they stumble, and
that allows Iraqis to cobble together a bona fide democracy.


by George Jones, Political Editor, Toby Helm and Robin Gedye
Daily Telegraph, 27th February

Tony Blair faced the prospect last night of taking the nation to war with
the most divided Parliament since Suez after almost 200 MPs from all parties
opposed early military action against Iraq.

An impassioned six-hour Commons debate on the Iraq crisis ended with the
biggest and most dangerous rebellion Mr Blair has faced since coming to
power in 1997.

A cross-party amendment declaring the case for military action against
Saddam Hussein "as yet unproven" was supported by 199 votes - almost a third
of the total strength of the Commons.

The anti-war vote was much bigger than the Government expected, with 121
Labour MPs defying a three-line whip to vote for the amendment. They were
joined by 13 Tories, 52 Liberal Democrats and Nationalist MPs from Scotland
and Wales.

Although the amendment was defeated by 194 votes, the opposition to what Mr
Blair's critics call a "rush to war" has gained strength significantly. The
last time the Commons voted on Iraq a month ago, 53 MPs opposed military

Senior Tories, including Kenneth Clarke and John Gummer, broke ranks with
their leadership to go into the division lobby alongside former Labour
Cabinet ministers Chris Smith and Frank Dobson, and Charles Kennedy, the
Liberal Democrat leader.

It was a concerted attempt to demonstrate the strength of opposition within
Parliament and the country to joining an American-led invasion of Iraq.

The Speaker, Michael Martin, took the unusual step of allowing the vote on
the backbench amendment in recognition of the pressure among MPs for a
substantive vote on whether Britain should go to war - despite assurances
from Mr Blair that last night's vote should not be seen as authorising
military action.

The Government's motion, emphasising that Iraq had a final opportunity to
disarm peacefully, and stressing that Britain was working through the UN,
was approved by 434 votes to 124, a majority of 310.

Fifty-nine Labour MPs went on to vote against the Government's main motion,
including Tam Dalyell, Father of the House, and former ministers Glenda
Jackson, Peter Kilfoyle and Mark Fisher.

The rebellion on the anti-war amendment was the biggest of Mr Blair's
premiership, easily outstripping the previous total of 67 Labour MPs who
opposed disability benefit cuts in May 1999.

Most Tories came to Mr Blair's aid and backed the Government. But it was a
damaging blow to his authority when he could be only weeks away from sending
British forces to war.

The action underlined the fact that Mr Blair is taking the biggest gamble of
his career by supporting President George W Bush's stance on Iraq. Some MPs
compared the split over Iraq to the Suez crisis of 1956, which divided
Britain and led to the resignation of the Tory Prime Minister, Anthony Eden.

The rebellion is believed to be the biggest by members of a governing party
in recent political history.

Mr Blair was left in no doubt that securing the authority of the United
Nations Security Council for the use of force will be essential to keeping
his party together if there is war.

Labour MPs predicted that without it there would be an even bigger

At Prime Minister's Questions, Mr Blair told the Commons he was working
"flat out" to secure a second UN resolution authorising military action.

He showed no sign of softening his position, telling Iain Duncan Smith, the
Tory leader, that any veto of a second resolution would be "unreasonable" if
Saddam ignored a last chance to disarm.

Mr Blair remained on the Government front bench for the speech from Jack
Straw, the Foreign Secretary, opening the Iraq debate.

He left immediately after, having been in the chamber for 35 minutes of the
most crucial debate since he became Prime Minister. Mr Blair returned to
Downing Street to record a television debate with anti-war protesters.

The mood of the Commons yesterday was apprehensive about the prospects of
the looming conflict. Mr Straw was given a rough ride by MPs who argued that
the Government was "rushing" towards military action before efforts to
disarm Saddam peacefully had run their course.

Mr Straw said it was close to the "crunch point" for Iraq as both
inspections and containment had failed to rein in the Iraqi dictator. He
accused Saddam of prevaricating for 12 years and failing to disarm his
"horrific arsenal" of chemical and biological weapons.

He assured MPs the Government would put any decision on military action to a
Commons vote, though this would be subject to the usual reservation about
delaying it until after war had begun to protect the safety of British

Mr Smith, the former Culture Secretary, who proposed the anti-war amendment,
said if MPs backed the Government they would be endorsing a timetable "which
leads inexorably to war within the next three to four weeks".

"We must say now is not the time, that the case has yet to be fully made and
that war, with all its consequences, cannot be the present answer." Later,
he said the vote exceeded his "wildest hopes."

It showed "a significant amount of concern about the speed with which the
American administration seems to be dragging us towards war".

