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News, 18-25/06/03 (4) HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS * Disease outbreak reported: Cholera in Iraq - Update 3 * IRAQ: Hundreds of Palestinian refugees evicted by landlords * Japan named top UNICEF donor for Iraq * Humanitarian groups alarmed by water emergencies in Iraq * Deadly waste returned to US forces APPARENTLY REMARKABLE PAUCITY OF NEWS FROM IRAQI KURDISTAN * Kurds ban weapons in Northern Iraq * Kurds Issue al-Qaida Warning for N. Iraq LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT * Iraq's museums: what really happened * Looters Stole 6,000 Artifacts * What really happened at the Baghdad museum? MOPPING UP THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT * U.S. Captures Key Hussein Aide * U.S. stepping up appeals to Iraqi scientists * DNA tests after missiles strike 'Saddam convoy' * [US attack on Syrian border guards] from Six British soldiers killed in continuing Iraqi resistance * Saddam's closest aides may be trying to flee to Belarus HUMANITARIAN PROBLEMS http://www.who.int/ * DISEASE OUTBREAK REPORTED: CHOLERA IN IRAQ - UPDATE 3 World Health Organization (WHO), 19th June >From 28 April to 4 June 2003, a total of 73 laboratory-confirmed cholera cases have been reported in Iraq : 68 in Basra governorate, 4 in Missan governorate, 1 in Muthana governorate. No deaths have been reported. (see previous report) >From 17 May to 4 June 2003, the daily surveillance system of diarrhoeal disease cases in the four main hospitals of Basra reported a total of 1549 cases of acute watery diarrhea. Among these cases, 25.6 % occurred in patients aged 5 years and above. The water supply situation is critical. Short-term measures have been undertaken by UNICEF and local authorities to improve accessibility to safe drinking water and to limit the spread of water-borne epidemics. WHO is supporting local authorities in implementing an early warning communicable disease surveillance system, in strengthening laboratory capacity and in coordinating the cholera outbreak response. The surveillance system is being expanded to the whole Lower South (all 4 governorates) and weekly reports from all facilities have begun. UNICEF is also supporting the initiative by providing health education material in Arabic and chlorine tablets to all health directorates. http://WWW.irinnews.org/report.asp?ReportID=34853&SelectRegion=Iraq_Crisis&S electCountry=IRAQ * IRAQ: HUNDREDS OF PALESTINIAN REFUGEES EVICTED BY LANDLORDS IRIN, (UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs Integrated Regional Information Network), 19th June BAGHDAD, 19 Jun 2003 (IRIN) - Haifa Sports Club used to be a Palestinian cultural centre in Baladiyat in northeastern Baghdad. The Palestinian flag flies high with a sign next to it saying "No to settlements and yes to the right of return". But since the fall of Saddam Hussein, some Palestinians have found themselves discriminated against and homeless. Now the club has been turned into an informal refugee camp to accommodate about 250 families. "Right after the war, the Iraqi landlord came to the flat and forced me and my husband to leave the house we lived in for more than 25 years," Subhiyah Abd al-Qadir told IRIN from a dusty tent set up on the soccer pitch at the club. The Palestinian added that some of the other families in neighbouring tents had landlords threatening them with guns to empty their flats immediately and leave. "We sold our furniture, we left some of our stuff behind and took whatever we took quickly and put it here in the club in some rooms," she said. Subhiyah has painfully swollen legs from sleeping on the ground as summer temperatures soar. At night she is plagued by mosquitoes. With intermittent supplies of water and electricity conditions in the camp are rapidly deteriorating. Muhammed Nafi, who lives in one of the tents, put a wet towel in front of his fan to ease the hot breeze. Like many families in Baghdad now following the war, Nafi lost his job in a printing house, and he and his family live on the salary of his wife, who works as a teacher. David Bellamy, the UNHCR representative in Baghdad, told IRIN that some Palestinians in Iraq were victims of post-conflict turbulence along with other minorities. He added that Palestinians in Iraq were in a vulnerable position now, because there is little in the way of external support for the group. "Only Palestinians in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Israel, and Egypt get help from UNHCR," he added. All the Palestinian families currently homeless in Baghdad had been living in apartments rented to them by the Ministry of Social Affairs for less than US $1 per week; this reportedly caused resentment among some Iraqis, who have to pay many times this amount in rent. The Palestinian community in Iraq is well established. Muhammad Salih al-Maddi, head of the Council of Palestinian Families in Baghdad, told IRIN about 35,000 Palestinians had sought refuge in Iraq after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, and a similar number came from Jordan, Lebanon, and Kuwait and Gaza following conflict in those countries. Al-Maddi believes that Iraq's Palestinian refugees did not really enjoy special privileges during Saddam's regime and that Saddam had embraced them primarily to gain kudos in the Arab and Islamic world. Although Palestinians in Iraq have the right to work and own property, many of them ended up in there after being expelled from other Arab countries. Many have told of discrimination in the job market. "They [Palestinians] don't own much, with many living two or three families together in a flat," Al-Maddi told IRIN. He added that the Iraqi government would grant other Arab citizens Iraqi nationality but withhold it from Palestinians, who still had travel documents after so many years in the country. UNHCR has offered many tents to the Palestinian Red Crescent and the Iraqi Red Crescent, who rapidly established the refugee camp in the sports club. It also offered blankets, rubbish bins, and other items, and is giving free lifts to young women and girls too frightened to travel alone to schools and universities. "We raised the issue with the US-led administration, as the situation is the most difficult the Palestinians have faced since they arrived to this country," Bellamy said. "We identified some 400 apartments in the Baladiyat area, and we're negotiating with the Coalition administration and the Ministry of Social Affairs to give them to the Palestinians," he added. UNHCR is continuing its programme begun in May 2002 as a long-term solution to allocate Palestinians grants and land to build more permanent accommodation. RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * JAPAN NAMED TOP UNICEF DONOR FOR IRAQ RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003 Japan has been recognized as the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) top donor for relief efforts in Iraq after presenting UNICEF with a $10.2 million contribution to support the reopening of schools across the country, the UN News Center reported on 2 June. Japan's total contribution to UNICEF exceeds $15 million. "We are delighted that Japan has responded so quickly and so generously to the urgent needs of Iraqi children," UNICEF Executive Director Carol Bellamy said in a statement. "The needs are very urgent and we are grateful for this strong and early support," she added. According to the UN News Center, most of Iraq's 8,500 schools require cleaning or repair. In addition, 5,000 schools need to be constructed to accommodate all of Iraq's 12 million school-age children. There is also a shortage of trained teachers. In addition, less than half of all the primary schools in Iraq have access to potable water, raising hygiene and sanitation concerns. Japan's contribution will help some one million children in three cities. Some $3.5 million will help rehabilitate 70 schools -- 30 in Baghdad and 40 in southern Iraq, while some $6.2 million will go to pay for teaching and learning supplies. (Kathleen Ridolfo) NO URL * HUMANITARIAN GROUPS ALARMED BY WATER EMERGENCIES IN IRAQ by Greg Barrett Gannett News Service, 23rd June WASHINGTON: Iraq's water infrastructure largely survived the 15,000 bombs of war, but it buckled under the crazed aftermath. Looting, lawlessness and unreliable electricity have handicapped or crippled hundreds of water lines, sewage treatment plants, pumping stations, and depleted supply warehouses. In the southern port city of Basra, where ground water is naturally salty and brackish and water wells are useless, humanitarian organizations began reporting an alarming shortage in potable water as far back as April. Yet on May 15, the newly arrived chief of the U.S.-led civilian authority described Basra's water quality as good. "Better than it has been in years," boasted Paul Bremer, head of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. The pronouncement was in stark contrast with comments from World Health Organization and UNICEF officials who at that moment were warning of waterborne epidemics in Iraq's second-largest city. Bremer's statement points to the problems faced by strangers parachuting into a foreign country to assess and govern it, aid workers say. The Pentagon said he based his conclusion in part on the high levels of chlorine detected at Basra's water treatment plants. But aid workers in the field were checking the water lines running into town and the tap water in residential homes and found no chlorine, only pollution. Geoff Keele of UNICEF believes this was a result from pollution seeping into holes in the line and overwhelming the system. Some residents on the outskirts of Basra so fear entering the relative anarchy of downtown to retrieve their drinking water that they have shot or pounded holes in the main water line that stretches for 10 miles above ground. The holes let in bacteria and polluted ground water, Keele said. UNICEF blames some of the more than 500 breaks found in the water lines of Baghdad to the "shocks that the bombing sent through the ground." But Keele said the looting that followed "has created far more damage than the combat itself. There are lakes of raw sewage in Baghdad caused by spotty electricity from the damaged and looted power plants that drive the sewage treatment plants. Emergency generators are available, but they can operate the plants at about half of normal capacity. Keele said the United States, Britain and Australia - the primary members of the coalition authority - are working to improve conditions in Iraq, but "have a steep learning curve. "UNICEF has been in the country and acting on the ground for 20 years," Keele said from his hotel in Baghdad. "The coalition authorities will have to build those (kind of) relationships, and that takes time. ... Unfortunately, the people don't have much time. They are feeling desperate." >From April 28 to June 4, WHO recorded 73 cases of cholera in Iraq. Sixty-eight of those were in Basra - 10 times more than WHO officials found during the same period last year. Cholera, an infectious waterborne disease, is caused by a bacteria that thrives in heat. Temperatures in Iraq already exceed 100 degrees Fahrenheit, and the hottest months of summer lie ahead. "Diarrhea may sound trivial to much of the world, but in Iraq - and in these conditions - it can kill," said Hans von Sponeck, a former chief of U.N. humanitarian missions to Iraq. On Sunday, more than a month after WHO first warned of waterborne epidemics developing in Basra, the Pentagon approved a private contract to replace parts for the city's four water treatment plants. Military officials also rehired 2,000 Basra police officers to discourage outlaws from looting power plants, pumping stations and supply warehouses. A main pumping station that serves 100,000 people in Basra was looted of its equipment, wiring, doors, frames, even the nuts and bolts, Keele said. Margaret Hassan, Country Director of Iraq for the humanitarian group CARE International, sounded unimpressed with the beefed-up security. "It's a bit after the horse has bolted, if you know what I mean," she said. Two of CARE's vehicles have been car-jacked, and one of its warehouse guards was shot in May. Today, emergency crews from UNICEF are in southern Iraq repairing pumping stations, water lines, sewage treatment plants, and distributing pamphlets that explain why the water lines should not be tapped directly. They also are directing a convoy of water tankers and tractor trailers that began arriving in mid-June with a three-month supply of chlorine to treat water. That will supplement an emergency supply of chlorine ordered recently by the coalition authority. In the first eight months of 1991, after Iraq's water infrastructure was damaged by the Persian Gulf War, the New England Journal of Medicine reported that nearly 47,000 more children than normal died in Iraq and the country's infant mortality rate doubled to 92.7 per 1,000 live births. People dehydrated by diarrhea and cholera will typically consume more water. With the main water line in Basra damaged, some residents are drawing their drinking water from irrigation canals that teem with the fetid waste from malfunctioning sewage treatment plants. A shortage of cooking gas - or its inaccessibility - is preventing some people from boiling the canal water, Keele said. Some Iraqis are stripping bark from trees to use as firewood. Others descended on schools in Basra where the Iraqi military stored crates containing live mortar rounds. They dumped the rounds onto the ground and took the wooden crates to burn. As recently as Friday, WHO continued to call the water situation in Basra critical and warned that relief measures undertaken by UNICEF were only for the short term. "You can't recall the war, but this issue is a live one. If we do the just thing and the sane thing and the humane thing, then we can save a lot of (innocent) lives," said George Washington University professor Tom Nagy, who traveled to Iraq this winter with a team of engineering and health professionals. Nagy's group toured hospitals and water treatment plants to assess the civilian consequences of war. He joined von Sponeck in warning the United States about Iraq's fragile civilian infrastructure. During 13 years of U.N. economic sanctions, pumps, pipes and other water-system supplies coming into Iraq were vetted for fear that they would be converted into weapons. Sanctions turned Iraqis into a "society of fixers," said von Sponeck, who resigned his U.N. post in 2000 to protest the sanctions. "They were always trying to fix stuff that was dilapidated and should have long ago been abandoned, discarded, replaced. The system was extremely fragile even before the war." Navy Cmdr. Chris Isleib of the Coalition Provisional Authority blames former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for the flawed infrastructure. Isleib said help is on the way. "The situation is getting better every day, but it is far from ideal," he said. "We go in there with a lot of smart people and as much money as we can bring but it is not a perfect place with a perfect plan. We can't do miracles here. It is going to take time." http://www.greenpeace.org/ * DEADLY WASTE RETURNED TO US FORCES Greenpeace International press statement, 24th June IRAQ/Baghdad - They claimed they were after weapons of mass destruction, but then allowed nuclear material to be carried off by the barrel. They said errant nuclear waste poses no health threat to the people in Iraq, but then denied access to experts. Today we delivered a dose of reality to the occupying forces: villages surrounding the Tuwaitha nuclear complex, just south of Baghdad, are contaminated with deadly radiation. Clean up must begin now. A convoy of vehicles bearing Greenpeace banners that read "Al Tuwaitha - nuclear disaster - Act now!" with a single activist walking at its head, carrying a white flag, returned a large uranium "yellow cake" mixing canister to the US military guards stationed at the heart of the nuclear plant. The canister - the size of a small car - contained significant quantities of radioactive "yellowcake" and had been dumped on a busy section of open ground near the Tuwaitha plant. Despite the military being aware of its presence, locals say it has been left open and unattended for more than 20 days. "If this had happened in the UK, the US or any other country, the villages around Tuwaitha would be swarming with radiation experts and decontamination teams. It would have been branded a nuclear disaster site and the people given immediate medical check-ups. The people of Iraq deserve no less from the international community. That they are being ignored is a scandal that must be rectified without delay," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace International. Our radiation experts have found abandoned uranium "yellowcake" and radioactive sources scattered across the community. Much of the material was looted from the facility by villagers who used it for house building and water and food storage. They did not realise the potential danger. In a week long survey, as well as the "yellow cake" canister, Greenpeace uncovered: ‹ radioactivity in a series of houses, including one source measuring 10,000 times above normal ‹ another source outside a 900 pupil primary school measuring 3,000 times above normal ‹ locals who are still storing radioactive barrels and lids in their houses ‹ another smaller radioactive source abandoned in a nearby field ‹ consistent and repeated stories of unusual sickness after coming into contact with material from the Tuwaitha plant several objects carrying radioactive symbols discarded in the community The preliminary survey and this morning's action in front of heavily armed US troops highlights the total failure of the occupying forces to address the urgent need for a full assessment, containment and clean up of missing nuclear material from the Tuwaitha Nuclear facility. The occupying forces have so far refused to allow the UN nuclear experts, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), to carry out proper documentation and decontamination in Iraq. The US authorities in Baghdad have insisted upon retaining responsibility for protecting human health but consistently deny there is a risk to the local population. Our team has only been surveying for eight days and has discovered frightening levels of radioactive contamination. The IAEA must be allowed to return with a full mandate to monitor and decontaminate. They may believe they have accounted for most of the uranium, but what about the rest of the radioactive material? If the inspectors are allowed to come out from the shadow of the occupying forces and into the community, they can do the job properly. Latest update: The team went further inside the Tuwaitha nuclear facility with the US army to deliver the radioactive canister. They then accompanied the army to the house in the village where we found radiation up to 10,000 times normal levels. The US army surveyed the area and confirmed the levels. They removed the radioactive source and took it back to the Tuwaitha plant. The head of the radiation unit for the US army there said that the WHO and the IAEA should get there as soon as possible. At the same time, the IAEA tells us that their inspectors are due to leave today as their limited remit - to make an inventory of the uranium at Tuwaitha - is done. APPARENTLY REMARKABLE PAUCITY OF NEWS FROM IRAQI KURDISTAN RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * KURDS BAN WEAPONS IN NORTHERN IRAQ RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003 Kurdish government officials have agreed to implement Decree 16 of 1993, issued by the Kurdistan National Assembly, which calls for the disarmament of the Kurdish region. The decision was announced following a meeting between the U.S. Army civil administration official in the Kurdistan region and in Mosul, Colonel Harry Schute, and the interior ministers of the Kurdistan Regional Government for Irbil -- Faraydun Abd al-Qadir -- and in Sulaymaniyah, Karim Sinjari. Abd al-Qadir told a press conference that the implementation was in line with Decree 3 of 2003, issued by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), which calls for the disarmament of Iraq. Sinjari said that since the fall of the Hussein regime, there is no longer a need for citizens to remain armed. Citizens have been given 15 days to turn in their light and heavy weapons. Kurdish Peshmerga forces and internal security forces are permitted to retain firearms in their possession that were issued by the regional government and registered. However, they may only carry the firearms while in uniform. Nonetheless, a statement read by Abd al-Qadir emphasized that the Interior Ministry must license anyone wishing to carry a firearm. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&ncid=736&e=5&u=/ap/20030 620/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_militants_rebound * KURDS ISSUE AL-QAIDA WARNING FOR N. IRAQ by BORZOU DARAGAHI Yahoo, 20th June TUWELLA, Iraq (AP): Beyond the ridge where the Zagros Mountains divide Iran and Iraq, several hundred Islamic militants vanished into the early spring snow. On the eve of the Iraq war in March, a barrage of U.S. cruise missiles and a sweep by thousands of Kurdish soldiers cleared the fighters of Ansar al-Islam from mountain strongholds of northeast Iraq from where they had plagued the Kurds for years. Now, there are signs that the group, suspected to have links with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida network, is coming back. "We are intercepting reports that elements of Ansar al-Islam are becoming active again," said Barham Salih, prime minister of the eastern sector of the Kurds' autonomous region in northern Iraq. The Kurds suggest people in Iran may be training and sheltering Ansar militants and helping them enter Iraq. They cite intelligence that a dozen Ansar activists sneaked into Baghdad in early April, before Saddam Hussein's capital fell to the U.S. onslaught. "One day, they can be used to launch operations against the Americans," said Shaho Mohamad Sayid, a Kurdish leader overseeing the area near the Iranian border where Ansar once operated. On June 10, a military commander of the town of Kalar, near the oil-rich city of Kirkuk, was killed when he tried to arrest a suspected Ansar militant who set off a suicide bomb. When asked about Ansar, Col. William Mayville, commander of the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne brigade based in Kirkuk, said his men are on the lookout for Islamic militants when patrolling the area. "There's always been an understanding that there is the presence of terrorists in every city or village in this country," he said. The group included veterans of bin Laden's training camps in Afghanistan. Secretary of State Colin Powell mentioned Ansar as part of the "sinister nexus" linking Baghdad to al Qaida when he made his case for war to the U.N. Security Council in February. Ansar had taken control of a slice of the Kurdish-controlled area near the Iranian border, enforcing a version of Islam only slightly less stringent than the Taliban in Afghanistan: Men had to have untrimmed beards, and women were ordered to cover their heads. The group carried out suicide bombings, car bombs, assassinations and raids on militiamen and politicians of the secular Kurdish government, killing scores of people over the last two years. During the war, U.S. special forces troops and Kurdish fighters destroyed an Ansar base and Tomahawk missiles were launched at the group's positions. U.S. counterterrorism officials say the group has suffered significant losses but the survivors are still dangerous. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, included Ansar among five anti American groups operating in Iraq. "There's this Ansar al-Islam group that's been in there since before we went in," he said in a June 14 interview with the Fox Television network. "They've been in there for years." A June 13 article in Al-Sharq Al-Aswat, a London-based Arab daily, raised the alarm of a possible Ansar return. It reported that Abu Abdullah al-Shafei, an Ansar leader, was calling for guerrilla warfare against the coalition occupation. In the alleged communique, al-Shafei urged a shift to hit-and-run tactics against the secular Kurdish parties and the Americans, and called on supporters to provide weapons, recruits and money. Concerns about Ansar al-Islam were fueled by anecdotal intelligence, mostly from informants traveling across the Iranian border, that Ansar is active and regrouping in the Iranian cities of Meriwan, Sina and Marakhel. Ansar leaders were allegedly spotted in the Iranian city of Sandandaj not long ago. "They're generally unarmed, moving from place to place without staying anywhere permanently," said Mehdi Said Ali, Kurdish military commander of the border area. The Kurds have passed on to the Americans raw intelligence alleging that 20 to 30 Ansar activists had been sent to Tehran for training, and some were being sent to Baghdad for operations against the Americans, Kurdish official Aso Hatem said. Iran's Foreign Ministry has denied any links between the largely Shiite Muslim country and the Sunni Muslim radicals that make up both Ansar and al-Qaida. Ansar members frequently harassed Shiite Iraqis as infidels. Though Ansar individuals and small cells might be able to cross the border, Kurds say they'll never be able to return in numbers large enough to seize the vast territory they once held. Now freed from Ansar's rule, the residents of towns like Biyare, Tuwella and Khormal ‹ 200 miles northeast of Baghdad ‹ vow they'll never let the Islamic radicals come back. The men have shaved, the women have relaxed their dress and the shops have begun selling beer. Tourism is returning to the cool mountain canyons. "Ansar is finished," said Karwan Jami, 19, of Tuwella. "They're not frightening to us like they used to be." LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,3604,979675,00.html * IRAQ'S MUSEUMS: WHAT REALLY HAPPENED by Eleanor Robson The Guardian, 18th June What is the true extent of the losses to the Iraq Museum -170,000 objects or only 33? The arguments have raged these past two weeks as accusations of corruption, incompetence and cover-ups have flown around. Most notably, Dan Cruickshank's BBC film Raiders of the Lost Art insinuated that the staff had grossly misled the military and the press over the extent of the losses, been involved with the looting themselves, allowed the museum to be used as a military position, and had perhaps even harboured Saddam Hussein. The truth is less colourful. Two months ago, I compared the demolition of Iraq's cultural heritage with the Mongol sacking of Baghdad in 1258, and the 5th-century destruction of the library of Alexandria. On reflection, that wasn't a bad assessment of the present state of Iraq's cultural infrastructure. Millions of books have been burned, thousands of manuscripts and archaeological artefacts stolen or destroyed, ancient cities ransacked, universities trashed. At the beginning of this year, the staff, led by Dr Dony George and Dr Nawala al-Mutawalli, began to pack up the museum in a well-established routine first devised during the Iran-Iraq war. Defensive bunkers were dug in the grounds. Early in April, Dr John Curtis, head of the Ancient Near East department at the British Museum, described a recent visit to Baghdad during which the museum staff were sandbagging objects too big to be moved, packing away smaller exhibits, and debating "the possibility of using bank vaults and bunkers if the worst came". The worst did come. On April 11 the news arrived that the museum had been looted. We later discovered that there had been a two-day gun battle, at the start of which the remaining museum staff fled for their lives. Fedayeen broke into a storeroom and set up a machine gun at a window. While senior Iraqi officials were begging for help in Baghdad, the US Civil Affairs Brigade in Kuwait was also trying from April 12 to get the museum protected. They already knew that its most valuable holdings were in vaults of the recently bombed Central Bank. The museum was secured on April 16, but it took until April 21 for Civil Affairs to arrive. Captain William Sumner wrote to me that day: "It seems that most of the museum's artefacts had been moved to other locations, but the ones that were looted were 'staged' at an area so that they would be easier to access. It was a very professional action. The spare looting you saw on the news were the excess people who came in to pick over what was left." In other words, there was no cover-up: the military were informed immediately that the evacuation procedures had been effective. Suspicions remained that a single staff member may have assisted the core looters. But, Sumner says: "It might have been one of the grounds people, or anybody. I suspect that we will never know." Within a week the museum was secure enough for George to travel to London. At a press conference he circulated a list of some 25 smashed and stolen objects which the curators had been unable to move from the public galleries before the war. They included the now famous Warka vase, which had been cemented in place. Last week it was returned in pieces. Other losses came from the corridor where objects were waiting to be moved off-site. George was understandably reluctant to reveal the location of the off-site storage to the Civil Affairs Brigade as security was still non-existent. Inventories of the badly vandalised storerooms finally began after the catalogues were pieced together from the debris of the ransacked offices. Dr John Russell, an expert in looted Iraqi antiqui ties, made a room-by-room report for Unesco late in May. He noted that most of the objects that had been returned since the looting "were forgeries and reproductions". Other losses, he reported, included some 2,000 finds from last season's excavations at sites in central Iraq. His summary tallied well with George's. "Some 30 major pieces from exhibition galleries. Unknown thousands of excavated objects from storage. Major works from galleries smashed or damaged." The unknown thousands are beginning to be quantified. Expert assessors in Vienna last week estimated the losses from the museum storerooms at between 6,000 and 10,000. Outside the Iraq Museum, the picture is equally grim. At Baghdad University, classrooms, laboratories and offices have been vandalised, and equipment and furniture stolen or destroyed. Student libraries have been emptied. Nabil al-Tikriti of the University of Chicago reported in May that the Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs lost 600-700 manuscripts in a malicious fire and more than 1,000 were stolen. The House of Wisdom and the Iraqi Academy of Sciences were also looted. The National Library was burned to the ground and most of its 12 million books are assumed to have been incinerated. In the galleries of Mosul Museum, cuneiform tablets were stolen and smashed. The ancient cities of Nineveh, Nimrud, and Hatra lost major sculpture to looting. The situation is far worse in the south. Some 15-20 large archaeological sites, mostly ancient Sumerian cities, were comprehensively pillaged by armed gangs. It will take years of large-scale international assistance and delicate diplomacy to return the Iraq Museum to functionality. The process is deeply charged with the politics of occupation and post-Ba'athist reaction. The Civil Affairs officers are discovering that senior staff are not necessarily enamoured of the American way, while junior staff are testing their newfound freedom to complain about their bosses. One insider commented: "George might make them work instead of read papers. And that is what all the fuss is about." The British School of Archaeology in Iraq and the British Museum now have staff working in the Iraq Museum, while other organisations worldwide are fundraising. George, Mutawalli and his colleagues have achieved the extraordinary in preserving as much as they have. We now need to help them salvage as much as possible from the wreckage and re-establish the country's cultural infrastructure so that Iraqis can plan their future knowing their past is secure. Eleanor Robson is a council member of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq and a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford: email@example.com http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A17897-2003Jun20.html * LOOTERS STOLE 6,000 ARTIFACTS by Guy Gugliotta Washington Post, 21st June U.S. and Iraqi officials have confirmed the theft of at least 6,000 artifacts from Iraq's National Museum of Antiquities during a prolonged looting spree as U.S. forces entered Baghdad two months ago, a leading archaeologist said yesterday. University of Chicago archaeologist McGuire Gibson said the U.S. Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement told him June 13 that the official count of missing items had reached 6,000 and was climbing as museum and Customs investigators proceeded with an inventory of three looted storerooms. The June 13 total was double the number of stolen items reported by Customs a week earlier, and Gibson suggested the final tally could be "far, far worse." Customs could not immediately obtain an updated report, a spokesman said. The mid-June count was the latest in a confusing chain of seemingly contradictory estimates of losses at the museum, the principal repository of artifacts from thousands of Iraqi archaeological sites documenting human history from the dawn of civilization 7,000 years ago to the pinnacle of medieval Islam. It now appears, however, that although the losses were not nearly as grave as early reports indicated, they go far beyond the 33 items known to have been taken from the museum's display halls. Gibson said looters sacked two ground-floor storerooms and broke into a third in the basement. Two other storerooms appear to have been untouched. Gibson noted that there are "thousands of things that are broken" but not listed as missing. And teams of archaeologists sent by the National Geographic Society found widespread looting of artifacts from sites outside Baghdad. None of these are museum pieces, and most were simply plucked from the ground. "Like any museum, the display collection is an iceberg," Gibson said. "Because this is an archaeological museum, there's a huge amount of stuff that's important to the sites themselves and to researchers, but never goes on display." Looters broke into the downtown Baghdad museum and sacked it for several days in early April as U.S. forces toppled the government of Saddam Hussein and took possession of the Iraqi capital. U.S. soldiers were harshly criticized for standing idle as the looters rampaged through the building. The museum housed 170,000 numbered items and thousands more artifacts that had either not yet been catalogued or had been set aside in a ground-floor "study collection" storeroom for researchers to examine. Reporters and investigators arriving in the first days after the looting saw a virtually empty museum that had been thoroughly trashed. They assumed the worst, Gibson said, an impression that the museum staff did not seek to dispel. In fact, the staff -- anticipating possible looting -- had spirited away a huge portion of the inventory, including almost everything portable in the display collection, and stashed it either in the basement or in off-site bunkers, Gibson said. Staff had also hidden a gold collection in a Central Bank vault during the 1991 Persian Gulf War and never removed it. When U.S. authorities took their first close look at the damage, it appeared the finest artifacts had been "cherry-picked" by thieves with inside knowledge. Some U.S. officials suggested that staff members might have been complicit. "This was unfortunate" but easily explained, Gibson said. Bitterly offended by U.S. forces' failure to protect the museum from the looters, staffers "were not going to give information on where things were," he added. Today, museum staff and U.S. investigators from Customs and the FBI have "a very good relationship," Gibson said. Although the display collection lost only a few heavy, nonremovable artifacts that were either cut in pieces or ripped from their pedestals, the overall toll was much worse. Staff members began to inventory the museum's five storerooms in May. Losses there numbered in the thousands. Both ground-floor storerooms had been looted, Gibson said. One housed the study collection, while the other held shelved artifacts and about 10 steel trunks containing as-yet unnumbered material from recent digs. All the trunks had been opened and emptied, Gibson said. Two basement storerooms appeared to be untouched, including one containing most of the museum's priceless collection of cuneiform tablets, Gibson said. The third had been breached, however, and contained "some of the most important stuff in the museum, including pottery and ivory inlays," he added. http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,2763,980368,00.html * WHAT REALLY HAPPENED AT THE BAGHDAD MUSEUM? by Dan Cruickshank The Guardian, 19th June When the director of research at the Baghdad museum, Donny George, first issued his emotive plea to the world about the thousands of items missing or stolen, he didn't seem to realise that, along with emotion, it would also generate a determination to investigate. I went to find out what happened, and discovered compelling evidence not only that the initial figure attributed to the museum - 170,000 items lost or destroyed - was a huge exaggeration, but also that some of the looting may have been an inside job. It also seemed to me that treasures may have been plundered by senior Baathists long before the war. In addition, we found a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and other arms in a storeroom. This seemed to prove that the museum had indeed been a prepared military position, just as the Americans had claimed, not a cultural site that had, by chance, become embroiled in the battle for Baghdad. But now the waters are being muddied, and old reports and information are being recycled, creating confusion. The article in yesterday's Guardian by Eleanor Robson, a fellow of All Souls college and an archaeologist specialising in Iraq, seems to me to be a case in point. Nobody is disputing that many things have gone missing, but the questions are, who took them, and when? Colonel Matthew Bogdanos, the New York lawyer coordinating the US search for missing antiquities, said in a recent report in collaboration with George that there were 33 major pieces still missing. Then the sacred Warka Vase reappeared, so now there are 32. Along with the many smaller items, it's very possible that the 6,000 to 10,000 figure that Robson cites may be accurate. But as the five museum storerooms have been examined more thoroughly in recent weeks, they have turned out not to have been ransacked. Only three were entered by thieves and only key items, their locations known only to a few people, had been removed. Furthermore, many of the 33 major pieces supposedly taken from the galleries are extremely valuable, and very small - prime candidates for being put into storage pre-war. So why hadn't they? That led me to conclude that, quite possibly, they had disappeared some time ago. The news this week that the museum staff were staging a revolt against the senior personnel didn't surprise me, either: it was clear to me that they were unhappy, and I was even shown a whip that had apparently been used on them by members of the museum security department. They talked about the upper echelons of the museum hierarchy - people such as George - being Baathists who had to report on them. The whole culture of terror that you would associate with a totalitarian regime was in place. That fear may explain the whereabouts of other missing items: I went to the place where 4,000 manuscripts were being stored and the people there said they did not want to return them - they did not trust the Baathists at the museum. As well as adding to the confusion over the looting, Robson repeats as fact the claim that the bunkers in the museum grounds were purely defensive, but that's one of the things that is under dispute. The Americans claim there were 150 Iraqi soldiers there, and that the bunkers were fighting positions - and they cited evidence for this. Pretending that this question is settled is a very significant sleight of hand. Robson also says the arms found in the museum storeroom were there because Fedayeen had broken into it. But they hadn't - the door was open and the lock intact when US soldiers arrived. Who unlocked it and when remains a mystery. That said, I'm quite prepared to believe that the museum heads are victims, not villains - that they are being terrorised by high-ranking former Baathists who are threatening to kill them if they say what really happened. But, for now, great caution must be exercised before the museum is handed back to them: there are so many inconsistencies, and they are tainted by being members of a foul regime, even if they weren't themselves foul members of it. Emotionally, it may be impossible for them to reconcile what has actually happened with anything that it would be acceptable to say now. Part of the museum is due to reopen on July 3, and I am very alarmed about that. Are these artefacts safe? Really? What we need now is to discover the truth. We need to know what really happened. An attempt to patch over the cracks - to smooth things over for George and his chums - is exactly what we don't need here. MOPPING UP THE IRAQI GOVERNMENT http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10858 2003Jun18.html?nav=hptop_tb * U.S. CAPTURES KEY HUSSEIN AIDE by Rajiv Chandrasekaran Washington Post, 19th June BAGHDAD, June 18 -- U.S. forces in Iraq have captured a senior and trusted aide to former president Saddam Hussein, the person most wanted by the U.S. government after Hussein and his two sons, U.S. military officials said today. The seizure of Abid Hamid Mahmud could provide a much-needed break for U.S. soldiers and intelligence operatives searching for Hussein and his sons. Mahmud, who was the ace of diamonds in a deck of 55 playing cards depicting former Iraqi officials sought by the United States, is regarded by U.S. military and intelligence officials as one of the people most likely to know whether the former president is still alive -- and if so, where he may be hiding. Mahmud is also believed to know about Iraq's alleged possession of chemical and biological weapons. U.S. troops continued to come under fire today in Baghdad and other cities near the capital. One U.S. soldier was killed and another wounded in a shooting outside a propane station they were guarding in south Baghdad. A few hours earlier, U.S. military police opened fire on a group of former Iraqi soldiers who were hurling rocks outside the gates of the occupation authority headquarters, killing two demonstrators in the most violent protest in the capital since U.S. troops arrived. Mahmud, a distant cousin of Hussein, was one of the very few people whom the former president is believed to have trusted completely. Frequently pictured at Hussein's side, he controlled access to Hussein and was intimately familiar with his activities and his whereabouts at any given time. U.S. officials say they believe only Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, could see Hussein without going through Mahmud. Mahmud also served as Hussein's top security adviser and would have had access to most - if not all -- of the government's closely guarded secrets, including its weapons programs, U.S. officials said. A British dossier on top Iraqi officials said Mahmud, a noncommissioned officer who was selected by Hussein from his corps of bodyguards to become his top aide, and was later promoted to lieutenant general, "is regarded by some as the real number-two figure in the Iraqi leadership." Mahmud was seized near Tikrit, the area from which he and Hussein hail, located about 90 miles northwest of Baghdad, U.S. military officials said tonight. They would not detail the circumstances of his capture and it was not immediately clear whether the seizure of Mahmud was linked to the raid of two farmhouses near Tikrit today. A U.S. Army general said that in the raid, soldiers captured one of Hussein's bodyguards and as many as 50 other people believed to be members of his security and intelligence services, the elite Special Republican Guard or Baath Party paramilitary groups loyal to him. The soldiers also found $8.5 million in U.S. currency, more than $200,000 worth of Iraqi bank notes and an undetermined amount of British pounds and euros, said Maj. Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of the Army's 4th Infantry Division. He said the troops also found more than $1 million worth of gems and jewels. Odierno said he did not know whether the cash was intended to pay bounties for attacks on U.S. troops or to fund the Hussein loyalists while in hiding. Russian-made night vision goggles, sniper rifles, uniforms and equipment that belonged to Hussein's personal guard were also found at the sites, Odierno said. The general said the guards at the farmhouses readily surrendered to the U.S. raiding parties. One Iraqi tried to flee but his movements were followed by an unmanned reconnaissance aircraft, Odierno said. He was apprehended, and more than $800,000 was found in his vehicle. The farmhouses were targeted based on information from Iraqi informants, Odierno said, crediting similar "human intelligence" with providing the basis for many of the raids U.S. troops have made in the past week. The raid was part of a broad but controversial military operation aimed at capturing Baath Party militiamen, who have been blamed for a series of attacks on U.S. troops across central Iraq. Although more than 400 people have been arrested since the operation, dubbed Desert Scorpion, began on Sunday, many Iraqis have complained that U.S. troops have been overly aggressive. The operation, as well as an earlier sweep in a small town north of Baghdad, also appears to be designed to gather intelligence about where Hussein may be. In the town of Thuluya, several people who were detained and then released said they were questioned about the location of Hussein and Mahmud. Capturing Hussein -- or confirming that he is dead -- is viewed by many U.S. officials here as the best way to reduce hostility directed at U.S. troops. "There is this kind of evil suspicion that is certainly being promoted by Baathists that they're going to come back someday," L. Paul Bremer III, the head of the occupation authority, said in a recent interview. "If we can once and for all confirm he's dead, or capture him, it takes the air out of that balloon." In Washington, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld acknowledged "a little debate" underway in the U.S. government over the degree to which the resistance is organized. "I don't know anyone who is persuaded -- and has a real strong conviction -- that there is anything approximating a national or a regional organization that is energizing and motivating these attacks," Rumsfeld said at a Pentagon news conference. But he expressed the view that "small elements" of up to 20 loyalists had coalesced to plan and finance attacks on U.S. forces. [.....] RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * U.S. STEPPING UP APPEALS TO IRAQI SCIENTISTS RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT Vol. 6, No. 27, 21 June 2003 U.S. Army Psychological Operations personnel are stepping up attempts to persuade Iraqi scientists to come forward with information about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, or in some cases to turn themselves in, AP reported on 15 June. The news agency reported that Baghdad-based Information Radio, an AM radio station the news agency says is operated by army personnel, is broadcasting the appeal, in which a female announcer says: "It's time to leave your hideouts.... If you come voluntarily and give information about weapons of mass destruction and their launch vehicles, the United States will do its best to give you a just trial in accordance with the law." Information Radio operates from a portable radio transmitter that was carried into Iraq by U.S. forces during the invasion of Baghdad. According to AP, the station has made similar appeals over the past two and a half months. Another frequently broadcast message calls on Iraqis to turn in people that they know were involved in Iraq's alleged WMD programs. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.observer.co.uk/international/story/0,6903,982643,00.html * DNA TESTS AFTER MISSILES STRIKE 'SADDAM CONVOY' by Jason Burke in Baghdad The Observer, 22nd June American specialists were carrying out DNA tests last night on human remains believed by US military sources to be those of Saddam Hussein and one of his sons, The Observer can reveal. The remains were retrieved from a convoy of vehicles struck last week by US forces following 'firm' information that the former Iraqi leader and members of his family were travelling in the Western Desert near Syria. Military sources told The Observer that the strikes, involving an undisclosed number of Hellfire missiles, were launched against the convoy last Wednesday after the interception of a satellite telephone conversation involving either Saddam or his sons. The operation, which has not yet been disclosed by the Pentagon, involved the United States air force and ground troops of the Third Armoured Cavalry Regiment based around Ramadi, a major town 70 miles west of Baghdad. Despite previously unfounded US claims that Saddam had been killed during the bombing of Baghdad before the invasion by America and Britain, the sources indicated that they were cautiously optimistic that they had finally killed the target they described as 'the top man'. Asked about rumours circulating in senior military circles about the incident, one US officer with knowledge of the raid on the convoy said: 'That is unreleasable information. The Pentagon has to release that information.' The Pentagon last night refused to comment on what it called 'operational matters'. However, other military sources indicated they were optimistic the tests would show that Saddam and at least one of his two sons, Uday and Qusay, were among the dead, although they stressed that a conclusive identification of the men killed in the attack had not yet been made. The convoy, composed of several four-wheel-drive luxury vehicles, was attacked after the telephone call was intercepted. An air strike was then organised. The sources confirmed that Uday Hussein, the deposed dictator's eldest son, was thought to have been travelling with his father in the convoy. The convoy is believed to have been heading for the Syrian border and was intercepted near the frontier town of Qaim. Several such convoys heading for the border were destroyed during the conflict in March and April. [.....] http://www.jordantimes.com/Wed/news/news4.htm * [US ATTACK ON SYRIAN BORDER GUARDS] FROM SIX BRITISH SOLDIERS KILLED IN CONTINUING IRAQI RESISTANCE Jordan Times (AFP), 25th June [.....] The US drive to find Saddam Hussein and his alleged weapons of mass destruction suffered further embarrassment after admission that troops clashed with Syrian border guards in an attack on a convoy. In the attack last Thursday, five Syrian nationals were wounded, said a defence official in Washington. Another official said the Syrians were border guards wounded in a subsequent firefight. US special forces and airborne troops backed by aircraft took part in the attack, launched in response to intelligence that the convoy was carrying people associated with the deposed Iraqi regime, officials said. But afterwards, no senior Iraqi leaders appeared to be in the convoy, the officials said. http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=418463 * SADDAM'S CLOSEST AIDES MAY BE TRYING TO FLEE TO BELARUS by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad The Independent, 24th June Senior officials of the former Iraqi regime may be trying to flee to Belarus, according to evidence discovered when Saddam Hussein's chief aide was captured last week. Passports from the former Soviet republic were found with Abed Hamid Mahmoud, Saddam's close confidant, when he was detained by American troops near Tikrit a week ago, said Hoshyar Zebari, a Kurdish official privy to intelligence on the hunt for Saddam Hussein. "Abed Hamid had just returned from Syria where he had obtained the passports, probably without the knowledge of the Syrian government," Mr Zebari told The Independent. This is the first sign that members of Saddam's inner circle are planning to flee outside the Arab world. Belarus has poor relations with the US but it is unlikely that it would risk hosting Saddam or his sons, Uday and Qusay. Iraqi officials might find it easier to disappear in neighbouring Ukraine or Russia. [.....] _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk