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[casi] News, 15-22/01/03 (5)

News, 15-22/01/03 (5)


*  Ghost of Lebanon looms over Iraq
*  Qataris Voice No Fears of Saddam, but Question U.S. Motives
*  Kuwait says spy arrest shows Iraq has evil intent
*  Aoun predicts multiple 'regime changes' after Saddam falls
*  Beirut, excluded from Ankara summit on Iraq, wants to be kept informed
*  U.N. War Missing Envoy Arrives in Kuwait
*  Kuwait: Alleged Iraq spy intended to poison U.S. troops
*  Turkey Hosts Top General For Talks on U.S. Force
*  Ambush Kills One American, Wounds Another in Kuwait
*  Abul Ragheb: Jordan will not take part in any military act against Iraq
*  Washington is making Saddam an offer he can't accept
*  Pharaohs and liberators
*  Turkey to Allow U.S. to Use Bases Under a Smaller Plan
*  Turkey to Allow U.S. to Use Bases


by Jim Lobe
Dawn, 18th January

WASHINGTON, Jan 16 (IPS): "What I saw from my perch in the Pentagon, wrote
Colin Powell, a major general in 1982, in his memoirs about Washington's
brief but disastrous sojourn in Lebanon 20 years ago , "was America sticking
its hand into a thousand-year-old hornet's nest".

That memory undoubtedly fuels Powell's determination to fight off
hard-liners in the administration of President George W. Bush who are
equally determined to attack and occupy Iraq, even without United Nations or
allied support, if necessary.

As pointed out recently by military analyst William Arkin in the Los Angeles
Times, what happened in Lebanon 20 years ago may tell us a lot about the
hopes, fears and delusions of US policymakers about what could happen in
Iraq. Indeed, many of the people who applauded Israel's invasion of Lebanon
in June 1982 and deplored the Reagan administration's decision to withdraw
US peacekeepers after a series of deadly terrorist attacks are now among the
most ardent hawks, and for many of the same reasons.

As today with Baghdad, they argued then that the road to peace in the Middle
East ran through Beirut, and that, working together, Israeli and US military
power could permanently alter the political balance of power in the entire
Middle East in favour of the West.

The story is straight forward. Seizing on the attempted assassination of its
ambassador to London by anti-PLO Abu Nidal gunmen, Israel's Likud government
launched an invasion of Lebanon aimed at destroying the Palestine Liberation
Organisation presence there once and for all.

Prominent US neo-conservatives hailed the invasion, noting in language that
is strikingly similar to that used today about Iraq that the end of the PLO
and the installation of a pro- western government in Beirut would transform
the Middle East by dealing a fatal blow to Arab "rejectionists", like Syria,
Iraq, and Saudi Arabia.

"'Liberation' is a word that has been much abused in recent years," wrote
William Safire, a New York Times columnist and today a leading hawk on Iraq.
"But liberation, not invasion, is what is taking place in Lebanon today.."

Initially, Safire's observation appeared correct. Greeted with flowers and
celebration by the largely Shia Muslim population of southern Lebanon,
Israeli forces under Defence Minister (now Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon
routed PLO and Syrian resistance and swept north in a matter of days to the
outskirts of West Beirut. It laid siege to the city until US Marines and
other NATO forces evacuated Arafat and thousands of Palestinian guerrillas
to Tunis and other destinations scattered around the Arab world.

The Reagan administration, already committed to a "strategic alliance" with
Israel, winked at the invasion. It believed that the PLO's removal from
Lebanon and the establishment of a stable, pro-US government opened up great
possibilities, including the withdrawal of Syrian troops from Lebanon, the
signing of a peace treaty between Israel and Lebanon, and a final
Arab-Israeli peace accord based on the acceptance by non-PLO Palestinians of
autonomy "in association with Jordan" in exchange for a permanent freeze on
Israeli settlements in the occupied territories.

But none of that was to be. US, British, French, and Italian troops returned
to Beirut almost immediately after the massacre of hundreds of unarmed
Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila refugee camps by Israeli-backed Christian
militia in mid- September 1982 to keep the peace and help the new president,
Amin Gemayel, consolidate and expand the central government's authority.

The latter mission provoked hostility and, eventually, violence by
religious, political, and ethnic factions opposed to the Maronite-dominated
government, proving the wisdom of Lebanese historian Kamal Salih's
injunction that, "great powers should not get involved in the politics of
small tribes".

Anti-government militias began shooting at the Marines, provoking shelling
by US battleships off-shore, which in turn only intensified the
determination of the opposition to evict the Americans. In April 1983,
Hezbollah suicide bombers blew up the US embassy in Beirut. Six months
later, 241 Marines died in the truck bombing of the airport barracks.
Nonetheless, pro-Likud neo-conservatives called on the Reagan administration
to hold on, mocking the growing warnings in Congress that Lebanon was
turning into a Vietnam.

"There will be no decade-long war of attrition in a tropical jungle against
a unified enemy with a long history of successful anti-colonial struggle,"
argued the Washington Post's Charles Krauthammer, a leading attack-Iraq hawk
today. "In Lebanon everything is different: the terrain, the players, the
tactics, the goals, and the intentions of American leaders."

But three months later, the last Marines boarded amphibious craft to sail
for home, even as the fleet was still pounding enemy targets in the hills.
Left behind were a Lebanese army crippled by factional loyalties and
desertions, a moribund peace treaty between Lebanon and Israel, and rising
resistance against Israeli troops in southern Lebanon by the same Shia
population that had greeted them with such enthusiasm less than two years

The political post-mortems were predictable. The hawks claimed that there
had been a "failure of will" on the part of Congress and the administration,
as in Vietnam. The administration was bitterly divided, with the Pentagon
complaining about deploying the military in poorly defined, open- ended
political missions and the State Department siding with the hawks in a
curious reversal of the present debate over Iraq.

President Jimmy Carter's national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski,
wrote that the entire enterprise was misconceived, in that the
administration, with very little appreciation for local realities, had
permitted itself to become "a proxy of Israeli foreign policy" in Lebanon
and a patsy for Likud's aim of diverting international attention to Lebanon
and away from Israeli's occupation of the West Bank and Gaza.

"The more militant (Likud) leaders bent on incorporating the West Bank into
Israel certainly welcome developments that have the effect of making the
United States a direct military antagonist of the Arabs," Brzezinski
complained in the Times in an argument that he has made more recently with
regard to invading Iraq.

Of course, today's hawks reject any notion the challenges faced by the
United States in a US-occupied Iraq are anything like those of Lebanon 20
years ago. The size and mandate of the mission in Iraq will be nothing like
Lebanon, and, of course, the Soviet Union is not around to act as a possible
constraint on US freedom of action.

Washington will no longer rely on giant artillery shells to quell resistance
either, but will have "smart bombs", helicopter gun ships and special
forces, not to mention much more aggressive rules of engagement.

And, as the hawks never tire of repeating, US forces are likely to be
welcomed with flowers and celebrations by ethnic, political, and religious
minorities, that have suffered enormously under Saddam Hussein - just like
the Israelis were received by the Shiites in southern Lebanon 21 years
ago.-Dawn/InterPress News Service

Tehran Times, 18th January

DOHA -- As the U.S. military Juggernaut gathers steam ahead of a possible
onslaught on Iraq, Qataris living within missile range of Baghdad seem not
to fear Iraqi President Saddam Hussein as much as Washington thinks they

On a splendid winter morning, as they strolled in windy sunshine along the
Corniche, a carefully landscaped pedestrian thoroughfare running beside the
Persian Gulf, a small sample of Qataris and foreign residents voiced no
anxiety about a U.S.-led war on Iraq in which Qatar could be a priority
Iraqi target.

Several among them disputed Washington's contention that Iraq poses a grave
threat to the region and questioned the Bush administration's motives in the
area, AFP reported.

Others attributed their equanimity to Islam and a conviction that whatever
happens would be according to the will of God.

"It's the Americans who want to make us afraid of Saddam Hussein; they're
the ones who are spreading the fear," said Abdullah Mohammed, a Qatari
working for the national telephone company. "If there's a real problem in
the Middle East, it's Israel."

Mohammed said he drew no particular comfort from the presence of tens of
thousands of U.S. troops in the region.

That includes more than 4,000 in Qatar, from where U.S. military planners
would direct a campaign to strip Iraq of the weapons of mass destruction the
United States says Saddam Hussein is harboring.

"We don't need the Americans to make us secure. We've lived without them for
years. We're always safe thanks to our faith." Added his friend, businessman
Youssef Nasr: "Saddam Hussein is nothing. He has nothing. I beg Mr. Mush not
to follow the advice of a small band of misguided people who want war."

But what about Kuwait? Didn't Saddam Hussein gobble up his smaller and
weaker southern neighbor just 12 and a half years ago? "When he invaded
Kuwait it was because of a financial and economic dispute," Nasr said.

Some analysts see the invasion of Kuwait as reflecting Saddam Hussein's
outrage at Kuwaiti demands that Iraq repay loans made to it during the
1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war, a conflict in which Baghdad said it was defending
the Persian Gulf against Iranian fundamentalism.

For Bader Obdaidan, a businessman and information technology specialist, the
real aim of the United States is to bolster its economic and military
stature in the Persian Gulf, using Iraq as an excuse.

"They have to make us think there's no stability in the area. They want to
create the fear in order to have more control here."

He said he was also uncomfortable about the growing U.S. presence in Qatar.
"They're affecting my traditional life, my society. When the Americans come
here they will want their own life -- women, alcohol, bars."

As he spoke, and is if to demonstrate his point about potential changes in
Qatari society, a young foreign woman -- not necessarily American -- walked
by in shorts, violating Islamic social codes demanding modesty in dress.

Another Qatari, Yussef Mohammed al-Sayegh, a civil servant, insisted that
Iraqi oil is driving the U.S. military buildup.

"The goal of the Americans is not Saddam Hussein but to get their hands on
the oil," he said.

Mutawakil Ismail of Sudan, an English professor at the University of Qatar,
said he feared the United States more than Iraq, which unlike the United
States no longer has the ability to deliver weapons of mass destruction.
"I'm nervous about the U.S. bases here. What kinds of weapons do the
Americans have? They could have nuclear and chemical weapons -- and
something could go wrong."

Nabih Abdel-Khader is likewise convinced that Saddam Hussein is harmless.
"We don't feel threatened. Iraq has been completely disarmed." But what, in
fact, would he do if Iraq did manage to rain down missiles on Doha? "I'm a
Palestinian," he said. "Where would I go?"

by Ghaida Ghantous
Yahoo, 19th January

KUWAIT, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Kuwait said on Sunday its arrest of a Kuwaiti
soldier suspected of spying for Iraq showed that Baghdad was planning
"terrorist attacks" in Kuwait, but Iraq denied the charge.

Kuwait announced the arrest of National Guard sergeant Mohammad Hamad Fahd
al Juway'id on Friday and accused him of spying for Baghdad, further
inflaming tension between the two Gulf War foes.

Kuwait is a key regional ally of Washington. More than 15,000 American
troops are training on its soil for a possible U.S.-led attack on Iraq,
which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction.

A Kuwaiti cabinet statement said the investigation into Juway'id showed that
Iraqi intelligence was plotting "terrorist attacks and sabotage operations
against vital facilities and interests" on its territory.

"The cabinet strongly rejects and condemns these terrorist acts and hostile
plots, which prove the Iraqi regime continues to harbour evil intentions
towards Kuwait," the statement said, urging citizens to be vigilant.

The cabinet statement gave no further details. Local newspapers have said
that Juway'id was born in Iraq.

Kuwait's Interior Ministry has said Juway'id monitored the movements of
senior Kuwaiti officials and gave Iraq secret security information that
could aid terror attacks.

Iraq denied any link to Juway'id and said the allegation was designed to
damage its ties with other states in the Gulf region.

"It is also an overt attempt to contribute to the American- Zionist media
campaign against the stability of the region, and ...the security of Iraq,"
a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement faxed to Reuters in

He said the claim "can be considered as a contribution to provide a cover
for the hostile American build up in the region."

The United States is massing troops in the Gulf and threatens to attack Iraq
if it does not come clean about an alleged arsenal of chemical, biological
and nuclear weapons. Iraq says it has no such weapons.

Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990 and occupied it for seven months before being
driven out by U.S.-led forces in the 1991 Gulf War.

Kuwaiti officials have said they believe Iraqi spies and sleeper cells are
active in Kuwait. But Information Minister Sheikh Ahmad al-Fahd al-Sabah
said he did not believe there were major spying cells, and that Juway'id was
an isolated case.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th January

Former army commander General Michel Aoun has predicted that all Arab
dictatorships will collapse in the wake of the fall of Sadaam Hussein after
an expected US attack on Iraq.

Speaking to the An-Nahar newspaper from his exile in Paris over the weekend,
Aoun also predicted that Hizbullah's military wing would also not survive
the expected US-led offensive in the region.

He said that the war was not inevitable, but that if the United States does
attack Iraq, it will not stop there and allow other autocratic regimes in
the region to survive.

Aoun also said that Lebanon was heading toward financial bankruptcy.

The former army commander said that the way to avoid such a situation was to
boost foreign trust in Lebanon and its political and economic system.

by Khalil Fleihan, Daily Star correspondent
Daily Star, Lebanon, 20th January

Lebanon has expressed interest in negotiations under way between Turkey,
Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan and Iran, to hold a summit on the Iraqi
crisis next week, but has apparently been excluded from the possible meet in
Ankara because it does not border Iraq.

The meeting is reportedly being held to promote a nonmilitary solution to
the Iraqi crisis.

Although President Emile Lahoud is the current chairman of the Arab League
summit, Turkey has expressed a desire to include only those states that
border Iraq. Egypt doesn't border Iraq, but that did not seem to affect the
position of Turkey, whose Prime Minister Abdullah Gul visited the five
countries last week.

Ankara has not yet received a formal response from the Arab states.

Turkish officials did not inform Lebanon through diplomatic channels about
the summit and its goals, forcing Beirut to seek information from Damascus,
Riyadh and Cairo.

Diplomatic sources here refused to speculate on the results of the regional
summit ahead of a possible US-led war on Iraq, or to confirm if it would
replace an emergency Arab League summit that would precede the Bahrain
meeting in March.

Sources did, however, ask how the Ankara summit would be able to seek a
diplomatic solution to the Iraq crisis after Turkey agreed to open its
military bases to US troops.

Sources said efforts to hold the proposed summit were being met by a number
of difficulties.

Damascus has reportedly asked for a preliminary meeting of the foreign
ministers of each of the countries to agree on a united stand and to discuss
whether the summit should seek the participation of heads of state.

The sources said there was a noticeable lack of enthusiasm on the part of
top leaders to participate in the summit, suggesting that their agendas were
booked. Furthermore, the undetermined date and place of the summit has
reflected the slow response by Arab states to the Turkish initiative.

Sources said Gul informed the concerned countries that he was in contact
with Washington and has coordinated efforts with the United States, which
reportedly "did not oppose the initiative, but encouraged it."

Gul called for secrecy on the ideas to be discussed, while asserting that
the move was not an effort to counterbalance US efforts in the region.

Sources added that Turkey agreed with the convened countries that any
military strike against Iraq would create chaos among the various ethnic and
religious populations in the area.

Associated Press, 20th January

KUWAIT CITY: A U.N. special envoy arrived in Kuwait on Monday from Iraq,
where he said both countries have made "very good progress" in talks to
determine the fate of those missing since the Gulf War.

Yuli Vorontsov entered Kuwait by land with an escort of U.N. observers,
crossing the border, which has been closed to public traffic since the 1991

Vorontsov is to meet Kuwait's deputy prime minister and foreign minister,
Sheik Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah, and Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Kharafi.

Kuwait accuses Baghdad of failing to account for more than 600 of its
citizens and other nationals who disappeared during the Gulf crisis. Baghdad
insists it is not holding any detainees and accuses Kuwait of not accounting
for more than 1,000 Iraqis who disappeared in the same period.

Kuwaiti and Iraqi representatives met in Amman, Jordan, Jan. 8 for the first
formal face-to face talks on the issue for four years. They will meet again
in Amman on Wednesday.

While in Baghdad, Vorontsov confirmed that his talks also encompass the case
of U.S. Navy pilot Scott Speicher, whose F-18 was shot down over Iraq on
Jan. 17, 1991, the first night of the war. Speicher, of Jacksonville, Fla.,
was originally listed as killed but later was reclassified as missing.

by Drew Brown
Miami Herald, from Knight Ridder News Service, 20th January

KUWAIT CITY - U.S. military officials in Kuwait were reviewing security
procedures Sunday after a man accused of spying for Iraq allegedly told
Kuwaiti authorities that he planned to kill American troops by poisoning
their food.

Military officials would not comment directly on the report, which was first
published Saturday in a leading Arabic newspaper. But they said the threat
would be scrutinized and appropriate measures taken.

"There are threats out there, and we continually assess those threats and
take steps to mitigate the risks to our forces in the region," said Col.
Rick Thomas, a U.S. military spokesman.

The alleged spy, Sgt. Mohammed Hamad Fahd Al-Juwayed, 40, of the Kuwaiti
National Guard, also planned to help Iraqi agents assassinate leading
political figures and blow up oil and power facilities, said a Kuwaiti
government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

John Moran, a U.S. Embassy spokesman, said the arrest "shows that Saddam
Hussein continues to harbor aggressive intentions towards Kuwait."

The story of the alleged plot was reprinted Sunday in local English language
papers. The Kuwaiti official confirmed its accuracy.

"They did not catch him with any poison, but he admitted during
interrogation that he planned to poison the American troops who are now in
Kuwait," the official said.

The arrest was announced Friday, but the official said Kuwaiti police
actually took Al Juwayed into custody about 10 days ago after watching him
for more than a year.

The official said the alleged spy met several times in neighboring Jordan
with a Yemeni and Syrian who were working for Iraqi intelligence. The
official said the Kuwaiti government has asked Jordan for help in arresting
the men, whose identities remain unclear.

Al-Juwayed's mother is in Iraq, according to the official. It is common for
Kuwaiti citizens to have relatives in Iraq, and separated families often
meet in Jordan, the only country that maintains an open border with Iraq.

The Iraqis allegedly gave the sergeant "$40,000 to $50,000" for his
services, the official said. In a statement issued Friday through the Kuwait
News Agency, the Interior Ministry said Al Juwayed had "provided the Iraqis
with secret security and military information [and] monitored movements of
senior state officials, with the aim of facilitating terrorist and sabotage
acts against vital installations."

The official confirmed the Iraqis also asked Al-Juwayed, an army food
supervisor, to provide information about catering companies that supply food
to American forces in Kuwait.

About 250 American soldiers became sick last month at a camp south of Kuwait
City in an incident that the military concluded was an isolated salmonella
outbreak caused by poor sanitary conditions.

Food supplies and other necessities for U.S. forces are overseen by a
private contractor, Combat Support Associates, but company officials
contacted Sunday at Camp Doha declined to discuss the new threat, citing
security concerns.

Kuwaiti officials describe the alleged plot as an isolated case. Few
Kuwaitis, they point out, collaborated with Iraqi troops after they invaded
in August 1990. The occupation ended in March 1991 after a U.S.-led
coalition expelled Iraqi forces from the country.

by Karl Vick
Washington Post, 21st January

ISTANBUL, Jan. 20 -- Turkey continued its zigzagging between private
preparations for a possible war in Iraq and high-profile diplomacy aimed at
averting it, hosting the United States' top soldier today while laying plans
for a summit of regional leaders preaching peace.

Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met
with his Turkish counterpart to discuss the size of the force that Turkey
would accommodate in a U.S. effort to open a northern front against Iraq and
its president, Saddam Hussein. Officials have said that in the face of
public opinion against the war, Turkey is willing to discuss hosting a force
only about a quarter as large as the 80,000 troops the United States
originally requested.

Myers declined to discuss specifics at a brief news conference in Ankara,
the capital, where he met with Gen. Hilmi Ozkok, Turkey's chief of general
staff. But the American visitor denied reports that U.S. war planners have
been frustrated by the amount of time Turkey is taking to decide how much
help it will be.

"Any idea that I'm impatient, or that we made demands here, is not the
case," Myers said. "Turkey has been very cooperative in all of this. I'm
leaving Ankara, as many Americans have done in the past, very sure of our
strategic partnership and very sure of the vision that we both have in terms
of what we want for the region, and that is peace and stability."

Diplomats and U.S. officials complained privately this month that Turkey's
reluctance to make decisions was threatening to undo the Pentagon's hopes of
preparing an attack from north of Baghdad to complement a strike by forces
massing to the south in Kuwait. Turkey shares a 250-mile border with Iraq's
northernmost reaches, where ethnic Kurds have operated with unofficial
autonomy thanks to U.S. and British warplanes enforcing a "no-fly" zone
north of the 36th parallel.

Moments after Myers spoke, Prime Minister Abdullah Gul again raised Turkey's
most immediate worry about war. "A possible war with Iraq would be a very
great burden for the economy," Gul told reporters. "We want to use whatever
resources we have to prevent this war from breaking out."

Gul concluded a tour of regional capitals last week by inviting the leaders
of Iran, Syria, Jordan and Saudi Arabia -- which all border Iraq -- to join
him and the president of Egypt in Istanbul for a summit aimed at averting

Foreign ministers from the six countries made plans to meet on Thursday in
Syria or Turkey to discuss the contents of a joint declaration urging
Hussein to abide by U.N. resolutions ordering him to surrender all weapons
of mass destruction, a Turkish official said.

The regional effort also includes private urgings to Hussein to accept an
offer of exile abroad. But the idea of a summit is grounded in a pessimism
shared even by the Saudis, who have pursued the exile pitch most eagerly,
largely in the hope that Hussein would be succeeded by another Sunni Muslim,
thus denying power to the country's Shiite majority.

"They want the system in Iraq to continue as it is today, without Saddam,"
said the Turkish official, who asked not to be identified.

Analysts said the diplomatic effort will also help prepare the Turkish
public for a war that opinion polls show it strongly opposes.

"They want to show Turkish public opinion that they don't want to be alone
in this," said Ozdem Sanberk, director of the Turkish Economic and Social
Studies Foundation, an Istanbul research organization. "It's a rather
desperate last-minute effort to save the peace."

Turkey's constitution forces the political question by requiring parliament
to approve foreign troop deployments on Turkish soil. Elections in November
put the Justice and Development Party in control of almost two-thirds of the
Grand National Assembly.

"Whatever the decision they want, they can pass it through the parliament,"
said Derya Sazak, a columnist for the newspaper Milliyet and author of a
book on Hussein.

Sazak said an attack by Kurdish rebels on Turkish forces in the country's
southeast last week might also encourage a vote for military action. Turkey
harbors profound worries that a war could end with an independent Kurdish
state emerging from the ashes of a dismembered Iraq and that Turkey's own
Kurds would want to break away and join it.

Last week's clash, which killed one Turkish soldier and 12 rebels, revived
memories of a guerrilla war that cost 30,000 Turkish lives before a
cease-fire in 1999. "We have to see if this is a small-scale incident or
whether it will rise up to something," Sazak said.

But senior Turkish officials, including powerful generals, have insisted
that a political decision on U.S. forces can come only after a U.N. Security
Council vote authorizing the use of force against Iraq. Analysts and
officials pointed out that the constitution requires that any use of force
be in accordance with international law.

A U.S. request to the NATO alliance last week may have been intended as a
hedge against that obstacle. Turkey is a NATO member, and the request for
missile defense and other aid in the event of an attack from Iraq "obviously
would be helpful to the Turks in terms of public issues, legitimacy issues
and policy issues," said one Western diplomat.

by Ghaida Ghantous and Andrew Marshall
ABC News, 21st January

KUWAIT (Reuters) - Gunmen wielding automatic weapons shot dead an American
working for the U.S. military and wounded another in an ambush on their car
on Tuesday near a U.S. base in Kuwait where Washington is preparing for a
possible war on Iraq.

The United States embassy condemned the incident as a terrorist attack. It
said the injured man was in critical condition in hospital with multiple
gunshot wounds.

The two men were attacked while driving on a highway north of Kuwait City
near Camp Doha, the main U.S. military base in Kuwait. The U.S. embassy said
they were contractors with a firm working for the Defense Department.

Kuwaiti police said gunmen opened fire from bushes at the side of the road
before escaping by car. Cartridge cases believed to be from rounds fired
from a Kalashnikov rifle or rifles were found at the scene.

Reuters journalists at the scene said the dead man's body was removed from a
tan-colored four-wheel-drive vehicle about two hours after the attack, which
happened at around 9:15 a.m. (1:15 a.m. EST).

Dozens of police sealed off roads in the area, and Kuwait's interior
minister visited the scene.

One side of the vehicle was riddled with more than 20 bullets, and the
windshield was also fractured. Some of the side windows had been shot out
completely. A pool of blood was visible on the road, until police covered it
with sand.


Arabic News, 21st January

The Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abul Ragheb underlined the importance of
Iraq's unity and its stability. He said that Iraq's stability and its
territorial integrity are very important for the Arabs and the region.

In a statement issued yesterday by the Saudi daily Okaz, he stressed that
Jordan will not take part in any military acts against Iraq even if this
came at a UN resolution, nor will Jordan permit the use of its lands or
airspace for this purpose.

He explained that Arab and international consultations are being made to
find out necessary means to avoid the war. He expressed that the UN and the
UN Security Council are the two forums for dealing with the Iraqi issue.

Daily Star, Lebanon, 21st January

The latest hints from George W. Bush's administration that it might "allow"
the Iraqi leadership to go into exile make headlines in the Arab papers, as
Middle Eastern capitals buzz with diplomatic activity ostensibly aimed at
finding a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis.

But press reports and commentaries reflect considerable confusion about
what, if anything, the Americans are actually proposing, and deep doubts
that they are seriously entertaining any other course than war.

The Saudi-run pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat portrays the US as "tightening the
noose" around President Saddam Hussein by "giving him a choice between exile
and trial."

Lebanon's As-Safir writes that the three top administration officials who
suggested that Saddam's banishment might be an alternative to war evidently
had conflicting ideas about the Iraqi leader's future and even about the
"seriousness" of the suggestion that he might be persuaded to relinquish

These officials have also been engaged in a "concerted propaganda campaign"
ahead of next week's UN Security Council meeting in which they have been
accusing Iraq of concealing banned weapons and rejecting calls to delay any
military showdown, As-Safir says.

Pan-Arab Al-Quds al-Arabi observes that Saddam is himself evidently bracing
for a military faceoff, and highlights his latest speech vowing to repulse
any invading army.

Al-Hayat's Abdel-Wahhab Badrakhan says that "nothing has changed in the
scenario" and US decision-makers are as intent on war as ever. Far from
being deterred by the wave of anti-war protests in the US and elsewhere in
the West, he writes, they hope the Iraqi president will be emboldened by
them to act defiantly "and proceed to make some mistake that could be
invoked against him."

Saddam's bluster about being ready for war and poised to defeat the American
invaders suggests he is playing into their hands, he says. "The US is more
confident than ever that it will have its war, having wagered from the
outset that the Iraqi regime itself will help it."

Badrakhan describes the "offer" to refrain from attacking Iraq if Saddam
abdicates as a "poisoned gift." The "abdication scenario" would be a recipe
for anarchy "that would inevitably result from a vacuum at the pinnacle of
power," he says, but in any case it was "offered in a manner ensuring its

Rather, the US seems confident that the UN arms inspections, which are set
to become increasingly aggressive and subject to "American 'tip-offs' and
guidance," will enable it to cast doubts on Iraq's declared weapons of mass
destruction-free status and win waverers over to the war camp.

"The spin of war has started to make heads giddy, but that doesn't mean the
Americans are going to alter anything in their preconceived timetable,"
according to Badrakhan.


Jordanian commentator and former information minister Saleh Qallab suggests
in the Saudi pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat that the regional players do not
have the capacity to prevent war, but argues they can and should work
together to reduce the negative fallout.

Qallab endorses Turkey's "belated" call for a regional summit, noting that
war on Iraq is bound to adversely affect the security and economies of all
the countries invited, "and they will face regional explosions if they do
not agree, from now, on what is possible and acceptable and what is not."

"These countries must coordinate their efforts to prevent war and agree a
unified stance over this, but they must also define where they stand,
individually and collectively, should they fail to resolve the Iraq crisis
peacefully," he counsels. "But if war breaks out while the regional
situation remains as it is now, the circle of danger will expand to engulf
them all to varying degrees."

Qallab says one thing the Arab and Iranian participants in the talks want to
prevent is Turkish military intervention in the looming conflict.

He adds that the Arab states do not want to be seen to be meddling in Iraq's
internal affairs, "or to take part in any initiative to persuade the Iraqi
president to stand down so as to spare his country the horrors and
destruction of this pending war."

But while they may be wary of "angering or provoking" the Iraqi leader, they
should still accept Turkey's invitation, and work out understandings with
each other and the Iranians and Turks "on what can be done should war break

Jordan is meanwhile reported by Al-Hayat to have succeeded in obtaining
"Arab and international guarantees" that the losses it sustains from an
attack on Iraq will be kept to a minimum. The paper's sources also say
Washington understands the precarious position the Hashemite Kingdom is in,
and the only help it wants from it in the event of war is "humanitarian
assistance" in coping with a possible refugee influx.

The Amman daily Al-Dustour is meanwhile heartened by the huge anti-war
protests held in many US, European and Asian cities over the weekend. The
paper writes that the growing anti-war movement is asserting itself as "a
new player on the stage of the Iraqi drama," and public pressure is making
Western governments increasingly loathe to go along with the United States.

"If this wave continues and escalates, especially in the United States, the
prospects for preventive diplomacy will improve, raising hopes that the
disaster may be avoided," Al Dustour comments.

In Lebanon, As-Safir publisher Talal Salman laments that while the rest of
the world is preoccupied with the prospect of a US war on Iraq, "the
Lebanese are busy following the details (insulting to both their
intelligence and their dignity) of the latest round in the all-out war
between their rulers."

Elsewhere, people are taking to the streets to demonstrate against war, but
Lebanon's feuding leaders have turned demonstrations into vehicles for
pursuing their vendetta against each other, "with each 'raees' occupying the
street with his supporters for a while before vacating it for the other
'raees'," he remarks.

Salman describes Sunday night's meeting between President Emile Lahoud and
Prime Minister Rafik Hariri as the "latest bout" in the four-year-old feud
between them, "which is tipped to continue intermittently for another two
years." It has "gone beyond being a farce" and started posing a threat to
people's livelihoods and futures, he warns.

Salman says "perhaps the worst thing about this war" is that "some major
Arab countries like Saudi Arabia have been brought into it, albeit only
indirectly via the 'showdown' that was staged over a TV station, or rather
one of that station's discussion programs." Prior to that, the president and
prime minister had never appeared to be at odds over relations with other
Arab states, especially not Saudi Arabia.

Salman adds that the row between the two men is the last thing Syria needs
as it tries to rally regional efforts to prevent an American war on Iraq. It
is a "deadly political mistake" for either of them to drag Damascus into
their war and "try to inundate it once again in an avalanche of Lebanese
details." Their quarrel has also brought talk of Syrian "meddling" in
Lebanese affairs back to the fore, thanks to their attempts to involve Syria
in their "daily disputes."

Salman blasts Lahoud and Hariri equally for this state of affairs, accusing
both of worrying about their own status while neglecting the country "which
is burdened with debt, servicing the debt, and serving those who caused the
debt and are incapable of coping with its frightening consequences."

Al-Quds al-Arabi turns to the resumed "dialogue" being held in Cairo between
different Palestinian factions under the auspices of the Egyptian
government, which the paper says is trying to achieve two things: a thorough
overhaul of the Palestinian Authority (PA) and a one-year suspension of all
armed resistance to the Israeli occupation.

The paper rates Cairo's chances of success as "very slim," especially while
Israel continues its campaign of sowing death and destruction in the
Occupied Territories.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon dealt a "fatal blow" to Egypt's effort
when he refused to allow a Palestinian delegation to travel to the recent
London conference aimed at discussing PA reform, Al-Quds al-Arabi argues.
That made it impossible for Cairo to persuade the Palestinian factions that
there are any political gains to be made from suspending resistance to the
occupation, which they are in any case loathe to do.

Should the likes of Hamas and Islamic Jihad renounce martyrdom operations
"even temporarily, when there are no real alternatives on the ground and no
clear political horizon, they would lose their raison d'ętre and be stripped
of their political legitimacy and considerable popularity among
Palestinians," the paper reasons.

What Cairo is offering as a quid pro quo for a unilateral truce by the
Palestinian factions is a halt to Israeli assassinations of the leaders and
activists of their military wings, Al-Quds al Arabi explains. Even if Cairo
could deliver that, it would be a "paltry price." Indeed, "it would
demonstrate in practice that the Israeli policy of assassinations has
succeeded in terrorizing the Palestinians and their leaders, and forcing
them to abandon resistance in exchange for their lives being spared," the
paper points out.

"Accordingly, it is not surprising that the military cadres of Hamas and
Islamic Jihad made certain to step up martyrdom operations during the London
conference and the Cairo dialogue, making clear that political discourse is
one thing and happenings on the ground another."

by Pepe Escobar
Asia Times, 21st January

CAIRO - Call it wishful thinking, but there are insistent rumors in Cairo of
a 50 percent chance of a peaceful solution to the epic Washington-Baghdad
stand-off. Cairo is a key node in a flurry of diplomatic efforts also
linking Baghdad, Riyadh and Ankara. Cairo today is pure "Casablanca" - with
a difference: the whole gargantuan city, from palace corridors to ahwas
(coffeehouses) has been turned into Rick's Bar, cloaks and daggers aplenty.
And not only the ghosts of secret diplomacy monopolize the scene: there are
other ominous ghosts lurking in the background.

President Hosni Mubarak - the Egyptian pharaoh now in his 21st year in power
- has admitted on the record "there are suggestions to send envoys to
Washington and Baghdad and to hold a regional conference". But he refuses to
specifically comment on two top secret envoys who allegedly will be sent to
Baghdad to talk to Saddam Hussein about his remaining options.

Instead, Saddam himself took the initiative, sending a top envoy - Ali Hasan
Al-Majid, a key member of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) - to
Cairo last Saturday with a special message to Mubarak. Cairo and Washington
remain in close contact. Mubarak still insists that George W Bush promised
him in a phone call last October that "he wants to resolve the crisis
peacefully". A top Egyptian delegation is going to Washington next week to
express the concerns of the whole Middle East about the disastrous
consequences of war.

Mubarak is involved in a classic tightrope act. After meeting Saudi Crown
Prince Abdullah, for instance, he declared that "there is no
Egyptian-Saudi-Turkish coordination or initiative". But if Washington goes
to war "no one can stop it. It is the only superpower in the world." He also
had said that there were "no more messages I wanted to convey to Washington
or Baghdad. I have sent many messages, I don't want to repeat myself." Then
he changed his mind.

Inter-Arab contradictions are also reflected in the role of Bahrain. Bahrain
currently hosts the US Navy 5th Fleet. And it will host March's summit of
the Arab League - maybe a summit held in the middle of a war. Even being so
close to American interests in the region, Bahrain's Information Minister,
Nabil Al-Hamer, insists that "all Arab leaders are seeking to set aside the
specter of war".

Based on a comment by Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah, according to which Arabs
should reach an understanding with Baghdad to try to evade war,
unsubstantiated rumors keep flying about that the Saudis are trying to
foment a coup against Saddam. Diplomats in Cairo dismiss as ludicrous the
idea that Riyadh would suggest to the UN a sweeping amnesty to the Iraqi
leadership - except maybe to a hundred or so top-rank RCC members - hoping
to solidify the idea of a coup.

Saddam's possible exile is also dismissed as pure farce. Would-be
destinations like Russia, Libya and Mauritania already took pains to deny it
publicly. Seywan Barzani, a European based representative of the Democratic
Party of Kurdistan, reminds everyone, "Saddam is not the kind of man who
relinquishes power. He believes it when he says he is the knight who will
liberate Jerusalem. People on the ground in Iraq are very much afraid of
revenge exacted by the regime in case Saddam leaves; it would take a missile
carrying chemical weapons falling over a village to make thousands of

Everyone in Cairo seems to agree that Saddam's exile would be a sort of
defeat for America: the State Department might be happy with the
arrangement, but the hawks of the Rumsfeld Cheney-Wolfowitz-Perle kind would
be left fuming. Muhamad Al Sayyed Said, deputy director of the Al Ahram
Center for Political and Strategic Studies, is adamant, "I don't think
Saddam would even consider the possibility." Walid Kazziha, political
science professor at the American University of Cairo, is of the same
opinion, "All his life Saddam has been very militant, persistent and

Said, though, advances the possibility of an internal exile for Saddam: he
would resign from the presidency and remain backstage as a sort of grand
manipulator in the ruling Ba'ath Party, which then could adopt some steps
towards a limited kind of democracy. Washington, of course, would never buy
such a scheme.

Among all the rumors and rhetoric shrapnel from disinformation campaigns, a
group of Arab intellectuals and artists - most of them based in Beirut - is
about to release an open letter to Arab newspapers asking for Saddam to go
into exile. These intellectuals include Chibli Mallat - a Lebanese lawyer
who charged Ariel Sharon with war crimes in a court in Belgium - and Kamel
Labidi, a Tunisian, former director of Amnesty International's Beirut
office. Labidi also does not expect Saddam to make such a move, but he
considers this would give post-Saddam Iraq a chance for democracy free from
Western interference. Mallat insists that the letter calls for an
international, NGO and human-activist monitoring force to manage Iraq while
it encourages positive steps towards democracy - and not an occupying
foreign army.

But the Saddam-in-exile option simply won't go away. Even Egypt is being
considered, on the grounds that Cairo has already hosted King Saud of Saudi
Arabia when he was forced to abdicate in 1955; Yemeni President Abdullah Al
Salal when he was deposed in 1966; Sudanese President Gaafar Numeiri when he
was deposed in 1985; and the Shah of Iran after the Iranian Shi'ite
revolution in 1979. The shah, by the way, is buried in Cairo.

Osama bin Laden, as the world knows, has called George W Bush "the pharaoh
of this day and age" (in his audio communique broadcast by Al Jazeera in
November last year). It's unlikely that Bush will consider a future as a
mummy alongside King Tut in the Egyptian Museum, surrounded by
camera-clicking busloads of tourists. But as the pharaoh mulls his next war,
his greatest enemy, a mysterious specter who remains in the shadows, has
other plans. The greatest enemy, as we know, is not Saddam Hussein, but
Osama bin Laden.

Asia Times Online has confirmed that Islamist lawyer Montaser Al Zayat
received a crucial e-mail in the beginning of January by none other than
Ayman al Zawahiri - alias "The Surgeon", the Egyptian who is al-Qaeda's
number two. In the e-mail - which was sent to the website of a study center
run by Al Zayat - Al Zawahiri praises September 11 as "the blessed September
conquest" that "exposed the ugly face of America".

Muhamad Salah, Cairo bureau chief of the respected London-based newspaper Al
Hayat, and an expert on radical Islam, says that the e-mail is really from
"The Surgeon". "The terminology used in the message is his. And Al Zayat is
a top Islamist. He would never make up such a story and jeopardize his
reputation." It's not the first time that Al Zawahiri and Al Zayat have
exchanged correspondence. This e-mail apparently is an answer to a previous
one sent by Al Zayat shortly before the first anniversary of September 11,
when he asked Al Zawahiri the reason for the attacks and invited him to
participate in a conference in Cairo on the future of political Islam. Al
Zayat claims that Al Zawahiri is definitely alive and only answered the
e-mail now because of the tremendous security risks he faces. Al Zayat also
considers that "as the US is preparing for war against Iraq, Al Zawahiri may
have found the time was ripe to agitate the masses against the Americans".

The instructions to "the masses" are pretty clear. The e-mail says that the
Egyptian Islamic Jihad - which was run by Al Zawahiri himself and then
merged into al-Qaeda - has decided to suspend any operations inside Egypt.
Gamaa Islamiya - Egypt's largest hardcore Islamist group - had already
declared a ceasefire in 1997. Incidentally, Al Zayat for years was the
unofficial spokesman for Gamaa Islamiya. And he was one of the major
sponsors of the ceasefire.

Up to now, Islamic Jihad refused to endorse the ceasefire. But the message
now from Islamic Jihad - and al-Qaeda, for that matter - is clear: all the
efforts are concentrated on fighting the US. So the global script now goes
like this: If Bush, the "pharaoh of this day and age", attacks the very
visible, not-to-be-exiled, and self-styled liberator of Jerusalem Saddam
Hussein, the shadowy and mysterious specters bin Laden and Al Zawahiri will
not strike pharaoh minions in Arab regimes, but the interests of the pharaoh

by Dexter Filkins
New York Times, 21st January

ANKARA, Turkey, Jan. 20 ‹ The foreign minister said today that Turkey had
decided to allow the United States to use its bases for an attack on Iraq,
but that Turkish public opinion would force the government to drastically
scale back the American plans.

Yasar Yakis, the foreign minister, said in an interview that his government
had instructed the Turkish military to draft a plan providing for an
American force that would be just large enough to tie up Iraqi troops based
in the northern part of the country so a larger American force could attack
Baghdad from the south.

Mr. Yakis said the Turkish government was constrained by public opinion,
which surveys show to be overwhelmingly against a war, from allowing the
Americans to base a much larger force on Turkish soil. Any Turkish plan must
be approved by the country's Parliament, which is dominated by a party with
Islamist roots.

A Western diplomat said here last week that American leaders had originally
asked Turkey to allow as many as 80,000 air and ground troops onto Turkish
bases for a possible attack on Iraq. The diplomat said the Americans had
recently agreed to significantly scale back their plans, although he said
the operation would still be militarily viable.

"What we said for the Americans was, the northern front should not be made
meaningless," Mr. Yakis said. "The importance of the northern front is to
fix Iraqi military strength, which is positioned in the north. It should be
a sufficiently big force to fix them there so that Iraqi soldiers do not
leave the northern front and go to the southern front.

"We instructed the military authorities to negotiate with the American side
and find out what is the figure which is necessary not to make the American
northern front meaningless," Mr. Yakis added.

He said the American and Turkish military planners had not yet agreed on a
final plan. Still, if Mr. Yakis' scenario holds true, it would represent a
drastic scaling back of American military plans to confront Saddam Hussein's
army outside of the main theater in Kuwait.

American military planners regard a northern front as crucial in an Iraqi
operation, believing that it would make any war shorter and less bloody than
one limited to a force attacking from the south.

An American force attacking from Turkey would almost certainly try to seize
the oil fields around the Iraqi cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, before they
could be destroyed by Iraqi forces.

An American presence in northern Iraq is regarded as vital in ensuring that
Iraq's Kurds, who predominate in the country's northern areas, do not try to
secede from Iraq.

Mr. Yakis said one of the options considered for a scaled-down northern
front is an American force of about 15,000 troops. Under that plan, Mr.
Yakis said, a pair of American brigades of about 5,000 troops each would
attack in separate points in northern Iraq, with another brigade standing by
in reserve.

Tying up the Iraqi forces in the north would inhibit Iraq's ability to
defend against the much larger military force expected to drive into Iraq
from Kuwait, where tens of thousands of American troops have already


ABC News, 21st January


Turkey's foreign minister denied Tuesday a media report that Ankara had
decided to give the United States permission to use its bases for an attack
on Iraq if war became unavoidable. Asked by reporters in Ankara about the
report in the New York Times, Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis said: "I only
said ... the government had given the General Staff authorization to discuss
this issue with their military counterparts at the technical level."

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