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, 11-18/6/03 (2)

News, 11-18/6/03 (2)


*  Aid agencies reject money due to strings
*  Iraq: Water and sanitation
* Routine immunization of children re-established across Iraq


*  US seeks more time beyond the law
*  How to Stop America
*  US plays aid card to fix war crimes exemption
*  War crime vote fuels US anger at Europe
*  US turns to the Taliban
*  The Iron Handshake


*  Iraqi oil chief freezes oil agreement with Jordan
*  Bahraini banks say agreement necessary on unpaid Iraqi debt before new
investment can be made
*  Iraqis in Iran: Unwelcome at home, unwanted abroad
*  American-Arab free trade area


Oregonian url:

by Richard Read
The Oregonian (Portland), 6th June

Two major American aid organizations are refusing U.S. government money
aimed at building democracy in Iraq because federal officials want to limit
their freedom to speak openly about their programs.

Mercy Corps and Save the Children are objecting to conditions imposed by
agreements for $7 million each with the U.S. Agency for International
Development. Negotiations between the organizations and the federal agency

A copy of the disputed clause obtained by The Oregonian says that U.S. AID
must approve and coordinate all contact with the news media, in Washington,
D.C., or overseas, including interviews. While at least two humanitarian
organizations have signed the agreements, Mercy Corps and Save the Children
staff members say they don't want to sacrifice their independence.

"I actually worked for 24 years for AID, and I don't recall ever seeing
anything like that," said Ann Van Dusen,executive vice president of Save the
Children, a large aid organization based in Westport, Conn. "It's an
unfortunate move, and I'm hoping that AID will rethink it."

The controversy comes as AID publicly promotes citizen participation in Iraq
and the creation of open, pluralistic news media there. It exposes an
unusual split between the U.S. government's main aid agency and the
humanitarian organizations that depend on its funding.

Others step back The disagreement occurs after leaders of three other major
U.S. humanitarian organizations decided not to apply for the AID grants,
describing the Iraq reconstruction effort as chaotic. Managers of the
International Rescue Committee, Care and World Vision objected to working
under the military, to promoting democracy in a place that first requires
basic services and to aiding Iraq when other countries need help more.

Top executives of Mercy Corps, the Portland-based humanitarian organization,
are in Amman, Jordan, continuing negotiations with AID, which planned the
meeting to divide assignments among five grant recipients. The Iraq
Community Action Program grants are designed to involve Iraqi citizens of
diverse backgrounds in grass-roots community development projects.

Ellen Yount, AID press office director, defends the agency's restrictions on
media contact as routine. She said officials merely intended to coordinate
with grant recipients for a consistent message to the American public. She
said she wanted to know in advance about news stories on AID projects.

"I didn't realize it caused this much heartburn," Yount said.

An AID press officer deferred requests for a copy of the proposed agreement
with Mercy Corps for five days. He said Thursday that officials decided to
require reporters to request it under the Freedom of Information Act. The
Oregonian obtained the clause concerning the media from a source outside AID
and Mercy Corps.

Revised language On Thursday, Yount released new contract language she said
was under discussion with Mercy Corps. It said: "Contact with the news
media, in the U.S. or overseas, shall be notified to and coordinated with"
AID press officers.

A Mercy Corps spokeswoman said the proposed agreement includes multiple
sticking points, but declined to comment on them. A spokesperson for
Cooperative Housing Foundation International, one of the organizations that
signed the agreement, declined any comment.

"According to our contract," the Housing Foundation spokesperson said, "all
press calls must go through U.S. AID."


US Agency for International Development (USAID), 11th June

Brief Overview:

A Recent UNICEF and CARE water and sanitation monitoring program in 14
governorates in Central and Southern Iraq found that out of 177 water
treatment plants, 19% were classified as good, 55% acceptable, and 26% poor.
Many of the water and sewage treatment plants were in poor states of
operation prior to hostilities. In the Northern governorates, in general,
potable water supply and sanitation systems are operating at greater
capacity than in the central and southern areas of the country.


Repairs on main water network are underway, but are often constrained by
lack of security.

Many of the water and sewage treatment plants are dependent on electricity
for their normal operations. Some back-up generators exist but many of these
systems are plagued by the lack of spare parts and normal maintenance,
vandalism, and lack of fuel.

Generally there is a lack of trained and available manpower to operate the
treatment plants on a regular basis, etc.

Solid waste collection and disposal is hampered by a lack of a trucking
fleet and excavators.

Water quality and the treatment of sewage remain primary concerns for the
long term rehabilitation efforts.


1. USAID grantee UNICEF has established a water and sanitation coordinating
working group that has been attended by USAID officials, other United
Nations groups, NGOs, and Bechtel.

2. Strengthening evaluations are being undertaken in Basrah at several of
the water treatment plants to determine the present quality of the drinking

3. With USAID funding, CARE has undertaken emergency water rehabilitation in
Qaim and Ar Rutbah in the Al Anbar governorate, benefiting 80,000 persons.

4. With USAID funding, Save the Children has provided two submersible pumps
to facilitate maintenance of main pumps at the Wafal Qaed water treatment
and pumping station in collaboration with UNICEF. Approximately 500,000
persons will benefit from these activities. Save the Children is also
reviewing 78 primary health care facilities in the Al Basrah governorate and
will supply some of these centers with piped water and sanitation

5. Bechtel has prepared preliminary estimates of repairing water treatment
plants in eastern Baghdad that would increase treated water by 45%.

6. Bechtel is developing rehabilitation plans for 8 potable water treatment
facilities in the Basrah region and rehabilitating 6 waste water treatment
plants in south central Iraq.

7. Through USAID funding, UNICEF has purchased chlorine gas, bleaching
powder, chlorinators, water purification tablets, and aluminum sulphate.

8. Numerous hospital and public health clinic potable water and sanitation
systems have been repaired by the NGO community through USAID funding.

9. Millions of liters of potable water have been provided by water trucks to
the Iraqi population over the past two months.

10. City water authorities (for example, the Baghdad Water Authority and the
Al Basrah Water Authority) have been engaged by USAID's partners to assess
current water and sewage systems and provide information and input to plans
for rehabilitating municipal systems.

Credit for providing emergency and relief potable water to the population is
due to UNICEF and other United Nations Organizations, International NGOs,
USAID, Kuwaiti government, and local water authority staff.

UNICEF press statement, 16th June

BAGHDAD, 16 June 2003 -- With support from UNICEF, the Iraqi Ministry of
Health has begun the process of immunizing the country's 4.2 million
children under the age of five against preventable diseases such as polio,
tetanus, diphtheria, pertussis, measles and tuberculosis. The World Health
Organization is also contributing to the reactivation of the Iraq's Expanded
Programme of Immunization by re-establishing the country's vital disease
surveillance system.

According to UNICEF, no child in Iraq has been routinely immunized since the
start of military action on 20 March 2003.

"In the past three months, approximately 210,000 children have been born in
Iraq," said Carel de Rooy, UNICEF's Representative in Iraq. "Not one of
these children has been vaccinated against the myriad of deadly and
debilitating diseases young children are susceptible to."

"Parents know how important these immunizations are to their newborn and
young children. An infant's immune system is very fragile and vulnerable to
contracting disease without these vaccines, and given the current conditions
in the country, children are at greater risk than ever if they are not
vaccinated right away," added de Rooy.

With the fall of the former regime came the breakdown of much of Iraq's
health system. The Ministry of Health stopped functioning, communication
between the capital and the governorates became impossible and vital
services like routine immunization collapsed leaving children vulnerable to

The war also affected the country's store of vaccines. The country's
vaccines were kept in a building at the Vaccine and Serum Institute of
Baghdad. The institute was struck by missiles during the war and all
electricity to the store room was cut.

"When the electricity went down, the cold chain system for preserving
vaccines was rendered useless," said de Rooy. "More damage was caused when
looters tore apart wiring, compressors and circuit boards at the institute
making immediate emergency repairs to the cold chain impossible. In the end,
all vaccine stocks were spoiled and had to be destroyed," he added.

To overcome this situation, UNICEF has been bringing millions of doses of
vaccines into Iraq to restart the country's routine immunization programme
in partnership with the reactivated Ministry of Health. The 25 million doses
of vaccines were purchased through a $3.2 million grant from USAID.

UNICEF has also been working with health officials to repair Iraq's cold
chain system so that the vaccines that are brought in can be properly
stored. The $1.85 million rehabilitation project was covered by funds from
DFID (United Kingdom).

"UNICEF and the Ministry of Health have been focusing our health initiatives
on re establishing the country's routine immunization system. It is our main
priority for protecting the health of Iraqi children," said de Rooy. "The
size and importance of this endeavour can not be underestimated, and we are
extremely pleased that immunization will begin across Iraq today."

With support from UNICEF and WHO, Iraq has been certified polio-free,
measles has been brought under control, and maternal and neonatal tetanus

However, according to UNICEF all of these gains would be lost if routine
immunization were not restarted quickly. The re-emergence of polio in Iraq
would also risk transmission to neighbouring countries, thereby threatening
the region.

For further information on UNICEF, visit its website at


by Jim Lobe
Asia Times, 11th June

WASHINGTON - The United Nations Security Council is coming under pressure to
reject Washington's upcoming request to exempt all its soldiers and
officials from the jurisdiction of the new body for a second straight year.

The administration of President George W Bush says that it needs more time
to negotiate bilateral agreements with more countries around the world that
would bar them from surrendering US nationals to the International Criminal
Court (ICC), set up under the 1998 Rome Statute to investigate and prosecute
individuals for genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity.

So far, 37 countries have reportedly signed such agreements, although only a
handful have ratified them. The most important include Romania, Israel,
India, Egypt and the Philippines; most of the rest are small, poor countries
that are heavily dependent on external aid, including US military

"The [UN] resolution is an attempt to satisfy domestic political ideology
and legislation, and it is another attempt by the United States to
subordinate a multilateral institution to US power," said William Pace,
convener of Coalition for the ICC. "It is vital that governments have an
open meeting and continue to express their principled objection to misuse of
the [UN] charter and the Security Council and the violation of the Rome
Statute," he said.

The Coalition, human rights groups and Washington's North Atlantic Treaty
Organization allies have strongly resisted the administration's efforts -
through both the Security Council and bilateral negotiations with weaker
nations - to gain exemptions for its military and officials, arguing that
they will undermine the ICC itself, as well as international law in general.
The court started work in The Hague in the Netherlands last July.

Last year, Washington asked the Security Council to approve a complete,
indefinite exemption from the court's jurisdiction for US nationals, and
even threatened to veto the renewal of UN peacekeeping operations in Bosnia
and elsewhere if it did not get its way. But the other council members,
particularly those associated with the European Union, refused to go along.

After two weeks of intense and often bitter negotiations, the two sides
compromised by approving a resolution that granted an exemption of one year
for all individuals from countries that had not ratified the Rome Statute.
While former president Bill Clinton signed the statute in the last days of
his term, he did not refer it to the Senate for ratification and the Bush
administration formally renounced his signature in May 2002.

Washington has argued that the ICC, which is likely to hear its first case
early next year, gives too much discretion to prosecutors, who may bring
cases against US officials for political reasons. With some 150,000 US
troops deployed in Iraq, another 9,000 in Afghanistan, and tens of thousands
more in scores of countries across Eurasia and in and around the Gulf, it is
worried that it will become a prime target for politicized prosecutions. But
rights groups and European governments, including Britain, say that these
fears are greatly exaggerated.

"The US experts know that there is practically no justification for the
Security Council exemptions and the likelihood that a US peacekeeping
soldier would come under the jurisdiction of the court is almost zero," said

Washington now hopes to extend the Security Council's exemption for yet
another year. Last week, US ambassador to the UN, John Negroponte, told
Associated Press that the US would like "a technical extension ... of the
resolution. It's very straightforward," he said. "We wouldn't introduce any
substantive changes into the resolution we adopted last year by unanimity in
the council, and we would assume - certainly hope - that this would receive
overwhelming support."

But opponents are expected to lobby council members to reject any extension.
Richard Dicker of the New York-based Human Rights Watch warned that simply
approving the extension would "increase the chance of its becoming a
permanent fixture". The rights groups and government backers of the ICC have
argued that the Security Council lacks the legal authority to grant
exemptions because the UN charter does not grant it power to amend an
international treaty.

They want an open debate on the issue, and early indications are that
council members Germany and Mexico will press for one. Of the 15 members of
the council, only the US, China and Pakistan have not signed the statute.
The other 12 have either signed or ratified it. Canada, a major champion of
the ICC, is also expected to request an open debate that would include
non-Security Council members like itself. Last year, Ottawa led a move by
several dozen countries to publicly condemn US effort to seek exemptions for
its citizens.

Washington wants a vote before July 1, when last year's resolution formally
expires. Before then, Washington is also expected to step up its efforts to
gain new bilateral agreements, in part because under a law passed by
Congress last year, countries that ratify the statute will be banned from
receiving US military aid unless the president waives those sanctions before
July 1.

For example, Bush is expected to press visiting Prime Minister Thaksin
Shinawatra of Thailand this week on signing such a bilateral accord, despite
recent US criticism of his government for serious rights abuses, including
the summary execution of suspected drug traffickers.

This provision of the so-called American Service Members Protection Act is
likely to hit poor countries hardest, according to Pace's group, which
represents dozens of human rights groups around the world. It is only one of
several controversial provisions in the act, including another that
authorizes the president to deploy military force to free any US citizen in
the ICC's custody.

Representatives of many countries have complained that Washington's campaign
against the ICC and its efforts to exempt US nationals from its jurisdiction
is yet another illustration of the unilateralist trajectory on which the
Bush administration has taken US foreign policy. They have warned that the
US attitude toward the ICC only increases resentment abroad and makes
Washington vulnerable to charges of hypocrisy about the rule of law.

by George Monbiot
New Statesman, 9th June

Presidents Roosevelt and Truman were smart operators. They knew that the
hegemony of the United States could not be sustained without the active
compliance of other nations. So they set out, before and after the end of
the Second World War, to design a global political system which permitted
the other powers to believe that they were part of the governing project.

When Franklin Roosevelt negotiated the charter of the United Nations, he
demanded that the United States should have the power to block any decisions
the UN sought to make. But he also permitted the other victors of the war
and their foremost allies - the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, China and
France - to wield the same veto.

After Harry Dexter White, Roosevelt's negotiator at the Bretton Woods talks
in 1944, had imposed on the world two bodies, the International Monetary
Fund and the World Bank, whose underlying purpose was to sustain the
financial power of US, he appeased the other powerful nations by granting
them a substantial share of the vote. Rather less publicly, he ensured that
both institutions required an 85% majority to pass major resolutions, and
that the US would cast 17% of the votes in the IMF, and 18% of the votes in
the World Bank.

Harry Truman struggled to install a global trade regime which would permit
the continuing growth of the US economy without alienating the nations upon
whom that growth depended. He tried to persuade Congress to approve an
International Trade Organisation which allowed less developed countries to
protect their infant industries, transferred technology to poorer nations
and prevented corporations from forming global monopolies. Congress blocked
it. But, until the crisis in Seattle in 1999, , when the poor nations were
forced to reject the outrageous proposals inserted by the US and the
European Union, successive administrations seemed to understand the need to
allow the leaders of other countries at least to pretend to their people
that they were helping to set the global trade rules.

The system designed in the 1940s, whose ultimate objective was to ensure
that the United States remained the pre-eminent global power, appeared,
until very recently, to be unchallengeable. There was no constitutional
means of restraining the US: it could veto any attempt to cancel its veto.
Yet this system was not sufficiently offensive to other powerful governments
to force them to confront it. They knew that there was less to be lost by
accepting their small share of power and supporting the status quo than by
upsetting it and bringing down the wrath of the superpower. It seemed, until
March 2003, that we were stuck with US hegemony.

But the men who govern the United States today are greedy. They cannot
understand why they should grant concessions to anyone. They want unmediated
global power, and they want it now. To obtain it, they are prepared to
destroy the institutions whose purpose was to sustain their dominion. They
have challenged the payments the United States must make to the IMF and the
World Bank. They have threatened the survival of the World Trade
Organisation, by imposing tariffs on steel and granting massive new
subsidies to corporate farmers. And, to prosecute a war whose overriding
purpose was to stamp their authority upon the world, they have crippled the
United Nations. Much has been written over the past few weeks about how much
smarter George Bush is than we permitted ourselves to believe. But it is
clear that his administration has none of the refined understanding of the
mechanics of power that the founders of the existing world order possessed.
In no respect has he made this more evident than in his assault upon the
United States's principal instrument of international power: the Security

By going to war without the council's authorisation, and against the wishes
of three of its permanent members and most of its temporary members, Bush's
administration appears to have ceased even to pretend to play by the rules.
As a result, the Security Council may have lost both its residual authority
and its power of restraint. This leaves the leaders of other nations with
just two options.

The first is to accept that the global security system has broken down and
that disputes between nations will in future be resolved by means of
bilateral diplomacy, backed by force of arms. This means, in other words,
direct global governance by the United States. The influence of its allies -
the collateral against which Tony Blair has mortgaged his reputation - will
be exposed as illusory. It will do precisely as it pleases, however much
this undermines foreign governments. These governments will find this
dispensation ever harder to sell to their own people, especially as US
interests come to conflict directly with their own. They will also be aware
that a system of direct global governance will tend towards war rather than
towards peace.

The second option is to tear up the UN's constitution, override the US veto
and seek to build a new global security system, against the wishes of the
hegemon. This approach was unthinkable just four months ago. It may be
irresistible today.

There are, of course, recent precedents. In approving the Kyoto protocol on
climate change and the International Criminal Court, other nations, weighing
the costs of a world crudely governed by the United States against the costs
of insubordination, have defied the superpower, to establish a global system
in which it plays no part. Building a new global security system without the
involvement of the US is a far more dangerous project, but there may be no
real alternative. None of us should be surprised if we were to discover that
Russia, France and China have already begun, quietly, to discuss it.

Of course, one of the dangers attendant on the construction of any system is
that it comes to reflect the interests of its founders. There has, perhaps,
never been a better time to consider what a system based upon justice and
democracy might look like, and then, having decided how it might work in
theory, to press the rebellious governments for its implementation.

There is no question that the existing arrangement stinks. It's not just
that the five permanent members of the Security Council can override the
will of all the other nations; the General Assembly itself has no greater
claim to legitimacy than the House of Lords. Many of the member states are
not themselves democracies. Even those governments which have come to power
by means of election seldom canvas the opinion of their citizens before
deciding how to cast their vote in international assemblies.

It is also riddled with rotten boroughs. Many of the citizens of the United
States recognise that there is something wrong with a system in which the
500,000 people of Wyoming can elect the same number of representatives to
the Senate as the 35 million of California. Yet, in the UN General Assembly,
the 10,000 people of the Pacific island of Tuvalu possess the same
representation as the one billion people of India. Their per capita vote, in
other words, is weighted 100,000-fold.


by Ian Traynor in Zagreb
The Guardian, 12th June

The US is turning up the heat on the countries of the Balkans and eastern
Europe to secure war crimes immunity deals for Americans and exemptions from
the year-old international criminal court.

In an exercise in brute diplomacy which is causing more acute friction with
the European Union following the rows over Iraq, the US administration is
threatening to cut off tens of millions of dollars in aid to the countries
of the Balkans unless they reach bilateral agreements with the US on the ICC
by the end of this month.

The American campaign, which is having mixed results, is creating bitterness
and cynicism in the countries being intimidated, particularly in the
successor states of former Yugoslavia which perpetrated and suffered the
worst war crimes seen in Europe since the Nazis. They are all under intense
international pressure, not least from the Americans, to cooperate with the
war crimes tribunal for former Yugoslavia in the Hague.

"Blatant hypocrisy," said Human Rights Watch in New York on Tuesday of the
US policy towards former Yugoslavia.

Threatened with the loss of $73m (£44m) in US aid, Bosnia signed the
exemption deal last week just as Slovenia rejected American pressure and cut
off negotiations.

Of all the peoples of former Yugoslavia, the Bosnians suffered the most
grievously in the wars of the 1990s, from the siege of Sarajevo to the
slaughter of Srebrenica.

The Bosnians signed reluctantly, feeling they had no choice. Former
Yugoslavia is particularly central to the US campaign to exempt Americans
from the scope of the ICC because there are US troops in Bosnia and Kosovo.

Washington is vehemently opposed to the permanent international criminal
court, arguing that US soldiers, officials and citizens will be targeted for
political reasons, an argument dismissed by the court's supporters, who
point out that safeguards have been built into the rules governing the
court's operations.

Under President Bill Clinton, Washington signed the treaty establishing the
court. But the US did not ratify the treaty and Mr Bush rescinded Mr
Clinton's signature.

While the Slovenes have said no to the Americans, probably forfeiting $4m in
US aid, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia are now being pressed to join the 39
other countries worldwide with which Washington has sealed bilateral pacts
granting Americans immunity from war crimes.

"While the United States rightly insists that the former Yugoslav republics
must fully cooperate with the [Hague tribunal], it is turning the screws on
the very same states not to cooperate with the ICC," said Human Rights

Croatia is sitting on the fence, refusing to accept what the prime minister,
Ivica Racan, dubbed "an ultimatum", but still hoping to reach a compromise
with the US. The American ambassador in Zagreb published a letter in the
Zagreb press last week warning that Croatia would lose $19m in US military
aid if it did not capitulate by July 1.

In Serbia, too, where the issue of war crimes is explo sive, the US pressure
is being attacked as a ruthless display of double standards.

The EU has sent letters to all the countries in the region advising them to
resist the US demands and indicating that surrender will harm their
ambitions of joining the EU.

Regional leaders are waiting to see what kind of offers or promises this
month's EU summit in Greece makes to the region before deciding on their
stance towards the ICC. One idea being floated is that the EU could make up
the lost US aid money in return for Balkan refusal to toe the American line.

Although the eight east European countries joining the EU next year are
expected to follow the Brussels policy and reject the US demands, the Poles
in particular are also being pressed to reach an immunity deal with

Sources in Warsaw say that the US state department has made several requests
in recent weeks for a deal by July 1. Poland is the biggest American ally in
the region but has not yielded to the US requests.,3604,974891,00.html

by Gary Younge in New York and Ian Black in Brussels
The Guardian, 12th June

The US has bitterly attacked European leaders for trying to stop the UN
security council voting tomorrow to renew America's exemption from
prosecution by the new war crimes tribunal.

The Bush administration has accused the EU of "actively undermining"
American efforts to protect its peacekeepers from prosecution by the
international criminal court, which was set up to try cases of genocide, war
crimes and systematic human rights abuses.

A note written by a US official says Europe's objections "will undercut all
our efforts to repair and rebuild the transatlantic relationship just as we
are taking a turn for the better after a number of difficult months",
according to the Washington Post. "We are dismayed that the European Union
would actively seek to undermine US efforts."

The row began in April when the EU issued a letter to prospective members
urging them not to sign up to bilateral agreements with other countries
granting them broad immunity from prosecution.

The US, which was seeking such agreements with many eastern European
countries, regarded the letter as hostile.

EU officials insisted that they had a right to enforce union policy with
candidate countries and denied any hostility towards the US. "The Americans
see this as a campaign against them, but it's just a question of how we see
things," said one.

Under an agreement reached last year, American peacekeepers are exempt from
trial or arrest by the ICC because Washington fears the court could be used
for frivolous or politically motivated prosecutions of its troops.

The agreement, which is backed by the EU, is up for renewal tomorrow at the
security council. Despite opposition from Germany and France, the resolution
extending the exemption will be adopted, as there is little stomach for
another bruising row with the Bush administration, although it is not clear
whether some countries will use their veto.

Last year's vote was 15-0 after the US threatened to veto UN peacekeeping
missions, one by one.

America is said to have been threatening some Balkan countries with a
withdrawal of aid if they do not sign bilateral deals. Last month Albania
became the third European country, after Romania and Georgia, to sign a

Now Macedonia, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia and Montenegro have been told to
follow suit or lose US aid and support.

The US has so far signed agreements with 37 countries worldwide.

Defending the union's appeal to eastern Europeans, an EU diplomat said: "You
can hardly describe this as heavy-handed pressure. Unlike the Americans, we
have not threatened to disrupt funding."

In response to pressure from Washington, Spain was seeking last night to
persuade fellow EU members to tone down attempts to prevent bilateral
agreements being signed.

"The European Union is asserting the principles they have adopted and urging
those states that want to join the EU to keep those principles in mind,"
Richard Dicker of the New-York based advocacy group Human Rights Watch told
the Washington Post.

"It's the US putting those governments that have ratified the treaty between
a rock and a hard place."

Jose Maria Aznar, the Spanish prime minister, was one of President Bush's
strongest supporters during the Iraq war. Britain and Italy have also been
seeking to avoid a new row before the EU-US summit this month.

"There are a number of member states who are very keen not to antagonise the
US on this issue and want a softer line," an EU official said.

by Syed Saleem Shahzad
Asia Times, 13th June

KARACHI - Such is the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan,
compounded by the return to the country of a large number of former Afghan
communist refugees, that United States and Pakistani intelligence officials
have met with Taliban leaders in an effort to devise a political solution to
prevent the country from being further ripped apart.

According to a Pakistani jihadi leader who played a role in setting up the
communication, the meeting took place recently between representatives of
Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), the US Federal Bureau of
Investigation and Taliban leaders at the Pakistan Air Force base of
Samungli, near Quetta.

The source told Asia Times Online that four conditions were put to the
Taliban before any form of reconciliation can take place that could
potentially lead to them having a role in the Kabul government, whose
present authority is in essence limited to the capital:

‹ Mullah Omar must be removed as supreme leader of the Taliban.

‹ All Pakistani, Arab and other foreign fighters currently engaged in
operations against international troops in Afghanistan must be thrown out of
the country.

‹ Any US or allied soldiers held captive must be released.

‹ Afghans currently living abroad, notably in the United States and England,
must be given a part in the government - through being allowed to contest
elections - even though many do not even speak their mother tongue, such as
Dari or Pashtu.

Apparently, the Taliban refused the first condition point blank, but showed
some flexibility on the other terms. As such, this first preliminary contact
made little headway. It is not known whether there will be further meetings,
but given the fact that the reason for staging the talks in the first place
remains unchanged, more contact can be expected.

The channels for the contact have been set up by Taliban who defected when
the government collapsed in Kabul, and fled to Pakistan, where they were
sheltered in ISI safe houses. Now these defectors, working with Pakistani
jihadis who know how to approach the Taliban leadership, are acting as

The backdrop to the first meeting is an ever-increasing escalation in the
guerrilla war being waged against foreign troops in Afghanistan. Small
hit-and-run attacks are a daily feature in most parts of the country, while
face-to-face skirmishes are common in the former Taliban stronghold around
Kandahar in the south.

According to people familiar with Afghan resistance movements, the one that
has emerged over the past year and a half since the fall of the Taliban is
about four times as strong as the movement that opposed Soviet invaders for
nearly a decade starting in 1979.

The key reason for this is that the previous Taliban government - which is
dispersed almost intact in the country after capitulating to advancing
Northern Alliance forces without a fight - is backed by the most powerful
force in Afghanistan: clerics and religious students.

For centuries, these people were the most respected segment of Afghan
society, and before 1979 they never participated in politics. On the
contrary, their role was one of reconciliation in conflicts. During the
Afghan resistance movement against the USSR, things changed, and clerics
threw their weight behind the mujahideen struggle, but, with a few
exceptions, such as Maulana Yunus Khalis, they were not in command.

With the withdrawal of the Soviets and the emergence of the Taliban in the
early 1990s, though, the situation once again changed. The Taliban, taking
advantage of the power struggles among bitterly divided militias in Kabul,
consolidated themselves into an effective political movement led by clerics
and in 1996 seized power in Kabul. A part of their success also lay in the
fact that initially Afghans, especially Pashtuns who make up the majority of
the country, were reluctant to take up the gun against clerics.

Now, in the renewed guerrilla war against foreign troops, it is the clerics
who are calling the shots. For instance, Hafiz Rahim is the most respected
cleric in the Kandahar region, and he commands all military operations from
the sanctuary of the mountainous terrain.

The US forces have employed maximum air support and advanced technology in
an attempt to curtail attacks, but without the help of local Afghan forces
they are unable to track down Hafiz Rahim, who to date has targeted US
convoys scores of times. The United States has admitted a few deaths, while
the Taliban claim they have killed many more than the official numbers
state. For funds, the Taliban use money looted from the central bank before
they abandoned Kabul, estimated in excess of US$110 million, in addition to
money received from Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda.

At the same time, famed warlord Gulbbudin Hekmatyar has joined the
resistance after returning from exile in Iran. His Hezb-i-Islami Afghanistan
(HIA) is the most organized force in Afghanistan, and its participation has
added real muscle to the resistance. Many top slots in the Kabul
administration are occupied by former HIA members who, although they were
once anti-Taliban, are loyal to the Islamic cause and anti-US. Also, several
provincial governors and top officials are former HIA commanders. They are
suspect in the eyes of the Americans, but because of their huge political
clout it is impossible to remove them.

With this groundswell of support - even if in places it is only passive -
and with Kabul's influence restricted to the capital, the Americans and
their allies will remain vulnerable targets, let alone be in a position to
restore any form of law and order. It is in situations like this, argue most
experts on Afghanistan, that traditionally insurrections begin in the Afghan
army against foreign administrators.

This is not the end of the problems. More than 2 million Afghan refugees,
according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, have
returned to Afghanistan from countries all over the world, including India,
Russia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Zimbabwe and Central Asian countries. Many of
them belonged to communist factions during and after the Soviet invasion,
while a number of their counterparts remained and now hold positions in

At present, Kabul is divided into two main factions. The first is pro-US,
which is represented by the US and allied troops and those loyal to
President Hamid Karzai. The second is pro-Russian and pro-Iranian,
represented by Defense Minister General Qasim Fahim and his Northern
Alliance forces. Although the camps are cooperating at present, they are
silently building their support bases to make a grab for full power once the
present interim administration runs its course, a process that is due to
begin in October with a loya jirga (grand council).

In this respect, every returned or returning former "communist comrade" is
important, for should the Northern Alliance faction develop sufficient
critical mass, it would come as no surprise if its leaders openly forged an
alliance with the resistance movement.


Human Rights Watch, Revised, June 2003

What does the Belgian anti-atrocity law provide ?

The 1993 law, amended in 1999 and again in 2003, gives Belgian courts the
authority to prosecute persons accused of genocide, crimes against humanity
or war crimes regardless of where the crimes took place or whether the
suspect or the victims are Belgian. Amendments adopted in April 2003 create
"filters" that limit the ability of victims to directly file cases with no
connection to Belgium and also authorize the government to refer certain
cases to other countries.

What is the legal basis for this law?

The Belgian law puts into practice the international law principle of
"universal jurisdiction" which holds that every state has an interest in
bringing to justice the perpetrators of particular crimes of international
concern, no matter where the crime was committed, and regardless of the
nationality of the perpetrators or their victims. A principal reason why
international law provides for universal jurisdiction is to ensure that
there is no "safe haven" for those responsible for the most serious crimes.

Why is this law important?

Prosecutions based on universal jurisdiction are an essential part of the
emerging system of international justice. They help to break down the wall
of immunity with which tyrants and torturers protect themselves in their own

Who may file complaints under the Belgian law?

The state prosecutor may present charges to a court. In addition, as in most
French-inspired civil law countries, in Belgium victims have the right to
file criminal complaints directly before an investigating judge (juge
d'instruction). However, amendments to the law adopted in 2003 limit the
right of victims to file complaints directly to cases in which there is some
link between Belgium and the crime (see below).

Which other countries have universal jurisdiction laws?

The United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment, ratified by 132 countries, obliges states
to prosecute -- or to extradite for prosecution -- persons on their
territory accused of torture, no matter where the torture was committed.
Similarly, the Geneva Conventions, ratified by almost all countries,
prescribe that states parties must search for persons alleged to have
committed grave breaches of the Geneva Conventions (that is, war crimes),
and bring such persons, regardless of their nationality, before their own
courts. According to a study by Amnesty International, most states have
given their courts universal jurisdiction over at least some crimes (Amnesty
International, Universal jurisdiction: The duty of states to enact and
implement legislation, In addition to
universal jurisdiction, many countries, such as France, give their courts
competence to investigate and even try a crime committed abroad against one
of their nationals (the "passive personality" basis of jurisdiction) whether
or not the suspect is in the country.

Until recently, Belgium was one of the rare countries (together with Spain)
which had a practice of undertaking investigations into charges of
atrocities committed abroad even when none of its citizens was a victim and
the suspect was not in the country. In the last two years, however, a number
of countries, such as Australia, Germany, New Zealand and South Africa, have
amended their laws, after joining the International Criminal Court (ICC), to
provide for the opening of investigations without any such nexus

What cases have been tried under the Belgian law?

There has been only one trial thus far. Four Rwandans were convicted in June
2001 by a Belgian jury on charges of involvement in the 1994 genocide in
their country. Most observers considered the trial exemplary.

What are some other recent prosecutions under universal jurisdiction?

Following the genocides in the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, a number of
European countries, including Austria, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and
Switzerland, brought alleged perpetrators to trial on the basis of universal
jurisdiction. A Danish prosecutor on November 19, 2002 initiated an
investigation of Nizar al-Khazraji, former chief of staff of Iraq's armed
forces, for his suspected involvement in war crimes perpetrated in Iraq
against Kurdish civilians during the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war. The classic
recent case of an attempted universal jurisdiction prosecution was Spain's
indictment of Gen. Augusto Pinochet. Spain charged Pinochet for crimes
committed mostly in Chile and mostly against Chileans and then sought to
obtain his presence for trial via extradition from Great Britain. (Belgium
also indicted Pinochet and also sought his extradition to stand trial, as
did France and Switzerland).

Who has been sued under the Belgian law?

Cases have been filed in Belgium against Mauritanian President Maaouya ould
Sid'Ahmed Taya, then-Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Israeli Prime Minister
Ariel Sharon, Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo, Rwandan President Paul
Kagame, Cuban President Fidel Castro, Central African Republic President
Ange-Felix Patassé, Republic of Congo President Denis Sassou Nguesso,
Palestinian Authority President Yassir Arafat, former Chadian President
Hissène Habré, former Chilean President Gen. Augusto Pinochet, former
Iranian president Hashemi Rafsanjani, former Moroccan interior minister
Driss Basri, former Foreign Minister Abdoulaye Yerodia Ndombasi of the
Democratic Republic of the Congo, among others. Many of these cases have not
been actively pursued, however, and a recent rulings on state immunity bar
states from prosecuting certain sitting foreign officials. The cases against
Gbagbo, Yerodia Ndombasi and Sharon have been dismissed.

How did the 2003 amendments change the Belgian law?

The April 2003 amendments to the Belgian anti-atrocity law limit the ability
of victims to file complaints directly and grant the Belgian government the
power to transfer some cases out of Belgium. They also contain provisions
designed to harmonize the Belgian law with the Rome Statute of the ICC and
international law on immunity.

Victims can now file suits directly only if there is a link between the
crime and Belgium. Such a link exists if the suspect is on Belgian soil, if
the crime took place in Belgium, or if the victim is Belgian or has lived in
Belgium for at least three years. If this link does not exist, cases may now
only be brought by the state prosecutor. However, the prosecutor must go
forward with a case presented by victims unless one of four criteria is met:
the complaint is manifestly without merit; the complaint does not allege a
violation of the anti-atrocity law; the complaint does not fall within the
competence of the Belgian courts; or, in the "interests of justice" and
respect for Belgium's international obligations, the case should be
transferred to another court, so long as that jurisdiction upholds the right
to a fair trial. The victims may appeal the prosecutor's decision not to
move forward.

In addition, the Belgian government can now step in to send many cases
elsewhere. One amendment allows the Belgian government to refer pending
cases to the accused's home state or the state in which the accused is
present if that state upholds the right to a fair trial. If that state does
in fact take the case up, then the Belgian courts will dismiss the case.
Another amendment provides that if the victim is not Belgian, the government
can transfer the case to the accused's home state, so long as that state
upholds the right to a fair trial and has laws that criminalize the grave
human rights violations covered by the Belgian law. (For cases filed before
the 2003 amendments, the government must first seek the non-binding advice
of an appeals court regarding the four criteria described above.) The case
is then dismissed even if the other state decides not to act on the
complaint. This provision is very controversial because it allows the
government to interfere with pending cases and opens the door to political
and diplomatic negotiations over every case that is filed.

Finally, the amendments allow for cooperation between Belgian courts and the
newly established ICC and align the Belgian definitions of crimes with those
in the ICC statute. They also recognize state immunity to the extent
established by international law.

What about the case against Tommy Franks?

In May 2003, Iraqi victims alleging U.S. war crimes filed charges with the
state prosecutor against U.S. Gen. Tommy Franks and other military
officials. Before the prosecutor made a final decision as to whether to
press charges, the Belgian government announced that, under the new
amendments, it was referring the case to the United States. The victims are
seeking to appeal this decision.

What happened to the case against Ariel Sharon?

In the case brought against Ariel Sharon, former Israeli General Amos Yaron
and others for their alleged role in the 1982 Sabra and Shatilla massacres,
the Belgian Court of Cassation, ruling in February 2003, dismissed the
charges against Sharon pursuant to principles of customary international law
regarding immunity for sitting heads of government, but held that the case
could go forward against Yaron. In June 2003, an appeals court rejected the
defense's other arguments against admissibility. The case will thus go
forward unless the government steps in.

What other cases now stand a good chance of being tried before the Belgian

The case against Chad's exiled former president, Hissène Habré, may be the
next in line after a Belgian judge and police team visited Chad last year to
investigate the charges. The Belgian government has said that it will not
seek to block this case. Habré lives in exile in Senegal, where he was
indicted two years ago on charges of torture and crimes against humanity
before the Senegalese courts ruled that he could not be tried there. The
president of Senegal has agreed to hold Habré pending an extradition request
from Belgium and the government of Chad has told Belgium that it would waive
any immunity that Habré might seek to assert. More information on this case
can be found at

Why is the Belgian law needed now that the International Criminal Court
(ICC) has come into being?

The establishment of a permanent ICC is among the most significant events in
the global fight against impunity. The ICC has jurisdiction over cases of
genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity when national courts are
unable or unwilling to prosecute. While the ICC will be a powerful tool to
attack the worst atrocities, it will not eliminate the need to bring
prosecutions based on universal jurisdiction. First, the ICC's jurisdiction
is prospective only - addressing crimes committed after its statute went
into effect on July 1, 2002. Second, the ICC will only be able to handle a
limited number of cases. Finally, the ICC suffers from a jurisdictional
regime which requires that, in the absence of a Security Council referral,
either the state on whose territory the crimes were committed or the state
of nationality of the accused be a party to the statute or consent to
jurisdiction. Many future atrocities may thus be outside of the court's

by Ashish Kumar Sen
Outlook India, 23rd June (?)

Whether it was a sign is debatable, but when Lal Krishna Advani and his
entourage arrived in the United States the weeks of incessant rains did
suddenly peter out leaving the capital bathed in brilliant sunshine. It
seemed the elements wanted to encourage the deputy prime minister as he
endeavoured to project himself as a statesman whom the world's only
superpower respected and admired. In fact, they courted him and extended
courtesies they normally don't to others. President George Bush dropped in
when Advani and national security advisor Condoleezza Rice were meeting;
defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld came over to the DPM's hotel;
vice-president Dick Cheney found ample time for the Indian leader; and
attorney general John Ashcroft and homeland security secretary Tom Ridge
exchanged notes with him on combating terrorism.

Just about everyone Advani met wanted to know whether India would send
troops to 'stabilise' Iraq? New Delhi is still pondering over that one.

Analysts took notice as they dissected the significance of an impressive
array of US leaders meeting Advani. Walter Andersen, deputy director of
South Asia studies at the School of Advanced International Studies, Johns
Hopkins University, told Outlook, "The very fact that you had the president
dropping in for such an extensive period of time (30 minutes), and the fact
that the defense secretary visited him at his hotel, all go to show that the
administration takes Advani very seriously as a leader. Of course, he is
also a possible future prime minister." Others thought this also shows the
importance the US attaches to its relationship with India.

Ironically, the weather threatened to change as soon as Advani winged out of
the city. The weatherman predicted weeks of thundershowers‹and this could
well turn out to be true for the future of Indo-US relations as well. For,
just about everyone whom Advani met wanted to know: would India accept
America's request to send troops to 'stabilise' Iraq?

The request has been pending for weeks now, and all Advani could offer was
the hope that New Delhi would take a decision soon. Obviously, there were
reservations in India and the US needed to allay these. Always quick on the
draw, the Bush administration declared it was sending a Pentagon team to New
Delhi to address the Indian government's concerns. Some of which are: why
are Indian troops needed? Would they be required to employ force? And, more
importantly, to whom would they report? Even as you read this report,
perhaps the US team is already engaged in fielding such questions from its
Indian counterparts.



RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 26, 12 June 2003

[Saudi Arabia steps into the breach]

Thamir Abbas Ghadhban, the most senior Iraqi at the Iraqi Oil Ministry, has
announced that oil agreements signed between the former regime of Saddam
Hussein and Jordan have been frozen, Amman-based daily "Al-Ra'y" reported on
10 June. Ghadhban said that Iraq's post Hussein oil policy will be
characterized by transparency and openness, and that oil revenues would play
a central role in the country's economic revitalization.

Ghadhban's statement appeared to indicate that Jordan would no longer
receive the preferential treatment it once did under the sanctions-burdened
Hussein regime. For years, Jordan received oil and oil byproducts at grossly
subsidized prices. The annual agreement was renewed in November, allowing
Jordan to purchase four million tons of crude oil in 2003 at $18 per barrel.
In addition, Hussein granted other subsidies to Jordan (see "RFE/RL Iraq
Report," 22 November 2003).

Luckily for Jordan, the Gulf states have come to the rescue. Saudi Arabia,
the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have agreed to supply Jordan with oil
for the next three months (beginning in June) under soft terms in order to
ease the financial burden incurred by the Jordanian treasury since the start
of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 20 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 26, 12 June 2003


Bahraini banks have said that they must recover millions in unpaid debt owed
by Iraq before they would reconsider investing in reconstruction projects
there, "Gulf Daily News" reported on 7 June.

The loans were made to state-owned agencies to finance legitimate projects,
according to Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) President and Chief Executive
Officer Ghazi Abd al Jawad. "Before any bank -- be it ABC or any other --
commits new monies we have to come to an agreement that is equitable and
fair on how we [should] resolve the debt that is on the book," Abd al-Jawad
said. He said that the process has been hindered by the lack of a
functioning government administration in Iraq.

ABC is calling for a joint strategy by Bahraini banks. One option would be a
debt-for-equity conversion -- banks would write-off some Iraqi debt in
exchange for banking privileges in Iraq. "As a bank which has been dealing
with Iraq in the past, we need somehow to reach an understanding on the
exposures that we have to Iraq," Abd al-Jawad said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

by Neil MacFarquhar
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 13th June

AHWAZ, Iran: Saad Kavarizadeh remembers that miserable day long ago in
Baghdad like no other. She was just 14 when her mother yanked her out of
school, rushing her home, where Saddam Hussein's security men were forcing
the family into government jeeps at gunpoint, having already dumped their
possessions onto the street and sealed the house.

Within 24 hours, Kavarizadeh was packed onto an overcrowded truck and left
with tens of thousands of other Iraqis on the Iranian border with just the
clothes on their backs.

"They told us our great-grandfather had been Iranian, but even he was buried
in Iraq," said Kavarizadeh, now 37, sitting on the carpeted floor of a
two-room unfurnished house in southeast Iran, where she has lived for 23
unsettled years.

"We had no idea that we were of Iranian origin, we had never even been to
Iran and no one had ever said that to us before. We were victims of the
fight between the Sunnis and the Shiites."

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees scattered throughout Iran find
themselves in a particular anguished limbo since the fall of Saddam two
months ago.

Having fled persecution under the Ba'athist regime or been forced out, they
are impatient to pick up the pieces of their lives across the border.

Iran, too, would like to see them gone, but the U.S. and British occupation
forces are not particularly eager recipients. For one thing, accepting tens
of thousands of families seeking to reclaim confiscated property would only
augment the tumult the administrators can barely contain.

Second, Washington openly accuses Iran of fomenting instability and despite
Tehran's denials, anyone coming from the Islamic republic remains
automatically suspect. Even some refugees voice suspicions about their

The Iraqis have grown increasingly angry at the lack of answers about when
they might return.

A team from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees had to flee one refugee
camp recently after it came under a hail of rocks by impatient residents.

An estimated 4 million Iraqis fled their country, most after the first Gulf
War, but only about 10 percent of them are officially classified as refugees
by the United Nations. Of those, about half, or 202,000 people, live in

"Some came because their relatives were involved in politics and they feared
being victimized by the Iraqi regime, some came arbitrarily, just for food,"
said a high school teacher in Motahari camp. "Everyone here has a story."

Most of the stories involve joining the failed 1991 uprising against Saddam.

Abbas Khdeir, 50, was a truck driver for the Umm Qasr Pipe Co. When the
uprising started, he said, he drove his truck across the border, filled it
with Kalashnikovs and drove back, handing them out in his neighborhood as
part of Iran's first attempt to foment an Islamic revolution there.

"If I had stayed, I would have ended up in one of those mass graves you have
seen," he said.

Iraqis are easy to spot here. Many like Khdeir still drive vehicles sporting
Basra license plates. He said driving the vehicle made finding work harder
in Ahwaz - the police automatically turned it away at checkpoints. Most
Iraqis subsist on day jobs in construction and farming.

Khdeir and several other refugees said they turned to the one source of sure
revenue available to them, joining the Badr Brigade, the armed fighters of
the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq.

The group announced Saturday in Baghdad that it would boycott any interim
administration appointed under U.S. auspices.

The Iraqi opposition groups that Iran sponsored defend Tehran's interest in
what unrolls right next door.

"Of course the Iranians want a government in Iraq that will not be an
enemy," said Ali Adeeb, a member of the politburo of Al Dawa, one of the
Islamic opposition groups that has gradually decamped from Tehran since the
Iraqi regime fell.

It stopped publishing its newspaper here three weeks ago, transferring
operations to Baghdad.

"All the countries in the region are trying to interfere - Saudi Arabia,
Syria, Turkey - they all have their reasons," he said.

"We want to administer ourselves without any interference from outside, be
it Iranian or American or any other country."

Some refugees themselves harbor concerns that the Iranians will foment armed
unrest against the American occupation forces by using the Badr Brigade.

"We have suffered a lot from Saddam Hussein," said the school teacher,
asking not to be named out of concern for reprisals.

"The Badr Brigades belong directly to the Iranian government. If they come
with their arms they will begin to create problems. We don't want to get
stuck because of their intentions."

Western diplomats here echo charges by the U.S. and British forces next door
that Iran seeks to influence events in Iraq - although they say the
influence to date appears to consist mostly of strong-arming supporters in
local political squabbles. Arms, they point out, are readily available in
Iraq and do not need to be shipped over the border.

For its part, Iran professes only an interest in free elections in Iraq.
Given the country's 60 percent Shiite majority, they are virtually assured
of a government likely to befriend Shiite Iran.

The Iranians grumble that they have received little recognition for the
services they have provided for the Iraqi refugees for 10 years with
virtually no international aid.

The Iraqis, added to some 2.4 million Afghans, make Iran host to the largest
refugee population in the world.

They win high marks from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for the free
housing, electricity, medical care, education and other help they provide in
nine camps housing about 45,000 refugees from southern Iraq. Eleven other
camps house a few thousand Iraqis from the Kurdish areas. Most, by far, live
in poor urban areas.

At Ansar camp, one of six in the largely Arab province of Khuzistan
bordering Iraq, the official version of why there are refugees differs
slightly from that offered by the residents. "They escaped because of
American bombing during the first Gulf War," said Alireza Nouri Gorouhi, the
director of the camp housing over 7,000 refugees.

They live in two-room cinder-block houses built around a small courtyard,
the smell of raw sewage wafting above open drains.

A sign outside the health clinic urges parents to have just two children
apiece, but the small army of urchins suggests they ignore that advice.

Most of them are anxious about going back. They are angry that refugees from
some countries have been handed considerable sums to resettle.

The Saudi government granted each refugee $2,500 per person to resettle, UN
officials say, whereas Iran lacks the means to provide anything like that.

Most Iraqis have no homes to go back to and face only uncertainty.

For Kavarizadeh, who only got her Iranian surname when she was expelled, a
nagging identity crisis deepens her unease.

"In Iran, they call us Iraqis, but they kicked us out of there," said
Kavarizadeh, whose children where educated in Persian in the poor Ahwaz
neighborhood where they live.

"If we go back to Iraq, they will call us Iranians," Kavarizadeh added. "I
am miserable in this big country, but I don't know what I would do in Iraq.
They confiscated everything, including our future."

by Fahed Fanek
Jordan Times, 16th June
THE "GENEROUS" offer made recently by the president of the United States to
establish a free trade area between American and the Middle East over ten
years is supposed to be one of the prizes the US decided to grant to the
Arab world to swallow the results of the unjustified war on Iraq. It is a
carrot to make up for the stick and to help heal the Arab wound.

President George Bush reiterated the offer while in our part of the world
and left it to two of his ministers to explain it during the World Economic
Forum, taking place in Jordan's Dead Sea resorts the coming week.

This step, even if implemented, is not good enough as a prize, simply
because it will not have major consequences, from a trading stand point, as
evidenced by the actual experiment. The European Union foresaw the idea and
concluded a similar project with several countries of the southern and
eastern Mediterranean, but did not have any visible or material impact
because the Arab industries are not able to penetrate the European markets
in as big a way as hoped.

However, the European deal could be much better and more attractive than its
American counterpart, in that the Europeans acknowledge the fact that the
two regions are not at the same level of economic development. The West has
an advanced industry while the East and the South lag far behind and,
therefore, competition on equal footings would not be fair. They thus
earmarked seven billion euros to compensate the weak party of the equation.
Such financial compensations do not exist in the American offer.

Jordan's entering an agreement of free trade area with the United States,
which came into effect in December 2001, was a failure. No more than $10
million worth of Jordanian industrial and agricultural goods were exported
to the United States market under the agreement in the past year and a half,
which is a negligible amount. The bulk of Jordanian exports to America was
confined to products from the Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZs) which are
the result of a temporary arrangement derived from the US-Israel free trade
agreement. The political purpose of the QIZ is to encourage a sort of
industrial integration between Jordan and Israel through making it a
condition that at least 8 per cent of the value added should originate in
Israel for the products to benefit from the exemptions of US customs and

Irrespective of the underlying intentions, the QIZs were a success. They
gave positive, tangible result. They attracted direct foreign investments
and generated tens of thousands of badly needed jobs, and produced national
exports. As a matter of fact, the QIZs were the engine of growth in exports
which made it possible for the Jordanian economy to grow at 5 per cent a
year over the last two years. By contrast, the free trade agreement did not
make any difference, because the Jordanian industry is not yet ready to
compete with the more advanced American industry in its market. It is quite
certain that Arab industry is not in a better condition, or expected to
succeed where Jordanian industry did not. If anything, the implementation of
a free trade arrangement between America and the Arab world will work to the
benefit of the American industries, which will be favoured in Arab markets
over their European and Japanese counterparts.

As far as Jordan is concerned, the American offer does not mean anything
because Jordan already has such agreement. Ditto for Israel.

If the American president is interested in giving something to the Arab
world, he should do something tangible to help the Palestinian people get
rid of the ugly Israeli occupation, and have their own independent viable
state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The American open trade offer may be seen and understood from a political
point of view. It is sometimes thought to be an attempt to revive the idea
of the Israeli ex-prime minister Shimon Peres calling for a "New Middle
East" under Israeli leadership. However, it turned out that the Israeli
establishment is not interested in a New Middle East or, for that matter, in
any economic and trade arrangement with Arab countries. It still prefers to
maintain Israel as a closed fortress. It wants to avoid melting in the Arab
sea. It thinks of itself as part of the West.

We, Arabs, don't mind this position, but the world should know who is
rejecting cooperation and normalisation of relations beyond exchange of

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]