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[casi] News, 25/5-1/6/02 (1)

News, 25/5-1/6/02 (1)


*  Iraq's trade minister arrives in Damascus
*  Iraq, UAE signed joint cooperation agreements
*  Iraq Using Oil Pipeline To Sway U.S. Ally [Turkey]
*  Saudi- Iraqi border opened today
*  Iraq, Lebanon ink media cooperation protocol
*  Moroccan health minister expected Sunday in Iraq
*  Qatar's economy minister to visit Iraq in June
*  Iraq-Jordan pipeline work 'to start before year-end
*  Call for concerted GCC military efforts
*  American factor gains strength in Jordan
*  Iraq allowed to send ambassador to OIC (Organization of the Islamic
*  Saudis channel anger into charity [Short extract on the rather obscure
distinction to be drawn between Saudi aid for victims of Israeli aggression
and Iraqi aid for victims of Israeli aggression. The article seems to be
suggesting - but surely Iıve misunderstood it - that the Saudis arenıt
financing Hamas, well, not very much anyway ...]
*  Jenin families pocket Iraqi cash [Note that houses are being rebuilt in
Jenin with large sums of money from the United Arab Emirates. Has anyone
even suggested that Israel should pay - um - compensation?]

[See also the Pepe Escobar supplement]

*  Iranian naval units trade fire with phony Iraqi fishermen [The article
claims that ŒIranian fishing boats have repeatedly been the target of Iraqi
aggressions in recent months.ı]
*  On the Occasion of 20th Anniversary of Liberation of Khorramshahr [The
incomplete paragraphs come from the original but I thought the article worth
presenting anyway for some interesting insights into Western support for
Iraq during the Gulf War - the real Gulf War, not the subsequent massacre
that goes by that name. Pity the apparently very interesting quote from
Kissinger ("If Iraq had won the war, there would have been no concern and
fear in the Persian Gulf ...²) is truncated.]
 *  Daily on UN inaction towards production of chemical weapons [Claims that
ŒSome 130,000 Iranians have been suffering from injuries caused by dangerous
chemicals used in the (Iran-Iraq) war.ı Yet this is rarely cited as among
Saddamıs crimes, perhaps because of course the Iranians too are known to be
*  Islamic republicıs drive to develop ballistic missiles boosts regional
*  Iranian Abandons Push To Improve U.S. Ties [Predictable consequence of
the ŒAxis of Evilı rhetoric.]


*  Hesitant Hawks [I have a feeling that an article like this ­ positively
mocking the Bush/Blair warmongering rhetoric ­ couldnıt have been published
in the Washington Post even a month ago.]
*  The confusion deepens over U.S. foreign policy [It is really very
encouraging, indeed heartwarming, to see articles appearing in the US press
which are beginning to treat the President and his war against terrorism
with the cool intellectual contempt that they deserve.]
*  U.S. fears Iraq could channel weapons into terrorist hands
*  Global Eye -- The Foggy Dew [If even the Moscow Times is publishing
cheeky articles about the US government things are really on the slippery
slope ...]    


Arabic News, 25th May

Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh arrived in Damascus for a
several-day visit to Syria and is leading a delegation to the Iraqi-Syrian
Committee meetings to expand cooperation between Iraq and Syria, INA
reported today.

Arabic News, 25th May

Iraq and the United Arab Emirates UAE on Thursday evening in conclusion of
the meetings of the first session of the joint Iraqi- UAE committee on
economic, trade and technical cooperation, an agreement to expand their
bilateral cooperation especially in the fields of commerce, industry and

On the Iraqi side, the agreement was signed by the deputy premier and
minister of finance Hikmat Ibrahim al-Ezzawi and on the UAE side by the
minister of state for financial and industrial affairs Muhammad Khalfan Bin
Kharbash, currently visiting Baghdad.

In a statement following the signing of the agreement, al- Ezzawi said that
the coming phase will witness a large expansion in the area of trade
cooperation between the two states.

For his part, Bin Kharbash explained that his country is careful to deepen
and consolidate ties of cooperation with Iraq in all fields especially after
the two states have signed the free trade bilateral agreement. (Subscription only. Sent to list)

Stratfor, 24 May 2002

Iraq's use of economic diplomacy to forestall a possible U.S. strike
continues to develop, with Baghdad targeting key U.S. ally Turkey. The Iraqi
government has nearly finished reconstructing a major pumping station on a
joint pipeline, running from Kirkuk in Iraq to Ceyhan in Turkey, which this
summer will become fully operational for the first time since 1990.

The pipeline repairs will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in
oil-transit fees for the Turkish government, which is struggling to revive
its stagnant economy. Baghdad hopes that the cash flow will make the Turks
reconsider supporting U.S. military action against Iraq.

It is not clear exactly what the White House has in mind for Iraq. U.S.
President George W. Bush told an audience in Germany May 23 that an attack
on Iraq was not imminent. The Pentagon seems to have major concerns over
such an operation, and the White House and civilian leaders at the Pentagon
appear to be pressing the U.S. military leadership for more imaginative
attack plans than those that have been presented so far.

However, no matter what scenarios are being offered for ousting Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein, Turkey is key in all of them. U.S. aircraft from
Turkish bases enforce the Iraqi northern no-fly zone, and Turkey's border
with Iraq is a potential invasion route. This makes swaying the opinion of
the government in Ankara a top priority for Baghdad.

The repair and reopening of the Kirkuk-Ceyhan pipeline will almost double
the line's total capacity from 900,000 barrels per day to 1.6 million bpd.
The additional volume through the pipeline will mean a corresponding
increase in the transit fees collected by the Turkish government, something
on the order of a half billion dollars a year in revenue.

This is serious cash for the Turkish government. The economy is in intensive
care: It shrank 9.4 percent last year amid an economic crisis and is only
now steadying under an International Monetary Fund-backed recovery program.

Many Turkish politicians place a large measure of blame for their economic
woes on U.S. policies in the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War. The oil
embargo on Iraq and a collapse in trade between the two countries have cost
the Turkish economy tens of billions of dollars.

The financial hit was partially offset by aid from U.S.-backed international
institutions. Last February, Turkey won a $16 billion loan package from the
IMF, making it the organization's biggest borrower with a total of $31
billion. However, Ankara would rather that the billions of dollars come from
trade instead of loans.

Although the money coming from Iraq may make the Turkish government more
sympathetic to Baghdad's diplomatic efforts, it likely won't be enough get
Ankara to turn its back on Washington. However, Turkey may still use this
relationship to raise its price for participating in a U.S. campaign against

Arabic News, 25th May

The Saudi daily Okaz said in its Friday's issue that today (Saturday) the
border center between Saudi Arabia and Iraq at Araar closed since August
1990 will be opened for trade movement.

The paper added that ten Saudi truck lauded by [trucks loaded with? -
PB]iron equipment and plastic products have arrived on Friday at the border
point in preparation to export them to Iraq, noting that the border center
has become ready to facilitate the process of goods moves through the two

Daily Star (Lebanon), 27th May

Iraq and Lebanon have signed a protocal on media cooperation, during a visit
by Information Minister Ghazi Aridi and other officials to Baghdad.

Aridi arrived in Iraq Saturday, at the invitation of his Iraqi counterpart
Mohammed Said Sahhaf.

Khalil Khoury, who heads Lebanonıs National News Agency, signed the accord
on behalf of Beirut.

Aridi said that ³different (political) regimes and circumstances² faced by
Arab countries did not do away with the need for cooperation, ³although
Lebanon and Iraq have a similar reading of the issue of confronting Israel.²

Last June, Arab information ministers met in Beirut and agreed on measures
to support the intifada and to counter what they considered Israeli
propaganda, but a proposal to establish an Arab satellite channel
broadcasting in English has stalled.

Arabic News, 27th May

Moroccan health minister, Thami El Khyari, will start on Sunday a three-day
work visit to Iraq, the Moroccan embassy here announced. During his visit,
the Moroccan official will meet Iraqi peer Oumid Medhat Mubarak and other
Iraqi officials on issues pertaining to health and medicine.

According to the source, Morocco will be holding medical days in Baghdad
with the participation of Moroccan laboratories and pharmaceutical

Arabic News, 27th May

Qatar's minister of economy and trade Sheikh Hamad Bin Faisal al- Thani will
visit Baghdad by the beginning of June on top of a large delegation
including high ranking officials and businessmen in the ministry.

According to diplomatic sources this visit is greatly welcomed by Iraq in
its being the first since the second Gulf war (the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait), besides this visit is a manifestation of the developed political
relations between Doha and Baghdad.

The sources said the two sides will discuss during this visit several issues
aiming at deepening trade and economic cooperation and the possibility of
signing a free trade agreement between the two sides as well as several
other agreements currently under study.

The two sides will also discuss the expansion of commercial exchange in
light of the UN "oil for food" program. The Iraqis are looking for
increasing Qatar's share in this regard.

During the two past years, the Iraqi minister of commerce Muhammad Mahdi
Saleh visited Doha for the same purpose.

Gulf News (Reuters), 28th May

Work to build an oil pipeline from Iraq to Jordan will start before the end
of this year, Nabdh Al-Shabab weekly newspaper said yesterday, quoting an
unidentified oil source.

"Specialised technical companies will start work on the Iraq-Jordan oil
pipeline project before the end of this year," the source told the

The source did not give an exact date for the start of the work but said the
750 km pipeline would replace the current export of crude by trucks.

"First stage of the project includes building the section of the pipeline on
Jordanian territory and a pumping and storage station near the borders on
the Iraqi territory, while the second stage includes building section of the
line on Iraqi territory," the source said.

He said that the $350 million pipeline will have a capacity of 250,000
barrels a day. The weekly said the Jordanian Ministry of Energy anmd Mineral
Resources had received bids from companies to build the line in mid April
and it will announce the name of the winning company in July. Work was not
expected to exceed 15 months.

The planned $350 million pipeline will extend from the Iraqi pumping station
in Haditha, 260 km northwest of Baghdad to Jordan's refinery of Zarqa,
northeast of Amman.

The first stage of the project will be from the Iraqi-Jordanian border to
Zarqa, a 300 km stretch. Officials argue that since the project, originally
agreed in 1998, would not in the first stage be built on Iraqi territory it
did not require prior United Nations approval.

The UN has already exempted around 110,000 bpd of Iraqi crude exported by
truck to Jordan from the sanctions regime imposed on Iraq for its 1990
invasion of Kuwait.

Baghdad is Jordan's main energy supplier, delivering annually around 5.5
million tonnes of crude oil and petroleum products to the kingdom under
undisclosed concessionary terms that ease Jordan's budget deficit.

by Mohammed Almezel
Gulf News, 28th May
Calling for military cohesion and integration among all GCC states,
Bahrain's Defence Minister Sheikh Khalifa bin Ahmed Al Khalifa hinted
yesterday that his country was not part of any military effort against
terrorism since it has never been a target of any terror activities.

He also affirmed his country's strong objection to any military attack on
Iraq or any other Arab country.

"There are countries that are engaged in the war against terrorism according
to their own concept of terror as a result of what they perceive as a
terrorist threat; and we, in Bahrain, are not threatened," the minister told
reporters at the end of the ninth meeting of the GCC Armed Forces Chiefs'
High Committee in Manama yesterday.

He also denied that the meeting had anything to do with any sort of threat
or the current regional developments.

"It is an ordinary consultative meeting which had been scheduled six months
ago," he pointed out. Sheikh Khalifa reiterated the island kingdom's
"opposition to any move to strike any Arab country including Iraq."

Addressing the GCC army chiefs, the minister called for concerting military
efforts to sustain regional stability.

"We are witnessing a world of many changes, internationally and regionally,
that impose on all of us in the GCC a huge responsibility to coordinate our
efforts and capabilities in a way that sustains the stability of this
region," he said.

He pointed out that the aim of the meeting was "to further boost the
cohesion and integration among the GCC states and stability and security for
all Gulf countries."

Meanwhile, Abdul Rahman Al Attiyya, GCC Secretary General, emphasised the
importance of the three joint projects; the Peninsula Shield Force (PSF),
the Cooperation Belt, the Cable Military Telecommunications and the GCC
Military Reconnaissance Satellite.

However, he pointed out that the main item on yesterday's agenda was
relating to the Shield's joint force which comprises more than 6,000 of
soldiers form the six member states.

The meeting was to discuss the situation of non-GCC nationals working in the
force and the need of the force Command for combat readiness equipment.

The Peninsula Shield was created in 1982 with the aim of unifying
operational procedures, training, and military curricula, while a 1997
Kuwait Summit resolution underlined a plan to link the GCC member states
with a military communication network for early warning.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 28th May

Within its drive for better economic relations with countries beyond its
immediate neighbors, and also for political reasons, Jordan has recently
opened trade with the United States, becoming the fourth country to sign a
Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Washington and the second state outside the
Americas to do so after Israel.

The agreement, which took effect last December, will eliminate duties and
commercial barriers to bilateral trade in goods and services originating in
the United States and Jordan. The roster of items that will be exempt from
customs will grow over a 10-year span, to include almost all exports and
imports, except for cigarettes, alcohol and cars, which are important
sources of Jordanian customs revenues.

The FTA also includes, for the first time in the context of a trade
agreement, provisions addressing trade and the environment, trade and labor,
and electronic commerce. Other provisions address intellectual property
rights protection, balance of payments, rules of origins, safeguards and
procedural matters such as consultations and dispute settlement.

The most critical issue discussed during negotiations between the two
countries was the rule for handling intellectual property rights,
particularly in the dynamic pharmaceuticals industry, which is now unable to
produce in-patent drugs without expensive licensing agreements. In the past
two years copyright enforcement efforts by Jordanian authorities have
resulted in good progress toward the realization of obligations contained in
the WTO agreements - to raise the level of criminal sanctions for copyright
piracy. Accordingly, Jordan was removed from the Office of the United States
Trade Representativeıs special 301 ³watchlist² of countries deemed to be
inadequately protective of intellectual property.

However, more follow-up will be needed, as the effective implementation
mechanisms and legal procedures have not yet been fully established. Except
for pharmaceuticals, as well as for prosecutorial and judicial delays, have
stymied the hopes of any tangible progress. As a result, the number of local
pirate resellers remains high. Unlicensed software was even detected in
corporate end-users, including banks and various government offices. The
rate of computer software piracy in Jordan was 71 percent in 2000, costing
the computer industry $2.1 million, according to the US-based Business
Software Alliance, which represents  leading software developers.

Implementation of the FTA, along with the dismantling of the numerous trade
barriers, is expected to facilitate a substantial expansion of Jordanian
exports to the US, which have generally been meager. In 2001, however,
Jordanıs exports to the US rose significantly, due in part to expectations
of FTA ratification. Exports to the US for 2001 were JD 164.4 million ($234
million), compared to JD 44.9 million in 2000.

The shoring up of trade and other economic ties between the two states is
evidence of detente with Washington. Of these, Qualifying Industrial Zones
(QIZ) are also important. The QIZ model begun in 1998 has provided investors
with duty- and quota-free access to the American market for products
manufactured by qualifying enterprises located in enclaves designated by the
US trade authorities. Certain requirements must be met, and the product, for
example, must be ³a new and different article² that has been used,
manufactured or grown in the zone. Also, 35 percent of the appraised value
of the good, upon entry to the US market, must ³consist of the costs or
value of materials produced and direct cost operation performed in the QIZ.²

Clothing and apparel exports from Jordanıs QIZs, goods from which enjoy
duty-free access to the US, were the main engine behind the accelerated
growth in export earnings witnessed last year. National exports of clothes
have almost tripled in price values in 2001, from JD 75.9 million in 2000 to
JD 203.6 million last year.

However, Jordanıs lack of enthusiasm for a possible US military attack on
Iraq in response to the Sept. 11 tragedies in Washington and New York, as
well as strong internal opposition to US-backed Israeli violence against
civilians in Palestine, threaten to disrupt these links. (Although Iraq does
not appear to have had any involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks.)

Because of these and other factors, a public campaign is being waged in the
kingdom to boycott American products in favor of local goods, a notion
absent from the lexicon of Jordanıs public discourse before 2000. At the
same time, there is also a trend to turn to the Arab world, tightening
commercial bonds with Gulf states and other countries instead of with the

Yet for the time being Amman must remain on good terms, for strategic and
economic reasons, with Washington - not least of which is that the US
emerged as Jordanıs major export market in 2001. Members of the government,
bipartisan economists and independent businesspeople justify furthering the
rapport with Washington on economic grounds, arguing that a boycott of
American products could hamper Jordanıs chances of development and growth,
especially in the fields of trade, investment and tourism, a consideration
underscored by the prime minister in a recent meeting with the chairman of
the Chambers of Industry and Trade and influential journalists.

In light of these and other conflicting interests, the ability of King
Abdullah II to  strengthen economic and other links with the US, while
public tolerance of Washingtonıs strong support for Israeli aggression in
the West Bank appears to have been reduced, is vital.

In 2001, Abdullah emerged as a key player on the regional political scene - 
lobbying for a just, equitable and lasting solution to the
Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The kingıs recent visit to Washington has
resulted in closer ties at all levels, including politically.

For its part, the US administration stated its commitment to a Palestinian
state. So far the US has not moved strongly to punish Israel for its
hard-line policies in the West Bank. The Bush camp has tended to take the
Israeli line that Palestinian President Yasser Arafat is not a legitimate
negotiating partner, and has even accused Arafat of collaborating with
terrorist groups responsible for bomb attacks in Israel.

Nevertheless, economic relations with the US will continue to expand in the
short run, despite opposition elements in Jordan and the rest of the Arab
world. Amman will continue to count the US as its principle ally, and a $100
million increase in economic and development assistance to the kingdom (if
ratified by Congress), to fight unemployment and poverty, as well as for
educational projects is proof of the substantial rewards that close ties
with Washington can bring. The US administration is also asking Congress to
double its official aid to Jordan from $225 million this year to $448
million in fiscal 2003, including $250 million in financial assistance in
support of Abdullahıs efforts to improve the well being of ordinary

The increase would make Jordan the fourth-largest recipient of US aid after
Israel, Egypt and Colombia.

Amid heightened tensions in the Middle East stemming from the Palestinian
uprising and the subsequent election of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon,
extra-regional factors may come more prominently into play to promote
development of the economy. However, there is no guarantee that these will
be welcomed or easily accepted unless the West in general and the US in
particular takes a more proactive role in the Arab-Israeli dispute, as a
means of ending the violence.

Marwan A. Kardoosh, an independent economist based in Amman, wrote this
commentary for The Daily Star.

by Syed Rashid Husain
Dawn, 30th May, 17 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423

RIYADH, May 29: Saudi Arabia, which currently has no diplomatic ties with
Iraq, has agreed to let Baghdad send an ambassador to the Organization of
the Islamic Conference (OIC), sending a clear sign of improving ties between
the two countries. 

"The (Saudi) foreign ministry has given consent" to an Iraqi request via the
OIC to appoint an ambassador to the 57-member body, the Saudi daily Al-Hayat
said, quoting a Riyadh based Arab diplomat.

The Iraqi envoy, who is likely to operate out of the currently closed Iraqi
consulate building in Jeddah, will also be responsible for future contacts
with Riyadh. 

The consulate and the Iraqi mission in Riyadh have been closed since the
Gulf war. 

An Iraqi newspaper said earlier this month that an Iraqi academic, Mohammad
Majid Al Said, was tipped for the Jeddah position.

Of late Saudi Arabia and Iraq have gone a long way in mending fences. Saudi
exports to Iraq under the UN "oil for food programme" has crossed the one
billion dollar mark.

According to Iraq's industries minister, who was in Saudi Arabia recently,
the prospects of these ties growing further were very much there.

Despite no official announcement yet, reports here indicate that in order to
facilitate the movement of goods from Saudi Arabia to Iraq, the Arar border
post between is likely to be reopened soon. Already queues of trucks loaded
with Saudi goods are seen moving towards the border post, waiting for
arrangements to be completed before they are allowed entry into Iraq.

by Scott Peterson 
Dawn (from Christian Science Monitor), 31st May, 18 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1423


But while Saudis view their aid as an Islamic duty, Israel accuses Saudi
Arabia of funding terrorism by supporting the families of suicide bombers
and militants. Among the documents Israelis collected during their West Bank
offensive last month were letters from the Al Quds fund that referred to a
payment of more than $500,000 to 102 families of those Israel calls

Saudis dismiss those claims and say their aid is only necessary because of
Israeli military actions. They draw a line - as do senior US officials -
between Saudi support and that of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, who has offered
$25,000 to families of any suicide bomber.

Although 15 of the 19 hijackers on Sept 11 came from Saudi Arabia - and more
than one third of the detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are Saudi,
according to US officials - Riyadh has never knowingly supported terrorism,
Western diplomats and analysts say. "The Saudis are not supporting
Palestinian terrorist groups," says a US official here. "If they were, we
would have a tremendous problem."

Analysts note that some private Saudi money has been funnelled in the past
to Palestinian groups, such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which carry out many
of the suicide attacks. But that is far removed from the new reservoir of
popular sympathy for the Palestinian cause, Saudis say. America's staunch
support for Israel is fuelling a regional boycott of American products that
has reached fever pitch.


by Alan Philps
Washington Times (from DAILY TELEGRAPH), 31st May

JENIN, West Bank ‹ One of the few smiles in Jenin, the site of the biggest
battle between Israelis and Palestinians last month, is on the face of
Mahmoud Besharat, the man who is handing out millions of dollars of largesse
from Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.

Mr. Besharat has just started distributing checks of $25,000 each to the
hundreds of people whose homes in the Jenin refugee camp were destroyed by
the Israeli army in April. He is budgeting for a total expenditure of $7.3
million, a vast sum for this dirt-poor refugee camp.

In the offices of the Arab Liberation Front (ALF), a Palestinian group
funded by Iraq and loyal to Saddam, Mr. Besharat is besieged by families
seeking their money.

"People embrace me on the street," said Mr. Besharat, the ALF representative
for the northern West Bank. "But they know that it is not my money but a
gift from Saddam Hussein."

Saddam's bounty is all the more astonishing as refugee families will not
have to use it to rebuild their homes. The United Nations is taking care of
that expense and is providing schools, clinics and social services for the
refugees, thanks to a promise of $25 million from the United Arab Emirates.

"The Iraqi money is a gift, no more than that. They can put the money in
their back pockets or build another house," said Mr. Besharat.

Saddam's award for losing a home applies only to the Jenin refugee camp, in
honor of the camp's status in Palestinian lore as the "citadel of
steadfastness." About 60 Palestinians and 23 Israeli soldiers died during a
battle in the narrow alleys, which ended with the army bulldozing about 140
houses in the middle of the camp.

ALF also is doling out generous bounties for the dead and injured in the
20-month intifada.

Payments are on a strict scale: $500 for a wound, $950 for disablement,
$9,500 for death as a "martyr" and $25,000 for a suicide bomber.

The largesse comes at a time when Iraq and other Arab countries are
complaining of widespread poverty in Iraq, with hospitals running short of
supplies and medicine and children suffering and dying from malnutrition.

The hardship is blamed on U.N. economic sanctions imposed after Saddam's
invasion of Kuwait in 1990. But U.S. officials point out that Saddam has
been able to find ample funds to rebuild his palaces and to pay his elite
Republican Guards and other allies.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has accused Iraq of fomenting the recent
wave of suicide bombings, which has traumatized Israel and shocked the

Mr. Besharat does not disagree.

"You would have to ask President Saddam why he is being so generous. But he
is a revolutionary and he wants this distinguished struggle, the intifada,
to continue," he said.



TEHRAN, May 25 (AFP) - Iranian naval patrol vessels recently traded fire
with "armed Iraqi agents disguised as fishermen," the Jomhuri e-Islami daily
reported on Saturday.

The incident occurred in the waters of the Persian Gulf, when the Iranian
boats arrived on the scene in response to a call for help from an Iranian
fishing vessel, the newspaper said without providing further details.

Jomhuri e-Islami said Iranian fishing boats have repeatedly been the target
of Iraqi aggressions in recent months.

Tehran Times, 25th May

Tehran - The Iranian nation yesterday celebrated the 20th anniversary of the
liberation of Khorramshahr from Iraqi occupation, also known as the "Day of
Resistance and Victory." On this day, the yo

The Baathist regime of Iraq began its wide-scale and all-out attack against
Iran on September 22, 1980, occupying parts of the Iranian soil.

The Persian Gulf port city of Khorramshahr, located in the border that
divides Iran and Iraq, was occupied by the aggressor Iraqi Army in November
1980 despite 34 days of brave resistance by Iranian f

However, after 575 days of occupation, following an operation the Iranian
forces liberated the city in less than 48 hours, at 11:00 on May 24, 1982.

The operation to liberate Khorramshahr took place only a few days after the
Baathist regime of Iraq had invited a group of Western reporters to visit
the city so that Saddam Hussein could show his pow

The liberation of Khorramshahr by the brave Iranian combatants became an
epic story that surprised the world, especially supporters of the Iraqi
regime, because after the city's liberation the fate of

Despite its eight divisions and 16 brigades in the area, the Iraqi regime
could not resist the vast operation of Iranian forces. In this operation,
all Iraqi brigades and divisions were demolished.

All in all, during the operation to liberate Khorramshahr some 19,000 Iraqi
soldiers were captured and another 16,500 were killed or injured.

The liberation dealt the military power of Iraq a heavy blow. The effects
led to a new twist in the direction of the Iraqi-imposed war against Iran,
because the military superiority of Iran over Iraq

Iran's proven military superiority made the U.S. and Arab countries of the
region seek ways to save Saddam Hussein's regime more than ever before. The
Americans stressed speedy cessation of war withou

Indeed, the liberation of Khorramshahr had an impact on regional
developments in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf on the threshold of
escalation of tensions between Arabs and Israel and the creati

The U.S. and Zionist regime, in their desperate attempts to make Iraq win
the war, tried to form a new front in Lebanon to engage Iranian forces in
another scene. Their aim was to confront Iran in two

In pursuit of that objective, the Zionist regime's forces violated South
Lebanese territory in June 1982, only 11 days after the liberation of

Western analysts, while expressing surprise over the defeat of the aggressor
forces of Iraq, wrongly described Iran as a threat to the region.

Former U.S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger, in an article published in
the Washington Post, said, "If Iraq had won the war, there would have been
no concern and fear in the Persian Gulf

Those circles tried to portray Iran as a threat to the region in order to
convince the regional Arab countries to increase their assistance to Iraq
or, at least, prevent Iran from attacking Iraq.

Also, some 27 days after the liberation of Khorramshahr, the Iraqi regime
announced it would withdraw from Iranian territory. However, by doing so,
Iraq was not looking for peace, but in fact through

Considering the heavy blow that it had received, Iraqi regime tried to
convene a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Baghdad in 1982 in
order to restore its tarnished image and seek help from

On the other hand, some regional countries, after Iran proved its military
capability, rushed to support the Iraqi regime. The former Soviet Union
despite its claim of being impartial actually increas

France, Britain, Germany and the U.S. gave all kinds of financial, economic
and military aid to Baghdad. In 1982, the then U.S. president Ronald Reagan
removed the name of Iraq from the list of "suppo

Washington further agreed to provide Iraq another $1 billion in arms. In the
same year, following a meeting in the White House, Washington decided to
give the Iraqi regime access to sensitive informat

To increase its support for Iraq, the U.S. government also decided to
reestablish ties with Baghdad that were suspended for many years. The
current U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, as the speci

After the liberation of Khorramshahr, Western countries, especially the
U.S., provided the Baghdad regime with all kinds of advanced and
sophisticated arms to save Saddam Hussein. For instance, with t

In addition, in 1982, the Pentagon authorized the international
Signal-and-Control Company to put $43 million worth of Rocky cluster bombs
at the disposal of the Iraqi regime. These bombs are the most

Furthermore, the American company Bechtel, in cooperation with an Italian
firm, in 1982 began exports of equipment for manufacturing all kinds of
chemical weapons to Iraq so as to enable the Iraqi reg

On the contrary, all kinds of political, economic and military sanctions had
been imposed on Iran.

Despite this, the Iranian soldiers created an unprecedented epic in the
history of their homeland through their valor and self-sacrifice.

The liberation of Khorramshar will be remembered forever as the summum bonum
of bravery and resistance unprecedented in Iranian history.


Tehran, May 27, IRNA -- `Tehran Times' on Monday highlighted the plight of
suffering Iranians injured by chemical weapons used during the Iraqi-imposed
war, and criticized the UN and other international organizations for doing
nothing to prevent tragedies of the kind.

The Iranian Society of War Veterans Injured by Chemical Weapons, in a letter
to the UN representative in Tehran on Saturday, expressed its regret over
the silence of the United Nations in the face of continued production and
deployment of chemical weapons, said the English-language daily in its
Perspective column.

The society, in its letter, pointed to the considerable number of Iranians
who have attained martyrdom as a result of the injuries sustained from
chemical weapons used during the 1980-88 Iraqi-imposed war, it said.

According to the daily, the letter also deplored the failure of the United
Nations to act on behalf of victims of chemical warfare in accordance with
its duties and responsibilities under the UN Charter.

The letter also stressed the fact that pertinent documents proving the
deployment of chemical weapons by Iraq during the imposed war have already
been forwarded to the United Nations.

It also accused the world body of becoming a tool of big powers to achieve
their policies, even if these policies run counter to human rights.

Some 130,000 Iranians have been suffering from injuries caused by dangerous
chemicals used in the war while nine have already succumbed to their
injuries since the start of the current year, pointed out the daily.

The Baathist regime of Iraq, backed by the big powers in its eight-year war
against Iran, deployed chemical weapons on two hundred different occasions
against the Iranian forces, it pointed out.

Western countries like the United States, England, Germany, France, Italy,
Russia and the Netherlands are known to have supplied Iraq with the
equipment necessary to produce a large variety of chemical weapons to be
used against Iranian forces, the Opinion further said.

The United Nations, in the face of the tremendous suffering of victims of
chemical and biological warfare, is actually an accomplice in the crimes
perpetrated by the big powers who supply these weapons, suggested the daily.

by Ed Blanche
The Daily Star (Lebanon), 28th May

Amid the tension gripping the Middle East over the Israeli-Palestinian
conflict, the possibility of a US assault against Iraq, President George W.
Bushıs campaign against Osama bin Laden and US encroachment into Central
Asia, not to mention the dangerous confrontation between nuclear-armed India
and Pakistan, another crisis is smoldering in the region. Iran is forging
ahead with its drive to produce an arsenal of ballistic missiles that US and
Israeli officials say will eventually have the range to hit Western Europe
and much of the Middle East, but with Israel a prime target. Since Bush
lumped Iran in with Iraq and North Korea as an ³axis of evil² bent on
acquiring weapons of mass destruction (WMD), there seems little doubt that
the Islamic Republic is becoming a major target for the US administration
because of Tehranıs efforts to develop ballistic weapons as well as its
alleged drive to acquire nuclear arms in a new regional arms race. What that
will entail is not yet clear, but the strident rhetoric emanating from the
Bush administration these days is deepening the sense of foreboding that has
gripped the region over the last year-and-a-half.

Worse, it is clearly undercutting the reformist movement in Iran led by
President Mohammad Khatami, who has advocated dialogue with the US to end
more than two decades of hostility, and strengthened the hand of his
conservative opponents. That in itself is cause for dismay. But since
Khatamiıs political adversaries also control the key centers of power,
particularly the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) which in turn
controls Iranıs missile forces, and the intelligence services, there is
reason for even greater dismay. They have made it clear on more than one
occasion that they consider the national security benefits to the clerical
regime of acquiring WMD to be higher than the cost involved. In part, this
stems from Iraniansı searing memories of the broadsides of Iraqi missiles
that battered Tehran and other cities during the latter stages of the
1980-88 Gulf War - and Iranıs lack of the means to retaliate in kind,
largely due to a US-led arms embargo that remains in place to this day. No
Iranian leadership can accept being so defenseless again.

Israelıs nuclear arsenal is another factor. Iran, along with the regionıs
Arab states, sees that as a constant threat to their security and believes
that the country must have the means to defend itself, or to make the cost
of aggression prohibitively high. That fear was heightened when Israel and
Turkey formed a military alliance in February 1996 and has been fueled
further by growing US and Israeli influence in Central Asia, on Iranıs
northern borders, that was under way long before Sept. 11. Since the cost to
Iran of trying to match Israelıs conventional and technological superiority
is too great, nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles, the Iranians reason, would
be the great equalizer with Israel - the kind of balance of terror that
prevented conflict during the Cold War. US support for Israel can only
intensify this arms race.

Israel, which has deemed Iran its most dangerous threat, was pressing
Washington to take tough measures to curtail the transfer of technology and
expertise by Russia, China, Pakistan and North Korea to the Islamic Republic
long before Sept. 11, but that pressure has intensified since then and is
certain to continue. Tehran insists that its missile program is purely for
deterrence, but that notion is frequently overwhelmed by such slogans as
³Israel should be wiped off the face of the Earth² which were attached to
the Shehab-3 when it was paraded through Tehran a couple of years ago.
Iranian Defense Minister Admiral Ali Shamkhani, a former revolutionary who
rose rapidly through the ranks of the IRGC as a battlefront commander in the
1980-88 war against Iraq, said on May 7 that the Islamic Republic has
stepped up efforts to improve the range and warhead capabilities of its
Shehab-3 medium-range ballistic missile. On Sunday, Tehran confirmed a US
intelligence report that Tehran had successfully flight-tested the 17-ton
system, modeled primarily on North Koreaıs No Dong series of ballistic
missiles and which has an estimated range of 1,300 kilometers, earlier this
month. That was the fourth such test since July 1998, two of which were

Shamkhani said that US pressure on Russia and China to halt all cooperation
with Tehran had not impaired the missile program. He spoke on Iranıs
state-run television following Bushıs four-day summit with President
Vladimir Putin in Moscow, during which they signed an agreement to reduce
their nuclear arsenals, but remained at odds over Russiaıs $800 million
contract with Iran to build a nuclear power plant outside the southern city
of Bushehr and what US and Israeli officials allege is technological
assistance from Russian scientists and companies. As recently as March 19,
Central Intelligence Agency Director George Tenet told the US Senate Armed
Services Committee that Russia, China and North Korea continued to supply
advanced technology and training to Iran for its missile programs, despite
promises by Moscow and Beijing to stop doing so. The Americans insist that
the plant, scheduled to begin operating by September 2003, will accelerate
Iranıs efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. Tehran and Moscow deny that the
nuclear plant, and several others they have discussed, will have any
military application.

US officials have warned that Tehran is also pressing ahead with developing
the longer range Shehab-4, which could threaten much of the Middle East
along with Western and Central Europe. Shamkhani was quoted by the official
Islamic Republic News Agency as saying that ³the supply and strengthening of
the Shehab-3 missile is one of the defense policies of Iran, and use of
Œsmartı systems can reasonably boost the Shehab-3ıs destructive power,
accuracy and range.² He gave no details beyond saying that ³Iran enjoys
remarkable capabilities within the framework of its defense policy.² His
remarks appeared to be directed at Israel, which has warned that it would
unleash pre-emptive strikes against Iran if it sought to use weapons of mass
destruction -  and its use of long-range strikes with US built aircraft
against Iraqıs Osiraq nuclear reactor in 1981 and against Palestinian
President Yasser Arafatıs headquarters in Tunis in 1985 has shown that the
Jewish state will attack its adversaries if it considers itself under

However, such raids against Iran would be much more difficult and complex
because the Iranians have widely dispersed their strategic facilities,
although Bushehr remains an easily identifiable target. With the Bush
administration taking an increasingly tougher line over Iran, the Israelis
may feel confident enough to launch pre-emptive attacks once they deem
Tehran is close enough to achieving a WMD strike capability. Shamkhani
warned that if Israel ³carries out any military action against Iran, the
response will be beyond the imagination of any Israeli politician.² This was
seen as a threat to use Shehab-3s. According to unconfirmed reports, Iran
began serial production of the system several months ago. US officials have
warned that the missile could be in service ³soon,² possibly by curtailing
its test program. US intelligence officials believe that Iran now has
several Shehab-3s available to launch in an emergency, but that it still has
not been able to develop a completely reliable system. Israeli Transport
Minister Ephraim Sneh claimed on Feb. 6 that Iran had at least 20 Shehab-3s
operational, which is about the same number of No Dong engines Iran was
believed to have imported from North Korea in 1999.

The latest test underlined that the Iranians were ³continuing to forward
with their missile programs,² according to one US official. According to
Israeli intelligence and US sources, the Shehab-3 program suffered a serious
setback in January 2002 when a missile exploded as it was being fueled for a
flight test. Several people were reported killed in the accident, which some
reports blamed on an engine failure. Iran has never acknowledged the
accident. Israel, which has been backed by the Bush administration, claims
Iran has been increasing its involvement in the Palestinian intifada with
weapons, funds and political support. Bush branded Iran part of the ³axis of
evil² in January after Israel intercepted a shipment of Iranian arms
allegedly bound for the Palestinians. The Iranians have appeared in recent
months to be increasingly confident about their missile capability. The
Americans, in turn, have been voicing growing concern about Iranıs alleged
effort to develop nuclear arms and its missile program, including longer
range versions called the Shehab-4 and Shehab-5. The former is still under
development and the latter remains at the theoretical stage, although
Israeli intelligence claims the Iranians are seeking a range of up to 10,000

Shamkhani says the Shehab-4 will be used as a launch vehicle to put an
Iranian communications satellite in space. That could eventually put a chain
of Iranian surveillance satellites in space which could be linked to Iranıs
missile force - the mirror image of Israelıs own Jericho-2 long-range
missile, Arrow-2 anti-missile system and its Ofeq spy satellite program. On
May 9, a senior US administration official warned that the Shehab-4 would
have an initial range of 2,000 kilometers, but anticipated upgrades would
allow it to reach Italy, Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary,
Greece and Turkey. Attacks on the European states are considered unlikely
because of Tehranıs good relations with them, but Israel, its military ally
Turkey and US military forces in the Gulf are seen as potential targets in
the event of hostilities. Tehran has become increasingly concerned with the
growing US military presence in Afghanistan and Central Asia, particularly
the disputed oil-rich Caspian Basin, reinforcing fears that along with
Israelıs military pacts with Turkey, the Americans are seeking to encircle
and isolate the Islamic Republic.

Washington Post (from Reuters), 30th May

TEHRAN, May 29 -- President Mohammad Khatami urged his reformist allies in
parliament today to abandon a quest for better relations with the United
States because of what he described as the growing U.S. belligerence toward

Khatami, a moderate cleric who made a dramatic overture to the United States
in 1997, said he was put off by the tone U.S. leaders have taken toward

"When a big power uses a militant, humiliating and threatening tone to speak
to us, our nation will refuse to negotiate or show any flexibility," he said
at a meeting with members of parliament, where his allies hold a majority.

He called on supporters to abandon efforts to reach out to the United States
and said they should follow Iran's official policy instead. Defying old
taboos on relations with Washington, reformist lawmakers have held
closed-door meetings to explore ways of resolving two decades of hostilities
between the two countries.

The move drew rebukes from Iran's supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Ali
Khamenei, and threats by the hard-line judiciary to prosecute anyone who
advocated dialogue with "the Great Satan." And a hard-line lawmaker today
accused those favoring ties of being U.S. spies.

Iran's Supreme National Security Council, headed by Khatami, has reportedly
ruled out talks with Washington in reaction to charges by President Bush
that Iran is part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and North Korea.


by Mary McGrory
Washington Post, 30th May

Demonstrations were the common thread of the president's week in Europe.
There were the protesters in the streets of Berlin and Paris, even a nervous
smattering in Moscow. Then NBC's David Gregory in Paris demonstrated a
facility in French -- he put a question about demonstrations to President
Jacques Chirac en français and touched off a demonstration of bad temper
from the leader of the Western world, who later accused Gregory of showing
off "as soon as you get in front of a camera," forgetting completely that
this is what TV reporters are paid to do.

The Bush blowup could be attributed to fatigue rather than to the
poster-bearers who protested what we are doing in the Middle East and on
global warming, and what we might do, such as invade Iraq. But these
dissenters were kept well out of his sight, and besides, in the Bush inner
circle -- which is to say handler Karl Rove -- European demonstrations are
not to be taken seriously. The sight of decadent, elitist, stuck-up
continental ingrates stirs anger in the heartland, where Rove thinks
elections are won. The marchers might as well be working for the Republican
National Committee: Their raised fists and furious faces provide a contrast
to the Texan who always speaks his mind, saying what he feels if not always
precisely what he means.

No, something else was eating George Bush when he chewed out David Gregory.

And it was probably a demonstration at, of all places, the Pentagon. It was
a demonstration of cold feet on the part of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who
leaked to Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas E. Ricks that they, just like
the rabble in the streets of Europe, thought that invading Iraq was a chancy
affair that would involve a large commitment of troops and casualties. And
victory would bring only the unappetizing prospect of occupying Baghdad for
an extended period.

Bush must have been steamed, as they say. Why was the rhetoric of beads and
sandals emanating from the brass? Had the chiefs become flower children
grown old? For the public, perhaps, it was only the appropriate
commemoration of Memorial Day. India and Pakistan were shouting threats at
each other across a nuclear divide. Suicide bombers were exploding in
Israel. The chiefs at least provided a timely reminder of the inescapable
fact that when you send young men and women to war, they get killed -- the
message on the Vietnam Wall.

The chiefs certainly knew that the commander in chief of the world crusade
against terrorism was adamant about the need for a regime change in Iraq.
They heard his State of the Union speech on Jan. 29. They were sitting in
the front row when he said to the faint-hearts of the world: "Some
governments will be timid in the face of terror. And make no mistake about
it: If they do not act, America will."

But in Germany, the unilateralist was talking more softly and had checked
his big stick at the door. Bush said he had "no war plans on my desk." He
spoke of "unified diplomatic pressure" and of shared intelligence. In Paris
on Sunday, he promised to consult with Chirac.

Retired rear admiral Gene Carroll was pleased but not surprised by the
bombshell from the Pentagon. Despite the drumbeat from the right, he says
uniformed men like to plan precisely for situations where men will be
fighting. "Amateurs talk about strategy, professionals talk about
logistics," he says. It was evident that "we wouldn't have the allies,
supplies and bases that were available to us in the Gulf War."

The Carnegie Endowment's anti-proliferation expert, Joseph Cirincione, hails
the chiefs' leak as bringing a sense of sanity to a ludicrous situation by
reminding us that "it is complicated and expensive." He thinks a basic
problem is that "the president is surrounded by yes men who try to encourage
the Gary Cooper image, which is terrible for military policy."

Lawrence J. Korb, an old Pentagonian who now works at the Council on Foreign
Relations, says the chiefs have "burst the bubble of inevitability [around
Iraq] -- it was all not if but when." He predicts that the"war fever in
Washington will go down now."

Consternation is high, of course, in the ranks of the civilian boosters of
war with Saddam Hussein. The leaders are career hawks who loved the Vietnam
War but declined to fight in it. For instance, Richard Perle thinks that The
Post's Ricks got the story wrong -- he wishes, clearly -- and has decided
it's not true. William Kristol, editor of the literate right-wing Weekly
Standard, co-wrote a lead editorial asking if Bush had "gone wobbly."

He still thinks Bush could "set it right," but he thinks the "odds that an
invasion will happen have gone to 50-50," which he considers "too close for

Europe may not have broadened Bush's perspective or changed his mind, but
the Pentagon surely did.

by William Pfaff 
International Herald Tribune (from Los Angeles Times), 30th May

PARIS: President George W. Bush finished his European journey with U.S.
foreign policy in deepening confusion. The crises between Pakistan and
India, and Israel and the Palestinians, are slipping beyond American
control. The European trip did nothing to add to the administration's

Speaking in Paris on Sunday, the American president admonished Pakistan's
President Pervez Musharraf to "show results" in stopping incursions into the
Indian-controlled part of Kashmir.

His demand got no better response than his angry and peremptory order in
early April to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to immediately halt Israel's
military offensive against the Palestinians, withdraw from the occupied
territories and end the settlements.

That was simply ignored. Expansion of the settlements, terrorist attacks and
retaliatory incursions and assassinations have all since resumed.

Bush's inability to control his own protégés in the war on terrorism
undermines the administration's credibility. It lends weight to the
accusation that U.S. policy in practice disrupts international order.

The risk of another India-Pakistan war, conceivably nuclear, is now
considerable. Musharraf's enforced cooperation with Washington's war against
terrorism in Afghanistan has so destabilized him in his own country that he
seems to have lost control of the extremist elements in Pakistan's army and
intelligence services.

Their efforts to liberate all of Muslim Kashmir from Indian control have
stoked a virulent Hindu nationalism in India, and within the government in
New Delhi, which has been relying on Washington to keep Pakistan in check.

Israel has this week rejected Washington's plan to reform Palestinian
security forces under CIA director George Tenet's guidance, meant to rebuild
a foundation for Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations.

This scheme was unrealistic from the start. It serves nothing to tell the
Palestinians to reform a Palestinian Authority that Israel has spent the
last three months destroying. Negotiations would be a charade so long as
Israel insists on colonizing the territories and the Palestinian terrorists
insist on destroying Israel.

The administration's favored solution for the Middle East is to attack Iraq,
but another generals' revolt, this one in Washington, has become the
obstacle to that.

While Bush was away, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff made it known that they
are unanimously against a military move against Iraq this year, and harbor
serious doubts that such an attack should take place at all. In leaked
stories to The Washington Post and other newspapers, spokesmen for the Joint
Chiefs argued that it is an illusion to think that someone else, with a
little American help from the air, is going to fight and defeat Saddam
Hussein on behalf of the United States.

They say that American forces numbering at least 200,000 would be needed to
overturn Iraq's government, requiring a lengthy buildup and bases in a
region hostile to such an undertaking.

The chiefs say there is serious risk of chemical or biological weapons used
in defense, and they fear high-casualty urban combat to take Baghdad. They
see the political outcome uncertain at best, and at worst as producing an
even more hostile successor regime in Baghdad.

Until now, the Washington policy debate has been dominated by civilian hawks
in the Defense Department, promoting the idea of a painless war that would
lead to pro-American forces' taking power throughout the region, turning the
Middle East into an American protectorate.

Those who really believe this - Defense Department civilians; General Wayne
Downing, the White House anti-terrorism coordinator; and the neoconservative
press - have not backed down, so Bush faces a Washington policy struggle
bigger than any his administration has faced yet.

Nothing happened in Europe to counterbalance these negatives. The arms
control and NATO agreements with Moscow were mainly successes for Vladimir
Putin's foreign policy, giving him a place in NATO and, it seems, tacit
American acquiescence in how he runs his war "against terrorism" in

Light notes were provided by Bush's reiteration of personal confidence in
the Russian president, assured this time not by looking into Putin's soul
but because Putin and his wife "loved their daughters."

His rather bad-tempered appearances in France with his friend Jacques Chirac
produced faintly ironic, or possibly amused, responses from the French
president, similar to those Bush had already received, if perhaps not
registered, from his other great friend, Vladimir.

The president's final meeting was with still another great friend, Silvio,
and other friends from the NATO countries, meeting in Prime Minister
Berlusconi's travertine-painted plywood edifices, built for the occasion on
a secure military air base near Rome. There were 15,000 troops and police
present, to protect NATO and Bush from Al Qaeda and the rogue states.

Gulf News (Reuters), 30th May
A senior Pentagon official said yesterday that Iraq was hostile and
aggressive enough to channel weapons of mass destruction into the hands of

"We are focussed on (Iraq) because of the inherent danger of a regime that
hostile and that aggressive possessing weapons of that type... and the
support that that regime has provided to terrorist organisations," U.S.
Undersecretary of Defence Douglas Feith told a press briefing in Cairo.

"It is a strategic problem that there is risk that weapons that powerful
could get into the hands of terrorists," said Feith, who discussed the war
on terror with Egypt's defence and foreign ministers earlier in the day.

U.S. Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Friday refused to discuss any
plans for a U.S. invasion of Iraq to overthrow President Saddam Hussein
after reports that top American military commanders had argued against an
imminent attack on Iraq.

The New York Times and the Washington Post said last week that some military
leaders had cautioned President George W. Bush and Rumsfeld to delay or
abandon any attack on Iraq.

Bush has accused Iraq of developing weapons of mass destruction and backing
terrorism. Iraq denies the charges.

"The people who attacked the United States on September 11 would not have
had any moral compunction about using weapons of mass destruction if they
had possessed them," said Feith.

Feith refused to be drawn on possible disputes in the U.S. administration on
whether to support the ouster of Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, who
Bush has repeatedly blamed for failing to rein in Palestinian militants in a
20-month-old uprising against Israeli occupation.

"President Bush has been stressing how important it is that there develop a
(Palestinian) leadership that makes progress towards peace possible," Feith
said, adding: "I'm sure (U.S. envoy William) Burns will be exploring this
while he's here".

by Chris Floyd 
Moscow Times, 31st May
Let us return briefly to the question of Saddam Hussein's employment of the
poison gas he developed with the help of those lovers of humanity, Ronald
"Bitburg" Reagan and George Herbert Walker Bush. Hussein is alleged to have
bombarded Iraqi Kurds with poison gas in 1987 and/or in 1988, in the midst
of his long and ferocious war with Iran.

There are conflicting accounts of the incident. Some say thousands were
killed; some say hundreds; a few say none. Some say the Kurds were actually
caught in a murderous crossfire of noxious fumes between the Iranian and
Iraqi armies. Others say the Kurds -- long persecuted by Saddam, as they are
persecuted by NATO stalwart Turkey -- were fighting alongside the Iranians
and thus made themselves "lawful combatants." The official story is that
Hussein simply gassed the Kurds in a paroxysm of ethnic cleansing (for which
he was later rewarded by the aforesaid GHWB with even more American money
and material).

Whatever the facts, the charge that Hussein "gassed his own people" has been
the bloody shirt repeatedly waved by George W. Bush in his frantic bid to
build support for an invasion of Iraq. Such an action, we are told, puts a
nation beyond the pale of civilization and sends it hurtling into the abyss
of ultimate evil. Any state that would "gas its own people" is, we're told,
a rogue state, a terrorist state.

What then to make of the revelations last week that the United States
"gassed its own people" during the Vietnam War? The Defense Department has
admitted that the Pentagon sprayed more than 4,000 U.S. sailors with various
substances, including the deadly nerve gas sarin and a gruesome biological
toxin, in a four-year operation (1964-68) called Project SHAD, The New York
Times reports.

The Pentagon said its records do not show that the sailors gave their
"informed consent" to participate in the secret tests. (And how exactly
would that consent process have worked, anyway? "Avast, ye swabs! Can we
spray ye salty dogs with poison gas?" "Arrr, Cap'n, that ye may. We herewith
absolve ye of all legal responsibility for this immoral act!")

The purpose of these terrorist attacks on patriotic Americans serving their
country was to test defenses against biochemical warfare -- so said the
Pentagon brass at the time. That would be the same Pentagon brass that two
years earlier had sent a plan to President John Kennedy calling for a series
of terrorist attacks to be launched against the American people  - by the
United States government -- in a frantic bid to build support for an
invasion of Cuba.

But we live in more enlightened times now, of course. For example, even
though most experts say that the fatal anthrax unleashed upon the American
people last fall was almost certainly developed by the U.S. military, we
know that things like Project SHAD don't happen anymore. We know that the
unelected "shadow government" headed by Vice President Dick Cheney in secret
caves and undisclosed locations -- along with the cadre of Iran-Contra
terrorist conspirators back in power in Washington, and the FBI chieftains
mysteriously rewriting field reports to downplay the danger of terrorist
attacks from Islamic radical groups once cultivated by the CIA -- will
surely keep the American people safe from all harm.

Even from governments that gas their own people.

On the other hand, Shadow Cheney and other Defenders have spent an
inordinate amount of time lately insisting that they cannot keep the
American people safe from all harm -- or any harm, evidently.

While President Bush was wowing Europe last week with endearing displays of
sleep deprived crankiness (him not used to staying up so late like
Pootie-Poot do; that's why him got so grumpy, The New York Times lovingly
reported), Cheney led a series of top officials in declaring that more
terror attacks are "inevitable." In fact, Shadowman said they will be "even
worse" than Sept. 11. The "great success" of the "war on terror" has
apparently left the American people in far greater danger than before.

(But if the United States is even more threatened now, then what was all
that fighting in Afghanistan about? Would Hamid Karzai, former consultant
for Texas oil giant Unocal, have some idea? Just asking.)

In this atmosphere of leader-spawned national panic, imagine what would
happen if a heavily armed, black-clad prowler were found planting a bomb at
a civilian power plant. Surely the story would be 24-7 in the national
media, right? Tabloids, networks, talking heads would be screaming the news
to high heaven: "America Under Attack! Terrorists in Our Midst!"

Unless, of course, the heavily armed prowler happened to be -- wait for it
-- a member of the U.S. military. And unless the incident occurred in Jeb
Bush's satrapy of Florida. Then all you would see is small story in a
provincial paper, the Savannah Morning News, which last week told the
curious tale of Specialist Derek Lawrence Peterson, 64th Armor Division, who
was nabbed for planting a bomb in a power station in Jacksonville, Florida.

Police spotted Peterson pulling out from the plant in his pick-up truck,
which was laden with knives, guns, ammo and explosives gear. They later
found the bomb he'd left at the plant.

Peterson said he'd been "practicing reconnaissance techniques." Or maybe he
was just "testing defenses," SHAD-like, in the best Pentagon tradition?
We'll probably never find out; he's being held incommunicado in one of Jeb's
jails -- and the Army's not talking either.

Perhaps the Shadow knows?

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