Mr Clarke, the former Tory chancellor, said the next time a terrorist bomb
went off in a Western city, political leaders would have to live with the
question: "How far did this policy contribute to it?"

Mr Blair and Mr Straw highlighted an admission by Hans Blix, the UN chief
weapons inspector, that he was still uncertain whether Iraq really wanted to

by David Leigh and Rob Evans
The Guardian, 28th February

The British taxpayer has unknowingly picked up huge bills for helping to arm
Iraq before the last Gulf war, the Guardian can disclose.

The government has secretly written cheques totalling more than £33m for
arms companies who supplied Saddam Hussein in the 1980s.

The files on these disastrous insurance deals have been locked up for 12
years since they were secretly authorised by Margaret Thatcher. The total
loss to the taxpayer on military and civil credit sales her administration
carried out with Iraq now exceeds £1bn.

In a detailed investigation, we have identified for the first time from
Whitehall documents all the arms contracts concerned and the firms and banks
who benefited.

Racal, Thorn-EMI and Marconi secretly supplied President Saddam's army with
artillery control, anti-mortar radar and secure radio systems, much of which
it is believed still to possess. The firms are all now subsidiaries of
defence giants BAE and Thales.

Military deals also included generators to start up military jets and
helicopters from Houchin Ltd and Braby Auto Diesels; air force
reconnaissance cameras from Vinten; and an electron microscope from
Cambridge Instruments.

The giant construction firm John Laing, and a smaller firm, Tripod
Engineering, were given government insurance for a £23m contract to build a
training complex for Iraqi fighter pilots. Whitehall paid out £2.9m on the
collapse of the project when the Gulf war broke out.

Other purely civilian deals included a 1990 guarantee for a Rolls-Royce
subsidiary to build a power station near Baghdad. The government wrote a
compensation cheque for £65m.

Whitehall files show that the government guarantees were given regardless of
President Saddam's brutal record and regardless of his being a normally
unacceptable credit risk.

The details of these guarantees have hitherto been kept secret by claims of
"commercial confidentiality". But in an unprecedented display of commitment
to open government, the export credit guarantee department last week agreed
to release the files.

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 2nd March

LONDON, 1 March 2003 (AP, AFP): Citing concerns about security in Yemen, the
British government said Thursday that it is withdrawing most of the staff
from its embassy and consulate in the country and will close them to the
public beginning March 1.

"The Foreign Office is taking this step in light of the deteriorating
security situation," it said. In November, the Foreign Office warned all
Britons not to travel to Yemen and said that those living there should
consider leaving.

On Thursday, the Foreign Office refused to say what had happened in Yemen to
prompt its decision regarding the British Embassy in Sanaa and the British
Consulate in Aden, citing unidentified intelligence information.

However, terrorists have targeted other Westerners in Yemen.

On Wednesday, a security official there said that Yemeni authorities had
detained a suspect because he was trying to carry a gun into a hospital
where three US missionaries were shot dead last year.

On Tuesday, Yemeni authorities said they had identified and tried to arrest
the suspected mastermind behind a bombing attack last year on a French oil
tanker that killed one crew member and spilled 90,000 barrels of oil into
the Gulf of Aden.

Meanwhile, thousands of people marched in Sanaa yesterday to protest a
possible United States-led war on Iraq and Israeli policies toward the

Protesters poured out from mosques in Sanaa city center chanting slogans
against the "terrorism of US fleets and aircraft carriers". Carrying Iraqi
and Palestinian flags and photos of Lebanese Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasr
Allah, the demonstrators chanted: "America cannot intimidate us with its
military buildup" and "Death to America ... death to Israel."

The demonstrators burned US and Israeli flags and effigy of US President
George W. Bush.

NO URL (sent to list)

by Nick Mathiason
The Observer, 2nd March

More than 40,000 British troops are bracing themselves for action in the
Gulf. 'Our Boys' are backed by hundreds of tanks, fighter jets and warships
in what is the UK's biggest military build-up since the Falklands conflict.

But any imminent action against Iraq will be historic for another reason.
This could be the last war fought by British armed forces predominantly in
the public sector. The Ministry of Defence is poised to enter into a welter
of partnerships with business, ushering in the most fundamental shake-up of
the military for more than 100 years.

Entire training, logistics and supply operations are set to be hived off to
big business in the most far-reaching intrusion of the private sector into
what was considered the state's preserve. More than 900 procedural reviews
by MoD officials and consultants are coming to a head. There are strong
indications from within the ministry and unions that a shift is under way
from the armed forces' procurement body being a 'decider and provider' of
logistic support to an 'intelligent decider' that may contract out most

The Defence Logistics Organisation (DLO), which costs £6 billion a year - a
quarter of the MoD's budget - is responsible for providing supplies such as
arms, food and aircraft. It is the prime candidate for a radical shift away
from traditional procurement.

Advised by McKinsey since last summer, a recently published DLO strategic
plan said that to achieve its vision would require it to 'leverage
industrial capacity and shape our relationship with industry'.

The shift will be welcomed by companies such as Compass and Sodexho, which
provide food services, and a host of defence contractors.

Training of troops is the other main area of focus. BAE Systems and VT
Group, the shipbuilder and defence PFI specialist, along with Thales and a
number of building firms, are set to benefit hugely from lucrative new
contracts. Training schools for the Army, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force are
now separate, but they are set to amalgamate in what could be a property

Most controversially, perhaps, management of the armed forces' secret files
- which cover Northern Ireland, the Gulf war and a host of sensitive and
historic areas - is set to be handed over to a private contractor. Two
private firms are vying to take on the contract, move staff from west London
to the North and computerise the records.

Alarm bells are ringing about Britain's fighting capability being fatally
compromised by wide-ranging privatisation. Critics point to recent MoD
procurement from the private sector as the shape of things to come, and list
a number of botched or delayed key projects :

· Most glaring is the scandal over the multi-million-pound upgrade of RAF
Nimrod aircraft, which suffered a setback because the wings built by BAE
were the wrong size. Nimrods are used for reconnaissance and submarine
hunting and have been deployed in every significant British military
operation in the past 30 years. Not this one, though.

· New Apache helicopters, costing £27m each, are being mothballed at a cost
of £6m. The National Audit Office (NAO) last November found pilot training
was messed up because of an attempt to introduce competition into the
regime, which cost an extra £34m. The helicopters are absent from the Gulf

· The SA80 rifle, once feted as the ultimate assault weapon, was the target
of widespread complaints by soldiers. Made by BAE, it could not be fired in
the left-handed position because ejected rounds hit the firer in the face,
it was difficult to maintain in bad weather and the magazine fell out when
carried against the body. The faults have since been corrected, according to
the MoD.

· Halliburton, the oil and defence combine that US vice-president Dick
Cheney worked for, was contracted to rebuild Devonport dockyard in Plymouth.
Last December, an NAO report said the price had escalated from £505m to
£933m and could be a lot more.

· Britain's Gulf build-up has already been dogged by supply shortages and
equipment failures. Ten days ago it emerged that troops in Kuwait are so
short of rations they are being sent food parcels by their families. Basics
such as desert boots are unavailable. There are even reports of shortages of
toilet paper.

'It was horrific logistical debacles during the Crimean War in 1854 and the
Boer War in the early 1900s which forced government to take overall
responsibility for procuring supplies and co-ordinating military training,'
said Dean Rogers, negotiations officer at the Public and Commercial Services
Union, which represents thousands of civil servants currently working in the
armed services. 'Now there is a serious risk that this is all being unwound
and the implications are truly frightening.'

Senior officers have voiced doubts in private about the imminent shift. They
are training a searchlight at beleaguered Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, and
asking if he is aware of the magnitude of the reviews undertaken by his

One prominent officer who contacted The Observer despaired at the prospect
of a carve-up. 'The Army spent £3bn on Apache fighter helicopters. Training
the pilots was a contract given to the private sector. The helicopters are
ready but there are no pilots. They haven't been trained and I don't think
they'll be ready for at least three years. This is a shambles. And yet the
indications are the ministry is proceeding with wholesale privatisation.'

Last week six trade unions issued a joint statement responding to what they
see as a 'revolution'. They concluded: 'Despite the assurance that the
McKinsey report is not itself the basis for an implementation strategy, we
can hardly ignore the view it expressed that DLO could reduce staff by 20-40
per cent... The supply chain has been rationalised and it seems those
savings now merely form the baseline against which further private-sector
involvement will deliver.'

In addition, unions responsible for Britain's 90,000-strong fighting force
say the criteria for offering vast tranches of work in contracts worth
billions of pounds are skewed in favour of business at the expense of
in-house alternatives.

The MoD has been one of privatisation's standard bearers following the sale
of Royal Ordnance in the early 1980s. It is now set to go into uncharted
territory with everything bar its core competence up for grabs. A ministry
spokesman said it had a duty to ensure value for money. It was not
predisposed to privatisation but reform was necessary. 'We certainly don't
accept our policies are daft, damaging and demoralising,' a spokesman said.

Hoon may be used to being vilified following flak over his decision to take
a half-term family skiiing holiday as troops were being deployed to the
Gulf. But as the MoD quick-steps into a new era, a new front against Hoon
could be opening up among his own staff.

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