The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 19-26/03/03 (13)

News, 19-26/03/03 (13)


*  Report: U.S. Plans to Tap $40Bln Iraq Account
*  UN to have no political power in postwar Iraq
*  UK asks UN to aid postwar building
*  Annan seeks to take over running of Iraqi oil-for-food programme
*  Blow for Short in battle with Pentagon
*  Security Council tries to restart food program
*  U.S. Battles Calls for Emergency UN Session on Iraq
*  Allies split over Iraq's fate
*  UBS to hand over frozen Iraqi money


*  Iraq War Illegal but Trial Unlikely, Lawyers Say
*  UN is being hampered by Annan's weak leadership


Moscow Times, 20th March

More than $40 billion from Iraqi crude sales are sitting in an escrow
account controlled by the United Nations, and the United States and Britain
want to use it to pay for humanitarian war aid, The Associated Press
reported Wednesday.

The news agency said the $40 billion figure came from "previously
undisclosed UN figures," and represented money Baghdad was unable to spend
under the oil-for-food program, which was introduced to soften the blow of
economic sanctions imposed on Iraq after it invaded neighboring Kuwait in

Citing unnamed diplomats and UN sources, the AP said Russia and the other
Security Council members have asked Secretary General Kofi Annan to oversee
any use of the money to avoid further conflicts within the council.

The proposal, which apparently envisages a quick overthrow of the Iraqi
regime, will reportedly be put forward by Annan shortly after the war

Neither Washington nor London will have direct access to the alleged cash,
which would ease their liabilities in rebuilding a post-war Iraq.

It would also mean the end of any deals that Russian, French or other
countries have with Baghdad through the oil-for-food program, according to
the AP.

A UN spokesman for the program said Iraq has $1.3 billion in nonearmarked
funds on an account set up for the northern regions of the country.

He could not say how much there might be in the account on top of that in
funds pegged for deals that have not yet been concluded .

A senior UN diplomat involved with the program in New York said late
Wednesday that the UN liked to keep details of those earmarked funds "close
to its chest."

Another account, for the central and southern regions of the country, has a
cumulative shortfall of almost $5.4 billion in approved contracts that could
not be covered by revenues due to fluctuations in the oil supply, the UN
spokesman said. It also has another $9 billion in funds earmarked for other
deals still in the pipeline.

However, the senior diplomat denied that Iraq had $40 billion in any or all
of its United Nations' accounts.

"The $40 billion is the amount that has gone through one of Iraq's UN
accounts under the oil for-food program over the last six years," he said on
condition of anonymity. "That's how much has been used."

The plan being put forward by the United States and Britain would not end
the oil-for-food program, but adapt it, he said, adding that the goal was to
give humanitarian supplies of foodstuffs and medicines priority over

The idea is to make use of deals totaling $6 billion that have already been
approved, but not yet delivered, he said.

Russia has been a major supplier under the oil-for-food program, making it
potentially the biggest loser if the program is wound up.

France is the next biggest supplier, followed by Sudan, the United Arab
Emirates, and China, according to the UN.

Russia's Economic Development and Trade Ministry released figures Wednesday
showing that Russian oil firms won contracts to sell 124 million barrels of
Iraqi oil in 2002, or 40 percent of the country's total crude exports.

Some 15 Russian firms brokered Iraqi crude deals worth a total of $2.8
billion last year, the ministry said.

In addition, some 60 Russian firms exported a total of $1.5 billion worth of
goods, services and equipment to Iraq in 2002.

French diplomats told The Associated Press that France and Russia want
Iraq's funds to remain under UN control, rather than the U.S. or Britain.

The oil-for-food program was suspended Monday because of the evacuation of
UN staff from Iraq.

A new resolution is necessary to continue the flow of humanitarian goods
into Iraq because the current agreement was made with the government of
Saddam Hussein.

by Guy Dinmore and Peronet Despeignes in Washington and Henry,Hamman in
Financial Times, 20th March

Gen Tommy Franks will take immediate charge of Iraq once Saddam Hussein is
overthrown, but the head of US Central Command will then start the process
of handing over government to an interim Iraqi authority, a senior US
official said yesterday.

While the US and UK will seek United Nations endorsement of an "appropriate
post conflict administration", US officials made it clear the UN would have
no political authority in postwar Iraq and its role would be mainly

The international community is also expected to help pick up the bill.

Marc Grossman, under-secretary of state, said Gen Franks would be supported
by Jay Garner, head of the Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance, but he declined to confirm reports that Gen Franks
would hold the position of interim civilian administrator. Mr Garner's job,
he said, was to show the benefits of reconstruction to the Iraqi people.

The Iraqi interim authority would be established "as quickly as possible"
from Iraqis inside and outside the country and "little by little" it would
become responsible for governing Iraq as ministries were handed over, Mr
Grossman said. It was not possible to predict how long it would take to
restore for full sovereignty.

Statements by US officials have revealed the determination of the Bush
administration to exert full and immediate authority over Iraq, while
keeping options open in the long term.

"Iraqi democracy will have to be defined by the Iraqi people," Mr Grossman
said. Answering a question, he said he hoped that one of the first decisions
of a new Iraqi government would be to recognise the state of Israel.

A team of former US ambassadors and senior defence and intelligence
officials are being recruited to serve as "advisers" in Iraqi ministries
amid continuing debate between the Pentagon and State Department over how
much autonomy to grant the interim Iraqi authority.

A senior administration official who discussed reconstruction plans
yesterday said that the rapid establishment of a central bank, a government
budget and sound economic policies to keep inflation under control would be
a priority.

Pointing to what he called the "great success" of previous transition
efforts in Afghanistan, the official said the US Treasury would be likely to
operate as a consultant to any interim government, in concert with other
international groups. He said the Treasury had already begun provisional
assignment of personnel.

Iraq currently uses three currencies: the "Saddam" dinar, a currency with Mr
Hussein's likeness used in most parts of the country; the "Swiss" dinar,
used mostly in the northern Kurdish region and, to a more limited but
growing extent, the US dollar.

The Saddam dinar has lost roughly 40 per cent of its value since October,
trading - as of yesterday - at around 3,000 to the dollar. The "Swiss" dinar
trades at around eight to $1.

The official said the US would leave it to Iraqis and an interim authority
to decide on a currency.,3604,917843,00.html

by Patrick Wintour
The Guardian, 20th March

Britain is sponsoring two new UN security council resolutions on the postwar
reconstruction of Iraq as part of a wider effort to reunite the
international community in the aftermath of the war. The resolutions are
designed to reassure the UN countries that Britain and the US will not
exclude non-combatants from the rebuilding of Iraq.

Mr Blair told the Commons yesterday: "Of course we want to involve as many
countries as possible."

The US and Britain are drafting a plan to use proceeds from Iraqi oil,
administered by the UN, to pay for humanitarian relief supplies during a
war. Such supplies are currently distributed by UN and Iraqi government
workers while the UN oversees Iraqi oil production and sales.

Clare Short, the international development secretary, has flown to New York
for talks with the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan. Britain wants a number
of new mandates after Saddam Hussein falls, including the lifting of
economic sanctions.

In the Commons, opposition parties and some Labour backbenchers warned the
US and British governments had not done enough to prepare food aid, or
persuade Iraq's neighbours to open their borders to refugees. The Foreign
Office minister Mike O'Brien said Britain would table two new resolutions -
the first dealing with immediate food distribution and a second covering
humanitarian issues in the months to come.

He added that the Department for International Development had secured 70m
for food aid and the military had been given 30m to distribute food. The US
government aid agency would dominate the aid contracts, but he had received
asssurances that the US would then subcontract at least 50% of the work to
other countries, especially Britain.

Yahoo, 20th March

UNITED NATIONS (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan asked the Security
Council to enable him to take over the Iraqi oil-for-food programme and
change it to meet the needs of those hit hardest by war.

The programme, which allows Iraq to export oil and import humanitarian goods
exempt from UN sanctions, is run as a joint venture by Baghdad and the
United Nations. Its budget is close to 10 billion dollars a year.

The programme was suspended on Monday, when Annan ordered all international
staff working for the United Nations to leave Iraq.

Senior UN officials said staff were "ready to redeploy as soon as possible
and will not wait for the whole of Iraq to be safe before redeploying."

Asked how long Iraq's 23 million people could hold on before the programme
was restored, the officials said "we estimate there are six weeks of
reserves in terms of food, if there is no displacement of population."

In a letter to the council, Annan recommended changes to the programme's
mandate, adopted on April 14, 1995 in council Resolution 986.

In an annex to the eight-page letter, he suggested elements for a new
resolution, saying the changes were the "minimum" necessary for the
programme to operate.

But Annan stressed that the United Nations was not picking up the bill for
humanitarian relief in Iraq from the United States and Britain.

"The primary responsibility for ensuring that the Iraqi population is
provided with adequate medicine, health supplies, foodstuffs and materials
and supplies for essential civilian needs will rest with the authority
exercising effective control in the country," he wrote.

Senior officials said the UN would still have to rely on the Iraqi state
system to distribute supplies.

"With such a large number of persons, it is quite impossible to replicate
the system," they said.

At present, all Iraq's oil revenues go into a UN-administered escrow account
and imports must be approved by a Security Council committee. But Baghdad
sets the priorities for imports and distributes the goods, except in three
administrative regions in the Kurdish north of the country.

On the import side, Annan asked "as a matter of urgency" for authority to
review government priorities and to redeploy resources that had already been

The UN and its humanitarian agencies should have the power to renegotiate or
cancel contracts with Iraq's suppliers, he said.

He noted that there were about 8.9 billion dollars worth of "contracted
supplies that have not yet been delivered" and said "the priorities of the
need for some of these supplies might change" after hostilities began.

Senior officials said the figure included 2.4 billion dollars worth of food.

Annan asked the council to extend the UN's function as distributor of
emergency humanitarian relief from the Kurdish north to the whole of the

And he said it should also be able to distribute relief to Iraqi refugees
who fled the country because of the war.

He also sought the power to "establish alternative locations for delivery
and inspection of humanitarian supplies" which are monitored by UN observers
to ensure that no weapons or other banned goods enter the country.

As far as Iraq's oil exports are concerned, Annan said "the Iraqi State Oil
Marketing Organization (SOMO) should be allowed to continue to retain ...
the authority to conclude oil contracts with national purchasers."

He asked the council to authorize "the use of additional oil export routes
under appropriate monitoring."

At present, Iraq is allowed to export only through its own port of Umm Qasr
or by pipeline to the Turkish terminal at Ceyhan, on the Mediterranean.

According to the Kuwaiti news agency, Umm Qasr was captured on Thursday by
British troops -- a report denied by Iraqi television.,3604,919418,00.html

by Charlotte Denny, economics correspondent
The Guardian, 22nd March

Clare Short returned empty handed from Washington yesterday as Britain's
efforts to put the United Nations in charge of reconstructing post-war Iraq
ran into opposition from the Pentagon.

Amid signs of widening divisions off the battlefield between the US and its
closest ally, Whitehall officials expressed concern that America's military
planners appear to be cutting the UN out of any political role in favour of
its own plan to put a retired general, Jay Garner, in the driving seat.

Ms Short had hoped to secure agreement on a security council resolution
which would have given the UN the leading role in rebuilding the shattered
country. But after two days of meeting with Kofi Annan and leading UN
officials in New York, and state department officials in Washington, the
international development secretary returned home with the issue unresolved.

"They see a new resolution as cover for their activities rather than a route
to enabling the UN to coordinate reconstruction," said one Whitehall

President George Bush promised Tony Blair at the Azores summit that the UN
would have a key role after the war ends. But the Pentagon believes this
should be confined to humanitarian assistance and is pressing ahead with its
own plans, which would put US companies in charge of the country's schools
and hospitals.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the US agency for
international development has called for American companies to bid for more
than $1bn (640m) worth of reconstruction contracts, including running
health and education services.

Without a UN resolution, Whitehall lawyers say that the US and UK occupying
forces would have no legal right to run the country's institutions. "There
is no legal mandate for that sort of activity," said one Whitehall official.
"It's all quite bizarre."

While state department officials are believed to be sympathetic to the
British vision, the Pentagon is determined to win over the hearts and minds
of the Iraqi people by branding the postwar reconstruction effort with an
American flag. America has set up its own office for reconstruction and
humanitarian assistance as part of the department of defence.

UN officials have warned that they have no intention of acting as a fig leaf
for a US occupying authority. "We can't have a scenario where the US says
this is what is needed, now you guys get on and do it," said one UN

Mark Malloch Brown, the head of the UN development agency, said this week
that UN agencies could not act as "sub-contractors" to the US government.
The Pentagon's plans have alarmed aid agencies, which are concerned about
the precedent it would set and the likely political fallout throughout the
Middle East.

"We are worried that the US believes and acts like it can replace the UN in
delivery of humanitarian aid and reconstruction," said Justin Forsyth, head
of policy at Oxfam. "We don't believe they have the skills or the

The disagreements between Britain and the US extend even to who should be in
charge of the immediate humanitarian work as the battle rages. Washington is
boasting that its soldiers will double as mobile aid workers, bringing
rations to the vulnerable population, 60% of whom depend on food handed out
by the UN's oil for food programme.

