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News, 1-8/10/03 (2) TURKS AND KURDS * US, Turkey agree on rebels * Turkoman leader survives assassination attempt in Iraq * Kurdish daily criticizes U.S. immunity deal with former Iraqi Defense Minister * Time for the US to talk to KADEK * Turkey's parliament OKs peacekeepers * In their Iraqi mountain hideaway Turkey's most wanted men stay loyal to the cause * Iraqi leader attacks US over plan to use Turkish troops OTHER FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * Jordan to train 30,000 Iraqi security forces * Saddam's fall triggers change in Gulf * Resolute Iranian Pilgrims Meet Awed G.I.'s * Bush signals backing for Syria sanctions INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY * Donors grapple with $56 billion bill for Iraq * Oil-For-Food Director says delays will impact program's closing * U.K. representative to Iraq says Coalition can go it alone * UN-US discord over Iraq deepens * Polish gov't under fire over Iraq missiles TURKS AND KURDS http://www.gulf-news.com/Articles/news.asp?ArticleID=99261 * US, TURKEY AGREE ON REBELS Gulf News, 3rd October Ankara, Reuters: Turkey and the United States have agreed an action plan to banish the threat of Turkish Kurdish rebels based in camps in northern Iraq, a Turkish official said yesterday after talks with US officials. Turkey has called on Washington to take concrete action to deal with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) militants, also known as Kadek, as it considers asking parliament to send troops to Iraq to help keep the peace there. "We have agreed on an action plan with the United States to eradicate PKK/Kadek from northern Iraq," Turkish foreign ministry official Nabi Sensoy told an Ankara news conference after the talks. Turkey stations thousands of troops just inside northern Iraq in a controversial deployment designed to stop hundreds of PKK militants from launching attacks on Turkish soil. The presence of the Turkish troops has been a source of friction with Washington. US troops briefly detained 11 Turkish commandos in northern Iraq in July on suspicion they were involved in a plot to kill a senior Iraqi Kurdish official. The US has made it clear to Turkey that it is committed to dealing with the PKK, US State Department official Cofer Black told the same news conference. "We are very clear about this: PKK/Kadek is designated by the United States as a terrorist organisation. There is no place in Iraq for PKK/Kadek," he said. A US official said earlier yesterday that Ankara had pledged to refrain from unilateral military action in northern Iraq in return for $8.5 billion in loans for its frail economy. US pressure has been mounting on Turkey to decide if it will become the first Muslim nation to send troops to Iraq, but deployment appears to increasingly hinge on Turkish demands that the US crack down on the Kurdish militants. Turkish troops could give much-needed relief for the US military operation in Iraq. But for now, the US appears reluctant to fight the militants, fearing the confrontation could spark tension in one of Iraq's most stable regions. * TURKOMAN LEADER SURVIVES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN IRAQ RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003 A Turkoman Islamic leader reportedly escaped an assassination attempt in northern Iraq on 29 September, KUNA reported on 30 September. Sami Dunmer was attacked after leaving a meeting in Tikrit where Arabs and Kurds had gathered to form a municipal council. He called at the meeting for Turkoman representation in the council. An unidentified source told KUNA that Dunmer was attacked on a road between Salah Al-Din and Tikrit, and was rushed to a hospital in Turkey for treatment for a head wound. The source claimed that Kurds were behind the attack. (Kathleen Ridolfo) * KURDISH DAILY CRITICIZES U.S. IMMUNITY DEAL WITH FORMER IRAQI DEFENSE MINISTER RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003 Kurdishmedia.com carried an article on 28 September criticizing the special treatment given to former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad upon his surrender to coalition forces on 18 September (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 September 2003), considering that Ahmad is known to have participated in the 1988 Anfal campaign during which, according to Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org), then-President Saddam Hussein's forces killed 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds from February to September 1988 alone. Kurdishmedia.com reprinted a letter by Ahmad to Hussein dated March 1988 in which Ahmad refers to himself as the "chief of Anfal Operation," listing the names of villages destroyed by Iraqi troops. The article also details meetings between Hussein and Ahmad, including one in Al-Sulaymaniyah that was held just four days prior to the massacre of some 5,000 Kurds in the nearby town of Halabjah. The report also questions Kurdish human rights activist Dawud Bagistani's role in helping negotiate Ahmad's surrender and speculates whether the United States granted immunity to Ahmad in the hope that he might provide information on Iraq's WMD program. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.kurdmedia.com/reports.asp?id=1677 * TIME FOR THE US TO TALK TO KADEK by Agit Can KurdishMedia.com, 4th October The Kurds of Iraq have established themselves as true friends of the US. Meanwhile, as I explained in my previous article, America's Turkish allies and Turkey's dangerous Iraq policy, the Turkish regime has chosen to pursue a course of action aimed at destabilizing Iraq and harming American efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation. The Kurds of Iraq have made it clear that they will not tolerate the presence of Turkish "peacekeeping" forces in Iraqi Kurdistan, and it seems that the US has decided to respect Kurdish sensitivities concerning this matter. However, the Bush administration, under attack by the international media for perceived failures in the Iraqi reconstruction effort and budget concerns, is attempting to persuade other nations to contribute soldiers to serve in Iraq. The Turks, acting in a manner equally as arrogant as in early 2003, are insisting that the Americans take action against KADEK forces in Iraqi Kurdistan. Apparently the Turks still believe that they hold a strong strategic hand in their relationship with the US. Just as the Turks inexplicably believed that the military campaign against Saddam's regime could not be launched without their blessing, they now believe that, for some reason, the US is compelled to bow for Turkish demands to take action against KADEK guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan. First, let us reflect on the absurdity of this demand. KADEK, formerly the PKK, has been taking part in a unilateral ceasefire since the capture of PKK and KADEK [leader, Abdullah Ocalan - PB], despite the absence of a single true gesture of goodwill from the Turkish regime, let alone a ceasefire from their side. KADEK does not seek to harm the US occupation forces in Iraq, and KADEK guerrillas and refugees from Turkish-occupied Kurdistan currently living in Iraqi Kurdistan, refugees who would probably be considered terrorists according to the loose definition applied by the Turkish military, are not hostile toward the US forces attempting to rebuild nation. Is there any reason that American lives should be risked in a confrontation with KADEK forces and refugees sympathetic to KADEK? American soldiers already find themselves under attack by Ba'athist elements and Islamic fundamentalists, and there is no reason for the Americans themselves to instigate a new conflict within Iraq's borders. The US has to make a choice between its Kurdish allies in Iraq and its Turkish