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[casi] News, 18-25/5/02 (1)

News, 18-25/5/02  (1)


*  US may attack Iraq with Kurds' assistance [Curious French prediction that
the US will attack but may not win. Also claims that the US have been
Œnurturing¹ Kurdish forces. The Kurds of course have their own well
established military tradition but my impression is that over the past ten
years this has been discouraged rather than nurtured. Simply put, what
access do they have to arms and training?]
*  Toll could be high in Iraq strike [The New York Times argues that
possession of chemical and biological weapons is a necessary prerequisite
for any country that wishes to maintain its national sovereignty in the face
of possible US aggression: "Without question, it's the toughest nut to
*  U.S. military action to oust Saddam reportedly on hold [This widely
diffused article states very bluntly that the Joint Chiefs of Staff are
opposed to a war on Iraq and even that the term ŒIraq hysteria¹is current
among them.]
*  Iraq invasion would be error to rival Hitler's attack on Russia
[according to British general, Sir Michael Rose]
*  Bush backs off Iraq invasion


*  Thousands join anti-war protests
*  Bush Urges Europe to Deal With Saddam [This article suggests a rather col
recep[tion for Bush in the Reichstag. In contrast to the headline in The
Washington Times, which read: ŒIn Berlin, stunned applause¹ -]
*  U.S., Russia Sign Landmark Treaty [Includes the following surprising
statement from Bush, supposedly giving the Russians advice over Chechnya:
"The experience in Afghanistan has taught us all that there are lessons to
be learned about how to protect one's homeland and, at the same time, be
respectful on the battlefield."]
*  Tough talk from Bush on eve of summit [Extract on reasons for Russian
reserve with regard to the ŒAxis of Evil¹ rhetoric.]


*  Iraq blames Iran for failure to resume air link
*  Kuwait says Iraq not cooperating on POWs
*  Rafsanjani Blasts Western Policies Towards Iraq
*  MKO angrily denies US charges on Iraq links [Here is an interesting
point. Are the Mujaheedin al-Khalq Œterrorists¹ because they launch
guerrilla attacks in Iran? or only when they do such things at the behest of
the government of Iraq? Were the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan
*  Iranian rebels in quandary [More of the same]


*  US Plane Attacks Iraqi Air Defense
*  4 Hurt in U.S. Air Attack on South, Baghdad Says
*  Danger looms in Iraq no-fly zone
*  4 U.S. planes attack 2 Iraqi weapons sites with missiles


Dawn, 18th May, 05 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423

PARIS, May 17: A consultant to the French Foreign Ministry's Centre for
Forecasts and Analysis (CAP: Centre d'analyse et previsions) says that in
his opinion there's a 90 per cent chance that the United States will stage
an attack on Iraq.

Gerard Chaliand, a noted international specialist on guerrilla warfare and
terrorism, says that the United States, according to his intelligence, will
make use of Iraq's Kurdish population in the eventual unrolling of the US
attack. "All will depend," he cautions, "on the American first strike,"
which he says the US will undertake single-handedly, adding that "and
whether the first strike is able to successfully destroy Baghdad's offensive

Only then, he says, will the United States be able to make use of the
Kurdish forces which, he implies, it has nurtured on the ground, in
preparation for the long-expected attack. "Once the Iraqi army is placed on
the defensive," notes Chaliand, "the United States will be able to activate
a Kurdish offensive within Iraq with Kurdish troops serving in a backup

He points to the country's presidential guard - which totals some 200,000
men in his estimation - as being one of the main reasons why, in spite of a
US attack, President Saddam Hussein looks to have a good chance of remaining
in power no matter how forceful a US attack.

"The presidential guard" - which he refers to as the "Garde republicaine" -
"is a crack elite and includes some of the best warriors in the region."

"Which is why," he adds, "I don't really believe that the US - in spite of
its determination to attack Iraq, undoubtedly out of political
considerations, parliamentary elections being held in November - will change
the situation much either in Iraq or in the region, no matter how many
forces they send to the front, no matter how superior their firepower."

"Another reason why the United States has been thinking twice about
undertaking an attack is the perception that a successful offensive against
Iraq - if that can be done, that is - would bring about in its wake a
partitioning of the country, and the creation, within Iraq, of an
independent Kurdistan state."

by James Dao
Seattle Times (from The New York Times), 19th May

WASHINGTON ‹ As the Pentagon prepares for a possible invasion of Iraq,
military planners say the most complicated problem they face is the chance
that President Saddam Hussein might use chemical or biological weapons
against U.S. forces and their allies.

Though Iraq possessed chemical and probably biological weapons during the
1991 Persian Gulf War, it did not use them, possibly because of U.S. threats
of retaliation.

But now that President Bush has placed himself behind an effort to change
governments in Baghdad, military experts and Pentagon officials say they
must assume that Saddam would use every weapon in his arsenal.

"This time, once the tanks start rolling, Saddam knows they won't stop until
they reach Baghdad," said Kenneth Pollack, director for national-security
studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former President Clinton's
director for Persian Gulf affairs on the National Security Council. "He has
no incentive for restraint."

That prospect has colored planning for almost every aspect of a possible
invasion, from training and supplies to the location of an assault and the
best time of year to begin, military officials said.

That Saddam might fire missiles tipped with chemical or biological warheads
at Israel and other allies has also prompted discussion of a host of
pre-emptive options for destroying his stockpiles or limiting his ability to
use them.

None of those theoretical problems are considered large enough to deter an
attack, senior military officials said. But they are more complex than the
threats posed by Saddam's conventional weapons, because of the destructive
nature of chemical and biological weapons and the widespread panic they can
induce, the officials said.

The threat of biological or chemical attacks "plays a huge role" in
preliminary planning about Iraq, said a senior military officer involved in
the process, which is under way even though President Bush has not decided
that any military action should be taken. "Without question, it's the
toughest nut to crack," the officer said.

Iraq's chemical and biological weapons are thought to include sarin and VX
gas ‹ which attack the central nervous system, causing paralysis,
convulsions and death ‹ as well as anthrax and botulism, said Charles
Duelfer, the former deputy chairman of the U.N. commission that monitored
Iraq's chemical- and biological-weapons programs until 2000.

To deliver those agents, Iraq has between one dozen and three dozen advanced
Scud missiles that can travel up to 375 miles, Iraq analysts said. Iraq is
also thought to have drones, artillery shells and bombs capable of
dispersing chemical and biological agents.

U.S. forces have not been attacked with chemical weapons since World War I,
the Pentagon says. Though troops are equipped with chemical suits, trained
in the basics of chemical defense and inoculated against certain biotoxins,
not even the most seasoned officers have any battlefield experience with
chemical or biological weapons.

"Just the threat of its use can psychologically help an enemy," said Lt.
Col. John Kulifay, chief of doctrine at the Army's chemical school at Fort
Leonard Wood in Missouri. "It causes confusion and takes away your focus."

At the chemical school, trainers try to give soldiers a taste of that fear
and confusion. Inside a semicircular building, soldiers wearing masks and
full-body chemical suits are put into airtight chambers tainted with enough
poisonous nerve gas to kill scores of them. Before entering, trainees have a
tendency to strap their masks on so tightly that their heads throb. Some
break down in tears.

"They've seen pictures of what Saddam Hussein did to his own people with
chemical weapons," said Staff Sgt. Brad Koland, an instructor. "Knowing
you'll be in a room with the same kind of agent will make anybody nervous."

So even the threat of chemical weapons can significantly slow the tempo at
which units operate, forcing them to conduct repeated chemical- and
biological-detection tests and to carry much more water than normal, both
for drinking and decontaminating equipment.

The chemical suits, though lighter than those used a decade ago, are still
very hot and cumbersome, reducing dexterity and lowering a soldier's ability
to spot a target by as much as 20 percent, Pentagon studies have shown.

The implications for desert warfare are obvious: Pentagon planners say they
would prefer to avoid a summer attack because of the health problems and
logistical difficulties created by wearing chemical suits in hot weather.

The Fort Leonard Wood school trains about 5,000 soldiers a year, enough to
fill a specialized brigade and to place chemical-warfare specialists in most
combat command units. Altogether, the Army has 17,587 soldiers with this

Military experts say the Pentagon is also considering a range of pre-emptive
strikes to damage Iraq's biological and chemical stores, as well as the
weapons to deliver them.

The problem, officials said, is finding the stockpiles. Saddam is thought to
store those weapons in deeply buried bunkers that are difficult to demolish
with non-nuclear weapons. He also moves his weapons about to avoid
detection, and may even keep some near civilian areas to discourage attacks
that might cause deadly plumes to waft over hospitals, schools and homes,
military experts said.

To allay Israel's worries about being attacked, the Pentagon may send it
anti-missile systems capable of shooting down Scuds. Another proposal calls
for quickly seizing western Iraq at the outset of an invasion, to limit
Saddam's ability to lob Scud missiles into Israel, military experts said.

For all the concerns, there is a broad consensus that the United States is
better prepared for chemical and biological attacks than a decade ago.
Nevertheless, said Walter Slocombe, Clinton's undersecretary of defense for
policy, the use of chemical or biological weapons would be "a horror."

"It wouldn't stop the war," he said, "and Saddam won't win the war because
of them, and it shouldn't be a show-stopper. But you've got to be ready for

by Thomas E. Rick
Seattle Times (from The Washington Post), 24th May

WASHINGTON ‹ The uniformed leaders of the U.S. military believe they have
persuaded the Pentagon's civilian leadership to put off an invasion of Iraq
until next year at the earliest and perhaps not to do it at all, according
to senior Pentagon officials.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have waged a determined behind-the-scenes campaign
to persuade the Bush administration to reconsider an aggressive posture
toward Iraq in which war was regarded as all but inevitable. This included a
secret briefing at the White House earlier this month for President Bush by
Army Gen. Tommy Franks, who as head of the Central Command would oversee any
U.S. military campaign against Iraq.

During the meeting, Franks told the president that invading Iraq to oust
Saddam Hussein would require at least 200,000 troops, far more than some
other military experts have calculated. This was in line with views of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, who have repeatedly emphasized the lengthy buildup
that would be required, concerns about Saddam's possible use of biological
and chemical weapons and the possible casualties, officials said.


In a series of meetings this spring, the six members of the Joint Chiefs
hammered out a position that emphasizes the difficulties of any Iraq
campaign while also quietly questioning the wisdom of a military
confrontation with Saddam.

"I think all the chiefs stood shoulder-to-shoulder on this," said one
officer tracking the debate, which has been intense at times. In one of the
most emphatic summaries of the direction of the debate, one top general said
the "Iraq hysteria" he detected last winter in some senior Bush
administration officials has been diffused.

But others familiar with the discussions held by the Joint Chiefs say that
it is premature for the uniformed military to declare victory. They note
that Rumsfeld has so far mostly stayed out of the debate, leaving that to
Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, and Douglas Feith, the
Pentagon's top policy official, who are seen inside the Pentagon as the
Defense Department's leading hawks on Iraq.

In their sessions, the chiefs focused on two specific concerns about any
offensive. One was that Saddam, if faced with losing power and likely being
killed, would no longer feel the constraints that during the Persian Gulf
War apparently kept him from using his stores of chemical and biological

The other was the danger of becoming bogged down in bloody block-by-block
urban warfare in Baghdad that could kill thousands of U.S. troops and Iraqi

In addition to those tactical concerns, some of the chiefs also expressed
misgivings about the wisdom of dislodging an aging, weakened Saddam, who, by
some accounts, has behaved better than usual in recent months. They worry
that there is no evidence of a clear successor who is any better, and that
there are significant risks that Iraq may wind up with a more hostile,
activist regime.

As the discussions of Iraq policy were culminating earlier this month,
Franks briefed the Joint Chiefs and then the president on the outline of the
plan he would use if ordered to attack. His plan, which was the only one
presented, called for a substantial combat force that was close to half the
541,000 troops deployed for the 1991 Gulf War, which the military refers to
as Operation Desert Storm. Some at the Pentagon promptly labeled the Franks
plan Desert Storm Lite.

By emphasizing the large force that he believes would be needed, Franks'
briefings also seemed to rule out an alternate plan that some civilians in
the Bush administration had advocated. This approach calls for conquering
Iraq with combination of airstrikes and Special Operations attacks in
coordination with indigenous fighters.

This spring, "the civilian leadership thought they could do this à la
Afghanistan, with Special Forces," said a senior officer. "I think they've
been dissuaded of that."


by General Michael Rose
The Times, 25th May

THE defeat of the Taleban and al-Qaeda armies in Afghanistan, which
presented an old fashioned, conventional opposition to the US-led forces,
was quick and without undue casualties.

But as Wellington said after the British Army had occupied Kabul in 1839,
virtually without opposition, ³the difficulties begin where the military
successes have ended². Eight months after US forces entered Afghanistan
there is little sign that the allies¹ strategy has sufficiently acknowledged
that the nature of the conflict has radically changed and that kinetic
energy weapon systems ‹ however smart ‹ cannot defeat guerrillas or suppress

As Wellington added on the British Army's conduct of operations during the
First Afghan War, ³countries are not conquered by running up the hills and
firing at long distances².

Nor would the defeat of terrorism be brought any closer by the overthrow of
dictators or corrupt rulers whose states sponsor terrorism. Indeed, direct
military action against countries like Iraq or Iran will only add to the
numbers prepared to carry out terrorist acts against the West.

The Clausewitzian model of warfare, in which a government, people and army
sought to achieve victory over the enemy through superior military force, is
clearly less relevant to President Bush¹s global war against terrorism than
the complex principles that govern modern revolutionary war.

Revolutionary and terrorist wars are more about changing the attitudes of
people than destroying an army. Victory can be achieved only by isolating
the terrorists from the mass of the people and by obtaining sufficient
intelligence to limit their military options.

Therefore to launch a ground offensive against Iraq at this time would
represent an enormous and terrible strategic blunder in the war against
terrorism. Even if such a second front could be justified in terms of the
suppression of terrorism (and there is no certainty that President Saddam
Hussein was involved in the events of September 11), the risks and
potentially negative consequences far outweigh any possible benefits.

First, any military action would have to achieve total success with great
rapidity for the US and its allies: moderate Arab rulers who might be
persuaded to turn a blind eye to such an operation could not afford to get
involved in protracted operations. If the offensive did not succeed almost
at once there would be increasing popular opposition to the military action,
especially within neighbouring Arab states, and also in America if serious
casualties occurred.

Second, there is no viable opposition to Saddam in Iraq as there was to the
Taleban in Afghanistan, and even if the Republican Guard were destroyed, it
is nonsense to assume that the regime would fall with its destruction. The
security apparatus in Iraq controls every level of society and there is
little chance of a spontaneous uprising of the Iraqi people after so many
years of oppression.

Third, a ground offensive in Iraq would be an extremely difficult operation
to mount logistically, with long lines of communication and limited, if any,
forward operating bases, for the US would not be able to count on the same
level of military support as it had during the Gulf War from neighbouring
Arab states. Even then it took many months of military build-up before the
operation to recover Kuwait could be launched in 1991.

Finally, the invasion of Iraq by Americans would represent an enormous
propaganda victory for the extremist Islamic movements and make the job of
winning the war against terrorism almost impossible.

If the present US Administration¹s debate about the feasibility of launching
a ground offensive against Iraq is merely designed to put pressure on Saddam
in order to get him to comply with UN Security Council resolutions regarding
weapons inspections then there may be some merit in the debate.

If, on the other hand, the debate is intended by the US as a warning to its
allies that such an attack is about to happen, then every effort should be
made by those close to President Bush, including our own Prime Minister, to
persuade the US not to embark on an operation that would equate in terms of
folly with Germany's decision to attack Russia during the Second World War.

General Rose was Commander of the UN Protection Force, Bosnia-Herzegovina,

by Matthew Engel
The Guardian, 25th May

Senior American military leaders are believed to have turned sharply against
any idea of invading Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, and have started to
gain the upper hand in persuading the White House that such a mission should
be postponed, preferably indefinitely.

The joint chiefs of staff have assured the White House their forces could
successfully invade Iraq - or anywhere else - if instructed. But they have
warned that such an invasion would be extremely fraught, given the resources
depleted by the war in Afghanistan.

One of the factors most alarming the generals is the possibility that their
troops could be drawn into street fighting in Baghdad, without support from
the local population, leading to heavy US casualties. This ties in with
longstanding fears that Saddam might use such a moment to unleash biological
or chemical weapons.

Their instinctive caution has been strengthened by Operation Prominent
Hammer, a highly secret war game recently played by senior officials,
details of which have begun to leak out. It revealed that shortages of
equipment could seriously hamper the operation and endanger the lives of
Americans and Iraqi civilians.

The air force is the most alarmed of the services, according to analysts,
because they are short of planes, trained pilots and munitions. A third of
their refuelling planes are reported to be under repair.

But there are also concerns about the ability of special forces, currently
being used in the Philippines and Yemen as well as Afghanistan, to operate
successfully in Iraq at the same time, especially bearing in mind the
intelligence services' need to concentrate on homeland security.

It is understood that the country's senior generals - the heads of the army,
navy, air forces and marines - agreed with the chairman of the joint chiefs,
Richard Myers, and his deputy, Peter Pace, in their assessment.

General Tommy Franks who, as head of the army's central command, would be in
charge of any invasion of Iraq, has told the president that an invasion to
overthrow Saddam would require at least 200,000 troops, a number that would
seriously stretch even the American military, given the near impossibility
of mounting an international coalition.

At a Pentagon briefing yesterday, General Pace sounded what was, by military
standards, an uncertain trumpet.

Turning to his boss, the defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld, he assured him:
"Your military is ready today to execute whatever mission the civilian
leadership of this country gives us to do." But he added: "The fact of the
matter is, the more time you have to prepare for that kind of mission,
whatever it is, the more elegant the solution could be."

The head of the air force, General John Jumper, was blunter. "We never sized
ourselves to have to do high force-protection levels at home and overseas at
the same time. We're stretched very thin in security forces," he was quoted
as saying by the New York Times.

The military assessment backs up the messages pouring into the White House
from elsewhere. The dangerous situation involving India and Pakistan, as
well as Israel and Palestine, unnerves diplomats. World opinion ranges from
the wary - in Britain - to the vehemently opposed.

Even Turkey, regarded by the Iraq-hawks in Washington as a crucial and loyal
ally on this issue, is said by government sources there to be "very nervous
indeed" about the idea, mainly because of fears of the political instability
that would result. Officials are also getting bleak assessments about the
quality of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein, and about the likely
reaction of the Iraqi people should the Americans invade.

"The Iraqi people hate Saddam," said Judith Kipper, the Iraq expert at the
Centre for Strategic and International Studies, "but they blame the US for
their problems. Nobody likes foreign troops marching through their country,
especially the Iraqis."

The cost of American military ambitions is mounting. And, with the mid-term
elections only five months away, analysts believe an invasion is impossible
before 2003, and that the White House is already starting to look for a way
of reconciling its declared policy of "regime change" in Iraq with the need
to back away from what looks increasingly like an untenable position.

Some military sources believe that, even though special forces are now
thinly stretched, the US will switch to covert operations to try to loosen
Saddam's grip on power.

This ties in with what President Bush said after his meeting with the German
chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, in Berlin on Thursday: "I told the chancellor
that I have no war plans on my desk, which is the truth, and that we've got
to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein." The president
added that there would be full consultation with allies and that any action
would be handled in a "respectful" way.

It remains possible that the US will feel its hand being forced if the
Iraqis, sensing American weakness, emerge from their recent quiescence. The
Pentagon says Saddam's air defence forces have attacked American and British
planes three times in the last three weeks, as they patrolled the southern
no-fly zone.

General Pace played this down yesterday: "It's consistent with what's been
going on for the past several years," he said.

BUSH VISIT,7034,4366223%255E401,

Sunday Times, 22nd May

THOUSANDS of demonstrators marched peacefully through central Berlin today
on the eve of a visit by US President George W Bush to protest his plans for
taking the war on terrorism to Iraq.

Shouting slogans such as "Stop War" and carrying banners reading "Warmongers
Unwelcome" and "War is Terror", about 17,000 activists marched down the main
Unter den Linden avenue in east Berlin amid heavy security, police said.

Organisers put the figure at up to 40,000.

More than 240 environmentalist, anti-war and anti-globalisation groups have
signed on for anti-Bush rallies under the slogan "Axis of Peace".

A handful of anti-Israel demonstrators joined the march, carrying signs
calling for an "Intifada until Palestine is free".

And in a move unthinkable during the Cold War, when thousands of US troops
were stationed in the city cleaved by the Berlin Wall, officials from
parties represented in the local and national governments joined the

Authorities reported isolated scuffles, including one incident in which a
few dozen hecklers stormed the stage at a Greens party rally shouting

The party, junior partner in the ruling coalition of Chancellor Gerhard
Schroeder, has taken a line of "critical solidarity" with the Americans in
the anti-terror war, reluctantly backing the war in Afghanistan while
opposing any military action in Iraq.

In another incident, a group of about 100 demonstrators cornered a group of
25 police officers against a fence when the authorities tried to confiscate
a banner with an objectionable slogan.

Police eventually cleared the protesters.

The city of Berlin said it had mobilised 10,000 security personnel for the
visit amid fears of violent clashes between police and demonstrators.

Officers inspected the bags of protesters, who were generally good-humoured
as they marched in warm afternoon sunshine.

Bush is expected to try to gain European backing for action against Baghdad
in a speech to Germany's lower house of parliament Thursday.

He has branded Iraq, Iran and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" and
potential targets of the war on terror.

"We all know that a war against Iraq is just around the corner but we want
to show that we Europeans do not support this," said Tristan Falk, a
20-year-old mathematics student who joined the demonstration.

The leftist Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), which shares in power in
the city government and is the successor to the party that ruled communist
East Germany, also organised a rally.

"I came today to protest against Bush's foreign policy. War is an
unacceptable way to solve conflicts," said Martin Harnack, 52, who works for
the PDS.

"This is not a protest against America or the American people. It is against

Armin, a 21-year-old political science student, said he had turned out
"against the unilateralist, war-hungry and inhumane policies" of the US

He said he also wanted to send a message to Schroeder that his declaration
of "unlimited solidarity" with Washington since the September 11 attacks on
the United States was wrong.

The conservative opposition has leapt on the protests to call the Greens and
the PDS unfit for government and branded the officials taking part
"ungrateful" for US support during the Cold War.

Schroeder, keen to avoid the embarrassment of street rampages during his
guest's visit, warned in the Welt am Sonntag newspaper Sunday: "Anyone who
mixes the freedom to protest with violence will run against the full force
of the police."

Bush is to arrive in the German capital tomorrow evening for a less than
24-hour visit, before continuing on to Russia, France and Italy.

The Associated Press, 24th May

MOSCOW: Bearing words of warning across a continent, President Bush told
wary European leaders Thursday ``we've got to use all means at our disposal
to deal with Saddam Hussein'' and urged Russian President Vladimir Putin to
sever nuclear ties with Iran.

``If you arm Iran, you're liable to get the weapons pointed at you,'' the
president said on the eve of signing a historic U.S.-Russian nuclear arms
reduction treaty. Bush considers Russia's dealings with Iran the single
greatest proliferation threat on the globe, a senior adviser said en route
to Moscow.

Russia's foreign minister, Igor Ivanov rejected the charges on
state-controlled ORT television.

``Quite often, we hear what I want to stress are groundless statements that
Russia is supposedly helping Iran,'' he said. ``Unfortunately, Iran is a
sore point in our relations. But we always stick to a nonproliferation

On a day that took him from the old East-West divide of Berlin to the heart
of the former Soviet Union, a defiant Bush answered critics of his expanding
anti-terror war plans. He denounced anyone who would appease terrorists or
ignore threats to Europe.

``We will and must confront this conspiracy against our liberties and
against our lives,'' the president said in an address to the Bundestag,
Germany's parliament.

Hours later, squinting into an evening Moscow sun, Bush strode off Air Force
One and stood on a small red carpet fringed in gold as a Russian military
band played the American national anthem.

Bush and Putin meet Friday to sign a 10-year treaty binding the nations to
reduce their nuclear stockpiles by about two-thirds ‹ to a range of 1,700 to
2,200 each.

The three-page treaty has a preamble and just five articles. Article III
establishes a commission to ensure that the terms are carried out and to
handle any other issues that arise, according to a summary obtained by The
Associated Press.

Hundreds of Communists and leftists staged a noisy protest at the U.S.
Embassy here.

The German capital was quiet Thursday, as Bush responded to anti-war
protesters who clogged city streets a day before ‹ and to European leaders
balking at his hopes of toppling Saddam.

``Wishful thinking might bring comfort, but not security. Call this a
strategic challenge. Call it, as I do, axis of evil. Call it by any name you
choose, but let us speak the truth: If we ignore this threat, we invite
certain blackmail and place millions of our citizens in grave danger,'' Bush
said to polite applause from lawmakers.

Terrorists are ``familiar with the map of Europe'' and could strike the
continent next, he said.

U.S. officials said Iran recently conducted a successful flight test of its
Shahab-3 ballistic missile and intends to develop missiles that could reach
targets in Europe.

Bush came face to face with European opposition when three lawmakers from
the ex Communist party of Democratic Socialism, seated about 20 feet away,
held up a banner reading, ``Bush. Schroeder. Stop your wars.''

Moments earlier, the U.S. delegation sat solemnly as parliament president
Wolfgang Thierse, who introduced Bush, lectured against U.S. policy on
global warming and other issues.

In a news conference before the address, German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder
declined to join Bush in pushing for a government change in Iraq.
Separately, Defense Minister Rudolf Scharping suggested Germany did not have
the resources to participate in military action against Saddam.

``We have no room for a new engagement,'' Scharping told German television.

Before leaving for Moscow, Bush said he would urge Putin to stop dealing
with Iran, a country he said is governed by extremists.

Russia is helping build a nuclear reactor in Bushehr and scientists have
contributed missile expertise to Iran. Russia has told U.S. officials the
Bushehr facility is simply a civilian reactor, a response the White House
finds questionable.

Iran's potential of someday arming deadly missiles is ``going to be a
problem for all of us, including Russia,'' Bush said.

Russia also has relations with Iraq and North Korea, the other two countries
Bush includes in an ``axis of evil.''

Nuclear proliferation is a sour point in a U.S.-Russia relationship that has
flourished since Sept. 11.

With Europe's support softening in time, Bush sought to mollify critics. ``I
have no war plans on my desk,'' he said. Aides said the phrase was
technically accurate, despite the president's readiness to use military
force against Saddam.

``We've got to use all means at our disposal to deal with Saddam Hussein,''
Bush said with Schroeder at his side.


Las Vegas Sun, 24th May

MOSCOW- President Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a
landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty in a gilded Kremlin ceremony Friday,
and proclaimed it would help cement vastly improved relations between the
former superpower rivals.

"Russia's a friend and that's the new thinking. That's part of what's being
codified today," Bush said after he and Putin put ink to a pact that slashes
nuclear arsenals by two-thirds.

Putin said, "This is a serious move ahead to ensure international security."
Even so, the two nations remained divided over Russia's continued nuclear
assistance to Iran, which the Bush administration contends could allow that
regime to develop and deploy nuclear weapons more quickly.

The arms accord would limit the United States and Russia within 10 years to
between 1,700 and 2,200 deployed strategic nuclear warheads, down from about
6,000 apiece now - a two-thirds cut in their respective nuclear arsenals.

"Friends really don't need weapons pointed at each other, we both understand
that," Bush said. "But it's a realistic assessment of where we've been. Who
knows what will happen 10 years from now. Who knows what future presidents
will say and how they'll react."

Putin said there were legitimate reasons for keeping a smaller nuclear arms
supply. "Out there, there are other states who possess nuclear arms," he
said. "There are countries that want to acquire weapons of mass

Specifically, Bush expressed concern about Iran. "We spoke very frankly and
honestly about the need to make sure that a non-transparent government, run
by radical clerics, doesn't get their hands on weapons of mass destruction,"
Bush said.


Bush later raised the touchy issue of Chechnya, where Russian military
operations continue, during a meeting with religious and community leaders
at the U.S. ambassador's residence.

"The experience in Afghanistan has taught us all that there are lessons to
be learned about how to protect one's homeland and, at the same time, be
respectful on the battlefield," he said.

Bush and Putin also talked to media and business executives, lunched at a
palace at the Kremlin and took a walking tour of the sprawling grounds with
their wives.

Putin and Bush also signed a "strategic framework" document laying out
political and security challenges remaining between the two countries,
including future cooperation on missile defense.

That was a concession to Putin, who had opposed the U.S. decision to bail
out of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty to pursue such a system.

The presidents also issued a series of statements, agreeing to improve
economic ties; work more aggressively for peace in the Middle East; allow
more people-to-people contact; and cooperate closely on energy and

Bush expressed sympathy with Russia's longstanding efforts to win repeal of
the 1974 Jackson-Vanik law, which denies normal trade to communist states
that restrict emigration - in Russia's case, Jewish emigration - resulting
in far higher tariffs on the goods they produce.

Legislation to lift the restrictions is bogged down in Congress. "I hope
they act," Bush said. He praised Russia for improved treatment of its Jewish

Russia also wants the United States to declare it a "market economy" to help
ease its entry into the World Trade Organization, the Geneva-based body that
sets and polices international trade policy. WTO membership would make
Russia a more predictable place for Western investment.

Bush used the term "market economy" in referring to Russia, and said it was
in U.S. interests for Russia to join the WTO. But, during questioning, he
said "it's hard for me to predict a timetable" for that to happen.


by Anna Badkhen
San Francisco Chronicle, 24th May


"Russia is puzzled by the concept of 'axis of evil,' " said Sergei Rogov,
director of the Institute of the USA and Canada think tank, referring to
Iran and Iraq, which Bush has lumped together with North Korea as prime
targets in the U.S. war on terrorism. "We don't think of these countries as
our adversaries."

Rather, Russia regards Iran and Iraq in particular as sources of desperately
needed revenue.

Russia's annual trade with the two nations is about $3 billion, and some
analysts estimate that the long-term value of the relationship with Baghdad
alone may be as high as $40 billion.

The construction contract for the civilian nuclear power plant in Bushehr in
southwestern Iran is estimated to be worth $840 million to Russia. Last
year, Moscow and Tehran also signed a $300 million-a-year long-term
conventional arms export agreement, which makes Iran the third largest
customer for Russian weapons, after India and China.

This is no small change for Russia, whose national budget for this year is
less than $70 billion.

However, Bush is expected to offer lucrative inducements for the Kremlin to
abandon its relationships with Iran and Iraq.

"Russians are going to be very interested if their economic interests are
taken into account," a senior U.S. diplomat in Moscow told journalists
earlier this month.

The diplomat hinted that the United States would seek to ensure that a post-
Saddam Hussein regime honors Iraq's $8 billion debt to Moscow, and that
Russia's oil contracts with Baghdad -- which account for 40 percent of the
exports allowed under the U.N.'s oil-for food sanctions program -- remain in

The Kremlin also expects Bush to formally declare Russia a market economy
and to encourage U.S. businesses to invest here -- moves that some analysts
say would help to persuade Russia to stop or at least limit its cooperation
with Iraq and Iran.

Experts in Washington also say Russia could use a U.S.-Iraq conflict to sell
more of its own oil and natural gas reserves in Western markets. Russia is
the world's second-largest oil producer, with annual exports of 1.8 billion
barrels and 6.7 billion cubic feet of natural gas, the National Review
Online reported this week.

In addition, Richard Perle, a key Pentagon adviser and former assistant
defense secretary, suggested recently that Washington should offer to
forgive or restructure the $42 billion of Soviet-era debt held by the United
States, Germany and other Western countries in exchange for Moscow's
dropping its "business" in Iran.

"It's like pornography: You know it when you see it, and defining it is not
the key enterprise," Perle said. "If you want to get this solved, don't send
a diplomat, send a banker."

But Russian analysts say that people like Perle are missing a key dimension
of Putin's dilemma -- his political image.

Noting that many in Russian political and military establishments already
criticize Putin for "selling out to the West" because of his unprecedented
acquiescence with the U.S.-led war on terrorism in Central Asia, Ivan
Safranchuk, the Moscow director of the Washington-based Center for Defense
Information, said the discussion about Iran and Iraq "has to be about
attitude and not about money."

"Bush can't say: 'Here's the money, now stop cooperating' (with Iran and
Iraq). This cynical approach would be a blow to Russia's image and make it
look like a country that can be bought," Safranchuk said.

The only way to get Putin to shift his stance is to "prove to him that it is
wrong to cooperate with Iran and that Iraq poses a threat to the
international community," said Safranchuk.

Some Moscow experts are equally skeptical about Bush's ability to deliver
the economic carrots he is expected to dangle in the next three days.

"Investment depends on the internal state of Russia and whether foreign
investors want to invest," said Alexei Pushkov, the host of "Postscriptum,"
a popular news commentary show on Russian television.

"Restructuring Russia's debt? It's mostly European money, so how does it
depend on Bush? I don't think the U.S. can fulfill these promises."


Iranmania (from AFP), 20th May

BAGHDAD: Iraqi Foreign Minster Naji Sabri accused Iran on Monday of failing
to implement an accord to resume the air link between Baghdad and Tehran
which was broken when their 1980-1988 war erupted.

"Iran has not honoured the agreement signed with Iraq for the resumption of
air links between the two capitals," Sabri said, quoted by the weekly Nabdh
al-Shabab newspaper.

"The agreement envisages four flights (a week) between the two countries and
the opening of the respective air companies in Baghdad and Tehran," he said.

Sabri announced during a trip to Iran in January that air services would
soon be reopened for Iranian pilgrims who want to visit holy places in Iraq
revered by Shiite Muslims.

Some 30,000 to 50,000 Iranians travel each year to the Shiite shrines of
Najaf and Kerbala in southern Iraq, to visit the tombs of Ali and Hossein,
the first and third imams in Shia Islam.

Iran Air said at the time that the service would be by charter flight to
avoid contravening the UN embargo slapped on Iraq in 1990 for invading

"Iraq is waiting for some initiative from Iran aimed at improving bilateral
relations," Sabri said.

The two neighbours have yet to normalise ties after their war, which cost
around one million lives, with relations poisoned by a continuing dispute
over prisoners of war (POWs).

But Sabri said the two former foes had agreed on a settlement to the POWs
issue through meetings to organise commissions to oversee their return.

"The agreement stipulates that, in the first place, an Iranian delegation
meets with a thousand Iraqi prisoners in Iran and that an Iraqi delegation
meets around 50 Iranian prisoners in Iraq to make sure they want to be

More meetings were to follow "until a final settlement of the POWs issue is
reached," he said.

Tehran has repeatedly denied Baghdad's charges it still holds 29,000 Iraqi
prisoners. Iraq has said another 60,000 are missing.

Iran claims Iraq still holds 3,200 Iranian soldiers, while Baghdad says it
has only 60 Iranians who were involved in a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq
after the end of the Gulf War in 1991.

Gulf News (Reuters), 20th May

Undermining tentative moves towards reconciliation, Iraq has failed to
determine the fate of Kuwaitis missing since Iraq's occupation of the Gulf
emirate 12 years ago, a Kuwaiti official said yesterday.

Kuwait, backed by the United Nations, says Iraq is holding at least 600
people, mainly Kuwaitis, missing since Iraq invaded the small Gulf state in
1990. Iraq denies any knowledge of their whereabouts.

"Iraq has not done what it said would do and, according to our
understanding, has not cooperated with the Arab League. My information is
that there is no cooperation over the subject of the prisoners," said Sheikh
Salem Al Sabah, head of the Kuwaiti National Committee for the Missing and
POW Affairs.

But in a cautious move towards reconciliation at an Arab summit in March,
both sides agreed to end a war of words and cooperate on the missing,
including Iraqis which Baghdad says are unaccounted for since the 1990-91
Gulf crisis.

Former defence minister Sabah, speaking after talks with Arab League
Secretary-General Amr Moussa, reiterated Kuwait's position that the United
Nations should be in sole charge of overseeing the possible handover of its
national archives seized by Iraq during the occupation.

Tehran Times, 22nd May

Tehran -- Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani on Tuesday
criticized the policies of Western countries towards Iraq, charging the
"support they gave to Iraq is turning against them,"

Rafsanjani, who was speaking to students of the academy which provides the
Islamic republic's military elite, lambasted Western powers for "the
military aid they gave Iraq during its war with Iran," b

"During the war, the United States and the West supplied Iraq with the
latest armament, information, advanced missile technologies and the means to
manufacture weapons of mass destruction," Rafsanjani

"Today, part of this aid, including the technology to build chemical
weapons, is turning against them," he added.

The head of the Expediency Council, Iran's top arbitration body, also
slammed Western countries for the sanctions regime the UN slapped on Iraq
for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait.

He condemned the West's accusations against Iran for threatening an oil
boycott, arguing Western countries "go even farther, by using food as a
political weapon." He was referring to the oil-for-food.

Iranmania, 24th May

WASHINGTON, May 23 (AFP) - The Iraqi based armed Iranian opposition group,
the MKO on Thursday angrily denied a US accusation that it has been working
for Iraqi security services in in its military activities aimed at
overthrowing the Islamic regime in Tehran. 

"The People's Mujahadin organization of Iran dismisses as totally false and
worthless an out-of-the-blue allegation against the mujahadin," the group
said in a statement.

It said it would fight the "new, ridiculous allegation," which it maintains
was an attempt by Washington to curry favor with Iran, in US courts.

"The fact is that the new allegation and lies are another gift and 'goodwill
gesture' to the religious fascism ruling Iran," it said, noting that Tehran
has long made similar accusations.

In its annual "Patterns of Global Terrorism" report released on Tuesday, the
State Department said the group, also known as the Mujahadin-e Khalq, had
been working at Baghdad's behest since 1987 when it resettled in Iraq.

"Since then, the MKO has continued to perform internal security services for
the government of Iraq," the report said, noting incidents beginning in 1991
when it said the group helped suppress Shia and Kurdish uprisings in
southern and northern Iraq.

The allegation in Tuesday's report is the first time Washington has alleged
the People's Mujahadin, which is designated "foreign terrorist
organization," has been working in aid of Iraq, although the United States
has long said the group is supported by Baghdad.

Last year's report made no mention of the group's alleged involvement in the
1991 suppression of the Kurdish and Shia uprisings.

by Firouz Sedarat
Dawn, 24th May, 11 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423

DUBAI: Iran's once active opposition group, the People's Mujahideen, is
keeping a low profile as it ponders its future amid universal aversion to
"terrorism" following the September 11 attacks, analysts say.

But while searching for an alternative strategy to undermine the Islamic
government in Tehran, the Iraq-based rebels are likely to continue limited
strikes inside Iran to exploit growing public discontent over economic woes,
the analysts said.

"The Mujahideen have had to cut back on attacks and focus on their future in
a global 'anti terror' mood. They know that their very survival is at stake
if America attacks Iraq," said Ali Keshtgar, a Paris-based veteran Iranian
opposition activist.

The rebels had hoped to gain from US President George W. Bush's move
labelling Iran as part of an "axis of evil". But both Iran and the
Mujahideen feature in the latest US State Department terrorism list released
on Tuesday.

Earlier this month the European Union, for its part, added the rebel group,
which used to claim almost daily attacks in Iran, to its list of terrorist
groups. "How can we, the resistance, be called terrorists alongside the
regime we are fighting against? This is a contradiction that the US
administration must address," said Mujahideen spokesman Farid Soleimani.

He denied that his group had curtailed armed attacks, saying the lull was
part of "fluctuations in the level of operations". But many analysts

Western journalists say there has also been a marked decline in the level of
media contacts by the publicity-hungry group.

Nourizadeh said the Mujahideen may have come under pressure from Baghdad to
curb their activities after a January visit to Iran by Iraq's foreign
minister as part of a diplomatic drive to garner Muslim opposition to a
possible US attack on Iraq.

The Mujahideen deny any pressure from Iraq, where they keep military bases
near the border with Iran, complete with tanks, helicopters and heavy guns.

Nourizadeh said: "I think the Mujahideen fear they could become a target of
US attacks because they have in the past helped to put down uprisings
against Baghdad by Kurdish and Shia Muslim dissidents." But Geoffey Kemp of
the Washington-based Nixon Center said the United States was unlikely to
target the Mujahideen, given that the move would benefit Washington's other
adversary, Iran.

Iraq's support for the Mujahideen and Iran's backing for Iraqi Shia
dissidents have been a main obstacle to efforts by the two neighbors to
normalize ties.-Reuters


The Associated Press, 20th May

WASHINGTON: U.S. warplanes bombed an air defense site in southern Iraq after
coming under attack by a surface-to-air missile, U.S. officials said Monday.

The U.S. attack, which happened on Sunday about 170 miles south of Baghdad,
was in a ``no fly'' zone that American and British aircraft monitor
regularly over southern Iraq, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold told
reporters. Newbold is director of operations for the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

A written statement issued by U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa,
Fla., said it was the second time in 12 days that Iraqi air defense forces
had targeted a U.S. plane monitoring the ``no fly'' zone.

The last time U.S. aircraft had attacked a target in southern Iraq was April

Newbold said that on Sunday a U.S. pilot reported seeing a missile fired
toward his aircraft. Two hours later a U.S. plane fired unspecified
precision-guided weapons at a piece of equipment the Iraqis use to help
track U.S. and British aircraft.

Newbold said there was no information available yet on the effectiveness of
the U.S. response.


ILos Angeles Times, 21st May

Iraq said four people were wounded when U.S. warplanes attacked civilian
targets, while Washington said it had launched a raid after Western jets
policing the country's southern "no-fly" zone were threatened.

Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold told a news briefing at the Pentagon
that the U.S. planes had used precision-guided weapons to attack an
aircraft-directional finding site. An Iraqi military spokesman said in a
statement carried by the official Iraqi News Agency, ''The enemy attacked
civilian and service installations in Muthanna province, wounding four

by Ellen Hale
USA TODAY, 21st May
[Account of life and opinions of US pilots in Incirlik air base.]

OVER THE GREAT ZAB RIVER, Turkey ‹ Sweet 16, a stocky tanker from March Air
Reserve Base in California, circles 27,000 feet above the ground a scant few
miles off the northern border of Iraq. One by one, American fighter jets
nuzzle up to refuel, then dart back over Iraq to prowl the no-fly zone that
Saddam Hussein has been ordered for 11 years to avoid.

At least once an hour, Iraqi troops shoot at the fighter jets in hope of
downing one and capturing their ultimate prize: an American pilot.

Earlier this month, Iraqi anti-aircraft artillery blasted at Capt. Wayne
"Soda" Straw; the ground fire came within 500 feet of his F-15.
"Uncomfortably close," he says. Two weeks ago, F-16 pilot Sean "Stroker"
Gustafson got a rare opportunity for revenge when he fired a missile on an
Iraqi weapons installation. And Monday, U.S. and British warplanes policing
another no-fly zone in southern Iraq shot at an air-defense site in

If President Bush carries through with his vow to overthrow Saddam, these
pilots, who man Operation Northern Watch out of Incirlik Air Base in Turkey,
will be on the front lines. Though there is little hint at Incirlik that
such a mission against Iraq is in the works, the vital role the base would
need to play is not lost on anyone here.

"It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out how important this place
is," says Col. Marc Felman, commander of the U.S. Air Force's 39th Wing,
responsible for the readiness of crews at Incirlik. "It really is the last
bastion before you get to the anti-Western forces, the 'axis of evil'


Incirlik is home to two AWACS surveillance aircraft, refueling tankers,
dozens of U.S. fighter jets, radar-jamming planes and other aircraft, as
well as 2,400 U.S. military personnel. The base also serves as a transit
point and first-line medical center for Operation Enduring Freedom in
Afghanistan. (Soldiers injured in Operation Anaconda in early March were
brought here to be treated.)

The base is protected by more than 1,000 Turkish police and soldiers, who
patrol the perimeter and the "Alley," a nearby strip of restaurants, rug
shops and jewelry stores that cater to the Americans.

U.S. troops have rotated in and out of Incirlik for more than 10 years. They
live in tents while here ‹ in the largest tent city anywhere in the Air
Force ‹ because Turkey refuses to build permanent housing for them. Turkish
officials have also turned down U.S. requests to base high-flying U-2
reconnaissance aircraft at Incirlik.

Particularly chafing are the restrictive rules of engagement. U.S. and
British jets are allowed to fly only 18 missions a month, and pilots can
fire only in self-defense. As it is, they find themselves being shot at
frequently but are seldom given the go-ahead to return fire.

"It's frustrating," says Col. John Burgess Jr. "This is not the way we
trained. You want your young fighters to go win battles for you."

The mission has become increasingly complicated over the years, says Brig.
Gen. Edward Ellis, commander of Operation Northern Watch. One reason:
Commercial planes from regional airlines now routinely pass through the
no-fly zone. One flies daily between Baghdad and Mosul.

Saddam's regime might be short of military hardware, but it is adept at
making the most of what it has. Iraqi forces have taken old weapons such as
air-to-air missiles and modified them to shoot at jets from the ground.

Using pickup trucks, Saddam's troops move the missiles in minutes so pilots
can't pinpoint the source of the attacks. Iraq parks one weapons system
within 12 feet of a mosque every day, knowing U.S. and British pilots won't
shoot at it, Burgess says.

Saddam's "tactics are relatively limited, and his resources are limited, but
gosh darn, he's good at using them," Burgess says. "He only has to shoot
down one plane and he's won." So far, not a plane or pilot has been lost.

The Iraqi leader has had 11 years to "make book" on U.S. forces, Ellis says.
"We are making (Iraqi air-defense forces) better than they would be. Unless
they are totally inept and incompetent, they are soaking up everything they
can learn from us by our operations."

Ellis says his greatest fear is having one of his pilots "dragged around
Baghdad" after being shot down.

For F-16 fighter pilot Gustafson, who recently dropped a missile on one of
Saddam's installations, the implications are clear: "They've had a long time
to learn our tactics and tricks. If things escalate, it could get pretty
ugly out there."

The Plain Dealer (Cleveland), 24th May

Four U.S. warplanes attacked two Iraqi military sites in the second such
airborne missile strike this week, U.S. military officials reported.

The actions Wednesday came after Iraqi forces fired surface-to-air missiles
at U.S. aircraft patrolling the skies over Iraq for the third time in 15
days, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Central Command
headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

The command oversees U.S. military forces that monitor Iraq's southern
"no-fly" zone. British aircraft also participate in the monitoring mission,
established over southern and northern Iraq since shortly after the 1991
Gulf War.

"This action was taken to reduce the threat to the coalition aircraft
patrolling the southern no-fly zone," the statement said. "There have been
no less than three attempts to destroy a coalition aircraft in the last 15

Two of the four U.S. planes struck an Iraqi aircraft- and missile-control
center near the city of Talil. Two other U.S. warplanes attacked an
anti-aircraft missile system positioned near the city of Nasiriyah. Both
strikes occurred around 5:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday.

The Central Command said the anti-aircraft missile system was south of the
32nd parallel, outside the area in which Iraq is supposed to have defensive
military systems.

On Monday, U.S. warplanes bombed an Iraqi air defense site in southern Iraq
after coming under attack by a surface-to-air missile. Before that, U.S.
aircraft had not attacked a target in southern Iraq since April 15.

The Central Command said Wednesday's attacks led to the destruction of the
two Iraqi targets but also said assessments of the damage was continuing.

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