The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] News, 20-27/12/02 (5)

News, 20-27/12/02 (5)


*  Iraqi Christians fear invasion backlash
*  Iraq: Babil newspaper resumes publication
*  'If God wants to take us, he will take us'
*  Iraq turns to human shields
*  Iraqi government uses Muslim leaders to court anti-Saddam Kurds
*  Iraq orchestra strikes chord of normalcy
*  Satellite ban stays: Saddam


*  Iraq war could deepen world food crisis -aid groups
*  Air campaign plans to spare Iraq infrastructure
*  After Saddam, What?
*  Debate over control of Iraq oil
*  Oilmen don't want another Suez
*  Why any war with Iraq will be over in a flash


by Vivienne Walt
Yahoo, from USA TODAY, 20th December

BAGHDAD: S addam Hussein's visage stares down at customers from a wall above
shelves of Johnnie Walker whiskey and Russian vodka in Yonan Ibrahim's
liquor store. The Saddam calendar, showing the Iraqi president in a
Tyrolean-style hat and firing a carbine in the air, doesn't just keep track
of the date. It lets shoppers know that this Christian shop owner is a

During the 23 years of Saddam's rule, Ibrahim's fealty has served him and
hundreds of thousands of other Iraqi Christians well. But as a U.S.-led war
against Iraq looks increasingly likely, Ibrahim believes the Christians'
luck might finally be running out, along with their leader's.

"Until now this has been a very good place to be a Christian," says Ibrahim,
50, a soft spoken man with thick spectacles and a natty business suit.

His father opened the liquor store decades ago on Baghdad's Aqaba Square.
"The government likes us because we don't cheat or lie."

As Christmas approaches, Iraq's 1 million Christians feel threatened.
Saddam, for most of his career a moderate Muslim, is beginning to appeal to
the country's growing number of devout Muslims. A U.S.-led war, the
Christians here believe, could pit orthodox Islam against one of the Middle
East's largest and oldest Christian communities.

With many involved in trade, Iraq's Christians are known for being
trustworthy, Ibrahim says. Ibrahim and other Christians interviewed during
two weeks in the capital say they believe a U.S.-led war would be seen by
many Iraqis as a battle between the Christian and Muslim worlds. "People
will think we are with the Americans," he says. Iraqi officials say there is
ethnic harmony in the country. Ibrahim believes many Christians hesitate to
mention tensions publicly, for fear of conflicting with official thinking on

In fact, Christians in this country long known for its Western links and
secular culture already have sensed a shift toward Islam. "Right now,
Christians are afraid of the future, of what will happen. Most of the
Christians are preparing to leave," Ibrahim says. Hundreds of thousands
already have. From the moment the 1991 Gulf War ended, Christians from one
of the world's most ancient communities began a stampede to the USA, Canada,
Europe and Australia.

About 1 million of Iraq's 24 million people are Christian. An estimated
500,000 Christians live in central and southern Iraq. That's 50% fewer than
the number that lived in that area a decade ago. About 500,000 live in
northern Iraq's three provinces, which comprise a semi autonomous territory
governed by two Kurdish parties. The area, which is under U.N. protection,
is patrolled by British and U.S. jets. Many of the Christians are Assyrian
Catholics, known as Chaldeans here, similar to those in Syria and Lebanon.
Their liturgy is in Aramaic, the language Jesus Christ is believed to have

A large number of Christians fled the economic crash caused when the United
Nations imposed economic sanctions after the Gulf War. The sanctions,
designed to prevent Iraq from rebuilding its military, blocked all normal
imports and exports. Baghdad now has to barter a limited amount of oil for
goods. Many Christians were businessmen and traders. They were used to
taking vacations in Europe and driving new cars. Unlike many Iraqis, they
had the money to emigrate or had relatives in the West to help with visas.
Ibrahim's brother lives in Detroit. Others among his 11 siblings have
scattered to Canada, Australia and Sweden.

The exodus of Christians from Iraq slowed by the mid-1990s. Those able to
move already had left. Christians who stayed hoped the situation would
improve. Having lived here since Biblical times, they say life in Iraq has
been surprisingly secure since the Gulf War. Until now, they've seen few
signs of prejudice. But they fear a U.S. military offensive could quickly
lead Iraqis to become far more religious amid anti-American sentiment.

"I wouldn't choose to live in any other country in the Middle East," says
Bob Shaya, 38. He runs a computer parts store in Baghdad's high-tech
district with his brother Samir. "This is the best thing about living in
Iraq. There is no differentiation between Christian and Muslim." The Shaya
brothers have hung a cross next to the racks of software programs, which
they copy and sell for $1.50 each. They say hanging a cross in a store in
the neighboring Islamic republics of Iran and Saudi Arabia would be a risky
move. "I don't even like going outside to nearby countries," says Samir
Shaya, 40.

Iraq has until now been one of the most secular countries in the region.
Saddam's Baath Party has a policy of secularism. Tariq Aziz, the deputy
prime minister and one of the Iraqi leader's closest aides, is Christian.
Christmas is an official holiday, although only Christians take the day off.
Baghdad's art galleries openly exhibit nudes.

Liquor stores like the one run by Yonan Ibrahim have catered to Christians
and moderate Muslims -- among them, government officials buying for
government functions -- who don't follow Islam's ban on alcohol. Islamic
extremism has been heavily restricted under Saddam, a Sunni Muslim who has
always regarded his greatest threat as coming from the religious Shiite
majority that has close ties to Iran.