former allies when deciding on the role of Turkish soldiers in Iraq. Turkish soldiers should not be allowed in Iraqi Kurdistan, whether in pursuit of KADEK or for any other purpose. All representatives of the Iraqi Kurds have agreed unanimously on this issue. The less than noble intentions of the Turkish military in Iraq have already been demonstrated in the recent past. KADEK has recently been making overtures to the US, obviously perceiving that now, more than ever, the US is the powerbroker in the region. At least one member of KADEK leadership have already gone on record seeking dialogue with the US. The selection of the charismatic Dr. Mahmoud Osman to sit on the Iraqi Governing Council shows that the US is not necessarily shying away from all Kurds associated with KADEK, as Dr. Osman has frequently spoken in support of the party. In an interview with Ozgür Politika on July 22, 2003, KADEK baris ve demokrasi istiyor, Dr. Osman stated, "KADEK wants peace and democracy" ("KADEK baris ve demokrasi istiyor.") On October 1, 2003, Ozgür Politika Ozgür Politika, reported that KADEK President Abdullah Ocalan made some interesting statements regarding the general situation in the Middle East, including a recognition of Israel's right to exist in peace and comparison of Paul Wolfowitz' leadership in the campaign against the Iraqi regime to David's slaying of Golaith in the Bible. One must assume that these statements are aimed at helping to develop a dialogue with the US, historically a close ally of Israel, perhaps the Jewish State's only close ally in the world. The US simply cannot avoid dialogue with KADEK on the basis that it is a terrorist organization, not after pushing the Israeli government to a negotiating table with Yasser Arafat and pressuring it to accommodate Palestinian terrorist groups that publicly state that their goal is the elimination of the Jewish State. If Yasser Arafat was invited to stand in front of the White House with President Bill Clinton, then there is no reason that a high level US delegation cannot speak with KADEK. While the Palestinian terrorist groups, frequently called resistance or militant groups by otherwise intelligent people, continue to attack civilians, a tactic that KADEK has long since abandoned, and Palestinian leaders more often than not refuse to condemn terrorist attacks, KADEK is refraining from criminal attacks against civilians (i.e., terrorist attacks) despite ongoing Turkish oppression and occupation and is making efforts at initiating dialogue with the US. Now it is time for the US to take a bold step in reevaluating its former alliance with Turkey and publicly talk with KADEK. There is barely a doubt that secret contacts between the US and KADEK, and indeed between the US and almost every major player in the Middle East, is ongoing. A public effort at dialogue would serve to deliver the message to the Turkish regime that the Turks need the US much more than the US needs them, especially in light of recent events. It would provide American soldiers with reassurance that they will not be used to fight in a battle against KADEK in Iraqi Kurdistan that would be nothing more than an extension of Turkey's international war against the Kurds, and it would reassure the Kurds of Iraq that the US will not abandon them in favor of the Turks who refused to help the US during the recent war. http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal te.turkey08oct08,0,5286847.story?coll=bal-nationworld-headlines * TURKEY'S PARLIAMENT OKS PEACEKEEPERS Baltimore Sun, 8th October ANKARA, Turkey (AP): Parliament voted overwhelmingly yesterday to give the government permission to send peacekeepers to Iraq, but members of Iraq's interim council opposed the move, a sign of the problems Washington faces as it tries to assemble a peacekeeping force. The United States has been pressing Turkey for months to send what would be the first major Muslim contingent of peacekeepers, a deployment that would enhance the credibility of the American-led force in Iraq by demonstrating Muslim support. Turkey's parliament voted 358-183 to allow the government to dispatch troops, a move top officials said would improve ties with Washington and help give Turkey a say in the future of Iraq. "An Iraq that is in peace, that is on good terms with its neighbors, an Iraq that is stable is in Turkey's interests," Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said. In Washington, White House spokesman Scott McClellan applauded the Turkish vote, saying, "We welcome that decision, and we will be working with Turkish officials on the details of their decision." Secretary of State Colin L. Powell expressed his appreciation to Gul in a telephone conversation, saying the United States would be working with Turkey and Iraq on putting the decision into effect, a senior U.S. official said on condition of anonymity. The motion gives the government the power to send troops but provides no details as to when, where or how many soldiers would be deployed. Those matters are expected to be worked out in talks with Washington that could take weeks or even months. "The decision that came out of parliament is not one that will be executed immediately, this instant," Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said. "Time will decide. The process will depend on developments." The U.S.-appointed Governing Council of Iraq met about the same time as the Turkish parliament. "After long deliberations, we reached consensus on issuing a statement opposing the arrival of Turkish troops," said Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the council. "The council already has said it does not want other foreign troops in the country." He said, however, that the release of the statement was delayed yesterday, apparently because of pressure from the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority. The council is likely to defer to the United States on issues involving security. Gul dismissed the Iraqi council's action. "Members with Kurdish origins thought that way, but in the end they decided that it wouldn't be right," he said when asked about the statement. But Gul also seemed to address some of their concerns. "Turkey has no secret designs over Iraq," he added. "We won't be going there to prolong the occupation - on the contrary, to shorten it." Council members have repeatedly said they would prefer if neighboring countries wouldn't send peacekeepers. The Turkish Ottoman Empire ruled today's Iraq for about 400 years, until World War I. For about 15 years, Turkey fought Turkish Kurdish rebels, who now have bases in the Kurdish areas of northern Iraq, a fight that killed 37,000 people. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1058147,00.html * IN THEIR IRAQI MOUNTAIN HIDEAWAY TURKEY'S MOST WANTED MEN STAY LOYAL TO THE CAUSE by Michael Howard The Guardian, 8th October The route up to Osman Ocalan's headquarters, nestled in the rugged cliffs of the Qandilmountain high on the Iraq-Iran border, is treacherous yet surprisingly busy. Mule trains bearing the party faithful weave their way up precipitous paths, through dwarf oak and wal-nut trees, sheets of corrugated iron lashed across their backs like metal wings. "We are preparing for winter, not war," says Mr Ocalan as he bends to scoop water from the mountain stream rushing past his squat, stone cottage. He says that the corrugated iron, hauled up from the valley hundreds of feet below, will make valuable roofing material. Mr Ocalan seems oddly relaxed for someone at the top of Turkey's most wanted list. It is difficult to believe that his fate, and that of the 5,000 battle-hardened guerrillas of the Kurdistan Workers party (Kadek, formerly the PKK) under his command, may just have been sealed by politicians in the capital, Ankara. Yesterday the Turkish parliament approved a government motion to send up to 10,000 Turkish troops to Iraq, and Mr Ocalan and the PKK, which fought the Turkish state in a bloody guerrilla war for Kurdish rights in the 1980s and 1990s, were key bargaining points in discussions with Washington, which has been urging Turkey to send forces across the border. Turkey's influential generals have been eager to repair the damage to US relations caused by the campaign to remove Saddam Hussein, even though Turkish public opinion is hostile to the idea. In the face of such opposition, the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, believed he could ease the path to deployment by getting the US to agree a joint plan of action in north Iraq that would include a commitment to dismantle or even eliminate the PKK forces holed up in the mountains on the Iraqi side of the border. Last week a US delegation to Turkey led by Cofer Black, the state department's anti terrorism coordinator, bowed to Turkish pressure to make good the promises to move against the Kurdish rebel group it regards as a terrorist outfit. "We will do everything we can to make sure that that terrorist threat is dealt with," said the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, at the weekend. The PKK, which has renamed itself the Freedom and Democracy Congress, or Kadek, is on the state department's list of terrorist organisations. Displaced The war with the rebel Kurds has rocked the Turkish state to its foundations. During two decades of fighting in south-east Turkey more than 30,000 people have been killed, most Kurds. More than 2 million people have been displaced and thousands of Kurdish villages destroyed. In 1999 the group's ideological and spiritual leader, Abdullah Ocalan - Osman's elder brother - was arrested and imprisoned. Osman then led about 5,000 hardcore fighters across the mountainous south-eastern border area into Iraqi Kurdistan. Hunkering down in camps that could be reached only by foot or by mule, they called a unilateral ceasefire and toned down their orthodox Marxist-Leninist rhetoric and their demands for an independent Kurdish state. Now they call for "full Kurdish cultural and political rights within a democratic framework" in Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq, all with substantial Kurdish populations. In July, the Turkish government passed a law aimed at encouraging the fighters to lay down their arms and return from Iraq. The measures did not meet the group's demands for a general amnesty - the allowances specifically excluded Mr Ocalan and the 11-member leadership council - and for being allowed to participate in Turkey's political life. Turkish anxieties increased after the rebel leaders' decision last month to end a unilateral four-year ceasefire with Turkey, on the basis that Ankara had rejected dialogue and made only piecemeal reforms for the 15 million Kurds. Despite the tightening of the noose, Mr Ocalan appears confident that airstrikes or ground attacks on his rebel positions can be avoided, at least for now. "I don't think the US will come to attack us as Turkey is urging them to do," he says, looking down the steep ravine that leads from his terrace. "I don't think they will allow Turkey to attack us either." The senior commander of Kadek, a less charismatic figure than Abdullah, moves headquarters regularly to avoid capture by Turkish soldiers, a few thousand of whom are already stationed in northern Iraq to monitor rebel activity. "We want to cooperate, not fight, with the British and the US forces to see a stable and democratic Iraq," Mr Ocalan insists, adding that his group has had a number of "informal" contacts with American forces in northern Iraq. "We are in the process of learning more about each other. But there is nothing official." If the party's ideology and violent excesses have subsided in recent years, the discipline, commitment and organisation for which its fighters became renowned during the 90s has not diminished as they have adjusted to life in the Iraqi Kurdish mountains. A series of turbines placed in the mountain streams provides enough electricity for six nearby villages. The group's communication centre includes satellite phones and televisions. The daily "political education" sessions continue. And big brother is never far away. As the fighters ascend the steep ravine to headquarters, Abdullah Ocalan watches over them, his stylised portrait painted Che Guevara-style on the cliff face. Unlike Massoud Barazani and Jalal Talabani, the Iraqi Kurd leaders who control the self rule area - part of which the party has now hived off for itself - Mr Ocalan says he does not oppose the principle of Turkish troops in Iraq. "But they must keep well away from Kurdish areas and not build permanent logistical bases in the north to protect supply lines south." His guerrillas "will not seek to attack Turkish forces unless they are attacked". He adds: "We adopt a position of legitimate defence. Attacking us would create problems everywhere, in Turkey and Iraq." And the Turks must not, he insists, involve themselves in the internal politics of sensitive cities such as Mosul and Kirkuk. Mr Ocalan wants Turkish troops to stay away from the 10,000 Turkish Kurdish refugees who live in a refugee camp run by the United Nations at Makhmour, 50 miles south of Arbil. Many of the refugees who crossed into Iraq in the early 90s to escape the fighting in south eastern Turkey are relatives of the PKK fighters but insist they themselves are not members of the outlawed party. Ankara has claimed the camp is an unofficial training camp for the PKK. The stakes remain high for all sides. US forces in Iraq, already stretched in the centre and the south of the country, are unlikely to want to embark on a campaign against Mr Ocalan's rebels which could mean disturbing the relative calm of the north. "We are not looking to butt heads with them right now, but ultimately [the PKK's] presence is untenable," said Lieutenant Colonel Harry Schute, who commands activities in the Kurdish controlled parts of the former self-rule area. Clashes with PKK guerrillas in Iraqi Kurdistan could also rekindle the Kurdish rebellion inside Turkey. Notoriety Turkey attracted notoriety internationally for its human rights abuses during the 80s and 90s when military operations against the PKK in the south-east were at their peak. Ankara's efforts to join the EU could therefore be badly damaged by revived internal conflict. Semih Idiz, a columnist working for Turkey's Aksam newspaper, says: "Renewed hostilities could strengthen support for right-wing groups in Turkey and slow the government's reformist agenda to meet EU criteria, particularly on minority rights. It is in the old establishment's interest to keep the PKK issue alive. We need to give the reforms a chance to work." Iraq's Kurds meanwhile are opposed to action against the rebels, fearing that it would destabilise their area. They worry also that the presence of any more Turkish forces in the country would help to undermine their aspirations for a federal state. Much of the Turkish political establishment opposes Kurdish autonomy for fear that it might arouse nationalist feelings and consequently trouble among its own Kurdish population. While Mr Ocalan's promises of "good behaviour" in Iraq may give some reassurance to the troubled US administration there, he gives no such cause for optimism to the authorities in Turkey. "We had four years of a unilateral ceasefire, and Turkey did not give a positive answer," Mr Ocalan says. "Practically, there has been no difference in the situation of the Kurds. Of course they had some reforms but they have done nothing meaningful for us. "The military operations have continued, Kurdish organisations and political groups are being oppressed continuously, and also the life or our leader is endangered. To our appeals for dialogue there have been neither direct nor indirect answers." He warns that if the Turkish authorities have not responded by December 1 to requests for talks, then the rebels will take what he describes as "political and military measures". He is vague about what this might mean but insists it would not involve an all-out campaign. "We don't want war, we want to solve the Kurdish problem in a peaceful and political way." The Turkish government should also take better care of his brother, he warns. Abdullah Ocalan is now reported to be suffering from health problems while he is kept in solitary confinement in a prison located on Imrali island, in the sea of Marmara. "He should be sent to a prison on the mainland with better conditions. That will make the political ground softer and help prepare the country for peace." But Turkey's most wanted man adds chillingly: "If anything happens to him it'll be taken as a death penalty against him. The situation will get out of control, and all of Turkey will burn." http://news.independent.co.uk/world/middle_east/story.jsp?story=451007 * IRAQI LEADER ATTACKS US OVER PLAN TO USE TURKISH TROOPS by Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad The Independent, 8th October An influential Iraqi leader has accused the United States of ignoring the wishes of the Iraqi governing council on vital issues such as the invitation to Turkey to send 10,000 soldiers to Iraq. Mahmoud Othman, a Kurdish member of the 25-member governing council to which the US is supposedly delegating power, said in an interview with The Independent that the US is riding roughshod over Iraqi objections to Turkish intervention because "the Americans want to disengage their troops". The Turkish soldiers are expected to replace US forces in the towns of Ramadi and Fallujah west of Baghdad where the Americans have suffered many casualties. The Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan met MPs from his ruling party yesterday to gain support for sending Turkish troops to Iraq with a vote in parliament expected to follow. "I don't anticipate any problems," he said. The arrival of Turkish troops is likely to further complicate the Iraqi crisis because a main objective of Ankara is to curtail the influence of the Kurds, the only part of the Iraqi population to wholeheartedly welcome US occupation. "I think they will come," said Mr Othman. Turkey is demanding that the US launch military operations against the PKK, the Turkish Kurd guerrillas, in the northern mountains of Iraq and also wants a senior Turkish official to join the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) through which the US rules Iraq. Turkey is eager to become a player in Iraq, a position it lost when the Turkish parliament narrowly defeated a motion to allow the US to use its bases earlier in the year. But Iraqi Arabs have bitter memories of centuries of rule by the Ottoman Turks that ended when the British army captured Baghdad in 1917. At the weekend, people in Baiji, north of Baghdad, were burning Turkish trucks passing through their city. In a rebuttal of claims by American and British officials that real authority has been delegated to Iraqis, Mr Othman said: "The general council does not have much power and if you don't have real authority you lack credibility. We will be seen by Iraqis as puppets." As an example he said the CPA had decided to send 30,000 Iraqi policemen to be trained in Jordan at a cost of $1.3bn (£780m) in the teeth of objections from the council. "We don't agree with it," said Mr Othman. "We could train them for one third of the money. The US wants to do a favour to the Jordanians at our expense. In any case, Jordanians are generally pro-Saddam." He added that there was a complete lack of transparency on how the CPA and the Pentagon were spending funds in Iraq, opening up opportunities for corruption. "The US Congress is supposed to give $20bn to Iraq but the Iraqis have no say in how it is spent," Mr Othman said. He believes the best solution is not for the US to leave entirely but to pull its soldiers out of the cities. The instability of US rule in Iraq was underlined in central Baghdad yesterday when a mortar or rocket-propelled grenade exploded in the compound of the Foreign Ministry. Fortunately, the governing council's Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari was in London at the time and there were no casualties from the explosion. OTHER FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * JORDAN TO TRAIN 30,000 IRAQI SECURITY FORCES RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003 Jordan will soon begin training some 30,000 Iraqi security personnel, King Abdullah II told AFP in an interview published by Jordan News Agency on 29 September. King Abdullah said his country is in the final stages of preparation for the training course. "There will be eight-week courses, and every course will be attended by 1,500 Iraqis. Soon we will receive the first batch of 3,000," he said. "There will also be training for instructors, and an initial 100 Iraqi instructors will be trained in the Jordanian police academy." However, the king stressed that sending Jordanian soldiers to Iraq is not an option. "I don't think it is fair to the Iraqis, nor to any of [Iraq's] neighbors," he said. Meanwhile, the Jordanian government has reportedly acknowledged that "several dozen" Jordanians are among the prisoners of war now in coalition custody at Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, dpa reported on 29 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/news/news7.htm * SADDAM'S FALL TRIGGERS CHANGE IN GULF by Omar Hasan Jordan Times, 7th October KUWAIT CITY (AFP): The fall of Iraq's Saddam Hussein has triggered domestic changes in neighbouring Gulf Arab monarchies but the nature of such changes will depend on how Washington controls the Arab nation, analysts say. The crushing defeat of the Baathist regime at the hands of US-led forces six months ago undoubtedly came as a major relief for Gulf states but it has also opened the way for much needed and long-awaited reform. The US-British victory in Iraq has already triggered "a number of strategic changes, the most important of which is altering the balance of power in the region," Saudi analyst Anwar Eshki said. "Gulf states in particular were spending heavily on external security (defence spending)," because of the presence of regional threats mainly from Saddam's Iraq, he told AFP. "Now, the focus is on internal security and the economy. Defence spending is decreasing rapidly," said Eshki, head of the Jeddah-based Middle East Centre for Strategic and Legal Studies. The oil-rich Gulf region had remained one of the most unstable areas of the world for almost three decades mainly due to Saddam Hussein's military adventures, which included two wars with Iran and the August 1990 invasionof Kuwait and subsequent seven-month occupation. And US-Iraqi political and military confrontation between 1991 and 2003 caused serious tension in the region and delayed decisive development plans. "The removal of Saddam Hussein was a real gain for Kuwait and other Gulf countries brought by a foreign power," Kuwaiti columnist and political analyst Ayed Al Manna said. The impact of ousting Saddam on Iraq's neighbours will be "decisive, but its nature will greatly depend on the turn of events in Baghdad. Stability and security in Iraq are a key factor for change in this region," Manna told AFP. He believes that if the United States succeeds in establishing democracy in Iraq, Gulf Arab states will undergo major democratisation, the signs of which have already started. But if the security turmoil continues, "Iraq's neighbours, mainly Gulf Arabs, will be adversely affected, on the economic, political and security fronts," Manna said. A major sign of relief in the region is seen in the performance of the Kuwaiti and Saudi bourses which have risen by 83 per cent and 75 per cent respectively since Saddam's regime collapsed. All six nations that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are ruled by royal families who have been in power for centuries. Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman have elected parliaments but Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia only have appointed councils. Eshki believes that Gulf states are prepared for change "but not the way the United States is pressing for." "These states have started to crackdown on extremists. They are revising school curriculums. There is a tendency for change, openness and dialogue. They are introducing constitutions and reforms," he said. Saudi Arabia, the largest state in the Gulf, has launched a campaign against militants in the kingdom after Sept. 11, 2001, but the crackdown intensified after the May 12 suicide attacks in Riyadh which killed 35 people. The conservative kingdom is also witnessing more calls for reform and democracy, and several petitions to that effect have been submitted to Crown Prince Abdullah Ben Abdul Aziz. Manna however, said that if the US model succeeds in Iraq, Gulf Arab states, including Kuwait, need to do much more on the way to real democracy. But Eshki insists that the United States is committing a grave mistake in Iraq by attempting to impose its will on the people. "Hatred against America has increased in the Arab and Islamic worlds because of the US' arrogant style ... Washington must resort to dialogue and negotiation because it can never succeed with Arabs as it did with the Red Indians," he said. http://www.nytimes.com/2003/10/07/international/middleeast/07PILG.html * Resolute Iranian Pilgrims Meet Awed G.I.'s by IAN FISHER New York Times, 7th October URSAQ, Iraq, Oct. 3 ‹ The fall of Saddam Hussein has undammed a flood of Shiite Muslims across Iran's rough border here into Iraq, driven not by the desire to fight Americans but by a religious devotion that United States soldiers here are finding hard to contain or even comprehend. In just over a month, American forces have stopped more than 17,000 people sneaking into Iraq near here with the goal of making a pilgrimage to the holy city of Karbala south of Baghdad. As many as 1,000 cross on any day ‹ wobbly old men and women, young mothers, babies ‹ into the hands of American soldiers, who are awestruck by the risks the pilgrims are taking. Carrying almost nothing, they can walk for a day or more across minefields, mountain passes and the hot desert. Soldiers and the Iraqi border guards who help them have found five bodies so far, and Iran's official news agency recently reported more than 100 deaths from mines, banditry and exposure. "I'm a little bit confused why people are doing this," Specialist June Lee, 25, from Flushing, Queens, said at a holding center in this village near the border where American soldiers feed the spent pilgrims before trying, with only limited success, to truck them back to Iran. "To me, especially for the older ladies and some of them who have kids, they are going through a lot worse than they should be just because of their belief." For decades, Mr. Hussein, a Sunni Muslim who brutally sought to limit the influence of the majority Shiites, kept tight controls on the number of Iranians, most of whom are Shiite, visiting shrines in Iraq. For the Shiites, Karbala and Najaf are the two most holy sites. Now, with Mr. Hussein gone, the Iranian Shiites' simple but determined desire to make a pilgrimage is complicating the job of the Americans in Iraq, as well as helping define a new era of relations between Iraq, Iran and the United States that no side seems quite sure how to handle. After Mr. Hussein was pushed from power in April, the official American policy was to permit Iranian pilgrims with valid passports into Iraq. In August, however, that was put on hold after a suicide bomber killed more than 80 people in Najaf, and the border is now officially closed to pilgrims. But policy seems a small thing against the larger forces at work among Shiites in Iran and Iraq. The spiritual center for Iranian Shiites seems to shifting away from Qum and back to the magnificent mosques and shrines of Najaf and Karbala, where Imam Hussein, grandson of the prophet Muhammad, was slain in 671 in the most significant battle of the Shiite faith. On a practical level, the influx is big business for Iraqis in Karbala and Najaf who are eager to promote pilgrimages, required of any Shiite who can. The huge flow of pilgrims has forced the American military into a sizable border patrol, screening for people whose real aim may not be pilgrimage but joining the fight against American soldiers, and a substantial relief operation. Lt. Col. Reginald Allen of the 10th Cavalry, Fourth Infantry Division, responsible for the border patrols in the area, said that about 100 pilgrims, most of them young men, had been sent off for extensive interrogation but that not one had appeared to be a fighter. "It's not to say it can't be happening here," Colonel Allen said. "We just don't think that they are coming into this area." American military officials say most of the foreign fighters appear to be coming from Syria to the west. On a recent morning, with wind pushing sand into small storms, clumps of pilgrims sat by the side of road in exhaustion. "Water, water!" an old woman begged the soldiers. "Oh, it was hard," said one man, Abdullah Nazeri, 57. "But my will to make it to Karbala gave me strength." Army medics care for cuts, bruises, dehydration and exhaustion. After being trucked to the holding center here, the pilgrims are given as much water as they can carry and one package of vegetarian rations to avoid pork, forbidden to observant Muslims. There is little hostility toward the Americans, even when the pilgrims realize that the soldiers intend to truck them back to Iran. In fact, pilgrims said that some who had returned to Iran told them to look for American soldiers because they would get fed. "People who made it and came back were very satisfied with the way the Americans treated them," said Jawad Qassimian, 26, who said he had just walked 26 hours across mountains, getting lost near minefields, before being picked up by United States soldiers. Most of the pilgrims crossing near here are poor people, many of them Iranian laborers and immigrants from Afghanistan, who cannot afford passports to make the legal trip. "We didn't have money to get passports, so we took the risk," said Abbas Ali, 40, a tile worker accompanied by his 8-month-old son, Muhammad. They were among 43 people from a village in central Iran who had been walking for 12 hours. Only in late August did American soldiers, hearing reports of people crossing from Iran, come in any numbers to this barren border area. On their first night, Army helicopters spotted several four-wheel-drive vehicles and people in the darkness. Within a few hours, the soldiers had rounded up 100 people. Within the next 24 hours, 1,500 others were detained. "We were expecting something like foreign fighters to get up from that spot and take potshots at us," said Robert Robinson, 28, a sergeant from Columbus, Miss. "We didn't expect pilgrims to come for a better life or just to pray." Since then the numbers have averaged 400 to 500 a day, with no apparent pattern. Although word is clearly out that the Americans are preventing them from going to Karbala ‹ several are "repeat customers," one soldier said ‹ the numbers do not appear to be dropping. So the border has become one arena of the cultural divide here, with the Americans watching the treacherous pilgrimage with a mix of bafflement, admiration and anger. "From a religious standpoint, I don't think Americans can comprehend such an unseen goal," said Specialist Leon O'Connell, 24, a medic from Syracuse who treats the pilgrims. "But we work hard every day for different goals. Of course we're not walking across the desert or over minefields." The pilgrims have also underscored the tenuous control that American soldiers ‹ for all their numbers, technology, and good will ‹ appear to have in Iraq. For the last month, the drill has been to take the rounded-up pilgrims from the holding center here to the small and lawless border village of Badrah to the south. On a recent morning, Iraqi border guards, escorted by United States soldiers, drove three trucks there with 239 pilgrims aboard. The scene, by any measure, was chaos. Iraqi drivers in minivans, looking for customers to Karbala, tracked the trucks like hyenas. Then, on the Iranian side, the guards mysteriously refused to take the pilgrims in. So the pilgrims scattered. Dozens of them, just rescued and fed by Americans, risked their lives yet again by fleeing through the minefields of no man's land between Iran and Iraq. Iraqi policemen fired shots ‹ ignored ‹ to warn them away. "Some of them have guides that take them through the minefields," said Lt. Saad Abdul Razzak Abdul Hussein of the Iraqi border police. "Sometimes the guides are not so experienced and that's why we see some of the pilgrims dead." The Iranians have not taken in the pilgrims for weeks, a problem that is still unresolved. Badrah also falls under the command of multinational forces, led by the Poles, and so the American soldiers here, who operate just to the north, say they have no authority to make the transfer of pilgrims back to Iran actually work. "That's a frustration," said Capt. John Due, whose unit has spent the last month rounding up the pilgrims. Some of those rounded up and deposited on the border simply waited on the Iranian side. Later, both Americans and Iraqis acknowledged, they were likely to cross back into Iraq, board a minivan and make it, finally, to Karbala. http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1058174,00.html * BUSH SIGNALS BACKING FOR SYRIA SANCTIONS by Julian Borger The Guardian, 8th October A bill to impose new economic sanctions on Syria will begin its passage through the US Congress today after the Bush administration gave the measures a green light to signal its frustration with Damascus. Congressional staffers said the sanctions would sail through the House of Representatives this week, and would probably be passed by the Senate too, unless the administration changed its mind. The White House has been blocking the Syria accountability bill for a year, while it pursued negotiations with Damascus, but this week the state department took a conspicuously neutral stance, saying the administration had no position on it. The administration also refused to join international condemnation of Israeli air strikes on Syria over the weekend. President George Bush yesterday said the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, had the right to "defend his people" but urged him to "avoid escalating violence". A Republican congressional aide said the administration's signals were seen on Capitol Hill as a "green light for sanctions". The change in position is a victory for US conservatives who have long advocated a tougher stance against Syria because of its support for Hizbullah, and other armed anti-Israeli groups. After the fall of Baghdad, rightwingers in the Pentagon promoted a contingency plan for military action against Syria but it was vetoed by the White House. Under pressure from Washington, Syria closed the offices of radical Palestinian groups such as Islamic Jihad and Hamas, and it handed over several officials from the Saddam regime who had fled across the border. However, Washington has remained unconvinced by the measures. Daniel Byman, a Middle East expert at Georgetown University, said there was "a perception in the administration that there have been cosmetic gestures to cut support for various Palestinian groups, but in reality that support remained quite strong". Washington has also complained about the flow of guerrilla fighters over the Syrian-Iraqi border. "Syria has been a problem; the flow of people down through the Syrian border into Iraq has been a problem," the defence secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, said earlier this week. "We've arrested something in excess of 200 foreign fighters who've come in and an overwhelming majority of them are Syrian." If passed, the Syria accountability law would impose a ban on the export of "dual-use" technology to Syria and authorise President Bush to choose from a menu of further sanctions against Syria, including curbs on US businesses in Syria, and a freezing of Syrian assets in the US. The bill will be voted on today by the House of Representatives international relations committee and will then go to the floor of the house within days for a full vote. A congressional staffer said yesterday it would be passed overwhelmingly in both votes. The outcome in the Senate is less certain. In the past, sanctions bills have been opposed in principle by senators from farming states, which depend heavily on exports. INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY http://www.jordantimes.com/Fri/news/news5.htm * DONORS GRAPPLE WITH $56 BILLION BILL FOR IRAQ Jordan Times, 3rd October MADRID (Reuters) ‹ International donors for Iraqi reconstruction agreed on Thursday to set up a separate trust fund outside Washington's direct control to administer some of around $56 billion needed to rebuild Iraq over four years. Leading donors and international organisations meeting in Madrid studied a needs assessment showing the scale of rebuilding required in Iraq after years of sanctions and war. The assessment, put together by the World Bank, the United Nations and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), estimated that $35.6 billion will be needed over the next four years to get key areas of the economy up and running. That is in addition to the $20 billion estimated by the US-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) governing Iraq. The United States has pledged to contribute $20 billion towards rebuilding Iraq over 18 months, and experts believe the rest of the world, including Europe, Japan and Arab states, may commit $2 billion at most for the initial one-year period. The "core" group, preparing an October 23-24 donors' conference in Madrid, said it should "bring together the international community to help the Iraqi people rebuild their nation and overcome decades of brutality, neglect and mismanagement." In a statement, they said the conference should agree on an international framework separate from the existing Development Fund for Iraq, which can be tapped at will by Iraq's US-led CPA. The international framework would include trust funds for Iraq administered by the United Nations and World Bank. The pledge goes some way to meeting the concern of countries opposed to the Iraq war, such as France and Germany, which are keen to ensure they have some control over how money they donate for Iraq's reconstruction is spent. The donors' statement, which mentioned no figures, stressed that an "adequate security environment" in Iraq would be essential for reconstruction to succeed. The "core" group, bringing together the World Bank, the IMF and the UN, the United States, the European Union, Japan, the United Arab Emirates and a delegation of the Iraqi Governing Council and CPA, met behind closed doors. The needs assessment for Iraq, obtained by Reuters, estimated that Iraq requires $24.2 billion to rebuild its infrastructure, $7.2 billion for education, health and jobs, and $3 billion for agriculture. The breakdown for the $20 billion from Washington includes $5 billion for security and police, $8 billion for rebuilding the oil industry and $3.5 billion for the environment. Delivery of the money should be front-loaded with a large chunk needed next year, the studies said. The US estimates that $8.2 billion will be needed in 2004, mostly for security and police, and the assessment carried out by the World Bank, IMF and UN said an additional $9.3 billion will be needed next year in key sectors. At the same time, Iraq is struggling with a heavy debt estimated at up to $130 billion, a subject international donors will want to discuss at the October 23-24 conference. Iraq's central bank governor, Sinan Al Shibibi, told Reuters by telephone in Baghdad that he would begin a tour of European creditors in the next few days to start discussing Iraq's debt. Shibibi said talks would be bilateral, with no plans yet to meet the Paris Club of official creditors. * OIL-FOR-FOOD DIRECTOR SAYS DELAYS WILL IMPACT PROGRAM'S CLOSING RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003 The Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Program, Benon Sevan told the UN Security Council in his 29 September progress report that the 19 August bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad and the subsequent reduction of international UN staff in Iraq, coupled with slow movement on the part of the U.S.-led administration in Iraq have all affected his office's ability to meet its timeline for closing the program on 21 November. UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (May) called for the phasing out of the program, which provided Iraqis with humanitarian supplies since December 1996 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 986 (April, 1995). Sevan noted in his report that "handover preparations and best-case scenarios have been undermined by chronic insecurity and the tragic terrorist attack of 19 August on UN headquarters in Baghdad." In talking points on the program, posted on the UN website (http://www.un.org/depts./oip), Sevan said that the minimum number of UN international staff required for an orderly transfer of UN oil-for-food assets is 115, which means that the program cannot support transfer, since the UN reduced its international staff in Iraq last month. "Accordingly, in the absence of the minimum number of required international staff, the only alternative course of action could be the transfer of assets, ongoing operations, and responsibility for the administration of any remaining activity under the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] together with the relevant documentation," Sevan recommended. His progress report added that the CPA needed to increase the number of its staff working on the transfer "most expeditiously" in order to help the transfer process. Sevan said that his office would keep the Security Council posted on a weekly basis, as the situation might change depending upon the security situation in Iraq, and the possibility that international UN staff might return. (Kathleen Ridolfo) * U.K. REPRESENTATIVE TO IRAQ SAYS COALITION CAN GO IT ALONE RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 41, 3 October 2003 Sir Jeremy Greenstock has told BBC radio that the coalition could manage in Iraq without the help of additional international troops, Reuters reported on 28 September. "It would be a very good development if we had a wider international involvement but that doesn't mean to say we cannot do what needs to be done with the forces we have deployed already," said Greenstock, a former U.K. ambassador to the UN. Britain currently has some 10,000 troops in Iraq, and the United States has about 130,000 military personnel there. The United States plans to send about 15,000 additional troops in the coming weeks. Greenstock was appointed special representative in June (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 June 2003), and is the British equivalent of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.dawn.com/2003/10/05/int15.htm * UN-US DISCORD OVER IRAQ DEEPENS by J.T. Nguyen Dawn, 5th October NEW YORK: The two-day-old US draft resolution on Iraq is considered unworkable by United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan, especially as it calls for more UN personnel in a country with deteriorating security, a senior UN official said on Friday. The official, who briefed reporters on Annan's position on Iraq, said there are "honest differences of opinion" between the UN leader, who must carry out resolutions, and the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), the US occupation forces in Iraq led by Ambassador Paul Bremer. The UN official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Annan is not leading the charge against the US draft or haggling to buy a carpet in Iraq. Annan said on Thursday after the draft was submitted that it was "not in the direction I had recommended." It was the first time that Annan spoke publicly against a draft resolution. The official said the UN is not pretending that it can play an effective political role in Iraq under the present circumstances. "Either the CPA or the UN can be in charge of the process," he said. "Attempting to blur the roles of the two is a recipe for confusion, and that could expose the UN to risk that is not justified by the substances of the draft." He said recent attacks against the UN compound in Baghdad were evidence of the risk international workers face. On August 19, a massive bomb attack killed 22 UN workers, including Sergio Vieira de Mello, the special envoy for Iraq. The official said Annan preferred to be given an explicit political role at a later stage, and that role should be supported by the Iraqi Governing Council, a united UN Security Council, the Iraqi people and institutions like the World Bank and IMF. The official cited the major differences between Annan and the US draft resolution as follow: Annan proposes that an Iraqi provisional government be set up in four to five months and that the US ends formally the occupation in order to send a strong signal to the Iraqis and the world to cooperate with that government. The current 25-member Iraqi Governing Council was hand-picked by the US with no executive responsibilities. The provisional government in Baghdad can invite the CPA to remain in Iraq to give the US a legitimate presence. Other countries can contribute military personnel to a UN-authorized multinational force. The official said drafting the constitution could take up to two years taking into account the division among Kurds, Shias and Sunnis, all of whom want to share the power in a future government. He said a legislative body, comprising of the Governing Council, the current government cabinet and the constitution committee, should draft the constitution. Annan's position is in reverse of the US draft, the official said. The US has called on the Governing Council and Iraqi leaders to draft the constitution and organize general elections for a representative government. US Secretary of State Colin Powell has suggested a six-month deadline to draft the constitution, which would be submitted to a referendum. No timetable has been specified for the US to end the occupation. The UN official said it would take years to change a society like Iraq to go from a one-party system under Saddam Hussein to a multi-party system. He said some Iraqi leaders have suggested to use the 1958 Iraqi constitution for the short term while negotiations are to begin for the future constitution. "If you allow more time for a normal process to develop, then there is a hope that alliances could develop across confessional line," he said, pointing to Iraqis' thinking that they should not only be identified by their religions or political affiliations, but as Iraqis as well. The official said the UN is looking for a mandate in Iraq that is "coherent, and not like a higgledy-piggledy consensus for the sake of agreement. The consensus is not enough, the consensus should be on the basis of a coherent mandate." "What we are looking for is a mandate that is implementable and the secretary-general is signalling that he does not want to be saddled with a mandate that is unimplementable," the official said. Annan, who has become more aggressive since August 19 to protect UN personnel, wasn't the only one who opposed the US draft. UN Security Council members like Germany, France and Syria have spoken against the draft as lacking the political and security elements that are essential for resolving the war situation in Iraq.-dpa http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/news/news6.htm * POLISH GOV'T UNDER FIRE OVER IRAQ MISSILES Jordan Times, 7th October WARSAW (Reuters) ‹ Poland's leftist government faced accusations of incompetence on Monday after it was forced to retract a report that its troops had found modern French made missiles in Iraq. The defence ministry apologised to France at the weekend for having said Polish troops had found Roland-type missiles manufactured this year in an Iraqi zone controlled by the Polish led international military force. French President Jacques Chirac rebuked Poland at a European Union summit on Saturday for having failed to check facts before releasing the information, which would be highly embarrassing for Paris if the missiles were indeed produced this year. France says Roland 1 missile systems were sent to Iraq from 1980 to 1981 and Roland 2 systems from 1983 to 1986. The most modern Roland 3 was never exported to Iraq and its production ended in 1993. Polish opposition politicians and a leading newspaper said the affair could harm Poland's position in the EU even before the post-communist country joins the bloc next May. "This is a disgraceful scandal. It harms our interests," said Jan Rokita, leader of the opposition Civic Platform (PO) Party, demanding a parliamentary inquiry. The Gazeta Wyborcza daily said the incident could weaken Poland's hand in negotiations on a new EU charter. Some EU members opposing the US-led war on Iraq, notably France and Germany, have been irked by Poland's siding with Britain and Spain in supporting Washington's policies. "At a delicate moment in negotiations, on which Poland's future in the EU depends, some in Europe again started to regard us as mischief-makers with an anti-French obsession, who are incompetent at the same time," Gazeta commented. Prime Minister Leszek Miller put a brave face on the diplomatic spat. "We have agreed with President Chirac that the issue has been put behind us," Miller told public radio, reiterating that a spokesman made the statement on the missiles without consulting Defence Minister Jerzy Szmajdzinski. But Szmajdzinski struck a note of defiance. "Let's not create an impression that those missiles were not there at all. And that France has never sold missiles to Iraq," he told private Radio Zet in an interview. "I understand... President Chirac's nervousness, because it is awkward when the public opinion learns that the French missiles were there," he added. http://www.sunspot.net/news/nationworld/bal te.diplomacy08oct08,0,1481218.story?coll=bal-news-nation * U.S. IS DEALT SETBACK AS IT SEEKS U.N. HELP IN IRAQ by Mark Matthews Baltimore Sun, 8th October WASHINGTON - Despite a month of lobbying, the United States has failed to win support for a new United Nations resolution that it hoped would help generate foreign money and troops to rebuild and stabilize Iraq, diplomats said yesterday. Unless the Bush administration agrees to yield significant authority in Iraq, several diplomats said, the resolution is probably doomed. Its failure would diminish the chances of gaining much international aid for Iraq or of enlisting the United Nations to help guide the country toward democratic rule. Many of the U.N. Security Council's 15 members were swayed last week by Secretary General Kofi Annan, who criticized American plans to retain overall authority in Iraq for at least the next year and to grant only a limited role to U.N. representatives. Sean McCormack, a White House spokesman, said no decision had been made on whether to abandon the effort to secure a new U.N. resolution. Other officials said, however, that the administration could decide soon whether to drop its resolution. "We're going to sit down and take a look and think about our draft," McCormack said, indicating, though, that major changes were unlikely. "We think we have a good draft." [.....] The diminishing prospects for a U.N. resolution, proposed a month ago, leave the United States bearing most of the risks and burdens of running postwar Iraq, with the help of Britain. The administration had envisioned the U.N. resolution as a vehicle for turning the U.S.-led occupation force into a multinational team under a U.N. mandate. While still commanded by Americans, a multinational force would be seen as satisfying the demands of countries that did not want to be viewed as part of an occupation army but would still be willing to contribute troops. Such a resolution was also seen as vital to securing financial support from donor countries at a conference in Madrid, Spain, set to start Oct. 23, and to enlisting help for Iraq from international banks. But the U.S.-drafted resolution appears to have foundered on the process the United States proposed for turning the country over to Iraqi self-rule and on the role it assigned to the United Nations. The draft called for the provisional authority, under Bremer, to retain ultimate control over the country. The Iraqi Governing Council, meanwhile, would draft a constitution, which Iraqis would ratify, and conduct elections for a permanent government. That process could take at least a year. The United Nations would help the governing council prepare for a political transition while supplying humanitarian help. After revising its draft resolution once, the United States made progress in gaining support until Thursday, when Annan publicly criticized the American draft as "not going in the direction I had recommended." During a lunch with council members, Annan called for a hand-over of power to an interim Iraqi government in three to six months, with the United Nations playing a leading role in guiding Iraqis through the development of a constitution and in holding elections for a permanent government. The U.N. secretary-general advocated a model close to the one followed in Afghanistan, a view also shared by France. He also told the diplomats that unless the United Nations was granted a clearly defined role in Iraq, he was reluctant to subject his staff to the dangers of working there. The United Nations' special envoy in Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and other U.N. staffers were killed in a suicide bombing outside U.N. headquarters in Baghdad on Aug. 19. "His comments had a very strong impact," a European diplomat said of Annan. One council diplomat said Annan had emerged as an informal "sixth veto" on the Security Council, carrying influence comparable to that of the five veto-wielding members: the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China. Russia toughened its opposition to the U.S. draft yesterday, with its foreign minister, Igor Ivanov, saying, "The draft U.S. resolution does not for the moment meet Russia's expectations." A senior Bush administration official, who asked not to be named, said the United States had set at least two firm conditions: that the Iraqis set the timetable for their political process and that the U.S.-led coalition remain in charge of the country until a permanent government is ready to rule. If securing a resolution means crossing these "red lines," said the official, "we're not going to bother." _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk