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[casi] News, 26/02-05/03/03 (6)

News, 26/02-05/03/03 (6)


*  AFL-CIO Federation Labor Union Passes anti war resolution
*  Thousands of Egyptians Protest Against a U.S. War in Iraq
*  140,000 Egyptians rally for Iraq
*  Massive Anti-War Rally in Bahrain
*  300,000 Yemenis Protest US War Plans
*  What Iraq is really like: Those who know can't wait for the U.S. to
*  Human shield cracks on Baghdad's cynicism
*  Inside the deluded world of the 'human shields'
*  Amman protest march cancelled
*  Independent Iraqis oppose Bush's war


*  Iraq agrees 'in principle' to destroy missiles
*  U.N. Finds No Long-Range Iraqi Missiles
*  Chemicals Would Be Major Threat in Iraq
*  Blix: Iraq could have made greater efforts: An edited text of Hans Blix's
*  US prepares to use toxic gases in Iraq
*  U.S. Commander: Iraq Use of Chemicals Against Iran "Most Extensive"


No URL (Sent to list)

by Leigh Strope
The Associated Press, 27th February

The nation's largest labor federation declared its opposition Thursday to
war against Iraq at this time, saying President Bush has not made a case for
an attack without broad support from U.S. allies.

The executive council of the AFL-CIO, made up of 65 unions, ended its
four-day meeting by unanimously passing the carefully worded resolution,
which also says Saddam Hussein must be disarmed - with "multilateral
resolve, not unilateral action."

Organized labor had tough words for President Bush, without naming him
directly, saying the United States has squandered the goodwill it enjoyed
after the terrorist attacks and insulted the nation's allies.

"The president has not fulfilled his responsibility to make a compelling and
coherent explanation to the American people and the world," the resolution

Organized labor has typically backed military action in the past, including
strong support for the Vietnam War. "By historical standards, this is
unusual and this is significant," Robert Bruno, labor professor at the
University of Illinois at Chicago, said of Thursday's resolution.

Morton Bahr, president of the Communications Workers of America, said the
resolution was the result of a number of briefings on Iraq with officials
who worked in the Clinton administration, including former national security
adviser Sandy Berger and former chief of staff John Podesta.

"We had real broad input from these guys who had been living with this for a
long time," Bahr said, adding that organized labor has historically taken
positions on wars that involve American workers and their families.

The resolution urges the Bush administration to pursue broad, global
consensus to put pressure on Iraq, "ensuring that war, if it comes, will
truly be a last resort."


by Steven Lee Myers
New York Times, 28th February

CAIRO, Feb. 27  Tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered today in this
city's main stadium for the largest protest so far in the Arab world,
outside Iraq, against an American led war to topple Saddam Hussein.

Egyptian authorities, who have in recent weeks arrested dozens of
demonstrators and forcibly restricted several smaller protests against the
war and against Israel, sanctioned today's rally in what appeared to be an
effort by President Hosni Mubarak's government to carefully modulate public
anger over the prospect of a conflict.

"By our soul, by our blood, we will redeem you, Baghdad," protesters chanted
in unison as speaker after speaker denounced the Bush administration's
threat to overthrow Mr. Hussein. The chant's coda changed to "Palestine" and
back again, underscoring how many link the Iraqi crisis with the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Our gathering is a message to Arab leaders and America," Khaled Mohieddin,
the leader of the leftist opposition party Tagamua, told the crowd. "The
message is that Iraq and Palestine are questions of prime importance for us;
they are more important than internal questions."

The rally, held at Cairo International Stadium in Nasser City, a suburb of
the capital, was organized by labor unions and opposition parties, as well
as the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic political and social organization
that is officially banned here.

Egypt's emergency laws  in effect, with only a brief interruption, since
the 1967 Middle East war  bar public demonstrations, making today's one of
the largest tolerated in Egypt in years. With public sentiment strongly
opposed to a war, even Mr. Mubarak's National Democratic Party announced
that it, too, would organize an antiwar march next week.

"I think the government felt it had to do something to allow the people to
speak," Mamoun al-Hudaibi, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, said amid
the rally's rhythmic din. "The government has respected the will of the

The stadium, with a capacity of more than 80,000, was overflowing. By some
estimates, the crowd totaled more than 100,000, while the protest's
organizers said that the police turned away thousands more, citing safety

Today's rally came as senior Arab leaders began to gather for the Arab
League's annual summit meeting, which is to be held on Saturday in the Red
Sea resort Sharm el Sheik.

Several speakers at the rally called on Arab leaders to oppose any war, but
the league's 22 members have been deeply divided, with some providing bases
for the American and British forces now poised to strike Iraq.

Jordan's foreign minister, Marwan Moasher, said today that the league wanted
"a unified Arab position" that would take into account United Nations
resolutions as well as the interests of Iraq, but he hardly sounded

"Chances are small, but we must find a means to avoid war," he said,
according to Agence France-Presse.

Mr. Mubarak has repeatedly called on Mr. Hussein to cooperate with the
United Nations weapons inspections, saying only that could avert a war. At
the same time, the official Egyptian news media appear to be preparing the
public for a war. One official government weekly, Al-Musawar, went so far
this week as to call for Mr. Hussein to step down as leader of Iraq.

"The gates of hell," it said, "will not be closed without Saddam's exodus."

To the extent today's rally served as a gauge of public moods, however, many
here are deeply angered by the Bush administration's threat to depose Mr.
Hussein. Thousands waved banners and posters denouncing America and Mr.
Bush. "America, are you O.K.?" one said. "Bush will fill your tanks with the
blood of Iraq's children."