Iran and Iraq fought a seven-year war during the 1980s that claimed 1
million lives. The West saw Baghdad as a buffer against the fundamentalist
Islamic leadership that removed the pro-Western government of the shah in
1979. Saddam, in turn, saw Iraq's Christians as a counterbalance to any
Shiite Muslim fervor. Because of their secular traditions, many Iraqis say
they are baffled by the Bush administration's claims that al-Qaeda
terrorists might receive help from Iraq.

But cracks in Iraq's moderate Islamic culture began surfacing a few years
ago. Some Iraqis have turned to religion for relief from the poverty caused
by the sanctions. Masterful at sensing the popular mood, Saddam has changed
too. He banned alcohol from restaurants and cafes, which long gave Baghdad,
a city of 5 million people, a buzzing nightlife. The government-controlled
Iraqi television began broadcasting hours of clerics reading the Koran. Last
year, a cleric went to the holy Muslim city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, to
perform a pilgrimage on behalf of the Iraqi president. And Saddam has spent
tens of millions of dollars building several mammoth mosques in Baghdad. One
is the largest in the world outside Mecca.

Christians say they sense that the shift toward Islam here has accelerated
since the Sept. 11 attacks. They believe some Iraqis identified with the
strong anti-American feeling. Others were swept up in a move to more radical
Islam in the region. Ibrahim says his business has been pummeled as people
have become more observant. "It's unbelievable, my business has gone down
more than 50% since Sept. 11," he says. "Sometimes I can't pay the salaries
of the workers."

Perhaps the greatest shock to Christians came in August. A 71-year-old
Assyrian nun, Cecilia Moshi Hanna, was knifed to death and then decapitated
in a botched robbery of church relics in Mosul, about 250 miles north of
Baghdad. The city, which is known as Nineveh in the Bible, houses priceless
Christian relics. Three men were publicly hanged in Mosul's main square for
having carried out the murder, according to Ibrahim. "It was a way (for the
government) to say that nobody must do this again," he says. Government
officials would not confirm the hangings.

In an attempt to bring some Christmas cheer, a group of French missionaries
traveled to Iraq last week with the bones of St. Theresa of Lisieux, a
French saint best known as "the little flower of Jesus." She died from
tuberculosis in 1897 at the age of 24. She was canonized for her devotion to
teaching spirituality. Iraqis packed churches to see the box of bones lying
on the altar.

In the Saint George Chaldean Church in New Baghdad, a relatively prosperous
part of the city, about 500 people crowded into the pews for a special Mass
for the bones last week. In a hall filled with incense smoke, they crossed
themselves and chanted ancient Assyrian prayers.

For a brief moment, the community was at peace. In his private office, the
parish priest admitted the church has been through rough times.

"Our parish has 2,500 families. But it is a lot smaller than it was 10 years
ago," said Habib al-Nofaley, sitting at his desk in his long black robes.
"Many are leaving for economic reasons." Whether they begin leaving for
political reasons, too, will depend on what happens during the next critical

Ibrahim says many Christians believe they will be targeted if a U.S.-led war
ousts Saddam, who has until now shielded them from discrimination.

Some fear a post-Saddam Iraq could bring a far less tolerant country toward
Christians if anti-American feelings run high. "Our government likes us, and
they protect us," he says. "But if something happens, we don't know what it
will be like. We are really afraid."

Hoover's (Financial Times), 23rd December, from Babil web site, Baghdad, in
Arabic 21 Dec 02

The web site of Babil, a pro-government newspaper published by Uday Saddam
Husayn, which was suspended by the Iraqi Information Ministry for one month
on 20 November, was observed to update as usual on 21 December.

In its "First Page" section, the paper said: "We draw our honourable
readers' attention to the fact that Babil newspaper has resumed publication
today, Saturday, after a one-month halt. It is resuming publication with a
special edition of 96 pages in tabloid newsprint only for this day by using
its stocks of paper and in order to cover all news, reports and activities
that took place and are taking place in the domestic, Arab and international
arenas. On the occasion of resuming publication, Babil announces that it has
reduced the price of the paper by half of the original price in response to,
and in appreciation for, our dear readers, and so that the paper will be
affordable for them.",3604,865059,00.html

by Rory McCarthy in Baghdad
The Guardian, 24th December


Since 1993 the Iraqi regime has run a nationwide "Faith Campaign". Changes
in the school curriculum have expanded Islamic studies. Religious schools
have been set up across the country to train young boys to become clerics.

The regime has also established the Saddam University of Islamic Studies to
enshrine the new Iraqi Islamic philosophy. The university now has 1,500
students, a third of whom come from abroad - most from Thailand, Malaysia,
the Philippines, India and Pakistan, as well as Gulf states.

The Islam that Mohammad Majid al-Saeed, the university's president, teaches
is a complex mixture of religious observance and the secular Arab
nationalism espoused by President Saddam.

"We are facing a very big challenge now and we must unify the Arab countries
as one nation," said Dr al-Saeed.

However innocuous, the campaign is also an arm of state control which
mirrors attempts by governments from Egypt to Pakistan to influence the
clergy and harness their power.

One of its aims was to tackle the corruption which has flourished in an
economy stricken by wars with Iran and the West and 12 years of UN

"Our society has been exposed to two severe wars and the Iraqis have been
exposed to a very serious test.

"There is a very big temptation in our society to slide into corruption.
This campaign has succeed in fortifying Iraq and making our citizens avoid
corruption, robbery and adultery," said Dr al-Saeed.

It also appears to be an attempt to rally the Iraqi people to the
president's cause.

"We are teaching Iraqi citizens to endure their lives," said Dr al-Saeed.
"It is a test of loyalty to God and the principles of Islam.",3604,865060,00.html

by Suzanne Goldenberg in Washington
The Guardian, 24th December

The psychological war games between America and Iraq moved up a notch
yesterday when Baghdad announced it was to welcome its first batch of
volunteer human shields, ready to fling themselves in front of US bombers in
the event of a war.

"We are in the process of receiving the first group of volunteers who like
to act as human shields," said Saad Qasim Hammoudi, an official of the
ruling Ba'ath party.

"These people will be distributed to vital and strategic installations in
all Iraqi regions."

The introduction of an element of choice for human shields is a departure
for Iraq from the last Gulf war when hundreds of Iraqis were deployed at
Saddam Hussein's palaces in Baghdad and throughout the countryside.

Iraq also used civilians as human shields four years ago when the US and
Britain launched an extensive air campaign in response to Baghdad's failure
to cooperate with the last round of weapons inspections.

Mr Hammoudi claimed yesterday that he was expecting volunteers from the US
and Europe to risk their lives for President Saddam.

However, Mr Hammoudi's news was greeted with distaste yesterday by America's
tiny anti war movement, which has spent months deflecting charges that its
activists are prepared to die for the Iraqi leader.

Three peace organisations which have been active in humanitarian relief and
in organising visits to Iraq in defiance of US law denounced the report as

The Institute for Public Accuracy, which organised the visit to Baghdad of
the actor Sean Penn, as well as a tour by US congressmen, said the stories
about foreign human shields were untrue.

"I know of groups going over to witness and to educate themselves, but I
don't know of anybody going over and saying I am a human shield," a
spokesman said yesterday.

Members of a US delegation which returned from Baghdad at the weekend said
there are about two dozen Western peace activists in Iraq at any one time.

"Nobody is naive enough to believe that a superpower like the US is not
going to bomb Iraq because there are peace people there," said Mary
Trotochaud, who returned on Saturday.

The increased sparring between Baghdad and Washington comes at a time when
the US is doubling its military forces in the Gulf.

On Sunday, an adviser to President Saddam, General Amir al-Saadi, challenged
Washington to send in the CIA to investigate Baghdad's claims that it has no
secret weapons. Washington dismissed the offer as a "stunt".

by Christine Spolar
The State, from Chicago Tribune, 24th December

KIRKUK, Iraq - (KRT) - Amid reports that U.S. intelligence is seeking
recruits among a Kurdish minority that generally is opposed to Saddam
Hussein, the Iraqi government is trying to use Islam as a lever to turn the
Kurds in favor of Baghdad.

Under government auspices, hundreds of Muslim leaders gathered Monday for an
emergency meeting in the northern city of Kirkuk, which lies just south of
the no-fly zone that was instituted to prevent Iraqi attacks on Kurds and is
patrolled by U.S. and British aircraft.

The clerics called on their followers to "stand together and stand against"
the United States. They decried the ambitions of a "wicked America" aimed at
Iraq and its people and issued a fatwa for all Muslims to be ready to resist
any military assault.

The religious decree was the third such statement in recent months from
Muslim factions within Iraq.

Facing the threat of a U.S. military attack, Saddam's regime is seeking to
use Islam as a unifying element to shore up domestic support and make it
harder for Muslims in his own nation as well as other Muslim countries to
stand by or side with the United States. Saddam's government is building
dozens of mosques at a pace unseen in the Arab world for centuries, clerics
say, and the Iraqi dictator has added pictures of himself in prayer to the
others in circulation that show him in military garb or firing a rifle.

The order from religious Kurd leaders Monday came amid a U.S. military
buildup in the Persian Gulf region and reports that U.S. intelligence is
recruiting Kurds to scout and translate in northern Iraq.

The order issued by the Popular Islamic International Congress Organization
was welcomed with song and emotional outbursts as many there openly and
repeatedly condemned "American aggression," "American-Zionist tyranny" and
"the American enemy," all focused on Iraq.

The struggle, as one speaker told the crowd, was for Iraqi Muslims to
confront an "enemy that wants us to be destroyed and wants to destroy our

The crowd largely saw the West's demands on Iraq and Saddam as another
example of Western tyranny on a country that has suffered through years of
sanctions after the Gulf War of 1991.

"God curse them all. They will go to hell by the hand of God," one man
called out as he jumped to his feet in an auditorium packed with about 600
men and festooned with large photos of Saddam.

Sheik Abdul Latif Hameem, secretary general of the Iraq-based organization,
said the fatwa was not aimed at inciting Muslims in Iraq. Rather, the
organization was attempting to unite all Muslim factions, Sunni, Shiite and
Kurds, behind the idea of sovereign Iraq and against "infidels" who could
challenged that.

"All Iraqis are the same people," Hameem explained. "They must defend their
country. Š We are a peaceful people and we are facing an aggression. There
is no choice for any people anywhere who are facing such a war."

Those people who would cooperate with America were nothing less than
traitors, he said. "They are some Š who are betraying their country," Hameem
said. "They are after their own selfish interests."

Other speakers were far less restrained in their characterization of the
problems facing Iraqis and Muslims, in particular. "The wicked America is
using everything it has - and weapons of mass destruction - to destroy
Iraq," said Omar Hussein al-Sangawi, a member of the executive committee who
lives in Kirkuk.

Al-Sangawi said American preparations for war were aimed at "destroying our
people" and demanded that "jihad be waged to face the enemy and face the
infidel." It was clear in further conversations with Islamic leaders, after
the conference, that they were using the term "jihad" to indicate a struggle
and not armed battle itself.

"It is the real thing," one 23-year-old Ali Ahmed Khudur, from the eastern
city of Sulaimaniya. "But it will not be applied unless they (the Americans
and their allies) attack us. This doesn't mean now we're going to war and
we'll attack. This just means we'll defend ourselves."

Sheik Abdul Khader al-Fadly, who read the fatwa issued by 110-year-old
cleric Abdel Kareem al-Mudress, said that the struggle for Iraq was a duty
demanded by Islam in the face of attack, or preparations for attack, on
home, culture and family.

by Neil Macfarquhar
Houston Chronicle, from New York Times, 25th December

BAGHDAD, Iraq -- The musicians of the Iraqi National Symphony Orchestra,
elegant in black tie or long black skirts, were just settling into their
places on the final night of their Christmas week concerts when the
electricity failed and the performance hall was plunged into darkness.

For a while afterward on Wednesday night, the performance unrolled with a
dreamlike quality.

A note from the oboe floated through the pitch black, guiding the players
tuning their instruments, until candles affixed to the music stands
illuminated their scores.

The musicians played an initial overture and then the tenor soloist, Emad
Jamil, sang the Agnus Dei from Bizet's L'Arlesienne.

But with each turn of the sheet music, the players grew increasingly nervous
about the risk of igniting the barely legible pages. So they stopped before
the final Bach piano concerto.

"We might as well have been playing in Bach's time," Jamil later joked
ruefully. "But at least I could forget myself in the music. For a short
period of time there was nothing but music. It's very hard living with the
thought that soon we will have another war."

Baghdad used to pride itself as the living soul of "1,001 Nights," a
cosmopolitan place where sophisticated music, theater or cabaret acts spun
on long into the night, and where the Iraqi middle class kept every
publisher in the Arab world afloat.

Since the beginning of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war in 1980, however, Iraqis
have ricocheted from one crisis to the next.

The once thriving middle class has been groping through an especially long
dark night of plunging living standards since international economic
sanctions were imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, an invasion
that led to the Gulf War. Now they find themselves bracing for yet another
conflagration in which they have little voice. In response, they cling to
what normalcy they can, defiant one minute and utterly gloomy the next.

"In life, sorrow tends to last just a little longer than joy," said Abdul
Razak al-Alawi, who helped found the orchestra in 1950 and has been its
conductor since 1974.

His son and daughter, elementary school students, died in 1985 when their
home took a direct hit from an Iranian missile.

Most Iraqis seek any brief escape, although even the jokes tend to swirl
around their desperation.

Audiences have been packing the National Theater every night for a show
called Vagabonds, which gently mocks Iraqis for having become a nation of

"Imagine the difficulty of making people laugh after 20 years of war and 12
years of sanctions," said Abed Ali Qaed, the show's writer and director,
weighing in with his own twist on an oft-heard political remark: "The
conspiracy against our people by the Zionists and the Americans is to kill
our ability to laugh."

Iraqis sense they are caught in a twilight zone that nobody else shares, or
wants to.

When the last two passengers holding up a plane from Amman, Jordan, to
Baghdad were stopped at security, the officer rummaging through their bags
asked the airline agent, "Are they journalists?"

"Of course, they are journalists," the agent shot back. "Who else would want
to go to Baghdad?",5744,5743605%255E40

The Australian, 26th December

IRAQI President Saddam Hussein today turned down a suggestion to lift a ban
on foreign satellite television, saying it was illogical to relay enemy or
immoral material.

Saddam told a cabinet meeting during which the suggestion to allow Iraqis to
receive satellite broadcasts was made that only an elite in Baghdad was
interested in receiving such broadcasts while the man in the street was busy
with more mundane pursuits.

Moreover, "airing the views of others ... who are in enemy ranks would be
tantamount to sabotage," he said, according to the State-run television.

And "banning immoral behaviour while simultaneously helping spread it (by
airing footage that would encourage such behaviour) would bring God's wrath
down upon us," said Saddam, whose speeches increasingly have religious

Only foreign media, embassies and senior state officials are currently
allowed access to foreign satellite television in Iraq.

There are four television channels in the country: state television, which
is run by the information ministry; a state satellite channel; Youth
Television, which is run by Saddam's elder son Uday, and a sports channel.


by Richard Cowan
Yahoo, 20th December

WASHINGTON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A U.S. war to oust President Saddam Hussein
could create a food emergency for most of Iraq's 24 million people as world
food aid programs battle starvation in Africa and dwindling global grain
supplies, relief groups said this week.

With the Iraqi government providing every household food coupons through a
U.N. program, Bush administration officials and food aid organizations are
looking at how to avert a crisis that would exacerbate the devastation of a
possible war.

"Even without the prospect of helping millions more in Iraq, we are heading
into a year like none we've ever seen, a tide of need almost
incomprehensible in scope," Sara Piepmeier, the U.N.'s World Food Program
spokeswoman in Chicago, said.

With Washington threatening to disarm Iraq by force, there are worries a war
could end the U.N.'s annual $2.5 billion oil-for-food program, leaving Iraqi
homes with bare cupboards.

The program has been vital in reducing malnutrition.

After President Saddam Hussein's troops invaded Kuwait in 1990, the United
Nations imposed economic sanctions.

But since the U.N. loosened the sanctions in 1996 by allowing the country to
sell oil and use the revenues to buy food and medicines, malnutrition rates
in the central and southern regions of Iraq have been cut by 50 percent,
Hasmik Egian, the U.N.'s Iraq humanitarian program spokeswoman, said.

Under the U.N.-sponsored food program, every Iraqi household receives
monthly coupons to buy a "basket" of food that includes wheat flour, sugar,
rice, cooking oil, dairy products and pulses such as lentils and chickpeas.

"Sixty percent of the (Iraqi) population relies entirely on the food basket
and it's their only means of covering their nutritional food needs," Egian

The Bush administration is drawing up plans for delivering food to Iraq "on
a very timely basis" if a war were to interrupt monthly rations, J.B. Penn,
a U.S. Department of Agriculture Undersecretary, told Reuters. He did not
provide details on the food aid plans.

The U.S. government typically spends about $1 billion a year on its primary
food aid program in which USDA buys excess corn, soybeans, wheat, and other
commodities grown by American farmers to supply the aid.

A food emergency in Iraq could not occur at a worse time.

Drought this year has cut Australia's wheat crop in half and stunted the
production of two other major producers -- the United States and Canada --
and poor weather this summer has also cut into U.S. corn production.

Global grain stocks this year are estimated by the USDA to be 371 million
tonnes, down from 501 million tonnes in 2000.

The U.N.'s Food and Agriculture Organization this week estimated that 40
million people in sub-Saharan Africa face severe food shortages.

For 2003, without considering Iraq, the World Food Program estimates minimum
world humanitarian food needs at 5.3 million tonnes, up from 3.8 million
tonnes from a year ago.

This year, the United States has given about 500,000 tonnes of food, worth
$230 million, to six southern African nations.

But budget constraints are limiting how much the United States can spend on
world food aid, especially with rising commodity prices meaning food dollars
don't go as far.

Penn said his agency recognizes "that the situation (in Africa) is worsening
and that we're probably going to have to reappraise" U.S. donations, which
have led the world.

by Rowan Scarborough
Washington Times, 20th December

U.S. war planners are devising a different kind of air campaign against Iraq
compared with Desert Storm a decade ago.

Breakthroughs in precision weapons and a new strategic goal this time will
mean fewer missions and potentially less destruction of infrastructure, such
as bridges and power plants, military sources and analysts say.

The air component of what senior Bush officials believe will be a quick war
will be shorter ‹ 10 days or less ‹ before a full-throttle ground offensive
begins. In the fight to liberate Kuwait 11 years ago, tactical and heavy
bombers struck for more than 30 days before a ground invasion.

Because the objectives are different this time, there will be fewer overall
targets. The United States wants to kill or capture Iraqi leader Saddam
Hussein and is gearing its target list to achieve that well-defined

That was not the stated goal in 1991. From day one, the Air Force had to
bomb huge concentrations of Iraqi troops in and around Kuwait. It also had
to attack the infrastructure that supported them, such as supply bridges
south of Baghdad.

This time, the United States is trying to befriend much of the Iraqi army in
the hopes that it stays neutral, or better yet, turns on Saddam and storms
the capital.

Gen. Richard B. Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, said this week that
the military is "postured" to accept the help of Iraqi generals in the event
of war. Bush administration sources told the Associated Press yesterday that
it's unlikely that the president will make a decision about going to war
until late next month or early February.

Bridges inside Baghdad may be bombed to cut off escape routes and reduce
mobility for Saddam's prime security force, the Special Republican Guard.
But bridges elsewhere are likely to be exempt, officials said. This would be
similar to the coalition bombing of Afghanistan, where bridges and electric
power were spared to ease post-war reconstruction.

"This is a war of liberation," said retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Thomas
McInerney. "We want to send a signal to the people that we are not after
them. We are after regime change and weapons of mass destruction."

Military sources say some targets have not changed. The allies will have to
hit communication lines to ensure that Saddam cannot easily direct his
troops. Barracks and headquarters of the Republican Guard also are on the

"If we can neutralize internal security forces for some period of time, the
Iraqi military can get its act together to do what it has wanted to do for
20 years" ‹ overthrow Saddam, said retired Air Force Col. John Warden, who
helped design the 1991 campaign from a basement office at the Pentagon.

Quasi-military targets such as bridges and industrial sites can be spared
this time, officials say, because Washington wants reconstruction to be as
seamless as possible.

"You certainly would not blow up all those darn bridges across the Tigris
and Euphrates," Col. Warden said.

What U.S. forces don't destroy, Saddam might. U.S. intelligence officials
said this week that Iraq is preparing for a scorched-earth campaign if it
goes to war, targeting its own oil fields, food supplies and power plants
and blaming America for the devastation.

Saddam intends to create a humanitarian crisis to hamper a U.S. advance and
garner sympathy from the international community, said the officials who
briefed reporters at the Pentagon on the condition of anonymity.

The officials said they expect Saddam to use biological and chemical weapons
against U.S. forces in Iraq, Israel and Kuwait.

A big advantage will be evident on the war's opening night. In January 1991,
the United States had to rely heavily on the F-117 stealth fighter and
sea-launched cruise missiles to do damage in downtown Baghdad. The city's
heavy air defenses prevented the use of non radar-evading planes.

This time, the United States has two new weapons: the B-2 radar-evading
bomber and the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM). When paired, 16 B-2s and
the JDAMs will be able to hit more than 200 targets the first night. The
bomber can destroy key air defense and command structures that took weeks to
bomb in the 1991 campaign.

"When you roll it all together, we're 10 times more powerful," Gen.
McInerney said.

The Air Force believes its blitzkrieg of Iraqi occupying forces softened
them up to the extent that few units wanted to resist Army and Marine Corps
ground forces.

He said there is little need in this war for Army armored brigades to engage
Republican Guard tanks. Instead, he said, tactical aircraft can pick off the
tanks one by one using satellite- or laser-guided bombs.

One debate still ongoing in the Pentagon is the extent to which the allies
should bomb electric power grids.

"I would shut down the electricity," Col. Warden said. "I know I'm in a
minority here. The reason I would do it is Saddam's strength is in the
cities. If you shut down the electricity it makes it that much harder for
him to operate and resist from the cities."

The new air campaign will continue the Air Force philosophy of "effects
based" attacks, an idea promoted by Col. Warden and other planners about 15
years ago.

The goal is to achieve a desired effect, such as shutting off electric power
or communications lines, without destroying the supporting infrastructure.

For example, the Air Force can destroy an electrical grid or node that can
be rebuilt quickly, while sparing the source of power ‹ a generation plant ‹
which would take months to rebuild.

"All we want is for the lights to go out, not to do relatively long-term
damage," Col. Warden said.

He recalled that during the height of the 1991 war, Defense Intelligence
Agency analysts circulated a report that attacks on electric power were a
failure because many circuits were not bombed.

Col. Warden said that what mattered was that the lights were off in Baghdad.

"People are still very much in an attrition-war mentality," he said. "If it
isn't rubble, then you haven't done much to it."

by Jürg Bischoff
Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 20th December (First published in German, December 19,

Iraq is not a nation-state that evolved historically. It was pieced together
by colonial powers, established as a monarchy under a British protectorate
and has been held together since then by authoritarian regimes. The last of
those regimes, that of the Baath Party and Saddam Hussein, is nearing its
end. In all probability, its demise will also mark the end of the
post-colonial model of Arab states: authoritarian, socialist, secular and
militantly nationalist. Saddam, who saw himself as the implementer of the
Arab dream of unity and strength, will leave behind a country which has lost
two wars, a people emaciated by terrible sanctions, and a society depleted
morally and politically.

In the 80 years of the country's existence as a nation, a sense of national
identity or a national vision has evolved only at a rudimentary level. This
was also visible from the tensions at the recent London congress of Iraqi
opposition forces. Over the 25 years of dictatorship, opposition groups
inside and outside of Iraq have not managed to develop an indigenous and
viable alternative to Saddam's regime. Under pressure from the USA, which
wants to provide a political facet for its plans to conquer Iraq, the
leading opposition groups have now, willy nilly, agreed on a political
platform. It contains all the concepts which, in the Western view, go to
constitute a modern state: human rights, civic freedoms, democracy,
pluralism and federalism. After years of despondency and quarreling, the
proclamation of this program can at least be counted as progress.

But the selection of the members of the 65-member Coordinating Committee
established at the London congress clearly showed that the opposition's
internal dissension and lack of legitimacy have by no means been overcome.
Only the two Kurdish parties, the KDP and PUK, which already administer
territory in northern Iraq, and the Supreme Council of the Islamic
Revolution in Iraq (Sciri), a party of Iraqi Shiites operating from Iranian
exile, have the degree of civil and military organization and popular
support to make them effective political players. The claims to be
representative made by other Shiite and Kurdish groups, Sunni politicians
and organizations, and spokesmen for various religious and ethnic
minorities, are highly questionable. Many Iraqis in exile who now claim to
be members of the opposition were officials in the Baath regime before they
fled abroad and therefore have little or no credibility as potential leaders
of a new Iraq.

Only by their willingness to subordinate themselves to the wishes and ideas
of their American patrons can these weak groups and would-be leaders gain
political weight. But their American orientation in turn weakens their
credibility, making them appear as mere puppets of Washington. This is not
well calculated to enhance their prestige either inside Iraq, where many
people regard the Americans as most responsible for their present plight, or
in the larger Arab and Islamic world, which increasingly sees the U.S. as a
hostile power.

Aside from the ruling Baath Party, there is today no significant political
movement which has at heart the interests of Iraq as a nation-state. The
Sunnis, who see themselves as the force holding the country together, have
been disorganized and disoriented by Saddam's repressive regime; the Kurds,
Shiites and minorities are primarily interested in the well-being of their
own communities, and in those of the Iraqi state only for lack of a
realistic alternative. The London congress of opposition forces made
compromises, but it did not produce a united leadership which could bring a
new vision to the country's governance.

If it is the Americans who finally drive Saddam from power, the future of
Iraq will depend largely on Washington. The decision of whether or not to
preserve Iraq's unity will reside mainly with George Bush, and the
maintenance of law and order will depend on America's willingness to keep
large portions of the country under military control for an indefinitely
long time. The establishment of a viable, Western-style government will be
determined by the ability of the Americans to effectively communicate with
the country's social and political forces. President Bush must be clearly
aware that the decision to attack Iraq will also bring these
responsibilities with it.

by Warren Vieth
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, from Los Angeles Times, 22nd December

WASHINGTON -- Sentiment is growing in the Bush administration and global
energy circles to place Iraqi professionals in charge of their country's oil
production after any war, despite a push by some officials for the United
States to seize control of the lucrative oil fields.

With many critics convinced that oil is the ultimate objective of U.S. war
planning, pressure is growing to give the United Nations an oversight role
over the Iraqi oilmen. Many experts believe that it should be up to the
Iraqis to decide how to rebuild their battered industry -- and which foreign
oil companies will get to take part.

That view was emphatically endorsed by a panel of experts in a report issued
recently by the Council on Foreign Relations and Rice University's Baker
Institute, and it is believed to represent the thinking of many U.S.

"A lot of us have confidence in people who were professionals in the Iraqi
oil industry and left the country, and in people who are still there," said
Baker Institute energy analyst Amy Myers Jaffe, who contributed to the

But that conclusion is not unanimous. According to sources familiar with the
discussions, some Bush administration officials have proposed that the
United States assume control of Iraq's war-ravaged petroleum industry to
make sure the oil continues to flow and the money it brings in -- some $30
million a day -- isn't misspent.

The deliberations over oil reflect a fundamental fault line within the Bush
administration, officials say.

One one side is a hawkish group of civilians at the Pentagon led by Deputy
Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz, sources say. That group has suggested
that the United States assert control of Iraqi oil fields during any
transition to democracy. Besides providing physical protection and financial
oversight, U.S. supervision would give the United States a bigger role in
determining global oil production and prices, reducing the clout of Saudi
Arabia and other OPEC nations.

The other group, associated with Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and the
Pentagon's military leadership, has countered that the United Nations should
oversee Iraqi oil production until a new government is firmly in place.
Putting Washington in charge would alienate the Iraqi people, this group
contends, and could trigger a political backlash throughout the Arab world
and in other foreign capitals.

Although Iraq sits atop an underground ocean of crude -- its reserves are
second only to Saudi Arabia's -- experts say there won't be nearly enough
oil revenue to cover even the expenses of reviving the industry, at least
not initially.

If Iraq manages to emerge from war with no additional damage to its oil
infrastructure, an uncertain proposition at best, its annual oil revenues
probably wouldn't exceed $12 billion a year, according to the CFR-Baker

by Anthony Sampson
The Observer, 22nd December

While Washington hawks depict a war against Iraq as achieving security of
oil supplies, Western oil companies are worried about the short-term danger
and the supposed long-term benefits of intervention.

Left-wing critics in Britain depict the proposed invasion as an oil war.
Former Cabinet Minister Mo Mowlam has called it a 'war to secure oil
supplies' as a cover for a war on terrorism. And the fact that President
George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney have both been enriched by oil
companies raises suspicions about their motives for war.

But oil companies have had little influence on US policy-making. Most big
American companies, including oil companies, do not see a war as good for
business, as falling share prices indicate; while the obvious beneficiaries
of war are arms companies.

Western oil companies have differing attitudes. The French want to maintain
their special relationship with Iraq, while seeking links with Iraqi
opposition leaders who may form a post-war government.

The Russians are performing a more difficult balancing act. Worried that
their previous friendship with Saddam might exclude them from a post-war
share-out, they have sought assurances from Washington in return for their
diplomatic support for a war. But Saddam has counter-attacked by cancelling
the Russian contract for developing new oilfields.

The British believe they are specially entitled to share in the development
of Iraqi oil supplies. BP (then known as Anglo-Persian) was involved in the
discovery of oil after the British and the French invented Iraq as a
separate state, carved out of the Ottoman Empire in 1920.

But BP is worried about being displaced by US companies. As Lord Browne, its
chief executive, said in October: 'We would like to make sure, if Iraq
changes its regime, that there should be a level playing-field for the
selection of oil companies to go in there.'

The Americans, if they won the war, would be in the strongest position to
insist on access to Iraqi oil and exploration. But they cannot ignore the
interests of the Iraqi opposition. The State Department has convened a
working group on oil and natural gas in Washington this week. It will
include representatives of Iraqi groups and the US Energy Department, which
will present proposals to a transitional government.

A State Department spokesman said: 'There is a misconception that the US is
trying to orchestrate the post-Saddam oil market in Iraq. That's not at all
what we are doing.' But European companies fear the Americans are trying to
do just that, while using the promise of future oil supplies as leverage to
ensure support for the war.

James Woolsey, former CIA director, has explained: 'The French and Russians
should be told that if they are of assistance in moving Iraq towards decent
government, we'll do our best to ensure the new government and American
companies work closely with them.'

Some companies are worried that the opportunities for developing Iraqi oil
will lead to a free-for-all. 'I've had one opposition leader offering a
commission in return for access to oil,' said one oil executive. 'I showed
him the door, but there will be many more.'

Many neo-conservatives in Washington are indicating they want the US
intervention to go beyond Iraq; and to redraw the diplomatic map of the
Middle East. They look to a realignment of US foreign policy, to intervene
in both Iran and Saudi Arabia, ensuring both the security of American oil
supplies, and the security of Israel.

Above all, they see the development of Iraqi oil as lessening US dependence
on Saudi Arabia, which they see as a dangerous source of future terrorists.

The oil companies are much less confident that this escalation will protect
supplies. Shell and Exxon-Mobil have made huge investments in natural gas in
Saudi Arabia, which could be at risk in a confrontation with the Saudi
government. All oil companies in the Middle East would face a more dangerous
political climate, caught between the American-Israeli intervention and
nationalists fearing reversion to a neo-colonial system.

Oil companies dread having supplies interrupted by burning oilfields,
saboteurs and chaotic conditions. And any attempt to redraw the frontiers
could increase the dangers in both Iran and Iraq, as rivals seek to regain

Hawks in Washington believe military intervention could bring about the
demise of Opec (the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries), thus
cutting oil prices. But collapsing prices would be devastating, not only for
regional producers, but for Russia, which depends on exporting oil for its
economic survival. A low oil price would massively increase unemployment and
poverty in producing countries.

Saudi oilmen recall how George Bush Snr, when he was Vice-President, was so
concerned about the declining oil price that he visited Saudi Arabia to
persuade its government to restrict production. After a war, Bush Jnr might
need to repeat the exercise to try to stabilise the market; but the Saudis
might be less willing to help him out.

Bush insisted last week that America must become less dependent on foreign
oil producers 'who don't like America'; but last month the US Department of
Energy forecast that, by 2035, 51 per cent of world production would come
from Opec - compared with 38 per cent today.

When Anthony Eden invaded Egypt in 1956, with France and Israel, he claimed
to be defending British interests - without consulting the oil companies
which opposed the invasion. The Suez war proved a great setback for BP and
Shell, which faced angry nationalist reactions throughout the Middle East,
while the Americans made the most of their advantage.

Many oil executives now fear a war against Iraq could have more dangerous
repercussions; if it goes wrong, they will be among the first to blame the
governments that launched it.

Anthony Sampson is the author of 'The Seven Sisters' about the oil industry.,,3-523686,00.html

by Michael Evans
The Times, 24th December

THE planned war against Iraq is intended to be one of the fastest operations
yet conducted, possibly using secret new weapons to overcome Iraqi
resistance and topple Saddam Hussein.

The creation of satellite-guided missiles has extended Americaıs superiority
over Iraq by such a large margin that the first night of air attacks could
see hundreds of targets destroyed or damaged.

But Americaıs new technological trump card is the microwave bomb, which is
capable of knocking out Baghdadıs electricity supplies without damaging a
single building.

An early version of this concept was tested by the Americans in the 1999 air
campaign over Yugoslavia when cluster bombs containing carbon fibre
filaments were dropped on electricity supply lines in Belgrade and other
cities, causing massive short-circuits.

If it is deployed, the latest "directed energy weapon" would involve bathing
areas of Baghdad in waves of high-frequency electromagnetic pulses,
crippling computers and power supplies linking the Iraqi capital to the
countryıs air defences.

However, Rob Hewson, Editor of Janeıs Air-Launched Weapons, said: "The
Americans are being deliberately vague about these directed energy weapons.

"They have reached an advanced stage in development and have been tested.
Basically, a microwave weapon would fry the electrics, but it would be
indiscriminate, not just turning off electricity for Iraqıs radar stations,
but also affecting power to hospitals and schools.

"Will the Americans risk using such a weapon?" It will also be a laptop war.
One of the key lessons learnt from Afghanistan, which will be put to good
use in Iraq, was the ability of special forces, armed with backpack,
satellite-connected laptops, to communicate by data link with every type of

The covert soldiers were able to use a marker pen on their laptop screens to
pinpoint moving targets, guiding bombs to within a few feet of the enemy, if
not a direct hit.

Twelve years ago, it was the F117 Stealth fighter and Tomahawk cruise
missile which dominated the battlefield.

This time, if war becomes necessary, it will be the satellite-linked Joint
Direct Attack Munition (Jdam), the B2 Stealth Bomber, and unmanned spy
drones watching every move on the ground which will play the big roles in
determining Saddamıs fate.

The whole thrust of the new campaign against Saddam would be based on
high-tech, high speed, and ultra high impact.

The Jdam is just a tail-kit attached to a "dumb" bomb, converting it into
one of the smartest weapon systems around.

The kits, each costing "just" £16,500 ­ extraordinarily cheap in a
superpowerıs warfighting inventory ­ link the 1,000lb or 2,000lb bomb to the
satellite Global Positioning System (GPS) network, guaranteeing greater
accuracy than ever before.

In a space shuttle mission in 2000, sponsored by the Pentagonıs National
Imagery and Mapping Agency, special radars collected topographic data for
about 80 per cent of the globe, minutely plotting the undulations of the
Earthıs surface. With this information, the Jdam bomb will be capable of
landing within a few yards of its target.

Another new weapon will be crucial in destroying targets on the move, such
as Iraqi tanks and artillery.

The Joint Standoff Weapon (Jsow) is known as a "launch-and-leave" system,
fired from an aircraft at a range of about 40 miles and at high altitude.

The missile receives in-flight target updates from a US Air Force-converted
Boeing 707-300, known as an E8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar
System (Joint Stars) aircraft.

The Jsow is currently fitted to B2s, B52s, F16s and the carrier-based FA18s.

Four other post-1991 Gulf War weapon systems will also have a big impact on
Iraq because they played a noticeably significant role in the campaign over
Afghanistan. They are:

‹ The B2 Stealth bomber, to be based at Diego Garcia, the British-owned
Indian Ocean island, and possibly at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire.

It is estimated that on the first night of air attacks on Iraq, 16 B2s,
armed with Jdams, would be able to hit more than 200 targets. This would
have taken several weeks in the 1991 war.

‹ The Predator unmanned spy drone, armed with Hellfire missiles. This system
is not invulnerable, but it transformed the battlefield in Afghanistan by
providing accurate information of al-Qaeda and Taleban movements there.

A Hellfire fired by a Predator using remote control killed leading al-Qaeda
figures travelling in a vehicle in Yemen last month.

‹ Thermobaric bombs, which are fuel-rich explosives that suck air out of a
confined space, creating a lethal combination of heat and pressure.

They were used for the first time in Afghanistan against Osama bin Ladenıs
suspected cave hideouts. The special warheads were integrated into
laser-guided missiles launched by F15s.

The explosives, which burn for longer than conventional explosives, would be
particularly effective at incinerating chemical and biological agents.

The US Marines are getting shoulder-mounted thermobaric weapons which, if
ready in time for a war with Iraq, could have devastating potential in
streetfighting in Baghdad.

‹ The FA18E/F Super Hornet, which is about 25 per cent larger than its
predecessor. It also has a greater range and more armaments. The first
operational Super Hornets were put on board the aircraft carrier USS Abraham

With such an array of firepower, the US will inevitably dwarf anything
Britain will be able to contribute.

The Royal Navy has landattack Tomahawk cruise missiles, but relatively few.
The RAF is also waiting for its first delivery of a new air-launched cruise
missile called Storm Shadow. Itıs behind schedule and may not be ready in

However, even if production is rushed through, Mr Hewson of Janeıs said that
the RAF was hardly likely to fire too many of them; they each cost about

"Thatıs like launching a three-bedroom house in London at an Iraqi target,"
he said.

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]