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[casi] News, 16-23/7/03 (1)

News, 16-23/7/03 (1)


*  Missile fired at U.S. plane; soldier, Iraqi mayor killed
*  More than 1,000 children killed or wounded by abandoned arms in Iraq:
*  Another U.S. Soldier Killed in Iraq
*  Two U.S. Soldiers Killed in Northern Iraq
*  New death of soldier in Iraq piles pressure on US
*  Media Underplays U.S. Death Toll in Iraq Soldiers Dead Since May Is 3
Times Official Count
*  1 ICRC staff member killed, 1 wounded in Iraq
*  Saddam Hussein's sons killed in US raid in northern Iraq


*  Human Rights Watch releases report on violence against Iraqi women and
*  IAEA reports to UN on Iraq inspections
*  Iraq: Water-borne diseases increase with summer temperature
*  Iraqi minority that reveres John the Baptist looks with hope, fear to

THE (still a little bit) FREE WORLD

*  Jordan freezes Iraqi assets, but won'T turn them over
*  Turkomans in Ankara for political training
*  Iraq, Iran sign memorandum of understanding
*  U.S. ambassador says Russia might know where deposed Iraqi president is
*  Report: U.S. Asks Turkey to Send Troops
*  No Troops To Iraq: Lacking Courage And Vision


Arizona Republic, from Associated Press, 16th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq - In a marked escalation in attacks, suspected insurgents
tried to shoot down a U.S. transport plane with a surface-to-air missile
Wednesday, killed an American soldier in a convoy and gunned down the mayor
of an Iraqi city. The violence came on the eve of a banned holiday Saddam
Hussein loyalists could use to demonstrate their power.

The U.S. military said one surface-to-air missile was fired on a C-130
transport as it landed at Baghdad International Airport. It was only the
second known missile attack on a plane using the airport since Baghdad fell
to U.S. forces on April 9, said Spc. Giovani Lorente. He said he did not
know where the plane came from or whether it was carrying passengers, cargo
or both.

Meanwhile, Mohammed Nayil al-Jurayfi, who had actively cooperated with U.S.
forces as mayor of Hadithah, was killed when his car was ambushed by
attackers firing automatic rifles as he drove away from his office in the
city 150 miles northwest of Baghdad, police Capt. Khudhier Mohammed said.
One of the mayor's sons also was killed.

Mohammed said the mayor was slain because he was "seizing cars" from Saddam
loyalists who used to work in the deposed Iraqi leader's offices in
Hadithah, a city in the restive "Sunni Triangle" that is home to many
supporters of the ousted dictator.

The American soldier was killed and three others were injured in a
rocket-propelled grenade attack west of Baghdad near the Abu Ghraib prison,
a U.S. military spokesman said. In a separate attack, an 8-year-old Iraqi
child died when an assailant threw a grenade into a U.S. military vehicle
guarding a bank in west Baghdad.

The American driver of the vehicle was wounded along with four Iraqi
bystanders, according to Army Maj. Kevin West.

"They're killing more Iraqis than they are Americans," West said, shaking
his head.

Gen. John Abizaid, the new head of the U.S. Central Command, said in
Washington that while attacks on U.S. forces are becoming increasingly
sophisticated, they are nothing Americans troops can't handle.

"They're not driving us out of anywhere," the general said. He said U.S.
forces face a "classical guerrilla-type war situation" in Iraq.

The Hadithah police captain, whose station is next to the mayor's office,
told The Associated Press some government employees received a leaflet
Wednesday warning them not to go to work.

The leaflet was signed "Liberating Iraq's Army." On Tuesday, a member of the
previously unknown group went on Al-Arabiya TV and promised retribution
against any country sending peacekeeping troops to Iraq. A letter addressed
to U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan warned peacekeepers would be attacked
even if they were sent under a U.N. mandate.

The Arab satellite broadcaster Al-Jazeera reported that residents of
Hadithah had accused the slain mayor of collaborating with coalition forces.

Hadithah shopowner Amir Jafar concurred, saying: "This mayor is an unwanted
person.... He doesn't belong to this city. He is from another city and he
was cooperating with the Americans."

The attack was certain to have a chilling effect on other Iraqi officials.
Samir Shakir Mahmoud, one of the members of the new Governing Council
hand-picked by Iraq's U.S. administrator, hails from Hadithah.

Former New York police commissioner Bernard Kerik, who is now running the
Iraqi Interior Ministry and working to rebuild Iraq's police force, was
asked if he thought Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network was behind the

"Nobody is identified as al-Qaida yet. Could they be out there? It's
possible. The bottom line is I don't care if they're al-Qaida, I don't care
if they're Fedayeen. I don't care if they are Baathists, I don't care who
they are. If they attack the coalition and they attack the police they're
gong to be arrested or they're going to be killed," Kerik said.

Thursday is the anniversary of the 1968 Baathist coup that led 11 years
later to Saddam taking power. The July 17 celebration was one of six
holidays outlawed by the Governing Council in its first official action.

U.S. soldiers have come under increasingly ferocious attacks by suspected
Saddam loyalists in recent weeks - reaching an average of 12 attacks a day.
More than 30 U.S. soldiers have been killed in hostile action since
President Bush declared an end to major hostilities on May 1.

The Pentagon said that as of Monday, 144 U.S. personnel had been killed in
combat since the start of the Iraq war. At least two U.S. soldiers have been
killed in Iraqi attacks since then, bringing the total just short of the 147
killed in combat during the 1991 Gulf War.

In Wednesday's death, the rocket-propelled grenade blasted into the
soldier's truck, hurling him out, as the 20-vehicle convoy passed along a
main highway. Soldiers at first believed a bomb was detonated as the convoy

Sgt. Diego Baez, who escaped injury, wept over his comrade's death, saying:
"We slept next to each other just last night. He was my best friend."

The dead man's name was not made public until his relatives could be

The convoy, made up of reservists from a supply unit based in Puerto Rico,
had been heading to a U.S. base near the Jordanian border.

"We need more protection. We've seen enough. We've stayed in Iraq long
enough," said one serviceman on the convoy, Spc. Carlos McKenzie.

Also Wednesday, a U.S. Marine died in the southern city of Hillah when he
fell from the roof of a building he was guarding, the military said.

The Governing Council - Iraq's first postwar national body - met again
Wednesday and talked with Bremer for three hours on how to improve security
in the country, the American administrator said. He gave no details.

U.N. officials said a Governing Council delegation would visit the U.N.
Security Council on July 22, when the world body is to discuss its role in
postwar Iraq.

Yahoo, 17th July

BAGHDAD (AFP) - More than 1,000 Iraqi children have been killed or wounded
by abandoned weapons and munitions since the April 9 fall of Baghdad, the UN
children's fund UNICEF said, urging action from the US-led coalition here.

UNICEF official Geoff Keele told a press conference in Baghdad that the
casualties were the result of handling arms, ammunition and cluster bombs
dumped at several hundred sites around Iraq.

Hundreds of surface-to-air missiles abandoned by the now-disbanded Iraqi
army, many of them damaged and unstable, also pose a serious threat, he

In Haditha, northwest of Baghdad, around 30 children were killed as they
searched through an arms depot to salvage metal for sale, an activity which
has become commonplace in Iraq since the war, Keele said.

He said 133 children were killed or wounded in Kirkuk in the last two weeks
of April, while an average of 20 such accidents a day are being reported
from Mosul, another northern city.

In southern Iraq, children are involved in about one in five of accidents
involving explosives and arms, said Keele.

He pointed out that the Baghdad region alone had around 100 sites for the
manufacture of surface-to-air missiles out of a total of 1,000 sites spread
out across Iraq.

"Nothing has been done" to cope with the danger, said Keele, urging the
US-British coalition to take prompt action and to send in specialized teams.
It was their obligation as an occupying force to provide for civilians'
safety, he stressed.

by Steven R. Hurst
Las Vegas Sun, 20th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): An American soldier was killed Saturday, bringing to 149
the number of U.S. personnel killed in combat since the March 20 start of
the war - two more than the 1991 Gulf War total for U.S. deaths in combat.


Violence was unabated, with the U.S. soldier killed early Saturday while
guarding a bank in west Baghdad.


Yahoo, 20th July

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Two U.S. soldiers were killed early Sunday when they
were ambushed by guerrillas firing guns and rocket-propelled grenades near
the northern city of Mosul, a U.S. military spokesman in Baghdad said.

The soldiers, from the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division,
were killed in the town of Tall Afur, west of Mosul, he said. Another
soldier was wounded and there were no reports of any casualties among those
who attacked them.

The U.S. forces occupying Iraq have suffered almost daily attacks since they
ousted Saddam Hussein in April. The latest two deaths brought to 37 the
total number of troops killed by hostile action since President Bush
declared an end to major combat operations on May 1.

In all, 151 American soldiers have died at enemy hands since they invaded on
March 20, more than the 147 killed in the 1991 Gulf War. U.S. officials have
blamed hard-liners loyal to Saddam, who is believed to be in hiding in Iraq
and issuing taped messages urging supporters to attack the Americans.

Gulf News, 22nd July

Baghdad, Reuters: A U.S. soldier and an Iraqi interpreter were killed in an
attack in Baghdad yesterday, adding to an almost daily toll of casualties
that is putting pressure on Washington to scale back its role in Iraq.

They died as Iraq's week-old self-rule body again failed to resolve the
basic issue of who will lead the U.S.-appointed Governing Council. With many
Iraqis also keen to be rid of the occupying forces and rule themselves now
that Saddam Hussein is gone, the Council seems to many to be making slow

An Arab television channel aired comments by masked gunmen who claimed
attacks on Americans were an Islamic holy war and not, as U.S. officials
say, the work of Saddam loyalists.

The U.S. military said the soldier from the 1st Armored Division and the
interpreter were killed when their vehicle hit an improvised mine on a
Baghdad highway and they then came under fire. Three other soldiers were

A local journalist watched as one U.S. military vehicle blew up in broad
daylight. A Reuters photographer later saw two burnt out Humvee vehicles,
100 metres (yards) apart, apparently the aftermath of the fatal incident,
north of the city centre.

Five U.S. soldiers, as well as the interpreter and an Iraqi driver for the
United Nations, have been killed since Friday, meaning 38 Americans have
died at enemy hands since May 1, when President George W. Bush declared an
end to major combat.

A U.S. military spokeswoman said an armoured patrol in the restive town of
Ramadi, west of Baghdad, was also hit by two improvised bombs and that two
soldiers were wounded.

Bush's man in Iraq, Paul Bremer, said in Washington on Sunday that the
attacks were the work of "professional killers" loyal to Saddam and that
U.S. forces would arm Iraqis to help fight them. Recruiting for a new Iraqi
army began at the weekend. Bremer said Saddam was probably still hiding in


by Greg Mitchell
Editor & Publisher Online, 17th July

Any way you look at it, the news is bad enough. According to Thursday's
press and television reports, 33 U.S. soldiers have now died in combat since
President Bush declared an end to the major fighting in the war on May 2.
This, of course, is a tragedy for the men killed and their families, and a
problem for the White House.

But actually the numbers are much worse -- and rarely reported by the media.

According to official military records, the number of U.S. soldiers who have
died in Iraq since May 2 is actually 85. This includes a staggering number
of non-combat deaths. Even if killed in a non-hostile action, these soldiers
are no less dead, their families no less aggrieved. And it's safe to say
that nearly all of these people would still be alive if they were still back
in the States.

Nevertheless, the media continues to report the much lower figure of 33 as
if those are the only deaths that count.

A Web site called Iraq Coalition Casualty Count
( is tracking the deaths, by
whatever cause, of U.S. military personnel in Iraq, based on official
Pentagon and CENTCOM press releases and Army Times and CNN casualty
trackers. Their current count is 85 since May 2.

Looking at the entire war, there was much fanfare Thursday over the fact
that the latest U.S. combat death this week pushed the official total to 148
-- finally topping the 147 figure for Gulf War 1. However, according to the
Iraq Coalition Casualty Count, the total number of all U.S. deaths, combat
and otherwise, in Iraq is actually 224.

This Web site not only counts deaths, it describes each one in whatever
detail (often sketchy) the military provides, along with the name and age
and home town of each fatality.

An analysis of the 85 deaths by E&P reveals that nearly as many U.S.
military personnel have died in vehicle accidents (17) as from gunshot
wounds (19). Ten have died after grenade attacks and seven from accidental
explosions, another seven in helicopter crashes. Six were killed by what is
described as "non-hostile" gunshots, and three have drowned.

The vast majority of those killed -- at least 70% -- were age 18 to 30 but
several soldiers in their 40s or 50s have also perished. Pentagon officials
also disclosed that there have been about five deaths among troops assigned
to the Iraq mission that commanders say might have been suicides. As
inquiries continue, one official said the susupected suicides were not
clustered in any single time period that might indicate a related cause.

The most recent non-combat death was Cory Ryan Geurin, age 18, a Marine
lance corporal from Santee, Calif. "He was standing post on a palace roof in
Babylon when he fell approximately 60 feet," the site said.

On July 13, Jaror C. Puello-Coronado, 36, an Army sergeant, died while
"manning a traffic point when the operator of a dump truck lost control of
the vehicle."

Another soldier, still officially listed as "Unknown," died on July 13 "from
a non-hostile gunshot incident," according to the site.

Before that, on July 9, another Marine Lance Corporal, age 20, died in
Kuwait "in a vehicle accident."

Many other deaths are only vaguely described as the "result of non-combat
injuries." One recent death occurred in a mine-clearing accident. Others
"drowned" or "died of natural causes," and still others lost their lives in
a "vehicle accident."

Jordan Times, 23rd July
AMMAN (JT) ‹ The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed
³shock and dismay² Tuesday over the death of a staff member and injury to
another in an incident that occurred July 22 near Hilla, south of Baghdad.

Nadisha Yasassri Ranmuthu, an IT technician from Sri Lanka, and Mazen Hamed
Rashid, an Iraqi ICRC driver, were travelling on the main road leading north
from Hilla to Baghdad at around 11:00am local time when they came under
fire. Ranmuthu was killed on the spot, while Rashid was taken to a hospital
in Hilla, where he is being treated, according to a statement from the

The ICRC said it was unaware who was responsible for the attack but that
both the Iraqi police and coalition forces were informed.

The vehicle the two men were travelling in was clearly marked with highly
visible Red Cross emblems, added the statement.

³The ICRC and its staff are deeply distressed by the death of Ranmuthu and
extend their heartfelt sympathy to his family and friends,² said the agency.

Ranmuthu, 37, married and the father of a three-year-old, joined ICRC in Sri
Lanka in 1992. He was in Iraq to install communications facilities at ICRC
offices and to help train Iraqi operators, according to the committee.

³The ICRC is assessing the implications of this attack with a view to
deciding its future course of action in Iraq. The ICRC firmly calls on all
armed persons and groups to grant safe passage to all vehicles and staff
working under the Red Cross and Red Crescent emblems and to allow them to
perform their live-saving tasks,² said the agency.

The ICRC recently expanded its activities in Iraq, where it has been present
without interruption since 1980. Over 850 staff members are now working in
the country. The eighth permanent office was recently set up in Hilla.

Yahoo, 23rd July

MOSUL, Iraq (AFP) - The two sons of Saddam Hussein, Uday and Qusay, were
killed in a massive raid in northern Iraq, the US military said, in a major
coup for coalition forces pursuing the family of the toppled Iraqi ruler and
his loyalists.

They were killed in a raid on a building in this northern Iraqi city, US
army Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez said at a news conference in

"Four persons were killed during that operation and were removed from the
building and we have since confirmed that Uday and Qusay Hussein are among
the dead," said Sanchez, commander of US-led ground forces in Iraq.

He said positive identification of the bodies had been made from multiple
sources. Earlier, military sources said DNA samples of the bodies were sent
to Washington for matching with specimens on file from undisclosed sources.

Witnesses said US helicopter gunships fired more than 20 missiles during a
six-hour battle that started about 10:00 am (0600 GMT), demolishing the

Sanchez said four US soldiers were also wounded during the operation.

The owner of the house in the city of Mosul, Nawaf al-Zaidan, "is believed
to have informed US forces that Saddam's sons Uday and Qusay, Qusay's son,
and a bodyguard named Abdul Samad took refuge in his house and he wanted to
get rid of them", said a female relative of Zaidan who asked not to be

The relative and other residents of the area said the helicopter gunships
fired at the house after clashes broke out when US forces tried to go in to
arrest those inside.

Other witnesses said Zaidan, a sheikh of the Bu Issa tribe, and his son were
arrested at the end of the battle.

Four charred bodies, later confirmed as including those of Qusay, the "ace
of clubs" on the US list of most-wanted Iraqis, and Uday, the "ace of
hearts," were taken out of the house, relatives of Zaidan said.

The White House said US President George W. Bush was pleased to hear Uday
and Qusay were dead.

"Over the period of many years, these two individuals were responsible for
countless atrocities committed against the Iraqi people and they can no
longer cast a shadow of hate on Iraq," spokesman Scott McClellan said in a

"While there is still much work to do in Iraq, the Iraqi people can see
progress each day toward a better and more prosperous future for their

The deaths were good news for the administration, beset by a guerrilla war
against the 150,000 US troops in Iraq that has slowed efforts to rebuild the
war-torn country and an ongoing controversy over intelligence used to
justify ousting Saddam.

Speaking in Hong Kong British Prime Minister Tony Blair said the deaths were
"a great day for the new Iraq."

"These two particular people were at the head of a regime that wasn't just a
security threat because of its weapons programs; it was also responsible --
as we can see from the mass graves -- for the torture and killing of
thousands and thousands of Iraqis," he said.

"The celebrations that are taking place are an indication of just how evil
they were," he said.

"And what is so important is that people understand that if we want to be
able to make the progress that we want to make in Iraq, that's going to
increase the stability of that country and the region, and therefore the
security of the whole of the world," he said.

"So I think it's a very, very important move forward, and I think it's great

The US civil administrator for Iraq, Paul Bremer, in Washington for
congressional briefings, said: "It certainly is good news for the Iraqi
people. It's good news for our forces."

The United States earlier this month announced a reward of 15 million
dollars for information leading to the capture or death of the Hussein sons,
while a 25-million-dollar reward was offered for Saddam, whose fate has been
unknown since he was toppled by US-British forces in April.

The sons' deaths mark the biggest victory in the US-led coalition's hunt for
Saddam, his family and former regime loyalists since May 1, when Bush
declared an end to major combat in Iraq. At least 39 US soldiers have been
killed since then.

Even before the deaths were confirmed, the Iraqi capital erupted in an
explosion of celebratory gunfire.

"Uday and Qusay are dead. We saw it on TV," Hassan Zaif told AFP as he fired
his Kalashnikov rifle skyward.

People were seen standing on rooftops and emptying their clips into a night
aglow with tracer bullets, while a few Baghdadis ventured out onto the
streets to watch the skies lit red by the volley.

But the attacks on coalition forces continued despite the killings with the
US Central Command saying the latest death of a US soldier came in an ambush
at around 9:00 am (0500 GMT) on the road between Balad and Ramadi, 100
kilometers (60 miles) west of Baghdad.

Hours ahead of the deadly attack in Mosul, attention had shifted to the
United Nations, where members of Iraq's 25-strong governing council were
seeking to win credibility and aid for rebuilding.

With UN Secretary General Kofi Annan urging an early end to the military
occupation of Iraq, the council presented its postwar vision to the UN
Security Council and asked for its aid.

Laying out plans for a swift transition to a free and democratically elected
Iraqi government, the head of a three-member council delegation, Adnan
Pachachi, stressed the urgency of restoring law and order and of rapid
political, economic and social reconstruction.

The council's honeymoon ended after barely one week as both Sunni and Shiite
clerics heaped scorn on the body in sermons Friday, denouncing it as
illegitimate and hand-picked by the Americans.



RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a 17-page report titled
"Climate of Fear: Sexual Violence and Abduction of Women and Girls in
Baghdad" on its website on 16 July ( The report
concludes that the inability of Iraqi and U.S.-led occupation authorities to
provide security in the capital has led to a widespread fear of rape and
abduction among women and their families in Baghdad.

HRW interviewed rape and abduction victims and witnesses, health
professionals, and Iraqi and U.S. authorities, and identified 25 "credible
allegations of rape or abduction." "The report found that police officers
gave low priority to allegations of sexual violence and abduction...and that
victims of sexual violence [were] confronted [with] indifference and sexism
from Iraqi law enforcement personnel."

The report also determined that U.S. military police were not filling the
gap in investigating cases of sexual violence or abduction. "Women and girls
today in Baghdad are scared, and many are not going to schools or jobs or
looking for work," Hanny Megally, executive director of the Middle East and
North Africa division of Human Rights Watch, stated. "If Iraqi women are to
participate in postwar society, their physical security needs to be an
urgent priority." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a report to the United
Nations Security Council on 14 July saying that the quantity and type of
uranium compounds dispersed during looting near the Al-Tuwaythah nuclear
complex south of Baghdad pose no danger from the point of view of
proliferation. The report, available on the IAEA website
(, stated that two buildings in the Location C
Nuclear Material Storage Facility that were sealed by UN inspectors in
December 2002 appeared to have been looted. "In Building 1, many containers
were missing, many others had been emptied, and a large floor area was
covered by uranium compounds," the nuclear watchdog reported. Inspectors
collected the materials and repackaged them into new containers. The report
noted that various uranium compounds were reverified, and that inspectors
took pains to repackage spilled materials according to material type, "in
order to make it possible to compare the recovered material against the
inventory." In Building 2, one drum of yellow cake [uranium] was determined
missing, but according to inspectors, "its contents appeared to have been
dumped onto the floor adjacent to where the drum was originally located."
The yellow cake was recovered, as well as two containers of ammonium
diuranate [ADU] waste.

According to the two-page report, at least 10 kilograms of uranium compounds
may have been dispersed during the looting. For example, "a few grams of
natural uranium compound could have remained in each of the approximately
200 emptied containers when upended by the looters, in the form of dust on
the container walls or as material adhering to the bottom folds." However,
the IAEA determined, "The quantity and type of uranium compounds dispersed
are not sensitive from a proliferation point of view." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRIN (UN news agency), 17th July

BAGHDAD, 17 Jul 2003 (IRIN) - The World Health Organisation (WHO), along
with NGOs in Iraq, told IRIN on Thursday that high summer temperatures,
sometimes touching 50 degrees Celsius, were contributing to ongoing health
problems throughout the country.

"In this particular season we are faced with increased incidence of
diarrhoea, including bloody diarrhoea and watery diarrhoea," Dr Faris Bunni,
a WHO medical officer said.

Although the searing heat is normal in most parts of Iraq at this time of
year, ongoing difficulties with electricty and clean water, as well as a
degraded health system, were all contributing to the increase in disease,
health experts said. Power supplies to major population centres remain
intermittent and raw sewage remains untreated in many cities.

According to CARE International, the US-based charity, about two million mt
of raw sewage are dumped into Iraq's rivers every day, four times the amount
before the war. In the southeastern city of Basra, it seeps from the canals
into the irrigation channels that are used for drinking and bathing. In the
capital, Baghdad, 300,000 mt escape into the Tigris daily. For many, there
is no other water source.

The deteriorating situation is compounded by the lack of electricity and
cooking fuel which prevent Iraqis from boiling water and making it safe to
drink. Given the scorching temperatures, and the fact that 50 percent of
Iraq's population have no access to clean drinking water, aid agencies are
concerned. Inevitably, they say, it is the children who are most at risk
from disease and death through dehydration.

"This is only the beginning of the summer of diarrhoea," Anne Morris, CARE
emergency response director in Iraq, said recently. "If proper monitoring,
testing and prevention mechanisms are not quickly put back in place, the
breeding ground will spill over the brim of the cup. The entire Iraqi
population is at risk of a public health crisis."

Marilyn Hurrella, a medical officer with Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF),
told IRIN from Basra that the number of diarrhoea cases there had been
rising along with the temperature. "People don't have clean water to drink.
They are drinking dirty water because they get very thirsty, then people get
diarrhoea," she said.

WHO is doing what it can to monitor the disease by setting up a surveillance
system and supporting the activities of the Ministry of Health. "We are
doing early detection of this disease on a daily basis in Baghdad and on a
weekly basis in other governorates of Iraq," Bunni said.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) is currently the leading UN agency for water
and sanitation in Iraq. UNICEF information officer Geoffrey Keele told IRIN
that 7.5 million litres of clean water are being distributed every day in

But with clean water still in short supply in many parts of Iraq, this
amount remains inadequate. "We are targeting to provide access to the most
vulnerable people in need. The water distribution system needs to be
repaired in order the meet the needs of 27.5 million Iraqis," Keele said.

Seventy cholera cases have been reported in Basra, and one in Baghdad. This
is up from figures for May and June, although no deaths have been reported.
WHO reported diarrhoeal disease in the four main hospitals of Basra
amounting to a total of 1,549 cases of acute watery diarrhoea.

Arizona Republic, from Associated Press, 21st July

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Tanks rumbled past on a nearby bridge Monday and U.S.
helicopters chopped through the air overhead, but down by the bank of the
Tigris River was a scene from thousands of years ago.

Hundreds of Sabaean Mandeans - a tiny sect that views John the Baptist as
savior - waited in line in gauzy, white tunics to submerge themselves in the
ancient river.

The Sabaean Mandeans were celebrating the eve of their first New Year since
the fall of Saddam Hussein, and many said they were just as worried about
the future as they were happy to see the dictator go.

"We expect there will be problems," said Satar Jabar Hello, 49-year-old
leader of the world's Sabaean Mandeans, blessing a bearded, old man with
holy water during the ceremony. "We believe in peace, but others maybe do

Water is everything to the Sabaean Mandeans, who are baptized in it, get
married in it and receive their last rites by the river's edge.

The group - which believes that John, and not Jesus Christ, was the true
messiah - was allowed to worship under Saddam. But the regime seized several
of its temples, and the group was not allowed to build new ones outside
Baghdad. Like all groups in Iraq, they say many followers were among the
estimated 300,000 people murdered during Saddam's 23 year reign.

Still, they say the future may be even worse for their sect as
fundamentalist Islamic groups begin to assert control in a new Iraq.
Majority Shiite Muslims, long oppressed by Saddam, appear poised to take a
commanding role in the emerging government, much to the dismay of the
Sabaean Mandeans.

"Under Saddam, we were more free, because he was against the Shiites and
that protected us," said Furat Jabar, a woman waiting to be blessed in the
river. "But now, the Shiites hate us and want us dead."

Many Sabaean Mandeans expressed the same concerns during the all-day ritual.

In the ritual, followers first cleanse themselves, then pray before a
cross-shaped symbol, adorned by a white baptismal cloak and an olive branch
- signifying light, life and peace. Rites are conducted in a dialect of
Aramaic - the language spoken in the Middle East in the time of Jesus.

They then are baptized in the river before sacrificing chickens and sheep
that are eaten in a feast in tribute to the dead.

On Tuesday and into Wednesday, believers will lock themselves in their homes
while they await the return of angels sent to heaven to thank God and ask
his blessing for the new year.

"This is the greatest day, when the earth was brought together and the stars
were set in their places. It is the beginning of the physical universe,"
said Hello.

Followers say there are between 80,000 and 200,000 Sabaean Mandeans in the
world. The vast majority are in Iraq, but some also live in southern Iran
and tiny communities have emigrated to the United States, Canada and Europe.
In Iraq most of the followers work as gold- and silversmiths, and many are
fine craftsman.

The religion combines some aspects of Christianity, Judaism, Islam and
Gnosticism, but it is considered separate from each of them and generally
does not accept converts.

Another Sabaean Mandean, Zahar Hassan, says life has been difficult since
the Americans ousted Saddam in April. Like most residents of Baghdad, his
family is suffering through a searing, hot summer without electricity and
with an erratic water supply.

But he said he welcomed the American invasion and says he is planning a
memorial service for followers of the faith killed by the former dictator -
including three of his uncles.

"We are flying with happiness since Saddam is gone," he said.

Furat Jabar says she's not so sure. She is angry that the sect has been shut
out of the new Governing Council set up by Iraq's American occupiers this

The 25-member council, the forerunner of a fully sovereign Iraqi government,
includes Shiite and Sunni Muslims, Kurds and even an ethnic Turk and an
Assyrian Christian.

After waiting it out for years under Saddam, Jabar says she is thinking of
emigrating to Europe, where she has several relatives. She says anywhere she
can perform baptisms will do.

"Iraq used to be beautiful, but now it is like a desert," said Jabar. "I
will go to Sweden. There all I need is a little cottage by a lake and I'll
be happy."

THE (still a little bit) FREE WORLD


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

The Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has taken steps to freeze Iraqi assets held
in Jordanian banks but will not be handing those assets over to the new
U.S.-administered Iraqi government, according to a 15 July report by dpa.
Instead, Jordan intends to use the funds to repay an estimated government
debt of $1.3 billion and pay claims by Jordanian businessmen for goods
exported to Iraq, Jordanian Finance Minister Michel Marto said on 15 July.
"The frozen Iraqi deposits will not be released or shifted to any other
place before repaying the entire claims of Jordanian exporters for goods
they had already exported to Iraq or which they had imported but were unable
to export to Iraq" due to the war, he said. According to dpa, dozens of
Jordanian industrialists were involved in contracts with the deposed Hussein
regime to export goods to Iraq under the UN oil-for-food program, but were
unpaid as a result of the war and subsequent fall of the Hussein regime.
(Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

A group of 27 Iraqi Turkomans are currently attending a political training
seminar in Ankara, Istanbul's "Hurriyet" reported on 9 July. According to
the report, the Turkomans are attending political-science courses on topics
including constitutional law, the European Union, history, management,
communications, political geography, and U.S. policy. The Turkish Foreign
Ministry is sponsoring the seminar. Meanwhile, Turkish Foreign Minister
Abdullah Gul has denied that a Turkish special forces team was training
Iraqi Turkomans in the use of explosives, but added, "It is normal for the
special [forces] team to have special weapons and special explosives." The
team was arrested in the northern Iraqi town of Al Sulaymaniyah on 4 July
(see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 July 2003) for reportedly planning an
assassination attempt on the governor of Kirkuk. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

Iraq and Iran signed a memorandum of understanding on 15 July to facilitate
commerce, IRNA reported on 16 July. According to the report the Iraqi
delegation of 18 included members of the Sulaymaniyah Chamber of Commerce,
headed by Shaykh Talib, as well as local businessmen and officials from the
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). The head of the Sanandaj Chamber of
Commerce, Kiumars Moradi, represented the Iranian delegation. The 10-point
document signed by the two sides calls for increased trade and commercial
exchanges, joint industrial-commercial exhibitions in Sulaymaniyah, and the
promotion of investment opportunities in their respective industrial,
mineral, and agricultural sectors. It also calls for the establishment of a
"technical office" in Sulaymaniyah, which would help facilitate cross-border
trade and assist businessmen with training and other services. The Iraqi
delegation ends its four-day trip to Iran on 17 July. (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

Alexander Vershbow told Interfax on 11 July that Moscow could help the
United States to combat attacks on coalition forces in Iraq by people loyal
to deposed President Hussein. He urged Moscow to share with U.S.
intelligence any information that it has about pro-Hussein groups or about
the whereabouts of Hussein and his sons. Vershbow added that the United
States "categorically condemns the recent terrorist acts in Moscow" and will
provide Moscow any information that can prevent such acts in the future.
Vershbow also said the United States does not consider the Russian Embassy
in Baghdad a full-fledged diplomatic mission. He said that because there is
no official local government in Iraq, there can be no foreign diplomatic
missions in the country.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko said on 13 July that
Ambassador Vershbow's statement implying that Russia has information about
the whereabouts of deposed Iraqi President Hussein or his sons is
"incorrect," RIA-Novosti reported. He said that bilateral relations have
reached such a level that there are constant, reliable channels for the
exchange of such information, including confidential channels. Therefore,
Yakovenko said, it is wrong to appeal for such information through the mass
media. In a separate statement, the Foreign Ministry expressed concern about
U.S. unwillingness to guarantee the diplomatic status of the Russian Embassy
in Baghdad. The United States as an occupying power is obligated to do this
under international law, the statement said. (Victor Yasmann)

by Suzan Fraser
Las Vegas Sun, 20th July

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) - The United States has asked Turkey to contribute
soldiers to help patrol Iraq - a sign of improving relations following
tensions over the war to oust Saddam Hussein, the Turkish prime minister
said Sunday.

The U.S. ambassador to Turkey also said in a newspaper interview published
Sunday that the United States could use military force to oust an estimated
5,000 Turkish Kurdish rebels hiding in northern Iraq.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told the Anatolia news agency that
Turkish troops, if deployed in Iraq, would help relieve U.S. troops there.

"The United States has requested soldiers from Turkey to send to the
region," the agency quoted Erdogan as saying during a speech in the
southeastern city of Batman.

Erdogan did not elaborate on the request, which apparently came during
Friday talks with two top U.S. generals in the Turkish capital.

The Bush administration has recruited countries to help patrol Iraq. Poland,
Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary, among others, have agreed, but France,
Germany and India have declined to participate in the postwar force.

Erdogan did not say whether Turkey agreed to send the soldiers, but
officials previously have indicated the government was willing to contribute

Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, and Gen. James L. Jones,
NATO's supreme allied commander and the head of U.S. forces in Europe, met
Turkish generals Friday in a meeting viewed as an effort to restore
relations damaged by the Iraq war.

Hurriyet newspaper reported Sunday that the generals discussed the
possibility of Turkey dispatching up to 10,000 soldiers to Iraq. The
military did not comment on the report.

Relations between the two NATO allies have been strained since March, when
Turkey rejected a U.S. request to use its territory to open a northern front
in the Iraq invasion.

Relations soured further when the United States detained 11 Turkish special
forces in northern Iraq earlier this month to foil an alleged plot to
assassinate an Iraqi Kurdish official.

Erdogan said the U.S. request for soldiers showed improving ties between the

"Turkey is advancing its strategic partnership with the United States," he

Turkey's military said Saturday the parties have discussed possible military
measures against an estimated 5,000 Turkish Kurdish rebels based in northern
Iraq. The statement did not elaborate.

Robert Pearson, the U.S. ambassador to Turkey, told Hurriyet in an interview
published Sunday that the United States would not allow the rebels to hide
in northern Iraq and could use force to oust them.

"We don't want any threat against Turkey to remain in Iraq," Hurriyet quoted
Pearson as saying.

"Either they surrender or face the alternative. The alternative is the use
of military force."

Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul is scheduled to travel to Washington next week
for talks expected to center on Turkish troop contributions and cooperation
against the rebels.

Turkey maintains several thousand troops in northern Iraq, which borders
Turkey, to chase Kurdish rebels who fought a 15-year war for autonomy in
southeastern Turkey and to monitor the situation in northern Iraq.

Those troops fall outside the scope of the U.S.-led mission.

by Prakash Shah
Financial Express, 21st July

The decision of the Government of India to refrain from sending troops to
Iraq, at the request of the US Administration, was a long time coming. After
weeks of uncertainty within the councils of the government and a rampant
public debate, often flawed by accusations of pro- and anti-Americanism
among the protagonists, the government obviously felt it necessary to
explain the rationale of the decision not to send troops to Iraq. Since a
number of reasons have been advanced as justification for the decision, a
dispassionate examination of the offered justification can only enhance the
understanding of ourselves as a nation.

In conveying the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Security, foreign
minister Yashwant Sinha explained that, "were there to be an explicit UN
mandate for the purpose, the government could consider the deployment of the
troops". Indeed, anybody who even cursorily follows international affairs
has known for weeks and months that there is no UN mandate and none was
forthcoming after the unanimous UN resolution 1483. Surely, if the UN
mandate was the main or sole factor in India's decision on troops for Iraq,
there was no need for widely publicised "clarifications" from the US or
consultations with the select UN members of Iraq's neighbours to reach a
decision now? A simple statement of principles stating that India would not
send troops without a UN mandate to Iraq, as soon as the US request was
received, would have sufficed and silenced the unnecessary controversy over
the issue. The fact that was not done shows that the fig leaf of the UN
umbrella could not have been the real reason for the decision.

In fact, Mr Sinha states that in arriving at the decision, "our long-term
national interests" were seriously considered. Since these interests remain
undefined, we can only wonder which one of them are served by the decision.
Do India's prosperity and promotion of economic interests in Iraq and West
Asia figure in our long-term interests? Does assisting the only super power,
whose help we are constantly seeking to preserve our territorial integrity
threatened by cross-border terrorism, figure in our long-term national
interests? Would taking a chance to contribute positively towards bringing
about stability and security to the friendly people of this unfortunate
nation in our wider neighbourhood count as our long-term interest? Is it not
in our national interest to demonstrate to our Arab friends that while we
oppose America's unilateral military action in Iraq, we are willing to join
nations of goodwill in providing the people of Iraq a normal, stable and
sincere environment to reconstruct their country?

But then national interest is an amorphous term that defies clarity.
Clearly, our government believes that there are other more vital, though
undefined, national interests which are served by this passive response.
Perhaps, in the weeks to come, the government will share the specific
interests served by the decision.

Another consideration which contributes to the no-troops decision is India's
"concern for the people of Iraq". Does the government want us to believe
that life for the Iraqi people would be better if Ind-ian troops did not go
to Iraq to help stabilise the situation created by the American mishandling
of the post-Saddam Iraq?

The government is not transparent in sharing the specific response it has
received in its consultations with Iraqis and their neighbours. Having met
Mr Barzani and Mr Talebani, the undisputed Kurdish leaders, on more than one
occasion in my capacity as special UN envoy in 1998-99, I find it difficult
to believe that their response to the posting of Indian troops in northern
Iraq could have been anything but positive. At the recent World Economic
Forum meeting in Amman, I found that while there was criticism of US
occupation troops in Iraq from some quarters, not a single word was said
against other, including British, troops. If indeed the American forces are
unpopular in Iraq, the people of Iraq and neighbouring states cannot but
welcome the Indian troops who have distinguished themselves in peacekeeping
missions. Surely, the presumed hostility of Iraq's neighbours is not a
demonstrable reality. If it does exist, Indian diplomacy is surely capable
of moderating it!

It is good that the government has been sensitive to the misery of the Iraqi
people. But it cannot expect us to believe that a joint effort with Jordan
to set up a small hospital in Najaf is all it can do to "contribute to the
restoration of infrastructure, medical health, education, communication and
other needs of the Iraqi people". The government seems to have ignored the
sterling contribution of the Indian armed forces to the medical, health,
infrastructure and other civilian needs of the people in countries in which
they have served in peacekeeping missions, in addition to maintaining peace
and providing security.

What then are the real motivations behind the decision?

More often than not, India's leadership, whether in the government or out of
it, equates national interests with the electoral prospects of the party to
which they belong. It is obvious from the debate generated by the dithering
for weeks over the US request that domestic political considerations began
to assume larger-than-life importance in the making of the decision. Within
the Congress Party, historically aligned with Saddam's Baathist Party,
taking an early decision to oppose troops to Iraq, more to demonstrate its
leftist and secular credentials rather than as a well-considered national
interest issue, the "no-troops" decision was an easy alternative for
Vajpayee's BJP-led government. The domestic political advantages for BJP, on
the eve of five important state elections leading to the general elections
next year, far outweighed the possible strategic and foreign policy gains
that would have accrued to India. Ironically, the one good reason, namely,
the enormous cost involved in maintaining troops in Iraq for an
indeterminate period with no exit strategy, has been totally underplayed.
Only the UN umbrella can save that cost!

I would hope that the decision, whatever the motivations, will generate a
healthy debate on where India fits into the big picture on the international
canvas. It is nice to gloat over our Prime Minister being given a seat next
to President Bush at the rather inconsequential dinner in Russia. But we
should not forget the reality that we have no seat at the tables dealing
with major international issues of our region, such as Israel-Palestine and
the 'road map', the developing drama of nuclear North Korea in our eastern
neighbourhood, or the democratisation of Myanmar. And the reason why India
is neither invited nor expected to claim a seat at these significantly more
important tables is not much different from the reason that has compelled us
to take the "no-troops" decision.

Our leadership, on either side of the Parliament benches, is far too
comfortable being a big frog in the small pond of South Asia to dare venture
into the vast inviting ocean of international affairs. That would require a
vision for our great country's role in the world, and the courage to carry
it forward ‹ two qualities that are lacking among political and media
leaders. The world knows that we are a soft nation when it comes to hard
decisions. The question is, do we know?

The writer is former special envoy of the United Nations Secretary General
to Iraq

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