The rally was raucous, but peaceful. When two protesters ran onto the
stadium's field and tried to burn an American flag, security guards stopped

Jordan Times, from AFP, 28th February

It was organised by Islamist, leftist and pan-Arab Nasserian opposition
parties and held in Cairo's central stadium. The venue was a compromise with
them to calm the government fears of letting people vent their anger in the


A clear majority of the participants belonged to the Islamist movement,
brandishing copies of the Koran. Thousands of veiled women were seated on
separate blocks of the stadium's steps. Some demonstrators also vented their
anger at President Hosni Mubarak's plans to meet recently reelected Israeli
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. "Those who agree to talk to Sharon the butcher
are not part of us," said a 19-year-old student, Ibrahim Seifuddine.

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 2nd March

MANAMA, 1 March 2003  Thousands of protesters marched through Bahrain's
capital yesterday, burning US flags, blocking traffic and demanding
Washington cancel its plans to invade Iraq. Police said there were about
12,000 protesters, although organizers claimed there were 20,000.

Following Friday prayers, the protesters marched from Manama's Ras Rumman
mosque to United Nations offices in the capital chanting "Death to America,
Death to Israel."

Some demonstrators also carried placards accusing Washington of wanting to
invade Iraq to seize its oil reserves and support Israel, while others urged
Bahrain's government to close the US Navy base on this Gulf island and expel
the US ambassador if Iraq is attacked.

"US President George W. Bush is the carbon copy of Hitler who is planning a
genocide against the Iraqi people," activist Fadheela Al-Mahroos said as
other marchers burned US and Israeli flags and carried a makeshift coffin
with "Bush" scrawled on one end.

"I don't think Bush will be satisfied until he drinks the blood of the Iraqi
people," said Mohammed Khaled Ebrahim, one of about 20 lawmakers who joined
the demonstration. "Death to America! No American bases in Arab countries!"
one man shouted over a loudspeaker as the protesters blocked three lanes of
traffic on the busy Shaikh Hamad Causeway during their march.

"Israel is the enemy of God. America is the enemy of God," the loudspeaker

Carrying small blue placards reading "No war," demonstrators later dispersed
near the UN headquarters.

Two boys waved toy guns at the front of the protest where young men carried
a mock corpse on a stretcher. Behind them children with Iraqi and
Palestinian flags periodically collapsed on the road to dramatize the
consequences of a conflict.

"War is terrorism," read one placard among the crowd. "I am against the war
because it is injustice," said Hassa Al-Khamiri, a member of the Bahrain
Human Rights Society who joined the crowd.

She said demonstrating was the only thing people could do to voice their
opposition. "We cannot do more."

Shaikh Ali Salman of the Islamist Association, the country's largest
organization, said a wide spectrum of political and civic groups joined the

"We believe we must give more chance for the inspectors in Iraq to do their
work without war," Salman said, referring to the UN arms inspectors
searching for alleged weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

Salman said the demonstrators hoped to send a message to US President George
W. Bush: "All the world is against the war and you must listen to us."

Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 2nd March

Reuters, SANAA, 2 March 2003  More than 300,000 Yemenis took to the streets
yesterday to denounce the United States and Israel as an "axis of evil" and
urge Arab leaders meeting in Egypt to deny Washington any help in a war
against Iraq.

In one of the biggest anti-war protests in the Middle East, students and
members of Yemeni political parties gathered in the capital for the
demonstration, and called on Arab states to kick out from their countries
any US forces poised to attack Iraq.

"America and Israel are an axis of evil," banners read, recalling the words
US President George W. Bush used to describe Iraq, Iran and North Korea.

Other placards read "No to Military Bases in Arab Land" and "No to Blood for

The protest was held as Arab leaders began a summit in Egypt's Sharm
El-Sheikh resort to agree a unified policy on Iraq they hope can prevent a
US-led war in the volatile region.

Yemen's senior presidential adviser, Abdul Karim Al-Iryani, read a statement
to the crowd which urged Arab leaders to prevent any "aggression" against
fellow Arab nation Iraq.

Yemen, whose parliament last week passed a law requiring advance permission
for protests, has seen some of the largest peaceful anti-US demonstrations
in the region over the Israeli Palestinian conflict and Iraq.


by Jack Kelly
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 3rd March

Goli Afshar, a 23-year-old college student in Tehran, is worried about an
American attack on Iraq. The Americans, she fears, are taking too long.

"Are they changing their mind?" Goli asked a Los Angeles Times reporter.
"Can they hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?"

Goli's attitude is widely shared by young people in Iran, who have no love
either for Saddam or for their own tyrants.

"The day Saddam is arrested, killed or exiled, Iranians will pass out sweets
in the streets," Mehdi Ansari, a newspaper vendor, told Azadeh Moaveni, the
LA Times reporter.

Iraq and Iran are historic rivals who often have been enemies. But on the
question of an American attack on Saddam, there is a meeting of the minds.

On Sunday, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz addressed a meeting of
about 300 Iraqi emigres in Dearborn, Mich.

"Wolfowitz, one of the administration's leading hawks on Iraq, frequently
found himself in the unusual position of being urged to swift action, as if
he were overly dovish," reported Tom Ricks of The Washington Post.

Amir Taheri, an Iranian expatriate who lives in Paris, went to London with a
few Iraqi friends to take part in the big anti-war march.

"Our aim had been to persuade the organizers to let at least one Iraqi voice
be heard," Taheri wrote. "Soon . . . it became clear the organizers were as
anxious to stifle the voice of the Iraqis in exile as was Saddam Hussein in

"The Iraqis had come with placards reading 'Freedom for Iraq' and 'American
rule, a hundred thousand times better than Tikriti tyranny.'

"But the tough guys who supervised the march would have none of that,"
Taheri said. "Only official placards, manufactured in the thousands and
distributed among the 'spontaneous' marchers, were allowed. . . . The thugs
also confiscated photographs showing the tragedy of Halabja, the Kurdish
town where Saddam's forces gassed 5,000 people to death in 1988."

The most blatant and despicable of the lies "activists" tell is that their
opposition to war with Iraq is driven by concern for the welfare of the
Iraqi people. Salima Kazim, a grandmother whose three sons were murdered by
Saddam Hussein, found out how phony this claim is when she approached the
Rev. Jesse Jackson at the London rally and asked for permission to speak,
according to Amir Taheri's account.

"Could I have the microphone for one minute to tell the people about my
life?" the 78-year old Salima asked Jackson. He refused.

"Today is not about Saddam Hussein," Jackson snapped. "Today is about Bush
and Blair and the massacre they plan in Iraq."

Saddam Hussein has killed about a million Iraqis in the course of his bloody
reign, and he has killed most of them ugly.

"This is a regime that will gouge out the eyes of children to force
confessions from their parents and grandparents," wrote Kenneth M. Pollack
in his book "The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq." "This is a
regime that will crush all the bones in the feet of a 2 year-old girl to
force her mother to divulge her husband's whereabouts. This is a regime that
will hold a nursing baby at arm's length from its mother and allow the child
to starve to death to force the mother to confess."

"The Iraqi nation is like a man who is kept captive and tortured by a gang
of thugs," said Abdel-Majid Khoi, son of one of Iraq's foremost religious
leaders. "The proper moral position is to fly to help that man liberate
himself and bring the torturers to book. But what we witness in the West is
the opposite: support for the torturers and total contempt for the victim."

To compare today's war protesters to Vidkun Quisling or the Vichy French
would be unfair . . . to Quisling and to the French collaborators. They
sucked up to Hitler, but they were bowing to a superior power which had
occupied their land. The support Jackson et al. are giving the Butcher of
Baghdad is entirely gratuitous.

The activists say we should be impressed with the turnout for their
protests. But the Nuremberg rallies attracted bigger crowds. Neville
Chamberlain was never more popular than upon his return from Munich.,2763,906368,00.html

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Baghdad
The Guardian, 3rd March

A plan to demoralise American fighter pilots by stationing western human
shields at potential bombing targets was on the verge of collapse yesterday
following an exodus of disenchanted activists from Iraq.

At least 30 of the so-called human shields, including several Britons, were
on their way home last night. Their departure brought a dispiriting end to
their heady arrival in Baghdad two weeks ago.

The activists accused the Iraqi authorities of trying to use them as pawns
in the war with America. More defections are expected in the coming days.

The bitter flight from Iraq follows a showdown with the Iraqi authorities
who demanded that they decamp from their hotels in central Baghdad and take
up their self-assigned roles as civilian protectors.

"Basically, they said we are not going to feed you any longer," said John
Ross, an American who has been active in radical causes since he tore up his
draft card in 1964. He said that the Iraqi authorities ordered the activists
to deploy at some 60 sites across the country: electricity plants, water
treatment centres, communications facilities. None of the potential targets
deemed worthy of protection were hospitals or schools - a decision activists
said compromised their mission.

But the response of the activists was a marked change from a week ago when
the majority of them were firmly convinced they were serving the cause of
peace by bedding down at strategic installations.

Ken O'Keefe, a former US marine who led the shields to Baghdad, was scathing
about the ambitions of some activists to face the bombs at orphanages and
hospitals, dismissing them as naive.

Yesterday he changed his tune. "If people insist on staying on the sites
then the human shields will be pawns," he said. "People who choose to stay
have to realise it diminishes the credibility of the human shields very

by Charlotte Edwards
Daily Telegraph, 2nd March

'I am ashamed to be leaving you at this time of need, but I'm going out of
pure, cold fear," Godfrey Meynell, 68, told the two Iraqi factory workers
standing before him. His white hair was, as always, unbrushed; his navy
windcheater zipped up to the chin. "This power plant is next to a bridge,
surrounded by Republican Guard," he continued. "It's obviously a prime
target." The men, who understood this fear too well, returned his handshake
and thanked him warmly.

As he heaved his rucksack into the taxi, Mr Meynell, a former Colonial
Office civil servant, was tearful. He was not, however, the only "human
shield" fleeing Baghdad yesterday in a state of high emotion. Nine of the 11
British shields on the pioneering wave of red double deckers left this
weekend. At the Andalus hotel five kilometres away, Dr Abdul Hashimi, the
official overseeing their mission in Iraq, had issued the shocked group with
an ultimatum: deploy to the "strategic sites" hand-picked by the government
or leave immediately.

It was a chilling twist in the saga of the human shields' mission to stop a
war in Iraq. It was also inevitable. I accompanied the first wave of shields
throughout their 3,500 mile, three week journey aboard three double-decker
buses from Europe to Baghdad and remained with them while they battled
unsuccessfully with Iraqi officials to be allowed access to the civilians
most thought they had come to protect.

The eccentric, eclectic group, none of whom fitted the "peacenik"
stereotype, may have been drawn from all ages, backgrounds and experience,
but they all shared one trait: naivety. Beset by problems on the road, lack
of sufficient funds or a clear, universally-shared agenda, most had been
tested beyond their limits before they even arrived in Iraq.

Among the catalogue of dramas they experienced en route were numerous
breakdowns of the creaking 1967 Routemasters, bickering over the preferred
route and acrimonious departures and illness.

During one cold, rainy night in Milan, we were left without our sleeping
bags after an Italian went AWOL with the support bus. Later, a 500 donation
from a well-wisher in Istanbul was squandered on boxes of Prozac in a
misguided attempt to cheer up the war-weary Iraqi civilians.

Conspiracy theories spread like a contagion through the ranks. Whenever a
puncture occurred it would be blamed on the CIA. "It's sabotage," Peter Van
Dyke, 36, had whispered to a bemused mechanic as he removed a thick screw
from a flat tyre in a garage outside Naples.

Sue Darling, 60, a former diplomat from Surrey, had been eager to
demonstrate her civil service credentials: most importantly, she confided in
one shield, she knew how to recognise a spy. Her first suspect turned out to
be The Telegraph's photographer.

Little surprise then that so few were alert to the real nature of the regime
that welcomed them to the Iraqi capital two weeks ago. After a propaganda
lecture from Dr Hashimi, one young American told me: "It's so interesting to
hear what is really going on in this country." He scoffed at any suggestion
that their good intentions might be misused by Saddam's regime: "All we have
seen here is continuous kindness and hospitality."

Bruce, a 24-year-old Canadian wearing a T-shirt saying "I don't want to
die", was one of a group of tanned young men who were drafted into protect a
grain store. Initially, he, like others, had concerns about the sites, which
included an oil refinery, a water purification plant and electricity
stations. He was won over when the Iraqis provided televisions, VCRs,
telephones and a Play Station.

"Dr Hashimi has explained that we help the population more by staying in the
'strategic sites'," he explained. His friend added: "We play football in the
afternoons and the Iraqis bring us cartons of cigarettes. It's just like
summer camp."

Not all the sites were as welcoming. Daniel Pepper, a 22-year-old student
from Pennsylvania, was not fooled by the oil refinery, despite the
comfortable beds with parcels of goodies laid out on the pillows. "The
people staying there sleep 50 yards from stacks billowing black smoke." he
said. "And it's sinister: 20 minders are there for eight shields. There are
three security gates, including one manned by plain-clothed guards carrying
AK47s. Most shields want to get out of there and go to the granary.

"We need to negotiate with Dr Hashimi about this." Any negotiations with the
Iraqi official, however, would undoubtedly be met with a frosty reception.

The Iraqi government has invested an estimated 10,000 to provide free food
and hotel accommodation to the 200 shields and have lost patience with their
dithering. It could be argued that this confusion is as much the fault of
their leaders as the Iraqi government. On the bus, Sue Darling, who was in
touch with Dr Hashimi, had told the shields they would stay with families or
in schools, hospitals and orphanges.

"As a former diplomat, I should deal with the Iraqi officials. I speak their
language," she said. Once in Baghdad, Ms Darling, who had traded her red
puffa-jacket and walking boots for smart suits and Jackie O glasses, quickly
acquiesced to the demands of the regime and moved into the granary.

Kevin and Helen Williams, a soft-spoken couple from Wales, were baffled by
this volte-face: "We always understood that human shield meant a shield of
humans and that we would be allowed to work with Iraqi civilians. Why it is
being interpreted differently now?"

Others acted on their suspicions and left without a word. Adele Peers, a
23-year-old special needs teacher from Liverpool, and Peter Van Dyke, a
therapist from Portsmouth, left for Jordan three days ago after the Iraqis
reneged on a promise to allow them to work with children.

Not everyone was upset by the latest turn in events. Ken O'Keefe, 33, the
founder of the human shields movement who served as a US marine during the
Gulf war, had always planned to protect Iraqi "installations" should bombs
rain down on the capital.

During the journey, the heavily-tattooed O'Keefe, who earned the title
"black Ken" on account of his penchant for the colour and outlook on life,
had alienated his companions who felt he had developed both a death wish and
a messiah complex. Prone to tantrums and mood swings, his credibility had
not been helped by the fact that he had, for much of the journey, been
accompanied by his mother, Pat.

In Baghdad, Ken came into his own. Dressed in a thick, grey dishdash, he
took to ambushing me in the Andalus corridors to brief me on his latest
soundbites. "Dark forces have worked against me," he said, "but I have
survived. My mission is hard core, in-your-face activism."

O'Keefe's nemesis was Joe Letts, 52, a former television cameraman from
Dorset and the owner of the two red buses. Dressed in his fawn duffle coat
and a ragged, bright jersey, the Glastonbury Festival regular devoted his
unswaying optimism to propelling the convoy to Baghdad regardless of
O'Keefe's absence.

"We will stop the war," he would tell me cheerfully everyday. "If that
doesn't happen, I'm taking my buses back to London - with a detour via the
vineyards of Lebanon."

It was precisely this attitude that enraged the militant O'Keefe, who
yesterday waved aside any talk of the exodus affecting his mission. "They
have a soft, fluffy attitude to activism," he muttered. "We are better off
without them."

While the group visibly "radicalised" once in Iraq, Godfrey remained
charming and affable. One afternoon, Sue Darling posted an angry message on
the Andalus hotel noticeboard: "Can whoever stole my bag of nuts, sultanas
and dried bananas, please return them. They are my emergency rations".
Godfrey scrawled below: "Sue, I can let you have some of my prunes. If it
would help."

Back at the Andalus hotel yesterday, the British contingent who arrived on
the red double decker buses were packing up to leave, their faces
chalk-white with exhaustion.

Closeby Erdogan Erikci, a 25-year-old who had never before left his village
in Turkey, was telling Turkish CNN that he planned to stay: "I have a
message for my mum," he told the camera, "You should be proud of me, I am a
human shield. "

Jordan Times, 4th March    
AMMAN (JT)  Amman Governor Abdul Karim Malahme rejected an application by
the Jordanian National Mobilisation Committee for the Defence of Iraq to
hold a march next Friday against any potential US-led war.

Committee officials expressed surprise over the action, saying the march was
planned to coincide with UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix's report to
the Security Council regarding Iraq's compliance with disarmament per UN
Resolution 1441.

The mobilisation committee had approached the Opposition Parties Higher
Coordination Committee (OPHCC) for cooperation on organising its pro-Iraq

The government ended a 10-month ban on public activities in February,
allowing opposition parties to stage two major pro-Iraq marches.
Authorities, however, have rejected the application for one march in Salt
andrefused to issue a permit for another in Irbid.

The Muslim Centrist Party was refused permission to conduct a pro-Iraq march
in the northern city of Salt today because the party failed to apply for a
permit several days in advance of the actual event, said authorities.

A similar march in Irbid  organised by OPHCC  did not materialise last
Thursday afternoon after party leaders called off the protest due to
differences with authorities over the route.,3604,907687,00.html

by Jonathan Steele
The Guardian, 5th March

A new myth has emerged in the pro-war camp's propaganda arsenal. Iraqi
exiles support the war, they claim, and none took part in last month's march
through central London. So if the peaceniks and leftwingers who joined the
protest had the honesty to listen to the true voice of the Iraqi people they
would never denounce Bush's plans for war again.

Wrong, and wrong. A large number of Iraqis were among the million-member
throng, including two key independent political groups. They carried banners
denouncing Saddam Hussein (thereby echoing the sentiments of many non-Iraqis
since this was not a protest by pro-Saddam patsies, as the pro-war people
also falsely claim). They represented important currents in the Iraqi
opposition, and ones whom the Americans have repeatedly tried to persuade to
join the exiles' liaison committee.

"No way," says Dr Haider Abas, London spokesman of Da'wa, Iraq's moderate
Islamic party. "When we met Zalmay Khalilzad (the US special envoy for Iraq)
we told him we didn't want to give a cover to US military operations. It's
not our role. We won't be respected by our people."

His party has other reservations. It fears the US will retain control of
Iraq long after Saddam is toppled and will not hand power to Iraqis for
months to come - and then only to its placemen. Da'wa also doubts US plans
for ethnically based federalism, arguing that this will create the risk of
Balkan-style discrimination and pogroms, when the reality of Iraq is that
every major city is culturally mixed. Sunnis, Shiites, Kurds and Arabs are
found everywhere.

Saddam's repression cost Da'wa thousands of its members over the past two
decades. It argued for human rights in Iraq long before Washington and
London stopped backing Saddam and took up the cause - another reason why it
distrusts US motives. Dr Abas says there is a paradox in that while his
party opposes the war he believes many Iraqis inside the country have become
so desperate that they may support it. His argument reflects the
psychological dilemma which keeps Iraqis awake at night. "People in hell
think nothing can be worse. They just want to end it. But we see the bigger
picture as well as fearing it will lead to death and destruction for our
families at home. We have two problems with the United States. First, its
track record. In 1991, when the aim was simply to get Saddam out of Kuwait,
they destroyed the infrastructure of the country. People couldn't understand
why they bombed power stations and bridges all over Iraq."

His other doubt is over US intentions. One camp in Washington, he feels,
wants to rebuild Iraq. The other wants to keep it undemocratic by only
removing Saddam and his closest colleagues. "We don't know which camp will
win," he says. In the meantime, any Iraqi group which ties its flag to a
foreign invader's mast without any guarantee of its postwar intentions loses
its patriotic and democratic credentials.

Salam Ali, another marcher and spokesman for the Iraqi Communist party, has
similar criticisms. The ICP, the biggest party in Iraq before Saddam
Hussein's regime came to power, also lost tens of thousands of its cadres
when the Iraqi president turned against it. Its strength cannot be reliably
assessed, but its Da'wa rivals concede it has widespread support among
Iraqis of all classes. Ali has just returned from northern Iraq where his
party's central committee was meeting. They turned down yet another US
invitation to come out in support of the looming war and join the
coordinating committee to work with Iraq's postwar US governor. "We reject
the war on principled and moral grounds as well as being the worst and most
destructive alternative," the party said.

The ICP supports the approach taken by France and Germany but says it should
be integrated into a broader framework for restoring democratic rights in
Iraq in line with earlier UN security council resolutions. These are no less
important than the recent resolution, 1441, which concentrates on
disarmament and ignores human rights. The party calls for a genuinely
independent conference of the opposition groups.

Like Da'wa, the ICP opposes the economic sanctions on Iraq which the United
States and Britain continue to back in spite of the hardship they have
caused to ordinary Iraqis but not the regime. "We want sanctions lifted and
replaced by an effective UN mechanism for controlling Iraq's oil revenue for
the benefit of people. We said the Oil for Food programme would strengthen
Saddam's hand," says Salam Ali. "Sanctions have crushed people and weakened
their will to resist. If they are lifted, people can start living and
thinking politics again."

Most parties on the opposition committee set up under Khalilzad's pressure
last week are paid by the US government. Da'wa and the ICP have not
succumbed. Pro-war pundits who claim to know the views of Iraqi exiles
should check they are not listening to opinions made in Washington.


Houston Chronicle, (from AP), 27th February


The United States and Britain have insisted that Iraq's reported cooperation
with the U.N. inspectors had failed to satisfy international demands for
disarmament. And U.N. Security Council members met behind closed doors in
New York today to discuss a proposed U.S. British-Spanish resolution that
could authorize war.

But South African disarmament experts visiting Iraq said today they were
convinced Iraq was doing its best to disarm, and appealed to the Security
Council to give weapons inspections more time.

"It's clear there is movement on the whole issue of weapons of mass
destruction," South Africa's Deputy Foreign Finister Aziz Pahad said at a
Baghdad news conference. "Clearly (the inspection regime) is working, and if
it's working why stop it?"

"The Iraqi side has consistently told us that every time they move on an
issue, the goal post gets changed," Pahad said.

The South African team has been in Baghdad since Sunday night to share its
experience in verifiably destroying weapons programs. It was to leave Friday

In the 1990s, U.N. inspectors were sent to South Africa and praised the
country's voluntary destruction of weapons of mass destruction during the
previous decade.

The inspectors, meanwhile, returned to an airfield near the town of
al-Aziziya, 60 miles southeast of Baghdad, where Iraqi workers dug in search
fragments of R-400 biological weapons bombs Iraq says it destroyed there in
1991. Hiro Ueki, spokesman for the inspectors, said some fragments were

A second team of inspectors supervised workers who drilled holes in eight
remaining 155mm artillery shells filled with mustard gas that Iraq reported
to the inspectors, Ueki said.

Ueki also confirmed an Iraqi report that French Mirage reconnaissance planes
have begun flying in support of the U.N. inspections. Three American U-2 spy
planes -- which fly at higher altitudes -- already have made similar runs.

by Charles J. Hanley
Washington Post, from The Associated Press, 27th February

The U.N. inspectors swarming over Iraq's missile industry found an
infraction last week: The short-range Al Samoud 2 sometimes flies a few
miles farther than allowed. But the experts have reported no sign of any
longer-range missiles that could strike Israel or neighboring oil nations as
Washington fears.

In fact, after three months' intensive work, the U.N. teams are looking
ahead to ending their current investigative phase, and moving on to
long-term monitoring via electronic "eyes and ears." Such a system could
rein in missile development for years, experts say.

Chief U.N. arms inspector Hans Blix gave Iraq until Saturday to begin
destroying the Al Samouds, and Baghdad was reported Thursday to have agreed
in principle to go ahead with their elimination - via explosives, crushing,
cutting or other means.

Blix called it an important test of Iraq's cooperation with U.N. disarmament
efforts. The Iraqis must also eliminate the design data and equipment to
build the weapons - a damaging blow to their young missile industry.

Under the U.N. arms control regime that followed the 1991 Gulf War, Iraq was
forbidden to have missiles that could travel beyond a 150-kilometer range -
93 miles. That's considered the outer limit of short-range or "battlefield"

Blix reported the newly developed Al Samoud 2 exceeded that limit on 13 test
flights, by no more than 20 miles. On 27 of 40 flights, the missile tested
short of the permitted threshold, Blix told U.N. diplomats behind closed

The Al Samouds' technical violation "isn't particularly worrisome ... isn't
dramatic," said Victor Mizin, a former missile inspector in Iraq.

He said he saw Blix's ban, announced last week, "more as a political move" -
to assert U.N. control in Baghdad at a time when the Bush administration,
threatening war against Iraq, contends U.N. inspections are ineffective.

The Iraqis protested the ban, contending the flights would come up shorter
when missiles were fully loaded with warheads and guidance systems.

"They have a point," said Aaron Karp, a missile proliferation expert at
Virginia's Old Dominion University. "I'm sure there's a heavy version and a
light version."

"All missile experts will tell you it's very difficult to precisely find the
range," said Mizin, a Russian former arms negotiations adviser who served
three tours as an Iraq inspector. "It depends on how it's launched, the
flight profile. There are all kinds of trade-offs between payload and actual

The slender white Al Samoud is not part of some hidden Iraqi arms program.
It was under U.N. scrutiny from its first rollout, in 1997, when inspectors
probed and tested it with gauges and scales to check its capabilities.

When the U.N. teams returned last November after a four-year absence, they
again descended on the Al Samoud factories, copied design files, observed
engine tests and held long meetings, day after day, with Al Samoud
production team leaders behind the 9-foot high walls of their Karama Company
compound in north Baghdad.

It was the Iraqis, however, not the inspectors, who declared the technical
violations of the range limit - violations the U.N. experts then confirmed
via computer modeling.

At the same time, inspectors were making dozens of other unannounced visits
to design, production and test sites to check for more serious violations.
Reports by the U.S. and British governments, based on satellite photos
showing expansion of missile industry sites, said the Iraqis might be
developing missiles with ranges over 600 miles.

But after the on-the-ground inspectors looked under the roofs in those
photos, they reported no violations.

Similarly, after three months of unfettered U.N. access in Iraq, no signs
have been reported of "up to a few dozen" longer-range Scud missiles the
U.S. and British intelligence reports speculated were illegally hidden by
the Baghdad regime. Those reports contended, without offering evidence, that
the Iraqis saved some of the imported, Soviet-made missiles from U.N.
destruction in the 1990s.

Both Mizin and Karp believe inspectors should focus suspicions on the
possibility Iraq will upgrade missile guidance by incorporating technology
that uses Global Positioning System satellites. This could make primitive
"cruise missiles" - airplanes converted to bomb-laden unmanned drones - much
more accurate.

Along those lines, in February alone the U.N. inspectors have paid at least
a half-dozen surprise visits to installations making guidance-and-control
systems. They're also inspecting sites where unmanned aircraft are

In February, the missile inspectors began unspecified preparatory work for
the long-term monitoring system envisioned under U.N. resolutions. That
system will include around-the clock cameras and other monitoring devices
inside and outside plants, along with regular oversight visits to
missile-industry sites.

Missiles, with their test facilities, test flights and large pieces of gear,
are especially susceptible to monitoring, the experts agreed. "There are
things you ultimately can't hide," Karp said.

In any U.S. war, the Al Samoud missiles might threaten advancing American
forces, although they might also be knocked out in pre-emptive U.S.

Now Iraq faces the painful order to destroy its 50 or more Al Samouds, along
with stocks of engines, liquid fuel, production and launch equipment, design
and production software and documents.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Iraq was believed to have wasted $10 billion of its
oil money in a failed bid to build missiles. It finally succeeded with the
Al Samoud in the 1990s, and went on to build a second line of short-range
missile, the solid-fuel al-Fatah. Losing the Al Samoud program now would be
a major setback to its military-industrial complex.

The Associated Press, 28th February

WASHINGTON: Iraqi forces guarding Baghdad are armed with chemical weapons
and may have orders to use them, U.S. officials say, raising the grim
prospect of American troops closing in on the capital city and facing a
battlefield filled with deadly agents.

Because these Iraqi units are protecting the approaches to Iraq's largest
city, the possibility of chemical weapons being used near populated areas
also raises the possibility of unprotected civilians being exposed to such
weapons, officials say.

U.S. troops have sensors and protective gear designed to shield them from
chemical attack. Their tanks and other armored vehicles can seal them off
from a battlefield where chemical weapons are used.

Still, "a couple of lucky hits can produce several hundred or thousands of
casualties," said Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq expert with the Center for
Strategic and International Studies. "Nobody in the U.S. military can
discount that risk."

The Iraqi Republican Guard controls the bulk of Iraq's chemical weaponry,
most of which can be fired from artillery guns or short-range rocket
launchers, according to U.S. officials, who discussed the intelligence
information on the condition they not be identified. These weapons can
generally hit targets from a few dozen miles or less.

Saddam Hussein has arrayed most of his Republican Guard units around
Baghdad, officials say. Of his six divisions  each numbering between 10,000
and 12,000 well-trained troops  they say four defend Baghdad, while a fifth
is moving a significant part of its force to Saddam's hometown of Tikrit, a
city north of Baghdad where much of his power is concentrated. A sixth
remains near Kirkuk in northern Iraq.

The weapons of greatest concern include the nerve agents sarin, cyclosarin
and VX, as well as World War I-era mustard gas, officials said.

When used, all but sarin can linger on a battlefield for hours or even days,
although experts say these won't spread far. While sarin breaks down
quickly, it puts out deadly vapors before it becomes inert.

The Iraqi forces are most likely to fire chemical warheads to cover their
retreat or to put down an internal uprising, officials said. Civilian deaths
would be all but certain in populated areas, officials said.

But whether Iraq would use these weapons is unknown.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, citing unspecified intelligence sources,
told the U.N. Security Council that Saddam had authorized some of his field
commanders to use chemical weapons.

In recent testimony to Congress, CIA Director George J. Tenet said, "Do I
know whether his subordinates will take the orders? I don't know. There are
some unknowables, but you must plan as if he will use these weapons."

The Pentagon has tried to e-mail Iraqi generals to warn them against using
chemical or germ weapons against U.S. or allied forces.

U.N. weapons inspectors have found only a few pieces of Saddam's allegedly
vast arsenal, but U.S. intelligence officials remain convinced Iraqi field
forces are armed with the weapons.

While estimates suggest Iraq may have 20 or 30 Scud missiles capable of
carrying chemical or biological weapons, officials say Saddam's military may
have 30,000 artillery warheads capable of carrying chemical weapons and 550
artillery shells filled with mustard agent.

Chemical weapons can kill quickly and therefore have battlefield utility,
while Saddam's biological weapons, particularly anthrax, are more apt to
strike civilian targets because they can take hours or days to take effect,
U.S. officials said.

Much of the concern about Saddam's arsenal has been directed at its
potential use against political targets  particularly Israel, Saudi Arabia,
or Kuwait  using Scud missiles. Some have suggested these and U.S. targets
are also at risk of terrorist-style attacks originating in Iraq.

While Saddam also has planes equipped with bombs and spray tanks, experts
predicted these would not survive long against superior U.S. fighter

That leaves the short-range battlefield weapons as the likeliest means of
employing a chemical arsenal against U.S. forces. Experts said these weapons
function by detonating above the ground, spraying the deadly chemicals as
both liquid droplets and aerosol over a wide area.

Many shells or rockets are required to contaminate even a few dozen acres of

Iraq used chemical weapons on Kurdish insurgents and Iranian forces in the
1980s, killing thousands.

The Independent, 28th February

 Unmovic [the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission] is
presently finalising an internal document of some importance, namely, a list
of the disarmament issues which it considers currently unresolved, and of
the measures which Iraq could take to resolve them ... It could also serve
as a yardstick against which Iraq's disarmament actions under Resolution
1441 may be measured.

 Iraq has from the outset satisfied the demands for prompt access to any
site, whether or not it had been previously disclosed or not. Iraq has
further been helpful in getting Unmovic established on the ground, in
developing the necessary infrastructure for communications, transport and
accommodation ... Iraqi staff have been provided, sometimes in excessive
numbers as escorts for the inspection teams. There have been minor

 Unmovic has been able to send surveillance aircraft over the entire

 The Iraqi Commission established to search for and present any prescribed
items is potentially a mechanism of importance ... It has so far reported
only a few findings: four empty 122mm chemical munitions and recently two BW
aerial bombs.

 Iraq has recently reported to Unmovic the commission had found documents
... concerning Iraq's unilateral destruction of proscribed items. As of the
submission of this report, the documents are being examined.

 The list of names of personnel reported to have taken part in the
unilateral destruction of biological and chemical weapons and missiles in
1991 will open the possibility for interviews which, if credible, might shed
light on the scope of the unilateral actions.

 It has not yet proved possible to obtain interviews with Iraqi scientists,
managers or others believed to have knowledge relevant to the disarmament
tasks in circumstances that give satisfactory credibility.

 The Declaration of 7 December, despite the hopes attached to it and
despite its large volume, has not been found to provide new evidence or data
that may help to resolve outstanding disarmament issues ... it did, however,
usefully shed light on the developments in the missile sector.

 The destruction of some items ... is taking place under Unmovic
supervision and further such actions will take place.

 The presidential decree ... which prohibits private Iraqi citizens and
mixed companies from engaging in work relating to weapons of mass
destruction, standing alone, is not sufficient to meet the UN requirements.

 During the period of time covered by this report, Iraq could have made
greater efforts to find any remaining proscribed items or provide credible
evidence showing the absence of such items. The results in terms of
disarmament have been very limited so far.

The destruction of missiles ... has not yet begun. Iraq could have made full
use of the declaration, which was submitted on 7 December.

It is hard to understand why a number of the measures, which are now being
taken, could not have been initiated earlier. If they had been taken
earlier, they might have borne fruit by now. It is only by the middle of
January and thereafter that Iraq has taken a number of steps, which have the
potential of resulting either in the presentation for destruction of stocks
or items that are proscribed or the presentation of relevant evidence
solving longstanding unresolved disarmament issues.

by Geoffrey Lean and Severin Carrell
Sunday Independent, 2nd March

The US is preparing to use the toxic riot-control agents CS gas and pepper
spray in Iraq in contravention of the Chemical Weapons Convention, provoking
the first split in the Anglo US alliance. "Calmative" gases, similar to the
one that killed 120 hostages in the Moscow theatre siege last year, could
also be employed.

The convention bans the use of these toxic agents in battle, not least
because they risk causing an escalation to full chemical warfare. This
applies even though they can be used in civil disturbances at home: both CS
gas and pepper spray are available for use by UK police forces. The US
Marine Corps confirmed last week that both had already been shipped to the

It is British policy not to allow troops to take part in operations where
riot control agents are employed. But the US Defence Secretary, Donald
Rumsfeld, has asked President Bush to authorise their use. Mr Bush, who has
often spoken of "smoking out" the enemy, is understood to have agreed.

Internal Pentagon documents also show that the US is developing a range of
calmative gases, also banned for battlefield use. Senior US defence sources
predict these could be used in Iraq by elite special forces units to take
out command and control bunkers deep underground.

Rear Admiral Stephen Baker, a Navy commander in the last Gulf War who is now
senior adviser to the Centre for Defence Information in Washington, told The
Independent on Sunday that US special forces had knock-out gases that can
"neutralise" people. He added: "I would think that if they get a chance to
use them, they will."

The Pentagon said last week that the decision to use riot control agents "is
made by the commander in the field".

Mr Rumsfeld became the first senior figure on either side of the impending
conflict to announce his wish to use chemical agents in a little-noticed
comment to the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on 5
February  the same day as Colin Powell's presentation of intelligence about
Iraq's weapons of mass destruction to the UN.

The Defence Secretary attacked the "straitjacket" imposed by bans in
international treaties on using the weapons in warfare. He specified that
they could be used "where there are enemy troops in a cave [and] you know
there are women and children in there with them". General Richard Myers,
chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke of using them against human

The revelations leave the Bush administration open to charges of double
standards at a time when it is making Iraq's suspected arsenal of chemical
and biological weapons the casus belli. Charles Kennedy, leader of the
Liberal Democrats, said last night: "This all adds to the confusion over how
the war will be conducted. If the argument with Saddam Hussein is over
disarming him of weapons of mass destruction, it is perverse of the US to
push the boundaries of international chemical warfare conventions in order
to subdue him."

Leading experts and Whitehall officials fear that using even pepper spray
and CS gas would destroy the credibility of the Chemical Weapons Convention,
provoke Iraqi chemical retaliation and set a disastrous legal precedent.
Professor Julian Perry Robinson, one of the world's foremost authorities on
the convention, said: "Legally speaking, Iraq would be totally justified in
releasing chemical weapons over the UK if the alliance uses them in Baghdad.

"When the war is over and these things have been used they will have been
legitimised as a tool of war, and the principle of toxic weapons being
banned will have gone. The difference between these weapons and nerve gas is
simply one of structural chemistry."

The Ministry of Defence has warned the US that it will not allow British
troops to be involved in operations where riot control agents are used, or
to transport them to the battlefield, but Britain is even more concerned
about the calmatives. This is shown by documents obtained by the Texas-based
Sunshine Project under the US Freedom of Information Act. These reveal that
the US is developing calmatives  including sedatives such as the
benzodiazapines, diazepam, dexmeditomide and new drugs that affect the
nervous system  even though it accepts that "the convention would prohibit
the development of any chemically based agent that would even temporarily
incapacitate a human being".

A special working group of the Federation of American Scientists concluded
last month that using even the mildest of these weapons to incapacitate
people would kill 9 per cent of them. It added: "Chemical incapacitating
weapons are as likely as bullets to cause death."

The use of chemical weapons by US forces was explicitly banned by President
Gerald Ford in 1975 after CS gas had been repeatedly used in Vietnam to
smoke out enemy soldiers and then kill them as they ran away. Britain would
be in a particularly sensitive position if the US used the weapons as it
drafted the convention and is still seen internationally as its most
important guardian.

The Foreign Office said: "All states parties to the Chemical Weapons
Convention have undertaken not to use any toxic chemical or its precursor,
including riot-control agents. This applies in any armed conflict."

Tehran Times, 5th March

TEHRAN -- The most extensive Iraqi use of chemical weapons was in fighting
to retake city of Basra from the Iranians during the Iran-Iraq war, Major
General John Doesburg, head of the U.S. army's chemical and biological
defense command said in New York on Monday.

Doesburg, speaking at a Pentagon briefing, said many people have forgotten
the fact that Iraq used chemical weapons in its war with Iran, stressing
that Baghdad had gassed Iranian troops in several operations.

He stressed that Iraq had used mustard gas and nerve agents throughout the
conflict, which lasted from 1981 to 1988, and also used nerve agents against
the Kurds in northern Iraq.

The U.S. commander said the battle of Basra perhaps had been the biggest
confrontation between the two countries in which the Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein used the largest quantities of chemicals against Iranian troops.

Doesburg, who had been a member of the U.S. delegation at a UN meeting in
Geneva on banning chemical weapons, said he never forgot the photos of those
injured by mustard gas that had been presented to the delegates by an
Iranian diplomat.

"The most terrible photos were about women and children who had been injured
by the chemicals," he said.

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