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News, 23-30/4/03 (1) NEW IRAQI ORDER * Marsh Arabs ambivalent about returning to their lost paradise * Garner enjoys burger and Cola at Saddam's palace * Iraqi exiles meet in Spain * Pentagon Sending a Team of Exiles to Help Run Iraq * Chalabi Hated Because of His Political Vision * Iraqi oil officials undertake planning, oil flowing * Iraq Delegates Agree to Meet In a Month * Chalabi: Iraq Agents Work at Al-Jazeera * Iraq's borders may be a work in progress * Bush Chooses Iraq Civilian Administrator AMERICAN (AND BRITISH) DREAMS (AND NIGHTMARES) * Puzzle pieces fit to reveal US fundamentalism * Using new ways to kill * Partners in imperialism * U.S. Military Will Leave Saudi Arabia This Year NEW IRAQI ORDER http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,943909,00.html * MARSH ARABS AMBIVALENT ABOUT RETURNING TO THEIR LOST PARADISE by Ewen MacAskill in Qurna The Guardian, 24th April Resting by the green river bank at Qurna, which was reputed to be the Garden of Eden, Qassim Khalaf voiced his sorrow at the paradise lost, the land of the marsh Arabs. "The marshes were a source of fish, reeds and birds," he said wistfully, adding: "There are no marshes left. The water has dried up." The riverside at Qurna is one of the few green and fertile places left in this part of southern Iraq. Elsewhere, the marshes have been reduced to parched earth, the result of environmental vandalism on a grand scale by Saddam Hussein designed to quell the rebellious marsh Arabs. He destroyed a 5,000-year-old way of life, killing or displacing most of the population of the marshes. Mr Khalaf, 35, a schoolteacher, described the destruction as vengeance by Saddam Hussien, a Sunni, for the Shia uprising against him after the 1991 Gulf war. "Saddam destroyed the marshes because we are Shia Muslim," he said. Like many other residents of Qurna, he predicts that, with Saddam gone, most of the displaced marsh Arabs will agitate to return. That will present the next Iraqi government with a dilemma. Iraqi experts say the challenge of returning water to the marshes is immense. Salah Bader, 32, a water engineer who lives in Qurna, is sceptical, but reluctantly admitted: "It is possible to put the water back: to close the barriers and let the water flow again. It would not be easy, but it could be done. It would be costly." Standing by Adam's Tree at Qurna, supposedly where Adam gave in to Eve's temptation, Mr Bader said that one of the biggest problems lay outside Iraq's borders. Turkey has dammed the Tigris, and it was taking so much water that the flow was not as strong as it used to be, he said. Even if Saddam's drainage system was reversed, there might not be enough water in the Tigris to flood the marshes again. Turkey's dam programme is internationally controversial, but the chance of a diplomatic with Ankara on water at this point looks remote. The land of the marsh Arabs covered more than 15,000 sq km (6,000 sq miles) around Qurna, where Iraq's two main rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, join, stretching from Basra in the south to Nassiriya in the west and Amara in the north. Its inhabitants had a unique lifestyle, living on floating islands made from reeds and in cathedral-like houses, also built from reeds. They were self-sustaining, living mainly on fish and birds. In a habitat which provided good cover, they sustained a long guerrilla campaign against Saddam, who took his revenge by digging a third river in 1991 to drain the marshes. The last of the big marshes disappeared in 1994. Human Rights Watch, in a report published in January, said the population had fallen from 250,000 to 40,000. Thousands had been killed, an estimated 40,000 fled as refugees to camps in Iran, and 100,000 were displaced to elsewhere in Iraq. Many can be found living in hovels by the roadsides of southern Iraq. At Dera, south of Qurna, there is a string of such homes, a few made from brick, but most from mud. One of the residents, Katem Muhsen, 23, a former army officer, was among the last to leave the marshes. He lived in Hammar, one of the two bigger marshes, until 1997, when he moved to Dera. "In Saddam's time all our rights were lost and he closed our marshes. Everything died. We are the lowest form of life in Iraq," he said. Signalling problems ahead for the next Iraqi government, Mr Muhsen said that many of the marsh Arabs wanted to return to their old lives. "If the water returns to the marshes, they would like to go. But not as it is." But it may be too late to recreate the old ways. Some of the marsh Arabs, like Mr Muhsen himself, have got used to a more modern existence and think even the squalor of Dera is preferable to the old ways. He will not return to the marshes. "I have got used to living here," he said. "We can reach the city and it is better, and we have roads and that is easier. "Here we have livestock. Some will go back and others will stay." http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_240037,0005.htm * GARNER ENJOYS BURGER AND COLA AT SADDAM'S PALACE Hindustani Times, from Reuters, 24th April Baghdad, April 24: Hamburgers, hot dogs and Coca Cola came to the backyard of Saddam Hussein's palace on Thursday as the new man in charge staked out his territory with an American-style barbecue. Retired US general Jay Garner, head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Aid, enjoyed a relaxing lunch in the once-gracious palace grounds as giant sculptures of Saddam's head looked on. Garner and his entourage, winding up a damage-assessment tour of Baghdad and the Kurdish-controlled north, munched on food cooked on two oversize grills set up among the rose gardens and orange orchards where Saddam once strolled. About 100 people attended the barbecue, which followed a meeting with Baghdad academics and community leaders where Garner urged Iraqis to get to work on rebuilding their country. The palace appears to have escaped major damage in the three-week war to oust Saddam, whose fate since American forces rolled into Baghdad two weeks ago remains a mystery. Asked if he was planning to set up his new headquarters in the palace, one of several presidential homes in the capital, Garner joked: "I rented this from Saddam." http://www.cnn.com/2003/WORLD/meast/04/26/sprj.nitop.spain.exiles.reut/index .html * IRAQI EXILES MEET IN SPAIN CNN, 26th April MADRID, Spain (Reuters) -- More than 100 Iraqis in exile from across the opposition political spectrum gathered in Madrid for a weekend of talks on the future democracy in Iraq. Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar and Foreign Minister Ana Palacio, firm supporters of the U.S.-led war to topple President Saddam Hussein, inaugurated the conference and offered support in the rebuilding of Iraq. Members of the long-exiled, pro-U.S. Iraqi National Congress, the Shi'ite Muslim party Al Dawa, the Iraqi Communist Party, Kurdish parties and other groups will take part in the meeting. U.S. administrator in Iraq Jay Garner has said the process of forming a government run by Iraqis would begin by the end of next week. Iraqi Communist Party leader Subhi Al Gumaily told Reuters he was optimistic about the conference outcome. Pre-war meetings of Iraqi opposition groups often ended in disagreement. "There are different approaches and different interests but we can talk to each other in a civilized way," Al Gumaily said. "It's about discussion and guaranteeing democracy." Spain raised its international profile by backing the United States in the war in Iraq and earlier this week Palacio signaled Spain might hold a Middle East peace conference. Madrid hosted historic U.S.-brokered talks in 1991, when Israel sat down for the first time with its Arab neighbors. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=68&ncid=716&e=18&u=/nyt/2003 0426/ts_nyt/pentagon_sending_a_team_of_exiles_to_help_run_iraq * PENTAGON SENDING A TEAM OF EXILES TO HELP RUN IRAQ by Douglas Jehl with Jane Perlez Yahoo, from The New York Times, 26th April WASHINGTON, April 25 The Pentagon has begun sending a team of Iraqi exiles to Baghdad to be part of a temporary American-led government there, senior administration officials said today. The exiles, most of whom are said by officials to have a background in administration, are supposed to take up positions at each of 23 Iraqi ministries, where they will work closely with American and British officials under Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who is serving as Iraq's day-to-day administrator. The group of technocrats was assembled two months ago and has been working from an office in suburban Virginia. >From Baghdad, General Garner has just begun to convene meetings of Iraqi notables to meet what senior administration officials described today as their longer-term goal of forming an interim Iraqi authority by the end of May faster than at first planned. But that process is proving fractious, with the largest group of Shiite Muslim exiles boycotting the talks so far and other exiles deeply suspicious of Ahmad Chalabi, the Iraqi National Congress official who is seen as a Pentagon favorite. As that effort unfolds, the task of the exiles, organized as an Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, will be to rebuild the structures of a government that would then be handed over to the new Iraqi authority, administration officials said. General Garner said on Thursday that an interim Iraqi authority would be in place next week, but other senior American officials, including Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, said the general's comments had been misinterpreted. A meeting of Iraqi notables is to be held in Baghdad on Monday, but American officials said the new goal agreed on at White House meetings this week for putting an interim Iraqi authority in place set the deadline as late May. A consensus within the administration favors "moving faster rather than slower," a senior administration official said, in part `'because we want to remove the appearance of this being an American operation." The team of Iraqi technocrats was selected by Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz but is officially employed by a defense contractor, SAIC, the officials said. The team is headed by Emad Dhia, an engineer who left Iraq 21 years ago and who will become the top Iraqi adviser to General Garner. As head of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, General Garner is functioning as Iraq's civil administrator. Victor Rostow, a Pentagon policy official who is serving as a liaison to the Iraqi team, said its task would be to help General Garner "turn over functioning ministries to the new Iraqi interim authority after a period of time." Among the 150 Iraqi exiles on the team, at least 10, including Mr. Dhia, left for Kuwait today on their way to Baghdad. By the end of next week, at least 25 are expected to be in Baghdad, including officials designated by the Pentagon to be in charge of the ministries of oil, planning and industry. Among those identified by Pentagon officials were Muhammad al-Hakim, who is to become the senior Iraqi at the Ministry of Planning and to supervise provincial affairs, and Muhammad Ali Zainy, an engineer and former senior official of Iraq's Ministry of Oil who is to become the senior Iraqi at that ministry. Mr. Dhia was chosen by Mr. Wolfowitz because of his role as the leader of a group called the Forum for Democracy in Iraq, whose members span the full spectrum of Iraq's Sunni and Shiite Muslims and Kurdish and Christian minorities, administration officials said. They said that members of that group played a leading role last year in a State Department project on the future of Iraq. Mr. Dhia, who is on a leave of absence from the Pfizer pharmaceutical company in Ann Arbor, Mich., worked with the Pentagon to select other members of the team, many of whom were drawn from his organization, the officials said. They include engineers, civil administrators and other professionals, some of whom served in Iraqi ministries in the 1970's and 1980's before fleeing the country, the officials said. In a telephone interview before he left for Kuwait today, Mr. Dhia described the team's mission as a huge task. "It's something we have always dreamed of," he said, "that we go back and we establish democracy in Iraq, and help our people recover from 34 years of brutal dictatorship." The officials said they did not have details of Mr. Hakim's background. They described Mr. Zainy as an American citizen whose previous work has included posts with the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries and with a London-based energy publication. Mr. Dhia and Mr. Rostow provided the names of just seven Iraqis among the team of exiles, some of whom are now citizens of the United States or European countries where they have made their homes in exile. Mr. Rostow said that only a handful had agreed to be identified by name. "Most of these people believe that if they are seen as agents of America, they will be killed," he said. By setting up office outside of the Pentagon, with telephone numbers and e-mail addresses that gave no hint of their government ties, he said, "they have gone to some lengths not to be seen that way." According to Mr. Rostow, other members of the Iraqi team who left for Baghdad today, with the offices to which they will be assigned, include: Sam Kareem, transportation and telecommunication; Sid Hakky, health; Muhyi al-Kateeb, foreign ministry; Ramsey Jiddou, industry; Khidhir Hamza, atomic energy; Adam Sheroza, youth ministry; and Ali Alzurufi, Najaf Province. General Garner's team is still taking shape. In his first week in Iraq, he has spent part of his time trying to sideline Iraqis who appointed themselves to positions of power, including Muhammad al-Zubeidi, the self-declared governor of Baghdad. But in the last few days, the administration has begun to make public the names of Americans who will fill senior roles on General Garner's staff, including Peter McPherson, a former banker who is now president of Michigan State University, and who the Treasury Department said today would function as the principal financial and economic policy adviser to the team. The end of May is now a target hand-over date, senior administration officials said, in part because the current United Nations arrangement allowing Iraq to export its oil and use proceeds to buy food is due to expire in early June. Among the permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, France, Russia and China have all made clear that want to see any future arrangement for oil exports in Iraqi hands, not American ones. "The idea is that you want to have a legitimate Iraqi interim authority in place because it makes all the issues move forward more quickly, including the pumping of oil," a State Department official said. A second State Department official involved in the process said today that it was possible, though not highly likely, that after Monday's gathering, a national conference would be called for May 2 and that that gathering would choose delegates for the interim Iraqi authority. According to State Department and Pentagon officials, Mr. Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, has argued that he should head the interim authority. But several senior officials said that was unlikely. At a Pentagon briefing today, Mr. Rumsfeld said that General Garner had clarified Thursday's statement during a secure video conference this morning with Mr. Bush. "What he was talking about was the fact that there was a meeting next week, the second of the series of meetings that very likely will proceed as a buildup to the establishment of an Iraqi interim authority," Mr. Rumsfeld said. The meeting that General Garner will head on Monday is to include about 100 Iraqis, about double the number at the last conference, held in Nasiriyah earlier this month. It will include representatives from the Kurdish groups, the Iraqi National Accord, and those who represent Mr. Chalabi. Two delegates will be sent by Adnan Pachachi, the foreign minister before Saddam Hussein took power in 1979. But representatives of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite group based in Iran, have said they will boycott the meeting because Iraqis should be in charge of inviting participants. That group is to take part in a meeting in Spain this weekend that includes most Iraqi political groups. In Baghdad today, General Garner was huddled inside the opulent Republican palace preparing for the conference. Some of his senior staff members former and current American ambassadors who are supposed to be reorganizing the ministries wandered the marbled halls of the palace looking for office space. They had no e-mail function, no way for outsiders to reach them by telephone. Several laughed when asked if they had cars and drivers to get them around the city. They are yet to receive interpreters. Two weeks after the end of the fighting, they seemed as ill-equipped as the Iraqis they had come to help. http://www.arabnews.com/Article.asp?ID=25539 * CHALABI HATED BECAUSE OF HIS POLITICAL VISION by Ali Al-Ridha Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 24th April "Chalabi is an American agent, and a master thief who is trying to sell-out Iraq," exclaimed an Egyptian enjoying a meal of Persian kebab and rice. "The people who were dancing after Saddam's statue fell were all Shiite, they don't love Saddam because he is Arab and they are Persian. Saddam is a good man," declared the Egyptian's Tunisian friend. The rest of the table's four occupants nodded in agreement and it was agreed that Iraq is the land of the Arabs, and that the Shiites must return to their "native" Iran, and the Kurds are a menace. I sat across from this group of North African Arabs, and wondered how many of my fellow Iraqi "Persian" Shiites would be able to understand this group's ethnocentric discussion conducted primarily in French. You see, unlike this group of North African Arabs, the "Persian" Shiites of Southern Iraq do not speak French; they prefer Arabic. To the casual bystander, the two statements quoted above might not seem related at all, but to those who are part of the Iraqi opposition, the statements above highlight the plight and very complexity of our struggle. Our struggle has not just been against our own dictator, it has also been against our fellow-Arabs and Muslims and their "sympathizers" in Washington. It is not surprising that some of Saddam's greatest supporters were non-Iraqi Arabs. For them, Saddam is the embodiment of a strong and defiant Arab standing tall in front of a bullying United States and Israel. It is easy for non-Iraqis to love Saddam and dismiss the Iraqi opposition as a gang of Persian and Kurdish thieves. Their leader, Saddam, is perfect, so those who oppose him must be corrupt and deceitful. Never does it occur to them that Saddam has killed more Arabs and Muslims than Israel and Sharon put together. It seems as if they are incapable of internal reflection. One by one, every nation of the world chose to skillfully forget the defiance of hundreds of thousands of martyred Iraqis. The Western allies quickly pointed out that it wasn't their mandate to take out Saddam in 1991, and the rest of the Arabs/Muslims shamefully declared that the 1991 uprising was an internal matter of Iraq. No one, neither Arab nor Muslim, cared while Iraqis wept alone in the dark silence of the desert. Where were the crowd-filled streets of Damascus, Cairo, Beirut, Amman, Rabat, Gaza, Ankara, Islamabad, and Jakarta when Saddam was butchering the people of Iraq? Was the scene of thousands of dead Iraqi Kurds clutching their dead infants and the slogan "La Shiite Ba'd Al Youm" (No more Shiite after today) painted on Iraqi tanks cruising by the rotting dead bodies of Iraqis that forgettable? Was that not gruesome and compelling enough? I painfully recall watching a Jordanian man cover his face, and an Egyptian weeping as the statue of Saddam came crashing down. I couldn't decide whether I should be happy or angry: Here I am, an Iraqi, witnessing the fall of my brutal oppressor and there are my Arab brothers weeping and hiding their face on our moment of triumph and victory. Would they have rather seen Iraq under the continued rule of a man who killed Iraqis for over three decades? Why? Are we, the people of Iraq, not their brothers anymore? The hypocrisy doesn't quite end here, but also includes the use of targeted and shameful character assassinations. In a recent interview with Larry King Live on CNN, Abu Dhabi TV's Jasim Al-Azzawi called Dr. Ahmed Chalabi a "felon and convict". It is almost as if Azzawi was pre-programmed to short-circuit once Chalabi's name was mentioned. He sounded more like the ex-Iraqi Information Minister Mohammed Saeed Al-Sahaf, than a journalist providing an insightful perspective. Does Azzawi even know the facts behind Petra Bank, or is he just ecstatic to hear something negative about one of Saddam's most vocal opponents? Does he know that the verdict was that of a pro-Saddam Jordanian Military Court, and was reached after just one day of examining the "merits" of the case? Hasn't Azzawi, in his career as a journalist, ever heard of political sabotage? Or is it that Azzawi, like Sahaf, thinks that his audience are a bunch of incompetent Arabs who just don't deserve to know the truth? Sahaf clearly thought so when he lied to the entire Arab world by proclaiming that the Americans were not even remotely close to Baghdad. It is categorically and conclusively wrong to prejudge Chalabi as being corrupt and a tool of the US. Such are the accusations of those who hate Chalabi, not of those who are objective and able to employ logic and reason in their perspectives. Chalabi is hated because he represents secular democracy and a staunch commitment toward political equality for all. To Chalabi's critics, anyone desiring political equality for all, and the rule of law is an enemy and an American puppet. They excel at functioning in political junkyards and are incompatible with change. After all, rallying around an 80-year- old sectarian Adnan Pachachi to be Iraq's next leader doesn't exactly qualify as appreciating change. Or is it because they think that the Arabs do not deserve political freedom and change? The Arab world desperately needs to change, it needs to accept and value its own people. The region is governed by many regimes that do not represent, listen to or have any regard for their own people. The region has become sharply divided between those who govern and those who are governed, the rich and the poor. This great internal divide is precisely what Chalabi wants to bridge. His vision, and that of many other Iraqi secular democrats, is about building an Iraq of the people for the people. His vision for Iraq rests on the rule of law, an independent judiciary, respect for human rights, equality for all before law and state, and the establishment of a transparent and pluralistic democracy. This vision should be welcomed as a breath of fresh air and an opportunity to bring about positive and lasting change. (The author is a member of the Iraqi National Congress.) RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 19, 26 April 2003 * IRAQI OIL OFFICIALS UNDERTAKE PLANNING, OIL FLOWING by Kathleen Ridolfo A number of senior Iraqi oil officials have been meeting regularly with U.S. military officials to discuss the reactivation of Iraq's oil refineries, "The Wall Street Journal" reported on 22 April. The officials are expected to later meet with senior U.S. officials, including retired U.S. oil executive Phillip J. Carroll, who has been appointed to lead a U.S. team of advisers that will facilitate the reactivation of Iraq's oil industry. According to "The Wall Street Journal," the Iraqi group includes eight ministry officials and top oil company executives and is reportedly being coordinated by Thamir Abbas Ghadhban, an Oil Ministry official from the Hussein regime. Ghadhban has said that the Daura refinery has been reactivated and is producing about half of its normal capacity of 100,000 barrels a day. Meanwhile, U.S. Colonel Michael Morrow, adviser to General Tommy Franks at CENTCOM, has said that oil coming from four wells in the Rumaylah oil field will be used for power generation and domestic consumption, Reuters reported on 23 April. "We're pumping much quicker than our six-week target," Morrow said, referring to an initial plan to reactivate the wells six to nine weeks from 6 April. "We had [a] first pumping of 50,000 barrels yesterday and repairs will continue until we hit our target of 800,000 [barrels per day]," Morrow said. In addition, output from wells in northern Iraq is expected to hit 800,000 barrels per day in two to six weeks from 21 April, according to Morrow. He added that the 140,000-barrel per day Basra refinery could be running in one week. He noted that many Iraqis had returned to work, including 400 employees of the South Oil Company. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/apr/28/042805786.html * IRAQ DELEGATES AGREE TO MEET IN A MONTH by Charles J. Hanley Las Vegas Sun, 28th April BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): An all-day meeting of U.S. administrators and delegates from Iraq's political factions agreed Monday to convene a larger conference within a month that will select an interim government for the war-torn nation. Zalmay Khalilzad, envoy to President Bush, said he hoped the meeting would take place within that period. "Hopefully we will have this national meeting which will select or elect this interim authority," Khalilzad said. The meeting was attended by 300 people from groups from inside and outside Iraq. It was the second such meeting to plant the seeds of a new Iraqi government. The first was held earlier this month in the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq. Shiite and Sunni Muslim clerics in robes, Kurds from the north, tribal chiefs in Arab headdresses and Westernized exiles in expensive suits came together for the conference. The meeting took place in the heart of the capital, in Saddam Hussein's convention center, three weeks after U.S. forces took Baghdad and sent Saddam packing - or possibly left him dead. Since then, members of opposition groups long banned under Saddam's regime have been streaming back to Baghdad, hoping to play a part in the process of forming a new leadership foundation. Clear differences among the delegates emerged on the United States' involvement, with exiles generally seeking a diminished role for Washington. [.....] The meeting in Baghdad coincided with Saddam's 66th birthday. For years, April 28 was a national holiday filled with official celebration and enforced adulation of the authoritarian leader, who was "unanimously" endorsed by voters over the years in unopposed "elections." After an opening reading from the Quran, the 250 delegates, including a few women, were welcomed by the U.S. civil administrator for Iraq. "Today, on the birthday of Saddam Hussein, let us start the democratic process for the children of Iraq," retired U.S. Lt. Gen. Jay Garner told the delegates. "We hope we can form a unified government, one that reflects the entire spectrum of Iraq," said Ahmad Jaber al-Awadi, a representative of the newly formed Iraqi Independent Democrats Movement. One prominent exile, Saad al-Bazzaz, said many delegates had discussed the possibility of a presidential council rather than naming a single leader for Iraq. "I'm not expecting one person as president. I'm expecting a presidential council" of three to six members, he said. "We have been discussing this, many of us." But many focused on the immediate need for security in a country where the ouster of the Saddam government three weeks ago touched off a rampage of looting, arson and general lawlessness. "The lack of security threatens our newborn democracy. Security must be restored for this experience to survive," Saadoun Dulaimi, a returned exiled politician, told fellow delegates. In a sign of new cooperation, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, an Iran based group of Shiite Muslim exiles, sent a low-level delegation to the Baghdad conference. The council had boycotted the first meeting on April 15, and high-ranking members refused to attend Monday's conference in protest of its U.S. sponsorship, said Hamid al-Bayati, a London spokesman for the group. Those from outside the country generally said only Iraqis should rule Iraq. "We are having healthy discussions between people inside Iraq and who were outside Iraq," said Mustapha Qazwin, a sheikh and doctor who lives in the United States. "This is a democratic process, and we are still debating the best route forward." Non-exiles generally want the Americans to have a direct role in the interim period to prepare for elections. "We are not ready to handle this yet," said Suheil al-Suheil, a Baghdad lawyer. "Saddam's orphans are still alive." Coming home after years abroad, Iraqis hugged and kissed as the gathering began. "In Baghdad?" one delegate asked another in disbelief. "Yes, in Baghdad," the other replied. In the streets, thousands of demonstrators marched through the sun-baked capital calling for unity of Shiite and Sunni Muslims, of Iraqi Arabs and Iraqi Kurds. But in a symptom of the disorganization and communications problems that have plagued the U.S. occupation, dozens of delegates couldn't reach the hall immediately. Instead, they drove in circles around traffic-choked central Baghdad, repeatedly blocked by Army checkpoints. The opening was delayed by two hours. On a downtown street, an Iraqi air force colonel, Hussein al-Khafaji, took note of how different Saddam's birthday was this year. "Whenever we had those elections for president, everyone voted for him 100 percent," he told a reporter. "And today nothing will happen, and this will prove that none of us liked him, not a one." On central Saddoun Street, a ragged man carried a placard aloft depicting Saddam with horns and a noose around his neck. "This is your birthday. Shame on you," it read. In southern Iraq, on the main road north out of Basra, about 50 marchers appeared bearing an effigy of Saddam fashioned from rags. As a crowd gathered, they threw the effigy to the ground, stomped on it and set it on fire. "No, no, Saddam. Yes, yes, Islam," shouted members of the group. [.....] NO URL * CHALABI: IRAQ AGENTS WORK AT AL-JAZEERA The Associated Press, 29th April DOHA, Qatar - Iraqi intelligence agents of Saddam Hussein's regime infiltrated the Arabic language news station Al-Jazeera television, the head of a major Iraqi opposition group claimed Tuesday. "Al-Jazeera is completely infiltrated by Iraqi intelligence," Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, said in an interview aired live by Abu Dhabi Television, an Al-Jazeera competitor. "We got the information from the files of Iraqi intelligence," Chalabi added. An employee for Al-Jazeera, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it was unlikely that the station would respond to Chalabi's allegations, adding, "Of course what he says is not true." Chalabi claimed the files also said Al-Jazeera wanted to buy a gift for someone who provided the station with two letters from terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden. The allegations were broadcast shortly after Al-Jazeera reported - incorrectly - that Chalabi had been arrested by U.S. troops for embezzlement. The U.S. Central Command in Doha, Qatar, said the report was untrue. Abu Dhabi Television said it sought the interview with Chalabi to talk about reports of his arrest. The station issued a disclaimer, saying that his views about Al-Jazeera were his own and not those of Abu Dhabi Television. http://www.nationalpost.com/commentary/story.html?id=23FE9168-500A-4B75-98BB 0EA97590F5C6 * IRAQ'S BORDERS MAY BE A WORK IN PROGRESS by George Jonas National Post, 30th April Now that the shooting war in Iraq is over, at least for the time being, we can start thinking about the long run -- the one of which Lord Keynes famously remarked that we will all be dead in. Still, the long run does permit us one luxury: When turning our eyes to distant horizons, we can do so without hypocrisy, and with all options on the table. It's easy to be sympathetic to the view -- voiced last week by U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, even if not in so many words -- that the coalition didn't fight a war to depose Saddam Hussein only to anoint some ayatollah in his place. The Bush administration has no wish to stand by while Iraqis substitute some hostile and hideous theocracy for Saddam's hostile and hideous secular regime. Nor did the coalition risk lives, billions of dollars and considerable political capital to throw Iraq into chaos and possible dissolution. Yet if the coalition is serious about one of its war aims, also voiced last week, namely that the people of Iraq must decide their own future, it doesn't really matter what future we envisaged for Iraq. Should Iraqis wish to substitute some ayatollah for Saddam, or rupture their fragile federation of ethnic and religious groups, we must remember that we fought a war, at least in part, to enable them to do so. The Bush administration's vision is of a free Arab society, a first in the Middle East, possibly sparking freedom and democracy throughout the region. Again, it's easy to sympathize. There's an attractive school of thought that puts its trust in the power of freedom. Recently Nathan Sharansky, once a well-known Soviet dissident, and now Israel's Minister of Diaspora Affairs, has given expression to it in the Jerusalem Post. Mr. Sharansky suggests that "realists" who used to promote détente because they couldn't believe that the march of freedom was inexorable and it would cause the Soviet empire to implode, now feel that Arabs aren't ready for democracy. "Promoting democracy among the Arabs," writes Mr. Sharansky, "is again cast as naive adventurism. The Arabs, we are told, have never lived under democracy. Their culture and religion, we are assured, are inimical to the idea of liberty. The realists dangle the 'pragmatic' alternatives before us: Cut a deal with 'friendly' dictators. They will fight terror. They will preserve order. They will make peace." Mr. Sharansky argues the so-called realists are wrong because "the overwhelming power of freedom" will prove as contagious in the Middle East as it was in the Soviet Union. "Iranians, Saudis, Syrians, Egyptians, Palestinians and all who live in fear will envy those who no longer do. And they will increasingly find the courage to stand up and say so." One certainly wishes for Mr. Sharansky's prediction to come true, but meanwhile thousand of Iraqis have been chanting "No to America, No to Saddam, Yes to Islam" during a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala. As Daniel Pipes pointed out in these pages this week, " 'Yes to Islam' in effect means 'Yes to Iranian-style militant Islam.' " Mr. Pipes reasons that, considering that democracy took six centuries to develop in England, we can't expect it to develop overnight in Iraq. For the interim, he recommends "a democratically-minded Iraqi strongman" to hold the country together and keep it from sliding into either anarchy or the lap of a theocratic tyrant. After all, strongmen such as Kemal Atatürk and Chang Kai-shek paved the way to democracy in Turkey and Taiwan. One can see Mr. Pipes's point as readily as Mr. Sharansky's. The fact is that when people are free to choose they often make wrong choices -- and some wrong choices preclude people from making the right choices later, at least not without another bloody conflict. What complicates matters further is that we seem committed to the unity of a country whose people may not wish to stay united. It may require a strongman just to prevent Iraq from splitting into its constituent Shia, Sunni and Kurdish pieces. The question is, what price unity? Why do we, or the Iraqis, benefit from maintaining -- possibly as forcefully as Saddam had to -- a national construct, artificially created in the 1920s under a different set of geopolitical circumstances? Why must we oppose, for instance, the emergence of a friendly, democratic Kurdistan, even if it may in time evolve into a Greater Kurdistan carved out of current Iraqi, Iranian, Syrian and Turkish territory? An obvious reason is not to upset friendly Turkey -- or even unfriendly Iran or Syria -- worried about their own Kurdish minorities. But more than our concern for regional stability, we've become so committed to multicultural ideals that we consider all other models of nationhood anathema. For this we're ready to prop up an artificial entity created 80 years ago that may need a tyrant to function. But what's sacrosanct about existing countries, in the Mideast or elsewhere, if they lack natural cohesion and need to be held together by force? Why spill blood in the 21st century to preserve an entity, such as Iraq, carved out of the Ottoman empire in the early 20th century, primarily for the former British empire's reasons of state? There would be nothing wrong, of course, with such a country, however it came about, if it had internal coherence and viability -- but if it can't breathe on its own, why put it on a respirator? I think our abhorrence of the ethnically (or religiously) based nation-state is a mistake. Worshipping "multiculturalism" as an overriding concept -- i.e., as the only legitimate way for a modern state to be organized -- is as erroneous as worshipping tribalism would be. History records many organizing principles. What works, works; what doesn't, doesn't. What's so big about a country that doesn't want to be one? War is focused, which is why the ancients coined their oft-quoted phrase about the law or the Muses falling silent during combat. The silenced Muses include Clio, the Muse of History -- but once the din of arms fades, Zeus's daughter begins to speak again. Admittedly, her voice is distant and it's all in Greek, but listening is worth the bother. We'll stumble blindly from war to war unless we decipher her oracles. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/ap/20030501/ap_on_re_mi_ea/ir aq_civilian_administrator_2 * BUSH CHOOSES IRAQ CIVILIAN ADMINISTRATOR by BARRY SCHWEID Yahoo, 30th April WASHINGTON (AP): The Bush administration has chosen L. Paul Bremer, a former head of the State Department's counterterrorism office, to become civilian administrator in Iraq and oversee the country's transition to democratic rule. Bremer's selection, disclosed Wednesday by a senior U.S. official, will put him in charge of a transition team that includes retired Army Lt. Gen. Jay Garner and Zalmay Khalilzad, the special White House envoy in the Persian Gulf region. Bremer left the State Department, where he was an assistant to former secretaries William P. Rogers and Henry Kissinger, to join Kissinger Associates, a consulting firm studded with both Democrats and Republicans that held top U.S. government posts. Currently, Bremer serves as chairman and chief executive of Marsh Crisis Consulting company. Overseeing the transition from rule by Saddam Hussein to Iraqi opponents of the deposed president is a tricky assignment in which the Bush administration is playing an aggressive role while also declaring it is up to a wide diversity of Iraqi groups to choose a new government. Newsweek first reported Bremer's selection on its Web site Wednesday. The report was confirmed by a senior U.S. official who declined otherwise to be identified. [.....] During a 23-year State Department career, Bremer served as special assistant or executive assistant to six secretaries of state. In 1999, Bremer was appointed chairman of the National Commission on Terrorism by House Speaker Dennis Hastert. AMERICAN (AND BRITISH) DREAMS (AND NIGHTMARES) http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/26_04_03_b.asp * Puzzle pieces fit to reveal US fundamentalism by Jamil Ali Hammoud Lebanon Daily Star, 23rd April Today, as the first aggression of the 21st century continues to unfold, there seems to be a consensus emerging among analysts, writers, journalists, observers and others interested in politics, foreign policy and international relations. The pieces of the puzzle, it looks like, are gradually fitting in place to give an image of an American administration religious in inspiration, ideological in orientation, dogmatic in speech and categorically simplistic in perspective of friend and foe. We may add that this image is beginning also to crystallize for segments of American society as evidenced by a tendency of reflection on and opposition to American foreign as well as domestic policy. Manifestations of this tendency may be seen in an anti-war movement which divided American society, editorials of well respected publications such as the New York Times and Newsweek, and the speech of some public officials such as Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California. By the way, I can't help but point out that this image is precisely the same I would use to describe bin Laden and Al-Qaeda. In other terms, the faces of fundamentalism may change but the essence remains the same: a claim to moral and cultural superiority, prejudgment of everything in terms of good and evil, divine mission to eradicate evil, and legitimacy of all means to arrive at the end. Yet, this is not our preoccupation at least not in this discussion. We are more interested in contemplating a question that seems to have escaped the observers or the overwhelming majority of them. If we treat our description of the current American administration as a given, we must ask the following question: How was a group of ideologues able to arrive at the helm of power and governance in a nation with long and well-established traditions of pragmatism, flexibility and diversity? Let's elaborate the context of this question. The historical experience of Western societies in terms of societal progress and evolution seems to suggest that once a society reaches a certain level of maturity, stability and rationalization, it will no longer have the appetite for extremism and radical change. Its tolerance will only accommodate slow, gradual and evolutionary processes of change that work their way out through a complex of bureaucratic institutions checked and balanced against each other. Stability in this sense is assured by a large and dominant middle class which is often referred to as the mainstream. Accordingly, the key to society's immunity system against extremism is a mainstream content with the present and hope about the future. So, how does all this relate to the main question of this discussion? It is fair and reasonable to assume that American society is mature and stable enough to have developed an effective self-defense mechanism against radical ideologies. In fact, we have, for long and correctly so, defined America as a pragmatic nation free from the burden of ideological thought which characterizes its grandmother Europe. But if this is all true, then the group of ideologues governing America should not have been able in the first place to reach the helm of power. Consequently, America's break away from its traditions begs for some explanation. The American mainstream had in the past repeatedly proved its immunity to extreme elements whether they came from the right or the left. On the left, leaders like Jesse Jackson and Ralph Nader continue to remain on the margin while they enjoy limited influence. As for the right, the same goes for figures like Pat Buchanon and David Duke. The presidency of Ronald Reagan stands out as an exception resulting from a broad reaction to a series of political and economic crises. In other words, Reagan made America feel good about itself again at a moment when it desperately needed to do so Yet even Reagan did not go as far as Bush and his group of ideologues are willing to go. If political and economic crises combined to pave the way toward governance for the ideologue in Reagan, a social stability crisis is in fact at the core of the conditions that made it possible for George W. Bush to lead America at the dawn of the 21st century. Yes, we dare suggest that the stability of American society is deceiving. On the surface, America goes the way it should go. But underneath it all, the nation hides several clashes, struggles and confrontations. This assertion should not be misunderstood as a subscription to the proposal of an "empire in decline." We don't believe that's the case. We suggest that America's main problem of instability is a serious gap between technology and social values, a distance between the openness of globalization and the traditionalism of a conservative society. It appears that technological progress and globalization have been too much and too fast for a society neither accustomed to nor able to absorb radical and revolutionary change. So in this sense, America is a victim of its own success. This explanation may sound surprising. Yet, it is the most plausible one. America made a rapid technological and economic transformation toward globalization during the 1990s with impressive performance in almost all economic indicators. Yet, social values, habits and traditions lagged behind. They did not evolve as fast for social change is always slow. The end result is a society threatened in its core values, a state of social insecurity. People outside the US usually have in mind a stereotype of the sophisticated and cosmopolitan resident of New York when they think of America. However, this resident is by no means representative of anything other than an elite easily "technologized" and "globalized." The average American is Joe Six Pack, the resident of Iowa or North Carolina. Joe Six Pack is generally conservative, geographically isolated from the rest of the world, economically hopeful of achieving the American dream of success and socially individualistic. To him, the news is half an hour of sound bites and the newspaper is the sports section. Faced with rapid globalization and revolutionary technological progress, Joe Six Pack who is accustomed to easing into change must have balked. Indeed, globalization is more than internet and finance. It is also reformulation of social values. In the sense of a famous American proverb, it is teaching an old dog news tricks. That's exactly what throws the average American into a state of turmoil and confusion. Turmoil, confusion, instability, sounds like a ripe environment for an ideologue to reclaim moral superiority, to preach the inner peace of basic values, to sing the virtues of good old days all be it to a modern melody, to resimplify things in terms of black and white, to make his way to the helm of power and governance. Jamil Ali Hammoud is a Paris-based economist and research analyst. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/commentary/2003/apr/24/514990062.h tml * USING NEW WAYS TO KILL by Mike O'Callaghan Las Vegas Sun, 24th April Mike O'Callaghan is the Las Vegas Sun executive editor. AMERICAN TROOPS LEARN QUICKLY and several bits of information have been gleaned from their experiences in Iraq. What they have learned on the ground in combat is rapidly being brought back home for basic training and military school use. Although our next war may be entirely different than Iraq, and that would be the case if we tangle with North Korea, all ground combat has some similarities and many differences. Remember World War I was trench warfare and World War II was fast and furious mechanized ground warfare with heavy air support. The last half of the following war in Korea was fought from trenches. Our troops in Iraq are now familiar with suicide bombers and car bombs. There is good reason to believe these tactics may become even more prevalent during the coming weeks and months. Car bombs have been a weapon in Iraq and the entire Middle East for many years. I can recall their use by Saddam's agents in northern Iraq when I was with the Kurds in 1992. The suicide bombings have been developed into a fine art by the Palestinians during the past three years. Last year this tactic had progressed to the point where even women joined their ranks. Israeli schoolchildren, teenagers, family and religious gatherings and shoppers have all felt the pain of these killers. So what's next on the list of terrorist groups in the Middle East and eventually around the world? We already had a preview of some of their plans last November in Mombasa, Kenya. That's when terrorists launched two Soviet SA-7 shoulder-fired missiles in an attempt to bring down an Israeli Boeing 757 charter jet loaded with vacationers. This was a close but failed attempt to bring down the aircraft. What didn't fail was the car bomb exploded minutes before in the nearby Paradise Hotel where 13 people were killed and dozens were seriously injured. Our world is loaded with deadly weapons now in the hands of terrorists. U.S. News & World Report magazine in a recent article tells readers: "A thriving black market for some 700,000 surface-to-air missiles has made it relatively cheap for terrorist groups, including al Qaeda and Hezbollah, to stockpile the weapons. The United States has contributed marginally to the supply of missiles, having sold more than 900 U.S.-made Stingers to Afghan militias fighting the Soviets between 1979 and 1988." In Iraq, American troops are scrambling to retrieve even more weapons and explosives before they reach the terrorists through the black market. The weapons are extremely valuable and some are only seized after a firefight with Saddam's supporters. Large numbers of the SA-7 anti-aircraft weapons are scattered in arsenals all over Iraq. One of our military units has picked up and destroyed almost 300 tons of weapons the terrorists want and will purchase. What is amazing is that a civilian airline tragedy, resulting from a plane being hit by shoulder-fired missiles, hasn't happened. At least we haven't had such an attack being given credit for any downed airliner. However, we know for certain that plans have been made for such a strike. Last November, before the attempt to down the Israeli aircraft in Kenya, the Jerusalem Report magazine did reveal some important information. "A few months ago, three Baghdad-trained Palestinian terrorists were caught trying to cross the border through Jordan: they were reportedly planning to fire shoulder-held anti-aircraft missiles at planes leaving or landing at Ben-Gurion Airport," reported the magazine. We do know that other attempts have been made, but sharp intelligence agencies have stopped them before they succeeded in shooting down a civilian passenger airliner. Actually shooting down scheduled aircraft is made easier because of known times of departure and landing. For this very reason, Israel's El Al planes do change schedules unannounced publicly. We have come to understand that some of the El Al planes already have systems to identify and deflect missiles. Because of the expense for such systems, the U.S. government and commercial airlines are debating who should pay for their installation. This debate will only end when a commercial airliner is shot from the sky by a shoulder-fired weapon. One constant in today's world is that terrorists will continue to seek out and use the most efficient weapons to, indiscriminately, kill the maximum number of people. http://flonnet.com/fl2009/stories/20030509000605800.htm * PARTNERS IN IMPERIALISM by Mark Curtis Frontline, 28th April An adapted extract from Mark Curtis' new book, Web of Deceit: Britain's Real Role in the World, published by Vintage, London [.....] U.S. advisers have also been sent to Nepal to aid the government defeat an insurgency by Maoist guerillas who declared a "people's war" in 1996. Britain is also providing helicopters, communications equipment and training in setting up a "military intelligence support group" with the Nepalese Army. British aid is in effect covert, bypassing parliamentary scrutiny and using an obscure government "global conflict prevention" fund. London's support comes during a massive increase in violence by the Army, with widespread torture, "disappearances", the suspension of civil rights, the censorship of newspapers and arrests of hundreds of people without trial. Most killings have been perpetrated by government forces. Nepal government figures show that from 1996 to 2002, 3,290 rebels were killed by government forces while 1,360 police and army personnel and civilians were killed by the rebels. The root of the insurgency is the failure of successive Nepalese governments to alleviate the grinding poverty of the country's rural population and to introduce land reforms, long demanded by the poor. These factors explain the Maoists' popular support in many rural areas. The British government argues that the Nepal government's struggle should be seen as part of the wider "war against terrorism"; at the same time, London admits there is no evidence linking the Maoists to Al Qaeda or any other external terrorist group. As in the Cold War, no evidence is required to support elite assertions. U.S. leaders now say that "our best defence is a good offence" and speak of "destroying the threat before it reaches our borders". The U.S. will continue to develop "long-range precision strike capabilities and transformed manoeuvre and expeditionary forces". The U.S. strategy is "to project military power over long distances" with forces "capable of insertion far from traditional ports and air bases". U.S. forces need to be able "to impose the will of the United States and its coalition partners on any adversaries", including by "occupation of foreign territory until U.S. strategic objectives are met". The U.S. "targeted killings" of six "Al Qaeda suspects" in Yemen by an unmanned Central Intelligence Agency plane and a new NATO rapid response force that would operate without the permission of the host nation, are part of the same imperial strategy. The junior partner's forces have also been quietly reconfigured from an ostensibly defensive role to an overtly offensive one. With no major threats to the homeland, Britain now has a "new focus on expeditionary warfare", an all-party parliamentary Defence Committee comments approvingly. This emphasis on power projection overseas was occurring well before September 11 and was already the major feature of the government's "strategic defence review" (SDR), concluded in 1998. September 11 has made an overt focus on military intervention overseas - a key feature of Blair's outlaw state - easier to justify. Indeed, Britain is ahead of the U.S. when it comes to acting "pre-emptively". The SDR stated that "in the post-Cold War world, we must be prepared to go to the crisis, rather than have the crisis come to us". "Long-range air attack" will continue to be important "as an integral part of war fighting and as a coercive instrument to support political objectives". This "coercive instrument" is the modern version of imperial "gunboat diplomacy", a polite way of saying that Britain will issue military threats to countries failing to do what we (probably really meaning the U.S.) want. Foreign Office Minister Denis MacShane similarly said in 2002 that "foreign policy and military capability go hand in hand" so that it "reinforces what our Ambassador says". The use of force to back up "what our Ambassador says" is surely a strategy that Saddam Hussein (or Hitler) would well understand. It would be interesting to see the reaction of planners and commentators if, say, Iran were to announce that in future its foreign policy were to be backed up by "military capability". British aircraft carriers "can also offer a coercive presence which may forestall the need for war fighting", according to the SDR. "All ten attack submarines will . . . be equipped to fire Tomahawk land attack missiles to increase their utility in force projection operations". Tomahawk cruise missiles entered service in 1998, representing "a major step forward in capability, enabling precision attacks to be undertaken at long range against selected targets, with a minimal risk to our own forces", former Defence Minister John Spellar explained. The SDR goes on to outline the "new generation of military equipment" that will be needed for this enhanced power projection, including attack helicopters, long-range precision munitions, digitised command and control systems, a new generation of aircraft carriers, submarines and escorts, the Euro-fighter multi-role warplane and the development of a successor to the Tornado bomber. Note that this is all before September 11. By then, Blair's military interventionism had already been quite extraordinary. Post-September 11, a Foreign Office minister refers to "an effective doctrine of early warning and where necessary early intervention". The parliamentary Committee notes that "we must... be free to deploy significant forces overseas rapidly", and calls for "pre-emptive military action". Similar to the U.S. view, almost all areas of the world could be the focus of British intervention. The committee states that: "The implications of an open-ended war on terrorism - particularly one that will address the problems of collapsing and failed states which create the political space for terror and crime networks to operate - suggest that operations in central Asia, East Africa, perhaps the Indian subcontinent and elsewhere, will become necessary as part of an integrated political and military strategy to address terrorism and the basis on which it flourishes." In similar vein, Blair's envoy Robert Cooper argues for "a new kind of imperialism, one acceptable to a world of human rights and cosmopolitan values" which "aims to bring order and organisation". It should be directed principally at "failed states", countries where governments no longer have the monopoly on the use of force, or where this risk is high. Examples include Chechnya, other areas of the former Soviet Union, all of the world's major drug-producing areas, "upcountry Burma", some parts of South America, and all of Africa. "No area of the world is without its dangerous cases", Cooper states. There is also a key role for nuclear weapons. Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon has stated that Britain should be prepared to use nuclear weapons even against non-nuclear states, and if British forces were attacked with chemical or biological weapons. Britain also continues to refuse to adopt a "no first use" pledge on nuclear weapons, Labour quietly dropping this previous manifesto commitment after the 1997 general elections. The Blair government apparently sees nuclear forces as war fighting weapons, not simply as a deterrent, as the myth has it. The Trident nuclear system has a "sub-strategic" role, meaning it is intended for use on the battlefield as well as to deter all-out nuclear war. Malcolm Rifkind, Defence Secretary in the Margaret Thatcher government of the 1980s, asserted that because the threat of an all-out nuclear assault might not be "credible", it was important to "undertake a more limited nuclear strike" to deliver "an unmistakeable message of our willingness to defend our vital interests to the utmost". The Blair government similarly says that "the credibility of deterrence... depends on retaining the option for a limited nuclear strike". Geoff Hoon said in March 2002 that "I am absolutely confident, in the right conditions, we would be willing to use our nuclear weapons". He publicly repeated Britain's willingness to use nuclear weapons three times in one month in early 2002. The British government even says in the SDR that nuclear weapons are to deter "any threat to our vital interests". Such "vital interests" include not only Britain's survival but its international trade and dependence on "foreign countries for supplies of raw materials, including oil". Britain keeps one nuclear submarine on patrol at all times, with 48 nuclear warheads. This is called the "minimum necessary" to provide for Britain's "security". It is an argument that anyone - perhaps Saddam Hussein - might use to acquire nuclear weapons, in fact with a better reason, given a greater likelihood of being attacked. Britain has no intention whatsoever of abolishing its nuclear weapons, even though nuclear weapons states are required to move towards disarmament under the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty. While paying lip service to this treaty, Britain is actively defying it. In late 1998, a draft resolution was under discussion at the U.N., called "Towards a nuclear weapons free world: The need for a new agenda". The government said that "we oppose the current draft of this resolution... since it is inconsistent with maintaining a credible nuclear deterrent". Meanwhile, it says it wants Trident to remain in service for 30 years, and that "we intend to... design and produce a successor to Trident should this prove necessary". And it is also developing a new generation of "mini-nukes" in a massive Ł2 billion project. We live in dangerous times, and would be wise to see such dangers as emanating from political elites on both sides, not just one, of the Atlantic. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A56859-2003Apr29.html * U.S. MILITARY WILL LEAVE SAUDI ARABIA THIS YEAR by Vernon Loeb Washington Post, 30th April PRINCE SULTAN AIR BASE, Saudi Arabia, April 29 -- Having removed the government of Saddam Hussein from Iraq, the U.S. military will end operations in Saudi Arabia later this year, freeing the kingdom of a major political problem caused by the visible presence of U.S. forces in the land of Islam's two holiest shrines, defense officials announced today. Shutting down U.S. flights from Prince Sultan air base and moving the U.S. Combined Air Operations Center from here to nearby Qatar mark the beginning of what Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld has described as a major realignment of U.S. military forces, not only in the Persian Gulf, but also in Europe and the Far East. Meeting this morning with service members here inside a giant aircraft hangar, Rumsfeld said he is attempting "to refashion and rebalance those arrangements so that we're organized for the future." Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO's top commander, is reviewing U.S. military installations in Germany with an eye toward moving at least some of them to new NATO members in Eastern Europe. "NATO is a different place now, and the center of gravity has in fact shifted from where it was when it was a relatively small organization of 15 countries to a much larger organization of some 26 countries," Rumsfeld told the troops here. NATO has 19 members and seven more countries have been invited to join. The Pentagon is also considering reductions in the 38,000 military personnel stationed in South Korea and moving those that remain away from the Demilitarized Zone with North Korea. And in Central Asia, Rumsfeld and Gen. Tommy R. Franks, head of the U.S. Central Command, must decide what to do with bases in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan that were opened in 2001 and 2002 to support the war in Afghanistan. But the Persian Gulf seems to be the most immediate candidate for change. A month ago, at the height of the Iraq war, 10,000 U.S. military personnel and 200 fighters, tankers and surveillance aircraft were based at Prince Sultan, a sprawling, 250-square-mile compound in the flat Saudi desert 70 miles southeast of Riyadh, the capital. Even before the war, U.S. warplanes flew from here to patrol the no-fly zone over southern Iraq. Since 1992, the U.S. Air Force has flown 286,000 such sorties, straining budgets, aircraft and personnel. U.S. planes patrolling a second no-fly zone, over northern Iraq, were based at Incirlik air base in Turkey. The Air Force also plans to withdraw most of those planes, U.S. officials said, after basing them at Incirlik since 1991 to fly patrols designed to protect Iraq's Kurdish minority in a 17,000-square-mile autonomous zone in the northeastern corner of the country. "Needless to say, the Saudis here have been enormously hospitable to us," Rumsfeld said today. "Now that the Iraqi regime has changed, we're able to discontinue [patrolling the no fly zones] and those forces will be able to be moved to other assignments and other requirements around the world." The withdrawal began in earnest Monday when all functions at a high-tech operations center here used to command the air war over Iraq were transferred to a similar facility at Al Udeid air base in Qatar. All aircraft and virtually all military personnel will be gone from this base by the end of the summer, although infrastructure to reactivate the operations center will be left in place, according to Rear Adm. Dave Nichols, the air war's deputy commander. In addition, two small training missions will remain in the kingdom. Rumsfeld, on a tour of the Persian Gulf region, and Prince Sultan, Saudi Arabia's defense minister, said the transfer of forces from Saudi Arabia was mutually agreed on. The two countries will continue close military relations, they stressed, particularly training and joint exercises. Since the fall of Hussein has done away with the need for U.S. aircraft to patrol the southern no-fly zone, Sultan said at a joint news conference with Rumsfeld after talks at his palace in Riyadh, "there is obviously no need for them to remain. This does not mean, having said that, that we requested them to move from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia." Saudi Arabia's royal family, which regards custody of the shrines at Mecca and Medina as a sacred mission, long has been uneasy at the visible U.S. presence, which is resented by many Saudis and other Arabs as intrusion on holy soil. The basing of U.S. troops here has been denounced repeatedly by Osama bin Laden, a Saudi, who has demanded their withdrawal since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf War. While Saudi Arabia balked at assuming the same high-profile role in the latest Iraq war that it did in the 1991 Gulf War, the royal family quietly agreed in February to virtually every U.S. request for military and logistical support, including use of the operations center here and the staging of Special Operations forces from bases in the country. Saudi Arabia also boosted oil production before the war to help stabilize world oil prices. Despite this cooperation, the Saudis remained highly sensitive about the presence of U.S. military forces in the kingdom, both before and during the war in Iraq, which was unpopular among the Saudi people. A senior defense official said the decision to leave Saudi Arabia was made in part to help relieve internal political pressure on the royal family. But the official stressed that neither U.S. nor Saudi defense officials have any interest in terminating close military relations. "The Saudis will be happy when we leave," the U.S. official said. "But they're concerned that it not look as if it's precipitous, because it will look like bin Laden won." The Pentagon, for its part, will be freed from a burden associated with patrolling the southern no-fly zone to protect Iraq's Shiite population and prevent Hussein's government from threatening its southern neighbors. During the Iraq war, air missions were flown from 38 bases, stretching from Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean to Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, home of the B-2 stealth bombers, which flew half of their sorties over Iraq directly from the United States. A dozen of those bases in the region were quickly built specifically for the war. But a year or two from now, the Pentagon expects to have far fewer bases in the region, depending upon the requirements for supporting continuing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. For the foreseeable future, the U.S. military presence in the region will remain high, with 135,000 military personnel now in Iraq. Some inside and outside the Pentagon, including Gen. Eric K. Shinseki, the Army's chief of staff, believe stability operations could require several hundred thousand U.S. and allied forces for some time. But Rumsfeld and his deputy, Paul D. Wolfowitz, have said they believe the mission will require far fewer troops. Rumsfeld said in an interview Monday on al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite television network, that he has no intention of establishing permanent military bases inside Iraq. But the U.S. military is currently using Baghdad's airport and five other military airfields to support stability operations and deliver humanitarian supplies. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk