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[casi] News, 24/9-1/10/03 (4)



News, 24/9-1/10/03 (4)

STATE OF THE PRETEXT

*  US intelligence on Iraqi weapons 'flawed'
*  Butcher Buffaloed
*  Iraqi defectors' weapons claims were 'false'

STATE OF THE US

*  "Marshall Plan to Bush Iraqi Plan: No Comparison"
*  CPA head addresses Senate on U.S. supplemental aid package for Iraq
*  The Bush Assault on the World Order

STATE OF THE MIDDLE EAST

*  Syria proposes changes to US draft resolution on Iraq
*  Iraqi tribal delegation meets with Syrian President
*  U.S. Transfers Border Patrol to Iraqis
*  Iraqis report being trapped in Syria
*  Tehran putting its spies in Iraq
*  Kuwait MPs reject call to drop Iraq debt demands

STATE OF BRITAIN

*  Blow to Blair as majority say war not justified
*  Thousands in Asia, Europe protest over Iraq war    
*  Emotions dominate Iraq debate
*  Blair's conference speech on 29th September


STATE OF THE PRETEXT

http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1051757,00.html

*  US INTELLIGENCE ON IRAQI WEAPONS 'FLAWED'
by Gary Younge, New York
The Guardian, 27th September

America's intelligence community used outdated, "circumstantial" and
"fragmentary" information with "too many uncertainties" to conclude that
Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and ties to al-Qaida, according to the
intelligence committee of the US House of Representatives.

After four months of poring over 19 volumes of classified material used by
the White House to justify its case for war, senior members of the committee
concluded that there were "significant deficiencies" in the community's
ability to collect fresh intelligence on Iraq. They said it had to rely on
past assessments, dating to when UN inspectors left Iraq in 1998, and on
"some new 'piecemeal' intelligence", both of which "were not challenged as a
routine matter".

In a letter to the CIA director, George Tenet, that was leaked to the
Washington Post, two committee members claimed: "The absence of proof that
chemical and biological weapons and their related development programs had
been destroyed was considered proof that they continued to exist. The
assessment that Iraq continued to pursue chemical and biological weapons
remained constant and static over the past 10 years."

The letter is all the more damaging because it comes from a committee
controlled by Republicans and is signed by the committee chairman,
Congressman Porter Goss, a Republican from Florida who is a former CIA agent
and a long-time supporter of Mr Tenet and the intelligence agencies.

Their findings echoed claims made by the United Nations chief weapons
inspector, Hans Blix, two weeks ago that most of Iraq's weapons of mass
destruction were destroyed 10 years ago.

"I'm certainly more and more to the conclusion that Iraq has, as they
maintained, destroyed all, almost, of what they had in the summer of 1991,"
said Mr Blix. "The more time that has passed, the more I think it's unlikely
that anything will be found."

The committee's conclusions also have striking parallels in much of the
evidence that has emerged from the Hutton inquiry in London, that the
intelligence agencies came up with evidence to support the political demands
the government to go to war.

Regarding Iraq's alleged ties to al-Qaida, the letter argues that the
agencies had a "low threshold" or "no threshold" on using the information
they gathered.

"As a result, intelligence reports that might have been screened out by a
more rigorous vetting process made their way to the analysts' desks,
providing ample room for vagary to intrude," the letter states. "The
agencies did not clarify which of their reports were from sources that were
credible and which were from sources that would otherwise be dismissed in
the absence of any other corroborating intelligence."

"To attempt to make such a determination so quickly and without all the
facts is premature and wrong," Bill Harlow, an agency spokesman, told the
Washington Post. "Iraq was an intractable and difficult subject. The
tradecraft of intelligence rarely has the luxury of having black-and-white
facts. The judgments reached, and the tradecraft used, were honest and
professional - based on many years of effort and experience."

The national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, yesterday also disputed the
claims. She told Fox News Sunday: "There was enrichment of the intelligence
from 1998 over the period leading up to the war. And nothing pointed to a
reversal of Saddam Hussein's very active efforts to acquire weapons of mass
destruction ... it was very clear that this continued, and it was a
gathering danger."

News of the criticism comes at a difficult time for President George Bush,
who came away from a week of trying to persuade foreign leaders to give
financial and military assistance to maintain security in Iraq empty handed
and with his approval ratings plummeting.

The first lady, Laura Bush, set out to soften America's image abroad this
week with a European tour to France and Russia. "There's a great benefit for
our country if we can really let people around the world know what we are
really like and what our values are really like," she said yesterday.


http://www.nypost.com/news/worldnews/6772.htm

*  BUTCHER BUFFALOED
by DEBORAH ORIN
New York Post, 29th September

September 29, 2003 -- Saddam Hussein's own scientists may have fooled him -
and the world - into thinking he had weapons of mass destruction that he no
longer possessed, it was reported yesterday.

A Time magazine report claims Iraq's mass murder weapons may have been
destroyed or dismantled in the 1990s and never rebuilt, but Saddam's
scientists lied so that they could keep millions of dollars flowing, often
to line their own pockets.

But Secretary of State Colin Powell said it's "naive" to think that Saddam
gave up chemical and biological weapons, although they have yet to be found.

The new report offers one possible answer to the growing mystery of why
Saddam's weapons haven't been found as David Kay, the former U.N. weapons
inspector now in charge of the hunt, gets ready to make an interim report.

It also comes at a time when even loyal Republicans, such as House
Intelligence chairman Porter Goss (R-Fla.), charge there were "significant
deficiencies" in the CIA intelligence about Saddam's weapons leading up to
the Iraq war.

But Powell yesterday noted Saddam used his mass weapons in 1988 to put down
Iraqi Kurdish rebels and killed 5,000.

"Now, if you want to believe that he suddenly gave up that weapon and had no
further interest in those sorts of weapons, whether it be chemical,
biological or nuclear then I think you're - it's a bit naive," Powell told
ABC.

U.N. inspectors, effectively kicked out by Saddam in 1998, reported vast
stocks of Iraqi chemical and biological weapons materials, and Saddam had
used chemical weapons against Iran and the Kurds in the 1980s.

Time notes that it is possible that Iraqi scientists and intelligence
officials are lying when they now claim Saddam's weapons program had become
a mirage by the time the war began last March.

But a captain in Iraq's Special Security Organization is quoted as saying,
"Trust me. If we had [weapons of mass destruction], we would have used them,
especially in the battle for [Baghdad] airport. We wanted them but didn't
have any."

The report also claims that Saddam was such a "sucker" for new gadgets and
weapons that he believed his scientists' lies about new programs and "may
not have known what he actually had, or, more to the point, didn't have."


http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1052291,00.html

*  IRAQI DEFECTORS' WEAPONS CLAIMS WERE 'FALSE'
by Julian Borger, Washington
The Guardian, 30th September

US military intelligence has concluded that almost all the claims made by
Iraqi defectors about Saddam Hussein's alleged secret weapons were either
useless or false, it was reported yesterday.

The assessment by the Pentagon defence intelligence agency (DIA), leaked to
US journalists, amounts to an indictment of the Iraqi National Congress,
which brought the defectors to Washington's attention, adding to the
momentum towards invasion. A DIA official would not confirm or deny the
report's existence yesterday, saying any such document would be classified,
but adding: "Any intelligence we get from an individual we never use as a
sole source but we add it to our database.

"We don't make decisions or take action based on sole sources."

The leak reflects a growing backlash by the US intelligence agencies -
principally the CIA, DIA and the state department's intelligence arm - whose
findings and recommendations on Iraq were overruled before the war in favour
of far more sensational assessments made by ideologically driven groups in
the Pentagon and the vice-president's office.

"All this is coming out now, because they didn't have the political spine to
do it before," said Vincent Cannistraro, a former head of CIA
counter-intelligence operations.

"Now the tide has turned internally in terms of the use of intelligence
before the war."

In another sign of that turning tide, the CIA director, George Tenet, has
asked the justice department to investigate allegations that one or more
administration officials leaked the name of a CIA analyst married to a
prominent critic of the administration's Iraq policy, Joseph Wilson.

Mr Wilson, a former ambassador and a member of the national security
council, has said he believes the leak came direct from the White House, and
has hinted that one of the sources could have been President Bush's chief
political adviser, Karl Rove.

The White House spokesman Scott McClellan said: "There has been absolutely
nothing brought to our attention that suggests White House involvement."

The DIA report strikes at the heart of administration's justification for
going to war: that the Iraqi regime represented an imminent danger to the US
because of its development of weapons of mass destruction.

A report by a CIA-led search team, the Iraqi Survey Group, due to be
delivered to Congress this week, is expected to confirm that no stockpiles
of such weapons have been found after a six-month hunt.

Much of the US and British case against Saddam was built on the testimony of
defectors, and in Washingtonat least, most of those defectors were
shepherded out of Iraq by the INC.

DIA officials interviewed about half a dozen defectors in European capitals
and in the Kurdish-run northern city of Irbil in late 2002 and 2003.

They brought with them claims that Saddam was continuing to build
biological, chemical and nuclear weapons underground and undetected by UN
inspectors.

But according to the DIA report, only a third of the information they
provided was of any interest, and most of the leads arising from the rest
proved groundless.

The INC defectors were largely spurned by the CIA and state department, who
believed they were concocting stories in the hope of being resettled in the
US.

But they won an enthusiastic audience in the Pentagon's office of special
plans (OSP), set up after September 11, which became a parallel civilian
channel for intelligence on Iraq, operating independently of the uniformed
officers running the DIA.

According to yesterday's edition of Time magazine, the INC's American
representative in Washington, Francis Brooke, was in weekly contact with the
head of the OSP, William Luti, in the build-up to the war.

Neither Mr Brooke nor the INC office in Washington returned calls yesterday.

The OSP has been disbanded since the war, but its staff remains at work
under different titles in the Pentagon.


STATE OF THE US

http://truthout.org/docs_03/092603E.shtml

*  "MARSHALL PLAN TO BUSH IRAQI PLAN: NO COMPARISON"
Statement from West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd
Truthout, 24th September

Opening remarks to the Senate Appropriations Committee considering Bush
Administration request for 87B additional dollars in funding for the Iraqi
occupation.

The American people want to know more about what the Administration has
planned for Iraq, and it is the responsibility of Congress to help inform
our public. But rather than explanations of the Administration's long-term
plan for Iraq, we only hear comparisons to the Marshall Plan.

I can understand the Administration's desire to equate in the minds of the
American public Saddam Hussein's Iraq to Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan.
World War II invokes images of the "Greatest Generation" -- the entire
country united to defeat the Axis powers, and then, after victory, stayed
behind to rebuild the cities of their conquered foes.

But with World War II, Japan had attacked us. The Axis Powers had declared
war on us. The U.S. occupation of Germany and Japan took place in the wake
of a widely supported defensive war, under a commitment to internationalism
and multilateralism.

We're seeing none of this in Iraq. For one, the war in Iraq was not
defensive. It was a preemptive attack. Secondly, we have alienated most of
the international community in fighting the war. Third, the Germans and
Japanese did not resist the U.S. occupation through sabotage,
assassinations, and guerilla warfare.

The Marshall Plan was not a huge bill presented to Congress for its
rubber-stamp approval. It was a comprehensive strategy to provide $13.3
billion to 16 countries over four years to aid in reconstruction. In current
dollars, the U.S. share would be about $88.2 billion spread over four years
- very nearly the same amount that has been requested by the President for
one country for a period of mere months. Moreover, the total amount of aid
that the President will ultimately request for Iraq is anyone's guess.

When the Congress considered the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe, the
Foreign Relations Committee held one-month of hearings, from January 8 to
February 5, 1948, with the Chairman calling ninety witnesses to testify.
After the Foreign Relations Committee reported legislation, the Senate
further debated it for an additional two weeks. Senator Arthur Vandenberg,
the Republican Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, called the aid
plan reported by his committee "the final product of eight months of more
intensive study by more devoted minds than I have ever known to concentrate
upon any one objective in all my twenty years in Congress." The
Congressional Research Service states that the Marshall Plan was opened to
"perhaps the most thorough examination prior to launching of any program."
If only we had the patience and desire to hold more hearings and devote more
study to this huge spending request for Iraq before we rush to approve it.
If only this Administration would be more open to working with Congress
before committing vast sums for foreign aid, as was done half a century ago.

The reconstruction of Europe was undertaken in the context of spirit of
internationalism, multilaterialism, and collective security that led to the
formation of the United Nations, NATO, the World Bank, and the International
Monetary Fund. The same can hardly be said today.

And who received aid under the Marshall Plan? West Germany managed to
rebuild its economy and restore its once-functioning democracy with $9.2
billion in inflation-adjusted dollars; or just 10.6 percent of all Marshall
Plan funds. Great Britain, with undeniable cultural and political
similarities to America, alone received 24.7 percent of the Marshall Plan
funds over the course of four years, the equivalent of $21.1 billion in 1997
dollars.

Yet today, we are asked to appropriate $20.3 billion for the reconstruction
of Iraq for the next year alone. Moreover, these funds are not just for
rebuilding bridges, but an attempt to transform a political culture very
different from our own into a democracy - a form of government never before
seen in those ancient lands. At least one of our intelligence agencies has
grave doubts about democratizing Iraq, stating in one unclassified report,
"Western-style democracy will be difficult to achieve."

The $87 billion package that the President is seeking has little in common
with the Marshall Plan. We should not learn our history through sound bites.
Congress has an obligation to understand what this $87 billion is supposed
to do for Iraq, and whether those goals can ever be achieved.

We need to retain the support of the people as we face the harsh realities
of post-war Iraq. Let us ask ourselves: years in the future, will the people
look back and applaud the rush to pass this funding package? Perhaps the
answer lies in another question: do the people, today, curse the memory of
Senator Vandenburg and others for acting with such deliberation half a
century ago?

The President's $87 billion request is larger than the Gross Domestic
Product of 166 nations. It is the beginning of a potentially enormous
commitment to Iraq. We have the duty to understand the enormity of the
potential consequences before we act.


*  CPA HEAD ADDRESSES SENATE ON U.S. SUPPLEMENTAL AID PACKAGE FOR IRAQ
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head Bremer addressed the Senate
Appropriations Committee on 22 September asking committee members to support
President Bush's $87 billion supplemental request package for reconstruction
efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The package, which includes $20.3 billion
in grants for work in Iraq, would be the United States' most ambitious aid
package since the Marshall Plan that funded European reconstruction after
World War II, Bremer told committee members.

Bremer encouraged the committee to approve the "urgent" package, saying, "No
one part of the supplemental package is dispensable." The package, he said,
includes $5.1 billion to enhance security. Some $2 billion will go to fund
and train the police, border enforcement, fire and civil defense, public
safety training, and the establishment of a communications network to link
the above-mentioned security departments. Another $2 billion would go to
national defense forces, including the three-division New Iraqi Army and a
civil-defense corps. Some $1 billion would fund the justice system -- to
investigate war crimes; "security for witnesses, judges, and prosecutors";
and prison construction.

Regarding infrastructure, Bremer told the Senate committee that $5.7 billion
would be used to rebuild Iraq's electrical system, $2.1 billion for the oil
infrastructure, $3.7 billion for potable water and sewer and public works
systems, and another $3.7 billion to develop water resources, housing and
construction, transportation and communications, health care, and
private-sector development. The text of Bremer's address to the Senate
Appropriations Committee is available on the U.S. State Department's website
(http://usinfo.state.gov). Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM
chief John Abizaid are also testifying before the committee this week.
(Kathleen Ridolfo)


http://www.arabnews.com/?page=9&section=0&article=32568&d=25&m=9&y=2003&pix=
community.jpg&category=Features%22

*  THE BUSH ASSAULT ON THE WORLD ORDER
by Peter Hitchens
Arab News (Saudi Arabia), 25th September
Source: The Washington Post

The strange condition of postwar Iraq makes the visitor wonder what
America's remarkable military victory was for. On the lawless roads, in
dangerous, power-starved Baghdad, among the newly opened mass graves of
Saddam Hussein's victims or outside the great mosques of Najaf and Karbala,
there is no sign of a bold new order. Here is no nascent Arab democracy
giving light to a dark region, nor even a province in a new American empire.
Here is just a mess, growing messier by the day. The liberal and the
conservative can agree, if they have eyes to see, that thought did not play
much part in this venture.

John Newhouse makes a brave attempt to explain and understand how this
happened, how an American president devoid of curiosity about the world,
allied with some leathery old pseudo-conservatives in search of an enemy
whose evil would emphasize their virtue, attacked and invaded a country that
was no threat to the United States and that nobody now knows how to manage.
This useful book is packed with compelling little details showing just how
many wise and experienced people warned others at one time or another that
Iraqi regime change was needless at best, dangerous at worst. Perhaps the
most persuasive warning of all came from Dick Cheney, before he became vice
president, who in February 1992 wondered: "You're faced with the question of
what kind of government are you going to establish in Iraq. Is it going to
be a Kurdish government or a Shia government or a Sunni government? How many
forces are you going to have to leave there to keep it propped up, how many
casualties are you going to take through the course of the operation?"

Newhouse details the urgent tasks that faced President Bush after September
2001  in the Middle East, North Korea and Iran, not to mention Pakistan and
India  and explains how the preoccupation with Saddam Hussein got in the
way of tackling them, which it undoubtedly did. Newhouse is persuasive and
thorough here, though some would challenge his optimism about Iran's
unconvincing reformers, and many would be more pessimistic about Tehran's
nuclear weapons and missile programs, especially in the light of recent
revelations. His conventional belief that Israel rather than the PLO is the
obstacle to a compromise in the Middle East can also be wearing. Most
important of all, he does not quite grasp  as I suspect only conservatives
can  the real nature of the neo-conservative or pseudo-conservative
impulse. He almost does. "'Conservative' is the term normally applied to
members of the Republican Party's hard right. 'Radical' would be far more
appropriate," he says.

Regrettably, he does not follow this through, rapidly switching to standard
default mode and speaking of the president as belonging to the "hard right."
Had he followed his instincts, he might have seen that the ideological drive
for the Iraq war was something entirely new among the supposed right.

Many conservative Americans have accepted without question the support of
Britain's Labor government for the Iraq war, and have likewise welcomed the
unexpected endorsement that regime change has won from a number of the more
intelligent radical leftists in the United States. It is as if a group of
well-known arsonists had joined the Fire Department, and everyone was too
polite to comment on it. Newhouse frequently and rightly puzzles over what
precisely drove Blair to behave as he did. If he is mystified by what the
British prime minister hoped to gain, he can see the disadvantages of his
position easily enough. He characterizes Blair's loyalty to the war plan as
an "overcommitment to the role of Washington's junior partner." He also
believes that "Blair ran a serious risk of sacrificing himself to Bush's war
and becoming a tragic figure."

He may well prove right about the tragedy, given the damaging aftereffects
of the apparent suicide of the British weapons expert David Kelly. But what
drove Blair was probably as ideological as the forces behind neo- or
pseudo-conservatism. Blair's government is a domestic failure in every field
in which it pledged to be a reforming success. It is, by the way, a
conservative's nightmare, taxing and spending at unprecedented levels,
politically correct, weak on crime and soft on terror when it is close to
home. It has neglected the armed forces. Blair is frighteningly keen to
dissolve British national sovereignty in the European Union, a passion that
has survived the recent disagreements with France and Germany. During the
Kosovo affair, he made a speech in Chicago in which he pledged himself to a
sort of global liberal imperialism at Washington's side. That the president
then was Bill Clinton, and the president now is George W. Bush, has not
altered that commitment at all.

What Blair has in common with the pseudo-conservative White House is a need
for an ethical justification for their existence, and a contempt for the
national sovereignty of countries other than the United States. American
pseudo-conservatives, having lost or preferred not to fight the great
cultural and moral battles over marriage, education and morality, and robbed
of a genuinely evil empire by Mikhail Gorbachev, scan the globe for
replacement Kremlins to confront and overthrow. In this they are egged on by
ex-Marxist secular globalists who despise national sovereignty and conceal a
loathing for all faiths in a scorn for Islam, and by liberal imperialists
such as Blair, who view the non-European, non American world as a kind of
park where they can exercise their atrophied consciences.

(Peter Hitchens is a columnist for the London Mail on Sunday. He recently
visited Iraq.)


STATE OF THE MIDDLE EAST

NO URL

*  SYRIA PROPOSES CHANGES TO US DRAFT RESOLUTION ON IRAQ
al Hayat, 12th September

France, Germany, Russia and Syria have proposed amendments to a US draft
resolution on Iraq calling for giving the UN a pivotal role in rebuilding
Iraq politically and economically. The French and German amendments call for
withdrawing the powers of US administrator of Iraq Paul Bremer, while the
Russian proposals cancel the basic concept on which Washington insists: the
concept that the resolution is part of efforts to fight terrorism.

Damascus, Moscow, Paris and Berlin proposed amendments to the US draft
resolution on Iraq in three separate papers to be discussed by the [UN]
Security Council members before the foreign ministers of the five permanent
members of the Security Council - the USA, Britain, Russia, France and China
- meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan in Geneva tomorrow. At that
meeting, the conferees are expected to discuss the draft resolution and
moves to lay down new bases for operations in Iraq.

The Syrian amendments and observations which Al-Hayat learned about object
to placing the Iraq issue in the framework of the "war on terrorism". They
indicated that Resolution 1373, to which the US draft resolution refers,
does not apply to the situation in Iraq.

The amendments state: "The threat to world peace and security does not
emanate from terrorist acts, as the draft resolution indicates, but from
mistakes made by the occupation authority, and mainly the dissolution of
Iraqi institutions, primarily the military and security establishments. The
threat also emanates from the lack of a clear and definitive timetable
assuring Iraqi citizens that the occupation will end and from the delay in
drafting a constitution and electing a national government."

The Syrian amendments call for:

 - Allowing the UN to participate in rebuilding Iraqi economy, not only to
support the occupation authority's activity;

 - "Welcoming", not "endorsing" or "supporting", the interim Iraqi Governing
Council;

 - Cancelling the US draft resolution's paragraph which calls on the
region's states, namely Iraq's neighbours, to "prevent terrorists from
crossing into Iraq and ensure that terrorists receive no weapons and funding
that may support terrorism" on the grounds that this paragraph implicitly
accuses the neighbouring states of exporting terrorism to Iraq to undermine
its security;

 - Adding a paragraph under which the Security Council calls on "the
occupation authority to draw up a clear timetable to end the occupation";
and

 - Replacing the phrase "deploying multinational forces" with the phrase
"deploying UN forces under a unified command appointed by the
secretary-general and calling on the secretary-general to submit a report on
the formation, tasks and leadership of this force".

The Syrian proposals differ from the Russian, French and German ones with
regard to the multinational force and drawing up a timetable to end the
occupation, but agree with them on the status of the neighbouring states and
key role of the region's states. [Passage omitted]


*  IRAQI TRIBAL DELEGATION MEETS WITH SYRIAN PRESIDENT
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

A delegation of the National Council of Iraqi Tribes headed by Chairman
Shaykh Husayn Ali al-Sha'lan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on 22
September, SANA news agency reported the same day. During the meeting,
al-Asad expressed a desire to continue social and economic relations between
the two neighboring states, and pledged his nation's help in securing Iraq's
independence and territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bouthaina Sha'ban told
London's "The Times" that "Syria would be willing [to send troops] and all
Arab countries would be willing, including all Iraq's neighbors," if the UN
were put in charge of Iraq and the United States set a clear timetable for
withdrawal, the daily reported on 22 September. "If these two points are
addressed, all the Arabs will be willing to help to restore security and to
help in the reconstruction of Iraq," she said. "This is the only way to send
[peacekeeping] troops to Iraq." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&cid=540&ncid=736&e=2&u=/ap/20030
927/ap_on_re_mi_ea/iraq_taking_control

*  U.S. TRANSFERS BORDER PATROL TO IRAQIS
by PATRICK QUINN
Yahoo, 27th September

MUNTHERIA BORDER CROSSING, Iraq - The U.S. Army for the first time Saturday
gave Iraq's provisional government responsibility for patrolling a stretch
of the country's borders  a sensitive, 210-mile region of forbidding desert
frontier between Iraq and Iran.

The transfer was significant because it comes as the U.S.-led coalition
faces pressure to give Iraqis more control over their affairs. And security
here is crucial: The border is a popular crossing point for illegal Iranian
pilgrims en route to Shiite holy sites, raising fears that al Qaida or other
terrorists could sneak through in disguise.

Calling it an "important day for the Iraqi people," Col. Michael Moody,
commander of the 4th Infantry's 4th Brigade, formally handed patrol duties
in area to Iraqi Col. Nazim Shareef Mohammed.

Part of an American drive to ease the burden on thinly stretched U.S.
soldiers, the switch marked the first time since the fall of Saddam Hussein
that Iraqis have been given policing authority over an entire border region.
The American occupation forces now have only an advisory role.

"This is a great example of new Iraqi security forces taking control," Moody
said. "Each day the border becomes more secure. This is good news for the
Iraqi people and the coalition."

The frontier includes a craggy, mountainous region  some of the most
treacherous terrain in Iraq  and temperatures often surpass 122 degrees. It
runs from the edges of Kurdish controlled territory in northern Iraq to a
point just southeast of Baghdad, encompassing nearly all of Diyalia
province, one of three under 4th Infantry control.

"If this experiment is successful in Diyalia province, then it is an example
for all of Iraq," declared Lt. Col. Reggie Allen, commanding officer of the
4th Infantry Division's 1st Squadron, 10th Cavalry, standing just near the
border.

Mohammed's 1,178-strong force is made up of Arabs, Kurds and Turks. "We are
unique," said Mohammed, a Kurd. "This is an important day for us because we
officially take over this highly sensitive border."

U.S. soldiers started training the Iraqi border forces in May, in sessions
that touched on human rights of detainees as well as searches for Islamic
militants or suicide bombers of the Iraqi resistance, trying to blend in
with pilgrims.

With no diplomatic relations between Iran and Iraq, many Iranians try to
cross at a point about 75 miles east of Baghdad on their way to Najaf and
Karbala  the most sacred cities for Shiites after Mecca and Medina.

Allen said his 4th Infantry forces, equipped with armored vehicles and scout
helicopters, have stopped more than 14,000 illegal pilgrims since the end of
August.

The pilgrims often trek for two or three days through the wasteland to reach
a highway just inside Iraq, hoping to hook up with smugglers who charge up
to $30 to drive them south to the two cities. They are often robbed by the
people offering to drive them.

"The word is out in Iran that Iraq is free," Allen said. "For years, Saddam
Hussein did not allow them into the country. Now, they mass themselves in
groups sometimes as large as 1,000 and cross. Some die of dehydration as
they cross."

When border forces catch them, the Iranians are held in a collection
facility, screened and returned home.

Lt. Col. Vince Price, who runs part of the border with Allen, said border
guards recently stopped two Afghans with Taliban identification cards. The
Afghans were released, but Price said it was a sign of the close cooperation
between the Iraqi border police and U.S. Army.


*  IRAQIS REPORT BEING TRAPPED IN SYRIA
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 40, 25 September 2003

Iraqi citizens that have crossed into Syria are reportedly finding it
difficult to return home after the U.S. banned individuals between the ages
of 18 and 45 from entering Iraq, Beirut's "Daily Star" reported on 23
September. "Nobody told me this when I drove from Baghdad to Damascus. I
only found out when I entered Syria," one such person, identified as
Muhammad, told the newspaper. He, like many Iraqis, sought shelter in Syria
from the regime of now-deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the last
three decades. Muhammad returned to Iraq following the downfall of the
regime, but was apparently earning a living transporting passengers in his
taxi back and forth to Damascus.

Taxi drivers told the "Daily Star" that security measures at the Al-Tanf,
Al-Yarubiyah, and Abu Kamal crossings were tightened following U.S.
Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Iraq on 13 September. The drivers
claim, however, that U.S. troops at the border crossings are taking bribes,
in particular from truckers wishing to cross the border. Another Iraqi told
the daily that Iraqis hired by the U.S. military to man the border crossings
accept the bribes "under the watchful eyes" of U.S. troops. "The Iraqis act
as middlemen for the American soldiers," he said, adding, "Anything you want
can cross into Iraq if you are prepared to pay the money." The drivers'
claims have not been substantiated by independent sources. A Baghdad
newspaper, "Al-Ittijah al-Akhar" reported on 13 September that Syrian
authorities had opened the northern border crossing near Mosul, allowing
citizens from that city to cross into Syria using only identification cards
and an authorized letter from the Mosul Governorate. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


http://www.washtimes.com/world/20030928-123420-6964r.htm

*  TEHRAN PUTTING ITS SPIES IN IRAQ
by Philip Sherwell
Washington Times, 28th September
Source: LONDON SUNDAY TELEGRAPH

NAJAF, Iraq  Iran has dispatched hundreds of agents posing as pilgrims and
traders to Iraq to foment unrest in the holy cities of Najaf and Karbala,
and the lawless frontier areas.

Tehran's hard-line regime has also allowed extremist fighters from Ansar
al-Islam, a terror faction with close links to al Qaeda, to cross back into
Iraq from its territory to join the anti American resistance.

The Pentagon believes that Iran is building a bridgehead of activists inside
Iraq, ready to destabilize the country if that serves its future interests.

"They are provoking sectarian divisions, inciting people against the
Americans and trying to foment conflict and anarchy," said Abdulaziz
al-Kubaisi, a former Iraqi major who was jailed by Saddam Hussein and is now
a senior official in the Iraqi National Congress.

"The last thing that certain elements in the regime want is to see a stable
democratic and pluralistic Iraq next door, so they are trying to export
trouble here," said a leading official in another Iraqi party.

Although Iran's president is a political moderate, true power remains in the
hands of the fundamentalist clergy. At a time when Iran is facing domestic
discontent over the slow progress of democratic reform and mounting
international pressure over its nuclear program, hard-line elements believe
that instability in Iraq will distract attention from the regime's problems.

The National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI), an opposition group,
claims that some translators working for the U.S. forces are reporting back
to Tehran.

It also says that its informants within the regime have supplied details of
senior Iranian intelligence commanders who are operating inside Iraq.

"The Iranian agents have melted into the population and are just waiting
until the moment is right," said one NCRI official.

L. Paul Bremer, the American head of the Coalition Provisional Authority,
has already accused Iran of "meddling" in Iraq's internal affairs and
backing some attacks on American forces.

On Friday, he confirmed that several hundred members of Ansar, which set up
a Taliban style ministate in Kurdish-controlled territory in 2001, had
re-entered Iraq.

"They are a very dangerous group," he said in Washington. "The flow of
terrorists into Iraq is the biggest obstacle to the reconstruction of the
country."

Mr. Bremer said that U.S. forces are holding 248 non-Iraqi fighters captured
in Iraq. Most came from Syria, but the second-largest group was Iranians.

At the start of the war to topple Saddam, Kurdish militia and U.S. Special
Forces had crushed Ansar's 750-strong force of Arabs, Pakistanis, Chechens
and Kurds.

About 250 Ansar fighters were killed and another 100 captured, but Iran's
military turned a blind eye as the rest escaped across the mountainous
border.

Most have returned to the violent flash points west and north of Baghdad,
according to U.S. military officials, Kurdish political leaders and former
mukhabarat officers.

Ansar adheres to the same extremist Sunni Muslim interpretation of Islam as
al Qaeda.

Although Iran follows the alternative Shi'ite version of Islam, its
hard-line military rulers have allowed Ansar to regroup and return to Iraq
because they share its anti-American cause.

Iran has also taken advantage of its largely unpoliced border with Iraq  a
210-mile stretch of which was turned over Friday to an American-trained
police force by the U.S. Army  to deploy agents who are building networks
of spies and sympathizers.

One Iraqi of ethnic Iranian origin, who returned to Najaf after 23 years in
Iran and who has contacts with Tehran's intelligence services, told the
Sunday Telegraph that he has seen many Iranian agents mingling with visitors
to the city of golden-domed mosques and shrines.

Najaf, an ancient seat of Shi'ite learning, is fertile ground for the
Iranian agents. Last week, many of the visiting pilgrims were speaking Farsi
(Persian).

Long-banned pictures of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, leader of the Islamic
revolution in Iran in 1979, are once again on sale in the markets of the
town where he spent part of his early exile before moving to Paris.

The returning Iraqi exile said that several agents from the political wing
of the Revolutionary Guards had been deployed to Najaf, some operating
within the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), one of
the five political parties represented in the U.S.-appointed Iraqi Governing
Council.

"They are gathering information on the Americans and establishing their
contacts with anti U.S. groups," he said. Iran denies interference or
sending agents to Iraq, saying that it has already recognized the Governing
Council.

 The Iranian opposition, however, says that the Quds force of the regime's
Revolutionary Guards, which specializes in foreign operations, commands the
loyalty of key commanders within the Badr Brigade, the Iranian-trained
militia army of the SCIRI.


http://www.jordantimes.com/Mon/news/news6.htm

*  KUWAIT MPS REJECT CALL TO DROP IRAQ DEBT DEMANDS
Jordan Times, 29th September    
    
KUWAIT (Reuters)  Kuwaiti parliamentarians reacted angrily to a US
suggestion the oil rich emirate drop demands for billions of dollars in war
reparations owed by former foe Iraq, newpapers said on Sunday.

US civil administrator for Iraq Paul Bremer said on Friday that out of
Iraq's total debt of $200 billion, Baghdad owed $98 billion in reparations
to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for losses during the 1990-91 Iraqi occupation of
Kuwait and the Gulf War.

"This is some kind of (US) pressure on Kuwait .. the issue of the
reparations is something that concerns the impacted countries and the United
Nations," said MP Yousef Al Zalzalah in remarks carried by Al Watan daily on
Sunday.

"Demanding that Kuwait of its own accord give up its rights is something
unacceptable because the reparations are part of the big losses of the
tyrannical (Iraqi) invasion."

Bremer said "it is curious to me to have a country whose (annual) per capita
income GDP is about $800 ... pay reparations to countries whose
per-capitaGDP is a factor of 10 times that," for a war which all Iraqis now
in power opposed.

Saddam's forces invaded Kuwait in 1990 and were driven out by US-led
multinational coalition in 1991. Iraq also launched missiles into Saudi
territory. Baghdad subsequently agreed to pay compensation for damage it
caused, and some revenue from Iraq's UN oil-for food deal went for payment
of reparations.


STATE OF BRITAIN

http://www.guardian.co.uk/guardianpolitics/story/0,3605,1047817,00.html

*  BLOW TO BLAIR AS MAJORITY SAY WAR NOT JUSTIFIED
by Alan Travis
The Guardian, 23rd September

Tony Blair has decisively lost the debate over Iraq with a clear majority of
voters now saying that the war was unjustified, according to the results of
this month's Guardian/ICM poll published today. The survey shows that
British public opinion on Iraq has moved sharply over the summer in the face
of the Hutton inquiry, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction and
the continuing instability in Baghdad.

 In the immediate aftermath of the war in April public support for the war
peaked at 63%. By July it had slipped to 51% but a majority still said the
war was justified. Now for the first time a clear majority are saying the
war was unjustified (53%), and only 38% believe it was right to invade Iraq.

The survey also shows that the Brent East byelection has provided a dramatic
boost to the Liberal Democrats, who are now only two points behind the
Tories and enjoying a 28% share of the vote, their highest poll rating for
14 years.

The ICM poll shows Labour maintaining a five-point lead over the
Conservatives but reveals serious erosion in the government's reputation for
economic competence in the last six months.

On Iraq, the poll signals that the public is no longer giving Mr Blair the
benefit of the doubt on the war.

The detailed results show some significant swings. Among men, the net
justified/unjustified feeling about the war has moved from minus one in July
to minus 29. Even Tory voters no longer support the war, moving from plus 20
in July to minus 12 now. Among Labour voters, sentiment is still pro-war but
the gap has narrowed sharply from plus 30 to plus 16. Liberal Democrat
voters are most hostile with a rating of minus 45 points.

The boost to the Lib Dems' poll position - up six points on the month to 28%
- follows their byelection triumph but also reflects an underlying
strengthening of their rating since the general election. It confirms that
it has been Charles Kennedy's party rather than the Tories who are
benefiting most from the government's troubles.

If the Liberal Democrats produced this kind of performance in the next
general election they would have no trouble in achieving the 3.8% swing
needed to implement their "decapitation strategy", which would see shadow
cabinet members Oliver Letwin, Theresa May and David Davies losing their
marginal seats.

The advance of the Liberal Democrats this month appears to have been at the
equal expense of Labour and Tories. Labour's 35-point rating is its lowest
on the Guardian/ICM poll for 11 years.

Mr Blair's failure to convince the public on Iraq may be one big factor in
eroding Labour's poll rating but the September ICM survey also uncovers a
more subterranean shift. The party's reputation for economic competence,
which has been crucial to its landslide election successes since 1993, is
showing signs of erosion.

In March this year 47% of voters named Labour as the party with the best
policies for dealing with the economy. This month's ICM poll shows that has
fallen to 29% of voters.

The Tories are doing no better: their economic competence rating has also
fallen, from 28 to 18 points.

 ICM interviewed a random sample of 1,002 adults aged 18 and over by
telephone from September 19-21. Interviews were conducted across the country
and the results weighted to the profile of all adults.


http://www.jordantimes.com/Sun/news/news12.htm

*  THOUSANDS IN ASIA, EUROPE PROTEST OVER IRAQ WAR
Jordan Times, 28th September
    
LONDON (AP)  More than 10,000 protesters demanding the pullout of coalition
troops from Iraq marched in central London on Saturday, chanting "No more
war" and "Bush and Blair have got to go" while thousands more in other
countries raised their voices against the occupation of Iraq.

"War in Iraq  Illegal, Immoral and Illogical" read one banner as people of
all ages strode out of Hyde Park in central London and through the streets
towards Trafalgar Square, banging drums and whistling.

Police estimated the orderly crowd had reached 10,000 and was still growing
as more demonstrators joined in the first major national protest in Britain
since Iraqi regime fell.

A major theme was criticism of Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President
George W. Bush, partners in the military coalition that drove Saddam Hussein
out.

"George Bush, Uncle Sam, Iraq will be your Vietnam," chanted some young
marchers.

Demonstration organisers reject the justification Blair's government used
for war  the threat of Iraqi biological and chemical weapons. No such
weapons have yet been found by occupation forces in Iraq.

In Greece, Cyprus, South Korea and Turkey thousands more demonstrators took
to the streets.

Outside the US embassy in Athens, demonstrators hurled bottles at riot
police during a rally to protest the occupation of Iraq and the Palestinian
territories.

Chanting "Occupiers out" and "Freedom for Palestine," about 3,000 protesters
joined the rally after attending an open-air concert in central Athens.
Police deployed hundreds of officers in riot gear along the route of the
rally, but there were no reports of arrests or injury.

Protests were also staged in other parts of Greece and on island of Crete,
outside an American naval base at Souda Bay. The base supports the US 6th
Fleet and spy planes.

In Seoul, thousands of activists protested a US request to send South Korean
troops to Iraq. Protesters chanted "No war!" and carried banners saying "End
the occupation in Iraq" and "Oppose a plan to dispatch S. Korean combat
troops to Iraq."

Some 4,000 protesters in the Turkish capital, Ankara, shouted slogans and
unfurled banners to support the Palestinian cause and demand an end to the
US-led occupation of Iraq. Rock bands played at the rally and celebrities
demanded that Turkey not deploy peacekeepers. Hundreds more gathered at a
similar rally in Istanbul and burned American and Israeli flags.

Protests against Israeli policy towards Palestinians were also part of the
London march, where the Muslim Association of Britain was one of the
organisers.

Opposition to the war has always been strong in Britain.

Several large peace protests were held during the war, though none matched
the vast rally Feb. 15, before the conflict began, when between 750,000 and
two million people marched through central London.

Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, another organiser of Saturday's march,
said a big demonstration would send a strong message to the government that
the public did not condone what it called "lies" used to justify the war.

"The British people have the right to know the truth about the events
leading to the illegal war on Iraq, which is causing untold suffering to the
people of that country," group chairwoman Kate Hudson said.

Allegations that the Blair government exaggerated the threat of Iraqi
weapons to make a case for war have plunged the Blair government into its
worst crisis, and opinion polls show a steady decline in public faith in the
prime minister.

As Blair's Labour Party prepares for its annual conference next week, a new
poll taken Sept. 11-16 and published Saturday in The Financial Times found
50 per cent of those questioned said he should step aside and let someone
else in the party lead the country. The newspaper did not give the sample
size or margin of error.


http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/3156372.stm

*  EMOTIONS DOMINATE IRAQ DEBATE
by Jackie Storer
BBC News Online, 1st October

You could sense that the horrific images were flickering through her mind as
she tried to hold it together in front of the Labour party conference.

The machines used to crush the chests and stomachs of Saddam Hussein's
victims. His chemical attack on Halabja, which killed 5,000 Kurds.

 Ms Clwyd received a warm ovation

Events no human should have known about.

But it was as she described a visit to some of Iraq's so-called "killing
fields", that Ann Clwyd, a human rights campaigner and MP, was reduced to
tears.

"You never forget when a woman pushes a dead baby into your arms," she said
grimly.

"I saw the skeletons of men, women and children being dug up in one mass
grave ..."

 The people of Iraq could not have toppled this regime on their own. They
tried and they failed

Ms Clwyd, the government's Iraq envoy, had been taking part in a debate on
Britain and the world, which was dominated by passionate speeches on the
rights and wrongs of the second Gulf war.

The MP, who supported military intervention, said she had three minutes to
distil 25 years of human rights campaigning into three minutes.

Her moving account received a hearty standing ovation from the Bournemouth
conference.

Ms Clwyd's voice wavered as she told how during a recent visit to Baghdad,
she met ex political prisoners, some with amputated hands and ears, along
with "men, as well as women, who were systematically raped".

For over 20 years she had believed in regime change. "The people of Iraq
could not have toppled this regime on their own. They tried and they
failed," she said.

"They, the victims, needed our help. I believe, as do most of the Iraqi
people ... that for the sake of their human rights alone that Tony Blair did
the moral and courageous thing in destroying the evil and the terror of
Saddam Hussein."

As she emotionally explained her support for the war, her colleague and
friend, the Halifax MP Alice Mahon, accused ministers of "lying" to the
country about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, adding that there was no
other "delicate way of putting it".

She said the world was now a more dangerous place to live in, following the
removal of Saddam Hussein.

"We were seriously misled," she insisted. The UK had been told WMD could be
activated in 45 minutes. There had been "dodgy" dossiers.

She claimed al-Qaeda "were never in Iraq, but I bet they are now". The fact
the conference did not have a vote on Iraq was "a disgrace".

Mick Hogg, from the RMT, drew applause when he argued: "It's a tragedy and a
shame that a government of Labour, the party of peace and justice, has taken
us to war for reasons that have been exposed as untrue.

"The British people were misled about WMD and the whole world knows that
Iraq's oil reserves are the second biggest in the world."

Hecklers were out for Jimmy Elsby, of the TGWU, when he argued that if the
US and UK had listened to the millions who demonstrated against the war,
"Iraq would not be denied the right of human life ..."

The audience then had their heart strings tugged another way, when Mary
Chapple, from Amicus/AEU, told how her son helped to liberate the people of
Kuwait during the first Gulf war.

"Whatever your views, they are your views. But let me tell you this: my son
will do his duty and no way will my son walk away from the people of Iraq."

Ms Chapple said her son and daughter-in-law will be going out to Iraq later
this year, along with many other men and women "belonging to mothers like
me".

"Please think. Support the troops. Tony Blair made a difficult decision. We
can't walk away now. We are there."


http://politics.guardian.co.uk/labour2003/story/0,13803,1052752,00.html

*  BLAIR'S CONFERENCE SPEECH ON 29TH SEPTEMBER
The Guardian, 30th September

[.....]

Iraq has divided the international community. It has divided the party, the
country, families, friends. I know many people are disappointed, hurt,
angry. I know many profoundly believe the action we took was wrong . I do
not at all disrespect anyone who disagrees with me. I ask just one thing:
attack my decision but at least understand why I took it and why I would
take the same decision again.

Imagine you are PM. And you receive this intelligence. And not just about
Iraq. But about the whole murky trade in WMD. And one thing we know. Not
from intelligence. But from historical fact. That Saddam's regime has not
just developed but used such weapons gassing thousands of his own people.
And has lied about it consistently, concealing it for years even under the
noses of the UN Inspectors.

And I see the terrorism and the trade in WMD growing. And I look at Saddam's
country and I see its people in torment ground underfoot by his and his
sons' brutality and wickedness. So what do I do? Say "I've got the
intelligence but I've a hunch its wrong?" Leave Saddam in place but now with
the world's democracies humiliated and him emboldened?

You see, I believe the security threat of the 21st century is not countries
waging conventional war. I believe that in today's interdependent world the
threat is chaos. It is fanaticism defeating reason.

Suppose the terrorists repeated September 11th or worse. Suppose they got
hold of a chemical or biological or nuclear dirty bomb; and if they could,
they would. What then?

And if it is the threat of the 21st century, Britain should be in there
helping confront it, not because we are America's poodle, but because
dealing with it will make Britain safer.

There was no easy choice. So whatever we each of us thought, let us agree on
this. We who started the war must finish the peace. Those British soldiers
who died are heroes. We didn't regret the fall of Milosovic, the removal of
the Taliban or the liberation of Sierra Leone and whatever the disagreement
Iraq is a better country without Saddam.

And why do I stay fighting to keep in there with America on the one hand and
Europe on the other? Because I know terrorism can't be defeated unless
America and Europe work together. And it's not so much American
unilateralism I fear. It's isolation. It's walking away when we need America
there engaged. Fighting to get world trade opened up. Fighting to give hope
to Africa. Changing its position for the future of the world, on climate
change. And staying with it in the Middle East, telling Israel and the
Palestinians: don't let the extremists decide the fate of the peace process,
when the only hope is two states living side by side in peace.

[.....]

During the past months on Iraq, I have received letter from parents whose
sons have died as soldiers. One believing their son had died in vain and
hating me for my decision. Another, a beautiful letter, said they thought
Iraq was the right thing to do and though their son was dead, whom they
loved dearly, they still thought it was right. And don't believe anyone who
tells you when they receive letters like that they don't suffer any doubt.
All you can do in a modern world, so confusing with its opportunities and
its hazards, is to decide what is the right way and try to walk in it.

[.....]




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