"We don't want our aid equipment to be offloaded off the back of a US
military lorry, because if we were to do that we would be seen as part of a
belligerent force," said Mr Forsyth.

Sydney Morning Herald, 22nd March

Members of the deeply-divided UN Security Council expressed hope today that
they can quickly agree on a new resolution to reactivate the UN humanitarian
program that feeds about 60 per cent of Iraq's 22 million people.

The council spent more than three hours discussing a draft resolution
proposed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan that would adjust the UN
oil-for-food program to allow the United Nations to run the program, not
just in Iraq's north but throughout the country and for refugees fleeing the
US-led war.

The Iraqi government had been handling the program in central and southern

"We're pleased to see that there seems to be a spirit of trying to work
together within the council to reach some kind of consensus text," said US
Ambassador John Negroponte.

But Iraq's UN Ambassador Mohammed Al-Douri denounced Mr Annan, claiming his
proposal was dictated by the United States and Britain with the aim of
eliminating Iraq and transforming the country and the region "into colonies
under the control of the world American and Zionist oil mafia".

The proposal was also "a great insult to the United Nations", he told
reporters today.

The UN spokesman's office said Mr Annan would issue a written response

The council asked experts from all 15 council nations to meet over the
weekend to consider proposals from the United States and other countries and
try to reach agreement on a draft resolution, hopefully early next week.

In contrast to their opposition to the US-British-Spanish resolution that
would have given UN backing to the war, France and Germany agreed on the
need to ensure that the Iraqi people can get desperately needed aid as soon
as the war ends.

"I hope we will be in a position in a very few days to reach a decision,"
said France's UN Ambassador, Jean-Marc de la Sabliere.

"We think we have to concentrate on the immediate situation, and what will
happen in the first weeks after the war ...

"It is very difficult to foresee what will be the situation two or three
months from now, so maybe we should go step by step."

Germany's UN Ambassador Gunter Pleuger, whose country will preside over the
experts' meeting, said: "We don't have any political controversy. We are
just trying to figure out the best way of making the system function again."

The oil-for-food program was adopted in 1995 to help ordinary Iraqis cope
with sanctions imposed after Saddam Hussein's forces invaded Kuwait in 1990.

It now allows Iraq to sell unlimited quantities of oil, provided the money
is used for humanitarian relief, war reparations, oil industry spare parts
and other UN-approved civilian goods. The money is kept in a UN-controlled
escrow account.

The UN program, which was halted earlier this week, is one of several layers
of humanitarian aid that are expected to flow to the Iraqis once the war

Mr Annan stressed yesterday that the "primary responsibility" for providing
humanitarian assistance to Iraqi civilians under international law "rests
with the authority exercising effective control in Iraq," which will almost
certainly be the United States.

The US government has sent food, water, blankets, shelters and medical kits
to the region. UN agencies, including the World Food Program, have been
readying supplies.

US officials said the US military will be likely to provide initial food and
medicine. But senior UN officials said they want to quickly resume the
oil-for-food program as fighting stops in different areas.

The United Nations has been running the program in Kurdish-controlled
northern Iraq but Saddam Hussein's government has been in charge in central
and southern Iraq.

The new resolution would transfer authority from the Iraqi government to Mr
Annan and give him the authority to renegotiate contracts if necessary and
set priorities for the purchase of humanitarian goods.

It would also allow oil to be shipped through more export routes, and
humanitarian supplies to be delivered and inspected anywhere inside and
outside Iraq.

The secretary-general's input was requested by several council members,
including Russia, which opposes the war and did not want Washington and
London taking charge of a new oil-for-food resolution.

Russia's UN Ambassador Sergey Lavrov said there are still many questions
that need to be settled, including Iraq's sovereignty over its oil
resources, and the humanitarian problem being broader than sanctions relief.

Many oil-for-food contracts are with Russian companies, and diplomats said
Lavrov did not want Mr Annan to have the power to renegotiate them.

Mr Negroponte stressed that the United States "will ensure that Iraq's
natural resources, including its oil, are used entirely for the benefit of
the Iraqi people".

A US official said Washington wants Iraq to control the lifting and sale of
oil, and the proceeds to continue to put into the UN account.

