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[casi] News, 13-17/7/02 (2)

News, 13-17/7/02 (2)


*  Just another stage in the long journey to freedom


*  Top clerics opposed to invasion of Iraq
*  Before Setting Out for Iraq, Heed These Words of War
*  Weapons expert: Iraq attack wrong


*  Iraq's FM in Belgium to discuss the return of UN weapons inspectors


*  Why it makes sense to end Saddam Hussein's regime
*  NATO in Iraq
*  Decoding the headlines about Iraq
*  Washington is drooling at the prospect of 'Iraq jackpot'
*  Britain backs US plan for attack on Iraq


*  Iraq herding Kurds
*  Kurds against Saddam


byLarry Schwartz
The Age (Australia), 14th July

Summer nights in Baghdad. Boyhood friends would light small candles to
dangle from kites they'd fly from the rooftops.

Now 44, Adil relives his memories before a small gathering in a
high-ceilinged church hall in wintry Melbourne. "It was beautiful," he says
softly during rehearsal for a stage production featuring asylum seekers that
takes its title, Kan Yama Kan, from the Arabic for "once upon a time".

Adil, a slightly built man, takes us from happy times with 11 brothers and
sisters to precarious years as a Shiite Muslim in Saddam Hussein's Iraq. He
recalls the flight to Iran after his father's arrest and, after years in
exile there, a 13-day voyage from Bali with 135 others on a 22-metre boat
that was apprehended near Darwin in December, 1999.

Once he was a thriving clothing importer. Now he faces an unknown future on
the expiry of a three-year temporary protection visa issued after a year
behind razor wire in Woomera.

He is one of 11 refugees, several on temporary protection visas, hoping to
convey some inkling of their plight by telling their stories in a show also
featuring actors Alice Garner and Lisa Mazza.

"Maybe they will hear your voice and listen," says his compatriot,
35-year-old former primary school teacher Aowham Al Dujali, formerly
detained at Port Hedland with her daughter Sarah, now 14, and 15-year-old
son, Ammal.

It is a chill afternoon. A small heater glowers high on a wall at the
Uniting Church hall, where they are rehearsing for this week's show at the
Trades Hall in Carlton.

Aowham Al Dujali has been involved in writing for the project with others,
including author Arnold Zable, Lebanese-born Ramez Tabit and Carmel Davies,
who wrote and directed a previous production involving refugees, I Came
without My Mother's Hand.

Directed by Robin Laurie, the project is coordinated by the Fitzroy Learning
Network, a haven to more than 200 temporary protection visa holders.

Kan Yama Kan brings together tales of fugitive Iraqis, Afghans, Iranians and
others with musical backing by a 40-member community choir led by
singer-songwriter Kavisha Mazzella and Kurdish musician Dursan Acar.

Among the participants is 29-year-old Michael Morton, a Syrian refugee who
changed his name, Usama, fearing harassment after September 11.

Another, 42-year-old Massood, a lawyer from south-western Iran, was jailed
for two years before he fled. He was involved in a breakout at Woomera in
the lead-up to the Sydney Olympics that was designed to alert the media to
their plight.

He talks of frustrations, such as the restrictions on travel, likening life
in Australia to "a big jail".

Once upon a time Aowham (pronounced O-ham) was one of six children of a
prosperous Baghdad merchant. On holidays, they would accompany her father on
business trips to Cairo, Hamburg, Teheran, Damascus, Kuwait and Delhi. "Life
seemed in that time an endless, beautiful journey which only stopped when
school started over again," she reminisces.

Then came eight long years when, she says, "we felt even the sky is more red
than it should be when the sunset came" and further hardship "when America
gathered armies and weapons from all over the world against my people".

"We never imagined that with the end of the bombing we would start a new war
against diseases and poverty. A life with no electricity, no medicine, with
polluted water and polluted air."

Mindful of the hazards of journeying to Australia, she tried to focus on the
promise of a "warm, safe, green land". Her husband, Karim, a civil engineer,
would follow and spend five months in the Curtin detention centre.

Aowham and her children flew from Jakarta to Bali to Lombok, from where they
set out on a boat with more than 80 passengers.

Once upon a time her father had regaled her with stories about a big, winged
Assyrian lion with a man's head that had been her people's protector since

After spotting an Australian aircraft overhead near Ashmore Reef, she
thought of this mythical figure. She waved and shouted to attract the
pilot's attention. "At last," she thought, "we are safe."

Kan Yama Kan is at the Trades Hall New Ballroom, Carlton, from Thursday July
18 to Saturday 27. Bookings on 9417 6357.


byPeter Fray
The Age (Australia), 15th July

Senior British religious leaders, including a priest widely expected to
become the next archbishop of Canterbury, have described US and British
plans to invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam Hussein as "immoral" and

The Archbishop of Wales, Rowan Williams, has joined leading clerics in
signing a declaration opposing the second phase in the war on terror,
especially an attack on Iraq.

The criticism was printed in the London-based Catholic weekly, The Tablet.

The group, under the name Pax Christi (Peace of Christ), writes: "It's
deplorable that the world's most powerful nations continue to regard war,
and the threat of war, as an acceptable instrument of foreign policy.

"It is our considered view that an attack on Iraq would be both immoral and
illegal and that eradicating the dangers posed by malevolent dictators and
terrorists can be achieved only by tackling the root causes of the
disputes." Dr Williams has emerged as the preferred successor, later this
year, to the Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, the spiritual leader of
the worldwide Anglican community.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who effectively picks the position by
advising the Queen on the final choice, is known to favour Dr Williams,
despite the priest's recent description of the war in Afghanistan as
"morally tainted".

Other Pax Christi signatories include the Church of England's Bishop of
Chelmsford, the Reverent John Perry, and the Catholic Bishop of Brentford,
Thomas McMahon.

The declaration said attacking Iraq would be fighting "terror with terror"
and pressed for a diplomatic solution, which included allowing UN weapon
inspectors into Iraq. The declaration, to be presented to Mr Blair next
month, comes amid speculation about a US British invasion of Iraq early next
year. London's Observer newspaper reported yesterday that Mr Blair was
preparing for a "lightning" visit to the US in three months to consider
invasion plans with President George Bush. A defence source said Britain was
"still a long way from any attack. (But) We are all aware Iraq is on the


by Mike Barnicle
New York Daily News, 14th July


"The Cat from Hue" is the Vietnam memoir of one of this country's finest
reporters. His name is John Laurence. He was a foreign correspondent for CBS
and ABC news. Vietnam was a long, ugly, constantly dangerous, unremittingly
violent conflict that killed men, dreams, two nations, a lot of our idealism
and the sense that we were both invulnerable and never wrong. It was a
catastrophe that provoked a Niagara of cynicism that flourishes today,
decades after the final bomb was dropped and the last funerals were

It changed a lot of lives, Laurence's among them. He arrived in Vietnam in
1965, a kid really, not much older than the soldiers he followed. He lived
with them, was deafened by the sound of the same artillery and the sight of
slaughters that never fully recede from the mind's eye.

Telling you that Laurence was a reporter is a little like saying Picasso was
a guy with a paintbrush. More often than not, watching his work for both
networks was like watching minidocumentaries about an endless parade of
brave young boys whose lives were wasted by duplicitous old men willing to
kill for the sin of pride.

It took Jack Laurence 30 years to finish writing "The Cat from Hue." I bet
he wrote something nearly every day and I bet when he finished a paragraph,
the nightmare of the reality he covered  the war in Vietnam  caused him to
stop, stare out a window at all the ghosts, their images whispering that
he'd never be able to do them justice.

But he did. This is an important book. It's especially important today as so
many seem to be strutting about, incredibly eager to saddle up and ride into
Baghdad seeking the head of Saddam Hussein. Talk is cheap. Lives cost a
whole lot more. And the price paid for them can take generations to cover. I
guess taking on Iraq is inevitable. But maybe this time we'll realize that
it's more than just okay to ask questions of our politicians and generals
about who will be on the firing line there and who here will be asked to

The music never stopped while 55,000 were killed in the long dance of death
that was Vietnam. Life went on. There was no gas rationing, no shortages, no
real sense that while some fortunate sons were studying for final exams
other less fortunate boys were living their final moments in a separate time
zone because many of them belonged to a different class entirely.

It would be a comfort to know that men like President Bush, Vice President
Cheney and Don Rumsfeld had read "The Cat from Hue." It's the personal
perspective of a reporter who lost both his youth as well as his innocence
covering a war. It's a book that will live forever on library shelves, proof
that the written word is more powerful than any image we see on television
or in the movies.

John Laurence's memoir is part of the history of a nation that stumbled into
a horror that haunts us still as we amble toward Iraq without knowing why.

London Evening Standard, 17th July

A war on Iraq could lead to takeover by anti-Western fundamentalists, the
former head of UN weapons inspectors in the country has warned.

In a speech at Westminster, Scott Ritter warned that the US and UK should
not assume that the Iraqi people would accept the imposition of a
pro-Western government in their country.

And he questioned claims by Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President
George Bush that Saddam has developed an arsenal of weapons of mass
destruction capable of threatening the West.

The former US marine, who resigned as head of the UNSCOM inspectors in 1998,
told an audience which included several MPs that his team believed they had
destroyed virtually all Iraq's WMD capability by the time they pulled out.

It would be impossible for Saddam to have secretly rebuilt a chemical,
biological or nuclear armoury since then with the limited technology
available to him under the current sanctions regime, he said.

"The British people should demand accountability from the Blair Government
and demand proof," Mr Ritter said. "When you hear your Prime Minister and
our President speak of a dossier, you must demand `Where is this dossier?"'

Expectations that Iraqi resistance would crumble might prove unfounded, he
suggested. Iraqi troops would be fighting for their homeland and the
invasion could be expected to mount tough resistance in the cities and

And he warned that: "If the US makes a move on Iraq, eliminates Saddam and
Iraq goes fundamentalist, there is a very good chance that a domino effect
will come into play.

"We could see Saudi Arabia fall, Kuwait fall, Jordan fall, Egypt fall and
the entire region being swept up in a sea of anti-Western, Islamic

An invasion of Iraq would swing vast numbers of ordinary Arabs behind the
aims of Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, he predicted. "Osama bin
Laden will have won," he said. "If you want to lose the war on terror,
invade Iraq."


Arabic News, 13th July

The Belgian foreign ministry said that the Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri
will visit Belgium within two weeks in order to discuss the likely return
back of the UN weapons inspectors to Iraq.

Sabri is due to meet in his rare visit to Europe with the Belgium Deputy
Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Louis Michel who informed the
Senate council that he had agreed on the visit of the Iraqi minister despite
the "advise given to give up from abroad," in remarks to the US.

Michel told members of the senate in a testimony issued on Thursday his
opposition to mix between the war against international terrorism and the
situation in Iraq.

The Belgian minister stressed he will inform Sabri on the need of Iraq to
abide to UN resolutions and to permit UN weapons inspectors to inspect for
the mass destruction weapons in Iraq.

For his part, Sabri stressed Iraq's persistence on getting answers to the
list of questions it had submitted to the UN. Iraq wants answer from the UN
Security Council, rather from its member states on the questions it has
raised before. The Iraqis submitted 19 questions some of them are technical
and others were described by the Americans as "conditions;" among these is
one question asking whether the American plans to strike the regime of the
Iraqi President Saddam Hussein violate the international law.

In an interview with the Iraqi satellite TV station, Sabri said "We know the
position of the special committee, the position of (UN Monitoring,
Verification and Inspection Commission UNMOVIC) regarding the elimination of
the Iraqi weapons and know the stand taken by its chairman Hans Blix, but we
want to have the position of the UN Security Council as a foundation and not
as a position for the US."


The Scotsman, 15th July

I ENJOYED watching Albert Finney's definitive, growly performance as Winston
Churchill in BBC2's biopic, The Gathering Storm. Here was the isolated
Winnie of the Thirties practising his anti-Hitler speeches while he peed or
took a bath - all politicians do. Unfortunately, while Finney was
magnificent as Churchill, the play itself was historical bunk.

It happily ignored the fact that the mass of the British electorate in the
Thirties, up to March 1939 when Hitler annexed Prague, was virulently
anti-war and pro-appeasement. The result was that the National Coalition
government (aka the Tories plus Ramsay MacDonald with bits and bobs of
Liberal support) was absolutely petrified, as it lost by-elections by
thousands of votes any time one of its candidates so much as mentioned the
word rearmament.

Now, this aversion to wars by ordinary voters is not such a bad thing. After
all, they are the ones who get called up, bombed and taxed for the duration.
The politicians are the ones who get the television hagiographies. Thus the
current preparations to invade Iraq - Saddam Hussein's numerous intelligence
services have only to read yesterday's Sunday papers to get the complete
tactical blueprint for the invasion - are proceeding with the minimum of
enthusiasm this side of the Atlantic.

Nevertheless, while such democratic checks and balances are very necessary
to restrain governments from conflict till it is a final resort, it falls to
the politicians to educate the populace when continued diplomacy is yielding
diminishing returns. In the Thirties, people did not understand the danger
posed by the new totalitarian states in Germany and Russia while they knew
only too well the horrors of the Great War. Today, they do not understand
the danger posed by a new phenomenon - the dysfunctional state.

The latter are territories - sov-ereign only in name - where the rule of law
does not exist, where the writ of the nominal state machine does not carry
except in isolated parts of the country. Where competing armed entities vie
for control and where the civil institutions have collapsed.

Once upon a time, such dysfunctional states were no threat to the rest of
the word, only to their own unfortunate citizens. But the onward march of
globalisation and easy international communications has turned such
dysfunctional states into global havens for criminals, diseases or political
lunatics with weapons of mass destruction that have dire consequences for
the rest of us. Thus the Columbia FARC guerrillas protect the world's major
cocaine growers and raise funds thereby.

Which brings us to Iraq. This is the world's prime dysfunctional state.
Saddam Hussein is a psychopathic thug, in the clinical sense of the word. He
rules a tiny bit of the state of Iraq around Baghdad, using absolute terror.
He is currently in the midst of another of his relentless purges. Five
officers were recently shot in public pour encourager les autres. His
country lies in shards. The north is divided under the control of various
Kurdish factions and pro-Iranian fanatics. His hold on the south is disputed
by Shi'ite fundamentalists.

Saddam has been a caged beast since he was "defeated" in the Gulf War in
1992. So why not leave him in his box to fester, and eventually die as most
tyrants do? First, the irrational Saddam has devoted an incredible amount of
time and effort trying to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMD). When UN
inspectors were thrown out of Iraq in 1998, Saddam still had chemical and
biological weapons at his disposal, despite the fact that the UN inspection
agency had, for more than two years, kept incinerators burning Iraqi WMD
material nonstop, 24 hours a day. Since the UN inspectors departed, several
Iraqi defectors have said that Saddam has redoubled his efforts to develop
WMD, especially nuclear weapons.

Saddam wants these weapons not for legitimate self-defence - his is not an
ordinary state like India. He wants them to exert naked personal power in
his tiny fiefdom, so he can personally hold on to Iraq's oil revenues.
Likewise, the checks and balances that exist in the nuclear stalemate
between India and Pakistan do not apply to Saddam. He is a loose cannon in
this situation, so why run any risks if it is possible to get rid of him
sooner rather than later?

Second, there is the prospect of allowing a quicker evolution of the Arab
states towards democracy if irritants such as Saddam can be removed who have
a vested interest in destabilising his pro-Western neighbours. Saddam has
happily funded political extremists and trained foreign terrorists who wish
to overthrow other Arab states. There is evidence, albeit weak, that he has
even had links with bin Laden's al-Qaeda. Saddam's secular corruption is a
million miles away from bin Laden's religious quackery, and both men know
it. But Saddam will consort with any disruptive agency in the Middle East,
and that is why he is dangerous.

The Saudi government is petrified a US attack on Iraq will backfire. It
prefers letting sleeping dogs lie. Unfortunately, this policy was exactly
the one that got al-Qaeda started. The Saudi regime is borderline
dysfunctional. For years the Saudi extended royal family have played a
double game, taking Western oil cash and allowing US troops on the sacred
soil of Islam, while at the same time permitting fundamentalist clerics to
preach anti-Western sermons. It is a balancing act that cannot continue
forever, and given the parlous state of the Saudi economy, the regime could
implode sooner rather than later. In the wings, if he be alive, is Osama bin
Laden, who represents a faction of the Saudi upper classes who want to ditch
the West in favour of an impossible fundamentalist utopia.

If Saddam can be dispatched quickly - that is the operative question - and
the citizens of Baghdad line the streets to cheer their liberators, then the
Saudi regime is given a breathing space. It will be able to start to
dismantle its Frankenstein creation of the Wahhabi strain of Islamic
fundamentalism used to bolster the Saudi royal family. That will pave the
way to a sort of democracy.

Finally, the removal of Saddam Hussein would open Iraq's oilfields. No other
country offers such untapped oil reserves whose exploitation could lessen
tensions over the Western presence in Saudi. Proven Iraqi reserves are seven
times those of the combined UK and Norwegian sectors of the North Sea. In
addition, the wealth thus created would help restore the ravages caused to
Iraq by the Saddam dictatorship.

For ultimately, it is the long-suffering people of Iraq who are the main
reason this dysfunctional regime has to go. This is not a sovereign country
whose territory should be respected; this is a few gangster-ridden provinces
of Iraq being run by a homicidal madman with Scud missiles.

In the Thirties, Churchill was clear-sighted enough to realise that Hitler
also could not be appeased by diplomatic means. Nor can Saddam. Winston's
personal isolation was not the result of stupid political enemies, rather
the fact the electorate was reluctant to contemplate war. So should they
always be.

But in the end, if we do not deal with Saddam, he will deal with us.

by Alan L. Isenberg
Washington Times, 15th July

Plans to fight Iraq may not yet be sitting on President Bush's desk, but
make no mistake: a military campaign against Saddam and his minions will
occur, though we will see one more unsuccessful round of U.N. inspections

No matter when it happens, war in Iraq is a severe bone of contention in the
already caustic trans-Atlantic debate. Europeans skeptically question
whether Mr. Bush's true aim is to address a serious threat to American
interests or to mete out punishment for a personal vendetta; America sees a
weak Europe that could be of little help in the military realm. The
trans-Atlantic alliance, already in trouble, is suffering as a result.

Ironically, nothing would do more to strengthen the alliance and curb
American unilateralism than if the upcoming incursion into Iraq, was a NATO
operation. By participating despite its objections, and initiating
capability improvements (the delay will give them time to develop more
interoperable communications, at least) that would enable the allies to
fight together in Iraq, Europe would give itself a far more decisive
military voice, and show America that it is a staunch ally in foul weather
as well as fair. Hawkish defense experts assert that, in keeping with the a
la carte approach that the administration has favored when building
coalitions, only Turkey, Kuwait and the United Kingdom will be invited to
participate. But America simply will not turn away a willing NATO, provided
it proves able as well.

Indeed, Mr. Bush would be immensely grateful for such participation; so much
so that Europe would be in the best position in its history to argue for a
better division of labor, in which America commits more resources to
"softer" European military priorities such as peace support. NATO itself
would demonstrate its ability to perform out-of-area operations, reasserting
its legitimacy and quieting the voices that now question the body's
relevance. An alliance that fights together stays together.

However, if America goes into Iraq alone, the trans-Atlantic bond will
deteriorate to a level of unprecedented acerbity. Discussions of NATO's new
complexion and purpose will fade as the alliance becomes too irrelevant to
merit debate. America will cease to care about Europe improving its
capabilities, and will seek to further compensate militarily for the
practical loss of its allies  making interoperability impossible as
American military technology gets too far ahead for Europe to catch up.
Meanwhile, American vulnerability will rise despite its power, as the demise
of military cooperation compromises coordinative efforts in other channels,
such as law enforcement and intelligence.

The administration, at National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice's urging,
will steer American foreign policy towards crafting an alliance with Russia
that effectively bypasses NATO. The excitement surrounding Russia's
involvement in NATO will be a ceremonial memory, as bilateral alliances will
trump the institution. Enlarging to include former communist states will be
an event of minimal import. Europe will be stuck in the middle, holding on
to policies that are profoundly dangerous in the absence of American
military backing. A terrorist attack in Europe in, say, 2007, with Europe
five years more obsolete in its capabilities, America five years further
down the unilateralist path, and Article 5 five years more hollowed out than
it was when invoked after September 11, poses a grave scenario indeed.

If America goes into Iraq, Europe must go, too. The stakes have never been

Engagement in the spirit of soft power alone is not a panacea for threats,
and Europe is thus severely remiss in defining and contending with the
dangers of the 21st century. Ironically, French President Jacques Chirac 
whose country is not part of NATO's military structure  is the only
European leader who has taken a step toward spending more on defense.
Because of the capabilities gap, Europe's criticisms of American policy and
power seem both disingenuous and duplicitous  the latter because Europe
relies on the military charity that America provides  and will not find an
American audience without European action to modernize their forces.

Even in a globalizing world, military bonds  where they exist  underlie
all others. America and the European Union are not striving for a
supranational union: the two sides will fight trade wars and continue to
battle over corporate mergers and other assorted unpleasantries of
globalization. But America shares more with Europe historically and
strategically than any other place in the world. Therefore, continued
strength in our military partnership is integral to the vitality of our
overall relationship.

Because European and American soldiers fought alongside each other at
Normandy and Bastogne, America saw a greater stake in the reconstruction of
Europe. The Marshall Plan may have never come about if the United States
decided not to enter World War II. Had Europe been denied American
investment at this critical time, the Soviet Union may have expanded and
consolidated its empire beyond the Iron Curtain  but it did not, because of
the strength of a bond that was fundamentally based on soldiers fighting and
dying to preserve the Western way of life.

 The threats to that way of life are equally real and dangerous today, and
necessitate a bond of equal depth. It is time for America and Europe to
reinvest in the most important institutional partnership that either has
ever known. With a strong military underpinning, NATO can be a forum for
debating foreign policy preferences, not a victim of them. Fighting together
in Iraq will remind the allies on both sides of the Atlantic what NATO
really means, and why it matters.

Alan L. Isenberg, formerly of the Center for Strategic and International
Studies, serves on the Board of Editors of Orbis, a world affairs journal.
This commentary is primarily excerpted from his article in the fall 2002
edition of that publication.

by Michael Duffy
With reporting by Massimo Calabresi and Mark Thompson/Washington and Scott
CNN, 15th July

The last time an American president made war on Iraq, he gathered his aides
together and quietly told them what to do. He dispatched some on secret
missions to round up cash from rich countries without armies, others to nail
down overflight rights from nations that preferred to sit on the fence. He
saw to the freezing of Iraqi assets and the movement of U.S. warships,
troops and planes--and when they were in position, he mounted a worldwide
diplomatic push for war. Only later did he let the public in on the details.
Even some of George H.W. Bush's best friends later admitted that they
couldn't really believe he'd pulled it off.

But now that another Bush Administration is packing for a trip to Baghdad,
the son's method in no way resembles the father's. For President George W.
Bush's team isn't so much preparing for war with Iraq as it is fighting a
war with itself about whether and how to fight. The battle is oddly,
alarmingly, public. The battlefield--not southern Iraq this time but the
front pages of various newspapers--is strewn with bickering Bush aides and
unnamed generals. Amid all the leaking and counterleaking, Bush's own
comments about his aims keep shifting--which may explain why those of
everyone around him do too.

Sometime last spring the President ordered the Pentagon and the cia to come
up with a new plan to invade Iraq and topple its leader. He feared that
Saddam was developing weapons of mass destruction and might link up with
remnants of al-Qaeda for another attack on America. At first, the timetable
called for action this fall, but then the Middle East exploded, India and
Pakistan started to rumble, and Afghanistan slid toward chaos again- all of
which helped push back the expected mobilization until at least early next
year. And now that the U.S. economy seems to be downshifting again, Iraq may
have to wait--some think forever. As a top official from one Middle East
ally put it last week, "Iraq is over. The window is closed."

That hasn't stopped the warriors from skirmishing. It began in April, when
Pentagon sources leaked word to the New York Times that an Iraqi war would
require as many as 250,000 troops. That was standard procedure--warning the
White House and Congress that a march to Baghdad would mean more casualties
than they realized. It was also a signal. Says a former service Secretary:
"The generals don't want to put kids in harm's way for what they think is a
fool's errand."

That led to a second wave of leaks from various factions proposing cheaper,
safer alternatives: Air Force and Special Operations teams wanted an
Afghanistan-style operation, with commandos and bombers coordinating (in
theory, anyway) with Iraqi opposition groups. That approach had backing from
key officials, notably Wayne Downing, a retired Army general in charge of
coordinating the war on terrorism. The Central Command chief, Army General
Tommy Franks, rejected it because he believes the opposition isn't up to the
job. "There are 24 divisions of the Iraqi army," an Army officer told Time.
"There's a limit to how much you can do with guys on horseback and B-52s."
Not long after Downing's plan fell out of favor, he announced he was leaving
the government.

But when the basics of Franks' own secret plan--a three-pronged attack on
Iraq from Turkey, Kuwait and Jordan--appeared in the Los Angeles Times and
then the New York Times, the front-page war became too costly. Not only was
a good secret loose, but the U.S. had a diplomatic snafu to clean up: Jordan
relies on next-door neighbor Iraq for oil and wasn't keen about being dimed
out as an enemy-in-waiting by a handful of U.S. Army colonels. Amman
declared, as Foreign Minister Marwan Muasher told Time, "Jordan's territory
will not be used as a launching pad against Iraq in any way, now or in the

Bush officials tried to shut down the cross fire on Thursday, telling USA
Today that no full scale invasion could take place without a "significant
provocation,'"such as the invasion of Kuwait that started the Gulf War.
That's a far cry from the policy Bush unveiled at West Point last month,
when he warned nations harboring weapons of mass destruction that the U.S.
reserves the right to make preemptive strikes against them. And because
hardly anyone thinks Saddam Hussein would be foolish enough to repeat his
1990 mistake, it suggested anew that Washington is engaged more in psy-war
than in war itself.

Daily Star (Lebanon), 15th July

>From Washington's perspective, Iraq is a big prize ripe for the picking. All
the Americans have to do is decide when to go for it. The fall of Iraq, it
is widely believed in the US capital, would open up rich opportunities for
America in the wider Middle East and secure its interests in the region for
years to come.

Assuming that the Americans succeed in Iraq, what would the geostrategic
factors in the region be like?

Let us take Iran first. The US waged its "war on terror" in Afghanistan
partially with Iran's help - granted mainly because of Tehran's hatred of
the Taleban. But the Americans not only elbowed the Iranians out of the
Afghan equation, they included Iran in their "axis of evil," along with Iraq
and North Korea. Washington maintained its pressure on Iran's weapons
programs and its role in the Middle East. An attack on Iraq would therefore
complete Iran's encirclement and isolation, emptying its revolutionary
rhetoric of any real content.

Apparently, the Bush administration believes that pressuring Iran at this
point of the struggle on its home front between conservatives and reformists
would succeed in bringing the entire edifice down. This would entail
silencing those voices that say including Iran in the "axis of evil" weakens
the reformist faction to the advantage of the conservatives. According to
Washington's hawks, America's tough stance vis-a-vis Iran will bring talk of
relations with the US to the heart of Iranian politics, and will consolidate
and strengthen forces calling for openness vis-a-vis the West. These forces,
American hard-liners believe, would then be emboldened to take on their
conservative adversaries in a decisive battle. Taking Iraq, in other words,
will be a step toward finally liquidating Iran's Islamic revolution.

The demise of the current Iraqi regime will also allow the United States to
build a wall separating Iran from Syria. With Baghdad out of the way, the
Americans can then turn their attentions to effecting change in Damascus.

In fact, Washington has been watching the development of relations between
Iraq and Syria very closely indeed. The Americans fear that this
relationship might somehow widen to include Iran. Steps taken recently by
the two Baathist regimes in Baghdad and Damascus to open up to each other
have been eyed with great concern in Washington. Syria and Iraq have
certainly grown closer together of late, so much so that they are being
perceived as each other's lungs: Syria breathes economically through Iraq,
while the latter draws political and economic breath through Syria.

This being the case, seizing Baghdad would strengthen America's hand in
dealing with the Syrians. The Americans could then impose their agenda on
Syria - an agenda that might well involve a drive for regime change in Syria
itself, a la Iraq and Palestine.

If that happens, Lebanon would turn from being a source of strength for
Syria to being a liability. The Bush administration can then use grievances
by some Lebanese against Syria to its own advantage, especially regarding
the position of Hizbullah and the front against Israel. In this case,
Lebanon will be just another pawn in the game being played out in Iraq and
Syria, and will inevitably be affected by events taking place in the east.

By taking control of Baghdad, the Americans would free themselves of their
current dependence on Saudi oil, together with its attendant (though
admittedly limited) political drawbacks. In fact, this might be the reason
behind Riyadh's opposition to a US strike against its northern neighbor.

One cannot fail to notice that the American officials most eager to attack
Iraq are the same people who are most critical of Saudi Arabia, its culture
and its system of government. Criticism of Saudi Arabia's record on human
rights and its fundamentalism are only a smokescreen calculated to cover up
the real reasons for US exasperation: Riyadh's improving relations with Iran
and its policies on Palestine.

Washington sees Jordan in a sympathetic light. The Bush administration knows
that a sizeable segment of the Jordanian population supports the Palestinian
intifada - and that the rest support Iraq. Washington also recognizes that
Baghdad helps Amman economically. That was why the Americans decided to
increase the amount of aid they provide to Jordan, and asked the Gulf states
to do likewise.

Jordan occupies an important strategic position; it can act either as a
buffer or as a conduit between the Palestinians and Iraq. There is no doubt
that change in Baghdad would liberate Jordan, allowing it to freely adopt
any American policy vis-a-vis the Palestine question.

The political fallout from the above will provide an "appropriate" framework
for an Israeli solution to the Palestine question  or, at best, an American
solution based on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's vision.

It is obvious the Bush administration has eschewed the idea (promoted by its
Arab friends) that it was prepared to make concessions in Palestine in
return for having a free hand in Iraq. In fact, there are those in
Washington who believe that escalation between Israelis and Palestinians
would actually make it easier to attack Iraq - especially with the Arabs
(both governments and peoples) as supine as they are.

There are even more benefits for the Americans from an attack on Iraq.
Rearranging the situation in the Levant in the manner mentioned would
isolate Egypt and free Israel's hands. Who knows, even a Tel Aviv-Baghdad
axis might be possible.

The resulting situation would also comfort Turkey, which would then be able
to resume normal trade with Iraq without fearing for its own territorial

And there is more: Having controlled Afghanistan, improved ties with Russia
and ensured a foothold in Central Asia, capturing Iraq means that all major
present and future oil resources will be in American hands.

Finally, it must be mentioned that beside its strategic importance, Iraq's
resources, position, population, history and demographic balance are
immensely important per se.

There are those in Washington who are drooling at the prospect of taking
Iraq. While American plans are fraught with many dangers, the US is feeling
confident enough to take ambitious steps. For the sake of these rich
pickings, Washington is apparently prepared to tolerate a fair measure of
chaos on the peripheries of Iraq. What is important for the Americans, after
all, is to maintain control over the Iraqi central government and its
decisions on matters of strategy and oil.

Joseph Samaha is the editor in chief of the Beirut daily As-Safir. He wrote
this commentary for The Daily Star.,,2-358038,00.html

by Philip Webster, Political Editor
The Times, 17th July
[Despite the way this has been reported, I see little change from earlier
statements. Yes, we must do something. No, I don't know what (the Boss
hasn't yet told me.)]

THE Prime Minister accepted the case for pre-emptive action to stop
President Saddam Hussein as he gave his clearest indication yet that he will
back an American-led assault on Iraq.

In a marked shift of emphasis, when Tony Blair appeared before the House of
Commons Liaison Committee  made up of the senior MPs who chair the select
committees  he said that the West should learn the lesson from September 11
and take action to tackle Saddam before he could inflict damage with his
weapons of mass destruction.

Although it was known before September that al-Qaeda was committing and
organising terrorist acts, the West did not act.

"What we should learn from that is that if there is a gathering threat or
danger, let us deal with it before it materialises rather than afterwards."

Mr Blair insisted, however, that no decisions had yet been taken on Iraq.
But he gave his most explicit backing so far to President Bush's doctrine of
pre-emptive action.

In the immediate aftermath of September 11 the British Government emphasised
that there was no evidence of a link between the attacks on America and
Iraq, as they sought to play down the likelihood of an attempt to topple

But with growing signs of a determination in the American Administration to
act, Mr Blair appeared to be preparing the ground for British support. If
military action goes ahead, he is widely expected to face the biggest Labour
revolt since the party returned to power in 1997.

Yesterday he said for the first time that, although no evidence linked
Saddam to the September 11 attacks, there were various "rough linkages" with

But the real issue was Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. It was clear that
Saddam was still trying to develop them and he was refusing to abide by UN
resolutions on weapons inspections.

"As more negotiations go on and he fails to comply and you know that he is
developing these weapons of mass destruction, then over a period of time you
are entitled to draw a conclusion that this threat is growing, not

There was a lesson from September 11. "We knew about al-Qaeda for a long
time. They were committing terrorist acts, they were planning, they were
organising. Everybody knew, we all knew, that Afghanistan was a failed state
living on drugs and terror. We did not act.

"To be truthful about it,there was no way we could have got the public
consent to have suddenly launched a campaign on Afghanistan but for what
happened on September 11.

"There is a threat, the threat has changed in the way that I have described
post-September 11. The options are open, but we do have to deal with it. How
we deal with it, however, is, as I say, an open question."

He added: "And that is why I constantly say to people there are no decisions
that have been made in relation to Iraq at all, but there is no doubt that
Iraq poses a threat in respect of weapons of mass destruction.

"And there is no doubt that this issue is an issue that must be dealt with."


by Joshua Kucera
San Francisco Chronicle, 15th July

Benaslawa, Iraqi Kurdistan -- This dusty refugee camp in the northern no-fly
zone is home to several hundred victims of ethnic cleansing -- Iraqi-style.

Most are Kurds from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, ground zero for a
policy they call "Arabization," by which their lands are confiscated and
given to Arabs. The refugees, now sheltering in the area carved out for
Kurds after the Gulf War in 1991 and protected by U.S. and British
warplanes, say Saddam Hussein's regime has intensified the program in recent
months in an attempt to solidify its control of the Kirkuk area.

Kirkuk, a Kurdish city, is the center of the Iraqi oil industry and
agriculture. Going back as far as the founding of Iraq after World War I,
successive Arab-controlled governments in Baghdad have been expelling non-
Arabs such as Kurds, Assyrian Christians and Turkomans, say non-Arabs and
international rights groups.

"Iraq is accelerating the process so they can control us," said Nasih
Ghafoor, a member of the Committee for Confronting Arabization in Kurdistan,
based in Erbil. "These areas are very strategic areas, and the economy of
Kurdistan depends on them."

According to a 2001 report by two French human rights groups, Kurds living
in Kirkuk are subject to "harassment, intimidation, arrests, torture and

In recent months, the Iraqi government has reportedly dug wells to smooth
the way for the settling of the maximum possible number of Arabs, destroyed
Kurdish shops, allocated residential plots of land in Kirkuk and its suburbs
to Arab army officers, brought Arab tribes southeast of the city for
settlement, and banned Kurdish sheepherders from selling their wares.

In other cases, entire Kurdish villages have been torn down and replaced
with government housing for Arabs.

When Great Britain took parts of the crumbled Ottoman Empire and created
Iraq after World War I, they included Kirkuk because the fledgling Iraqi
state had few natural resources. The decision dashed the hopes of Kurds who
wanted an independent state.

"From the beginning of the Iraqi state, they have feared Kurds," Ghafoor
said. "They never considered Kurds to be first-class citizens."

Kurds hope that will be remedied once Hussein is gone -- possibly through a
much anticipated U.S. invasion.

Just this month, one of the two main Kurdish groups controlling the self-
rule area drafted a wish-list constitution for a post-Hussein state that
would divide Iraq into two federal regions -- Arab and Kurd, with Kirkuk
acting as the administrative capital of the Kurdistan region, according to
the London daily the Guardian.

Under Arabization, non-Arabs are required to change their ethnicity on
identity cards and census documents. If they refuse, they can be deported to
nearby Kurdish-controlled territory.

The invitation to change ethnicities has not had many takers, said Mohammed
Osman, a resident of the Benaslawa refugee camp, 12 miles outside Erbil.

"We are Kurds. We refuse to be Arabs," said the 55-year-old truck driver,
who lives in a mud-brick, concrete house with a well-tended garden.

Even those who change their classification still face discrimination in
Iraq. They are not allowed to work in top government or oil industry jobs
and may have to assume an Arabic name.

In Kirkuk, no education in the Kurdish language is offered, and the only
media in Kurdish is a two-hour daily television program of propaganda from
Hussein's Baath Party.

"When we were in Kirkuk, they forbade Kurds from owning houses or cars or
marrying Arab girls. If we wanted a car, we had to register it in an Arab's
name," said Azad Ali, 25, who was a high school student when he was evicted
from Kirkuk in 1996 and is now a Kurdish soldier.

"The relations with ordinary Arab people weren't bad," he said. "The problem
is with the authorities."

In 1996, Ali's father was arrested and held for a month after refusing to
change his ethnic classification. Upon release, he was allowed to go home to
pack his belongings and accompany his 13 family members to Benaslawa. They
were not allowed to take furniture and appliances.

Since then, Ali's mother has been able to visit Kirkuk only once and found
an Arab family living in their house.

There are no precise figures on how many non-Arabs have been forced to leave
Kirkuk. The Committee for Confronting Arabization estimates that since the
1960s, 190,000 people have been expelled from Kirkuk province.

The committee is preparing a census to get more accurate numbers and expects
the results in a few months.

Significant numbers of Turkomans (who are related to Turks) and Assyrian
Christians also have been evicted from Kirkuk.

Yonadam Kanna, general secretary of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and a
member of the autonomous Kurdish parliament, said Assyrians have been
deported who are suspected of allegiance to the two main political parties
in the U.N.- protected self-rule zone -- KDP (the Kurdish Democratic Party)
and PUK (the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan).

"If you support (KDP President Massoud) Barzani, they push you into KDP
territory," he said. "If you say (PUK President Jalal) Talabani, they push
you into PUK territory."

The Kurds say that most of the Arabs who move into Kurdish areas receive
financial incentives -- a new house with modern amenities, a plot of land to
farm, or a better job -- and are even paid to rebury their relatives in
Kirkuk to make it appear that the Arab presence has been a long one.

Baghdad also has imported thousands of palm trees into Kirkuk in an attempt
to make the city look more like the Arab parts of Iraq, the committee said.
The climate refused to cooperate, and the trees died.

Meanwhile, the Kurds are content to remain in their refugee camps until
Hussein's removal.

"As long as the Baath Party is in power in Baghdad, I don't want to go back"
to Kirkuk, Osman said. "I prefer this area."

Letter from Colin Rowat
International Herald tribune, 16th July

Regarding the report "Kurdish leaders reluctant to join U.S. move against
Saddam" (July 9):

A key reason for Iraqi Kurdish ambivalence toward U.S. war plans in Iraq is
that their current autonomous status is largely due to the U.S. interest in
using them to pressure Saddam Hussein. Replace Saddam with a pro-U.S.
government and the Kurds will again be an irritant in U.S. relations with
Iraq and Turkey, a status which has led to their persecution in the past.

The new freedom of Iraqi Kurds "exists outside international law," not
because it "could be made permanent only by a new government in Baghdad" but
because the international community, including the United States, is not
interested in granting their autonomy legal recognition. Indeed, UN Security
Council resolutions over the decade have affirmed Iraq's "political
sovereignty and territorial integrity."

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