New York Times, 22nd March

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) Mar 22 - The United States has launched a worldwide
diplomatic drive to head off the calling of an emergency session of the U.N.
General Assembly to condemn the U.S.-led war on Iraq, diplomats said on

The group of nonaligned nations at the United Nations met earlier this week
to consider convening a special session of the 191-nation assembly to
denounce the United States.

But the group of 166 countries, led currently by Malaysia, failed to agree
on whether to go ahead after some argued action was premature as the war had
not yet begun, diplomats said.

No new meeting of the group has been set since the invasion began on
Wednesday. But "there are a lot of countries talking about that," said
Syrian U.N. Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe.

Envoys attributed the disarray among the nonaligned to U.S. diplomatic
muscle and said many countries feared offending Washington.

"The United States is putting pressure on many countries to resist," said
General Assembly President Jan Kavan of the Czech Republic.

U.S. diplomats were opposing a special assembly session and -- if that
failed -- to vote against a resolution condemning the United States, Kavan
told reporters.

In Washington, a State Department official confirmed the United States was
making its case that an emergency session "would not serve the interests of
the United Nations."

"We do feel that we have a convincing case (for not calling a session) but
the situation is still fluid," the official said.

Unlike the Security Council, whose resolutions can be binding under
international law, the General Assembly can make only political statements
expressing the sense of the international community.

But an assembly resolution critical of the U.S.-led war would nonetheless be
highly embarrassing to both Washington and London.

Despite U.S. efforts, Kavan said he thought it "very likely" although "not a
certainty" that a special session would be called as early as next week.

If no session were called or a resolution defeated, "it would be a very
clear victory for the United States," he said.

There are several avenues open at the United Nations to foes of the U.S.
attack on Iraq. A U.N. member could simply request a special session, which
would require an assembly vote to go forward.

Or a U.N member could notify Kavan that the Security Council was deadlocked
on the Iraq issue. Kavan would then consult all U.N. members and would be
obliged to convene an emergency session if a majority of its members -- at
least 96 nations -- gave their consent by return fax.

Iraq said on Thursday it would ask the Security Council to condemn the
United States for acting like a "terrorist state" by launching a war in
violation of international law -- a move that could be seen as a prelude to
declaring the council deadlocked.

Indonesia also wants a council debate and if this fails will ask the
assembly to step in, an Indonesian diplomat said.

by Ian Mather
The Scotsman, 23rd March

THEY are united in military action but Britain and the US are divided over
what to do with Iraq once war is done.

A fierce diplomatic battle is under way to gain the upper hand. Despite
having bypassed the United Nations in order to go to war with Iraq, Tony
Blair wants to bring in the organisation at the soonest possible moment and
give it a major role in running Iraq until a legitimate government of Iraqis
can be established.

US plans for post-war Iraq are more like those they put into place for a
defeated Japan after the Second World War. General Tommy Franks,
commander-in-chief of the American and British forces, will probably take
control of Iraq as soon as Saddam Hussein is deposed, to become a modern
version of General Douglas MacArthur, who was appointed de facto ruler of
Japan by President Truman.

This solution is not what the British want. Britain is loath to see a
foreign occupation of Iraq because of its own colonial history there, and is
pushing for a full-blown UN administration along the lines of those in
Kosovo and East Timor, with another UN agency to control Iraq's oil.

On this point at least Britain is at one with its European Union (EU)
partners, who stated after their summit in Brussels last week that: "We
believe that the UN must continue to play a central role during and after
the current crisis. The UN system has a unique capacity and practical
experience in co-ordinating assistance in post-conflict states."

'We believe that the UN must continue to play a central role during and
after the current crisis'
Blair also said: "There is a common view that we have a new UN resolution
that authorises, that governs, not merely the humanitarian situation but
also the post-Saddam civil authority in Iraq."

That is not what Washington is planning. US plans call for a four-stage
transition from war to democracy, in which the UN will play no part, bar
organising the humanitarian effort.

The first stage will look very much like a military dictatorship. A possible
sop to Arab opinion is that instead of Franks, the Arabic-speaking Lt
General John Abizaid, one of his deputies, might be appointed.

Under the military governor, US military commanders will be responsible for
securing their areas in the immediate aftermath of war - a role that may
leave the US open to accusations that it is trampling on civil rights.

The next stage calls for the rebuilding of political institutions and the
economy to begin. Exactly when will depend on whether or not the war comes
to a quick and clean end.

General Jay Garner, head of the Pentagon's new Office of Reconstruction and
Humanitarian Assistance, will become interim civilian administrator, and the
top posts in the Iraqi civil service will all be taken over by Americans.

The plan calls for dividing Iraq into three sectors, coinciding with the
three administrative areas of the old Ottoman empire: Mosul in the north,
Baghdad in the centre and Basra in the south. Each would be run by a
separate interim civil administrator. Under these would be a team of
American retired senior military officers, diplomats and aid workers.

The central sector that includes Baghdad would be administered by Barbara
Bodine, a former US ambassador to Yemen and a Middle East veteran. Her time
in the region has been full of incident.

During the last Gulf War she endured a 110-day Iraqi siege of the American
embassy, where she was deputy head of mission, when the embassy defied an
order from Saddam Hussein to close.

In 2001 Bodine was US ambassador in Yemen when al-Qaeda terrorists rammed an
explosives-laden boat into the US destroyer Cole, killing 17 sailors in the
port of Aden.

She even experienced a hijack when a plane on which she was travelling in
Yemen in 2001 was seized by a man who wanted to show his support for Saddam
by ordering the plane to fly to Baghdad. He was overpowered by the crew and
the plane landed safely.

Two retired US generals: FJ 'Buck' Walters and Bruce Moore, would be the
civil administrators in the northern and southern sectors.

One consolation, from the British government's point of view, is that the US
is keen to see this stage over as quickly as possible. The overriding motive
is Washington's need to switch world attention as quickly as possible to the
benefits that Iraq will see as a result of the invasion.

For the third stage, some form of interim Iraqi administration will be
installed as soon as possible. But again these arrangements are the subject
of extraordinarily overt disagreements between two Washington power centres
- the State Department and the Pentagon - with both sides leaking profusely
to the American media.

The Pentagon wants to hand over power to Iraqi exiles, including Kurdish
groups and Shia groups, which function under the umbrella of the Iraqi
National Congress (INC). The INC in turn wants a root and branch approach,
wiping out the Ba'ath party structures, demilitarisation, war crimes trials
and a truth commission. The State Department, under Colin Powell, and the
CIA - both considered more moderate influences within the Bush
administration - favour keeping Iraq's existing administrative structure.

That would mean removing Saddam but letting acceptable elements of the
Ba'ath party, the power base of the minority Sunni Arabs, stay in control.

The State Department wants to assuage the fears of other Arab regimes that
they could be destabilised if a radically-purged new Iraq were to rise up in
their midst.

The State Department also does not trust Ahmad Chalabi, a London-based
banker and head of the INC, who is the Pentagon's favourite to take over an
interim Iraqi administration.

The State Department has been having its own talks with Adnan Pachachi, a
former Iraqi foreign minister, as a possible leader who could bring together
exile groups and Iraqis who have remained in their home country.

The White House appears to have come down on the side of the State
Department, for now. But the Pentagon hawks, who have a powerful ally in
vice-president Dick Cheney, have not given up. Despite his reservations
Blair will have to go along with whatever is decided in Washington.

If all the above goes well there will be a vote for a new constitution, then
parliamentary elections, leading to Iraq becoming a full democracy.

But even the extreme optimists in the US Administration have not yet started
planning for that.

SwissInfo, 24th March

Switzerland's largest bank, UBS, has said it will transfer frozen Iraqi-held
deposits in the United States to US authorities.

UBS said the funds, blocked in 1990 under United Nations sanctions, had been
confiscated by the US Treasury and would be transferred to the US government

The confiscation is part of an order last week from the Treasury Department
to 17 banks in the US.

The total money involved, said to be about $1.74 billion (SFr2.41 billion)
without interest, comes from transactions between US oil firms and the Iraqi
state oil company, the UBS spokesman added.

He declined to reveal how much cash was involved in UBS's case but confirmed
it was likely to be in the millions of dollars.

The US has pledged to use most of the money for a fund earmarked for
rebuilding and providing humanitarian aid to the Iraqi population.

The Swiss foreign ministry on Friday reported that Washington had asked
Switzerland to freeze any bank accounts held by Iraq's President Saddam
Hussein and his associates.

There has been no official reply, but the Swiss finance minister said
earlier this month that there were no signs that Saddam Hussein had accounts
in the country.

"That statement is still valid. We have no indications that he had money in
Switzerland," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Livio Zanolari.

"But you can never rule anything out," he added.


by Emma Thomasson
Reuters, 19th March

BERLIN: President Bush and his allies are unlikely to face trial for war
crimes although many nations and legal experts say a strike on Iraq without
an explicit U.N. mandate breaches international law.

While judicial means to enforce international law are limited, the political
costs of a war that is perceived as illegal could be high for all concerned
and could set a dangerous precedent for other conflicts, lawyers say.

The U.N. Charter says: "All members shall refrain ... from the threat or use
of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any
state." It says force may only be used in self-defense or if approved by the
Security Council.

Many leading legal experts have rejected attempts by Washington and London
to justify a war with Iraq without a new resolution explicitly authorizing

"There is a danger that the ban on the use of force, which I see as one of
the most significant cultural achievements of the last century, will become
history again," said Michael Bothe, chairman of the German Society for
International Law.

Washington and London have argued that U.N. resolution 1441 passed
unanimously last year -- demanding Iraq disarm or face "serious
consequences" -- gives sufficient legal cover.

Amid criticism that 1441 does not explicitly authorize war, they have also
argued that military action is legitimized by two other resolutions passed
before and after the 1991 Gulf War, although Russia has fiercely rejected
this argument.

Bush has also said that a war would be a legitimate "pre-emptive" act of
self-defense against any future attack.

The U.N. Charter says self-defense is only justified "if an armed attack
occurs." When Israel tried to justify its 1981 strike on Iraq's Osirak
nuclear reactor as an act of pre-emptive self defense, the Security Council
unanimously condemned it.

Bothe said the attempt by Washington and its allies to justify an attack
showed the political power of international law despite the paucity of
formal legal devices to enforce it.

"There is unlikely to be a court case," he said. "Those responsible won't be
jailed but they can be made uncomfortable."

Most experts in international law say they are not convinced either by the
argument that military action against Iraq is authorized by earlier U.N.
resolutions nor that the U.N. Charter allows self-defense against a
perceived future threat.

Justice Richard Goldstone of South Africa's Constitutional Court, who was
the lead prosecutor in U.N. tribunals on the Rwanda genocide and killings in
the former Yugoslavia, said the United States risked undermining
international law.

"The implications are serious for the future of international law and the
credibility of the U.N., both being ignored by the most powerful nation in
the world," he said.

In theory, international law could be upheld in several ways, said Louise
Doswald-Beck, Secretary-General of the Geneva-based International Commission
of Jurists.

"Political leaders in due course could be taken to a national court for an
act of aggression," Doswald-Beck said.

Lawyers in the United States, Canada and Britain warned their governments in
January that they could be prosecuted for war crimes if military tactics
violated humanitarian law.

Alternatively, aggrieved states could take the United States and Britain to
international courts, complain to the Security Council, or to the U.N.
General Assembly, she said.

But Laetia Husson, a researcher at the International Law Center at the
Sorbonne university in Paris, said international action to declare a breach
of the U.N. Charter was unlikely.

"There is little chance of condemnation by the United Nations because they
will be paralyzed by the U.S. veto in the Security Council," she said.

Washington and Baghdad do not recognize the International Criminal Court
inaugurated last week and it has yet to define a crime of aggression. But it
could still try Britain and other U.S. allies that recognize it on any war
crimes charges.

Other legal experts say international law might have to adapt to take
account of new justifications for war such as the humanitarian concerns used
to legitimize the Kosovo campaign in 1999 that lacked U.N. support, but is
now questioned by few.

Writing in The Sydney Morning Herald, George Williams, an international law
expert at the University of New South Wales, and Devika Hovell, director of
the International Law Project, said setting a new legal precedent was
playing with fire.

"It may be that international law will adapt after the event to provide a
retrospective justification for war," they wrote.

"However, to enter a war based on this expectation sees us revert to the
'just war' theory. In doing so, we fall into precisely the trap the United
Nations was established to avoid.

"This decision to wage a just war is based upon an appeal to dangerously
subjective standards of morality and the belligerents' conviction that their
cause is right. After two world wars, the dangers of this approach are
obvious." (With additional reporting by reporters in Geneva, Amsterdam,
London, Paris, Johannesburg, Dubai, Beijing, Sydney)

by Ali Abunimah
Lebanon Daily Star, 25th March

When George W. Bush spoke to the United Nations on Sept. 12, 2002 and
threatened the world body with "irrelevance" if it did not grant him a
license to invade Iraq, he achieved the opposite. Rather than becoming
irrelevant, the UN proved that it could be the most important venue for
resolving international conflicts. Very quickly, and at the direction of the
Security Council, Hans Blix assembled an expert team that restarted weapons
inspections throughout Iraq. In the opinion of almost the entire world,
inspections were making significant progress toward Iraqi disarmament, even
if progress on some issues was not as rapid as desired. Nevertheless, the
shortcomings of the inspection process were considered infinitely preferable
to the shortcomings of the other proposed method, war.

In recent months, the UN Security Council took on a prominence unprecedented
since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. All of a sudden, the arcane and formal
proceedings of the council gathered worldwide television audiences who
followed each word and facial expression around the table.

If the council could not stop the United States from defying it and
attacking Iraq, it at least prevented the US from gaining legitimacy and
greater support for an unjust war. The absence of a Security Council
endorsement means that the United States and the United Kingdom are
effectively alone in their Iraqi adventure. That the United States would
name as members of its "coalition," such bastions of democracy and human
rights as Albania, Uzbekistan and Georgia, and be unable to declare publicly
the clandestine assistance of a small number of Arab governments whose
identities are well-known, only underscores its isolation. The UN,
therefore, proved that if it is not yet so, it can one day become a
counterweight to the unilateralism of any single member.

What undermines this is the weak and inconsistent leadership of UN
Secretary-General Kofi Annan. The statement he issued following the start of
the war contains no forthright criticism of an action that seen by most of
the world as an unlawful attack, a violation of the UN Charter and defiance
of the Security Council.

Rather than call for an immediate ceasefire, as he should have forcefully
done, Annan, in his March 20 statement, merely said, "Today, despite the
best efforts of the international community and the United Nations, war has
come to Iraq for the third time in a quarter of a century." It is as if war
were not the result of human decisions, but rather a bad spell of weather.

Underlining this passive approach, in which Annan transformed himself into a
mere commentator, he said, "My thoughts today are with the Iraqi people, who
face yet another ordeal. I hope that all parties will observe the
requirements of international humanitarian law, and will do everything in
their power to shield the civilian population from the grim consequences of

The one sure way to do that would be an immediate halt to US bombing - which
the United States has stated it is doing primarily for political and
psychological purposes, rather than to achieve necessary military

With such "diplomatic" phrasing, Annan avoided stating that, in fact, by
attacking Iraq the United States, the most powerful member of the United
Nations, had acted against international law and the expressed will of the
vast majority of the dozens of member states whose representatives spoke in
the extensive Security Council debates on Iraq.

Annan went on to add, "Perhaps if we had persevered a little longer, Iraq
could yet have been disarmed peacefully, or - if not - the world could have
taken action to solve this problem through a collective decision, endowing
it with greater legitimacy and therefore commanding wider support than is
now the case."

Annan had previously stated his view that without explicit Security Council
endorsement, the legality of a US attack on Iraq would be "seriously

Either the US attack on Iraq is legal or it is not legal. Annan has
studiously avoided taking a position, resorting instead to formulas that are
utterly devoid of content, but whose principal effect is to spare him
Washington's wrath.

Worse still, Annan pleads, "But let us not dwell on the divisions of the
past. Let us confront the realities of the present, however harsh, and look
for ways to forge stronger unity in the future."

Does Annan seriously believe that the start of the US attack on Iraq
suddenly renders irrelevant the fundamental issues raised by most of the
world, and articulated most forcefully by Russia, France and Germany? The
question of US unilateralism is not a minor dispute that can simply be swept
under the carpet, but one with profound consequences for the future of the
globe. Annan may be ready accept the "harsh reality" of the dangerous and
unilateral new US approach to the world, but clearly, courageous US
diplomats and British government ministers who resigned on principle,
millions of Americans and others still demonstrating all over the world, and
most other governments, are not quite ready to give in so easily.

A survey of Annan's statements in recent years indicates that there is
scarcely a minor skirmish or a major conflict anywhere in the world, in
which he has not openly called for a cease-fire or deplored in the strongest
terms the resort to violence. By failing to do the same in the case of Iraq,
Annan seems, in effect, to be acquiescing to, if not openly endorsing, the
US attack on Iraq specifically, and the dangerous new doctrine of preemptive
war more generally. Whatever successes the dedicated staff of the UN
Secretariat and agencies may be achieving around the world, it is in spite,
rather than because of, the weak leadership at the top.

Ali Abunimah is a Chicago-based Palestinian-Jordanian analyst and media
critic. He is the co-founder of the Electronic Intifada. He writes a regular
commentary for The Daily Star

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]