Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq


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Iraq news extracts

NOTE: This file was originally intended for internal use by its compilers. Its coverage is neither comprehensive nor uniform. Editorial decisions are shaped by the editors' own interests, sense of what is important and new, and time constraints. EDITORIAL DECISIONS DO NOT REFLECT CASI POLICY. This is made publicly available not to present an authoritative chronology but as a research tool. ALL QUOTATIONS, ESPECIALLY EARLIER ONES, SHOULD BE CHECKED AGAINST OFFICIAL SOURCES. When the file is updated, it is likely that articles from before, as well as after, the last update will be added. Since 9 February 2003, articles felt to be especially important have been marked with a green star, [important]

Last updated Fri May 23 14:17:54 2003.


300,000 children malnourished: U.N.

Toronto Star: More than 300,000 Iraqi children face death from acute malnutrition, twice as many as before U.S. and British forces invaded the country in March, UNICEF warned yesterday. Many of these - nearly 8 per cent of all Iraqi children under 5 - could be saved if the occupation forces ensured that aid convoys could move around freely and kept looters away from water plants and pipelines, the United Nations agency said. ... UNICEF, charged with protecting children around the globe, said a survey taken in Baghdad indicated that 7.7 per cent of children under 5 in urban centres were suffering from acute malnutrition, nearly twice as many as one year ago.

Kurdish Group Takes Autonomous Role in Iraq Oil Projects

New York Times, SABRINA TAVERNISE with NEELA BANERJEE: The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, one of the two main Kurdish parties in Iraq, has signed production-sharing contracts with two Turkish companies, PetOil and General Energy, to develop and survey oilfields in northeast Iraq, according to Rasheed Khoshnaw, deputy director of the party's special projects division. In addition, party officials recently agreed to allow an Australian company to do surveying work in eastern Iraq, said Mr. Khoshnaw.


Israel’s Fleeting Affair With Chalabi

Americans for Peace Now: Middle East Peace Report: Smadar Peri, writing in Yedioth Ahronoth, reported that for many years mystery shrouded the reasons the U.S. regarded Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, so warmly. ... Chalabi, it turns out, was pushed into America’s arms by Israeli intelligence. Chalabi’s Israeli link took place 13 years ago. KZ, a Defense Ministry official, recently revealed details of his first meeting with Chalabi in London. ... The information on the Israeli MIAs and POWs, which Chalabi promised through his contacts in Teheran, never materialized, neither in Rothschild’s next two meetings with Chalabi. This did not prevent Israeli security officials from recommending Chalabi to the American administration and connecting him to senior advisers in the White House, the Pentagon and the CIA. As a result of the recommendations, James Woolsley, the former CIA director, gave him patronage. (Yedioth Ahronoth, 5/2/03) ... Fast forward to 2003, when Chalabi showed up in southern Iraq after 45 years in exile and promised a “new Iraq.” Amman conveyed a strong message to the Bush Administration that if Chalabi, with U.S. help, fulfills his dream and is given a central role in Iraq, this will immediately cast a heavy shadow on Jordan-Iraq relations. The Jordanian royal family also watched with concern the involvement of Israeli security officials in opening the gates of the Pentagon for Chalabi.


New Yorker, SEYMOUR M. HERSH: The full record of Hussein Kamel’s interview with the inspectors reveals, however, that he also said that Iraq’s stockpile of chemical and biological warheads, which were manufactured before the 1991 Gulf War, had been destroyed, in many cases in response to ongoing inspections. The interview, on August 22, 1995,was conducted by Rolf Ekeus, then the executive chairman of the U.N. inspection teams, and two of his senior associates — Nikita Smidovich and Maurizio Zifferaro. “You have an important role in Iraq,” Kamel said, according to the record, which was assembled from notes taken by Smidovich. “You should not underestimate yourself. You are very effective in Iraq.” When Smidovich noted that the U.N. teams had not found “any traces of destruction,” Kamel responded, “Yes, it was done before you came in.” He also said that Iraq had destroyed its arsenal of warheads. “We gave instructions not to produce chemical weapons,” Kamel explained later in the debriefing. “I don’t remember resumption of chemical-weapons production before the Gulf War. Maybe it was only minimal production and filling. . . . All chemical weapons were destroyed. I ordered destruction of all chemical weapons. All weapons—biological, chemical, missile, nuclear—were destroyed.” ... In 1998, Albright told me, he and Hamza sent publishers a proposal for a book tentatively entitled “Fizzle: Iraq and the Atomic Bomb,” which described how Iraq had failed in its quest for a nuclear device. There were no takers, Albright said, and Hamza eventually “started exaggerating his experiences in Iraq.” The two men broke off contact. In 2000, Hamza published “Saddam’s Bombmaker,” a vivid account claiming that by 1991, when the Gulf War began, Iraq was far closer than had been known to the production of a nuclear weapon. ... In separate interviews with me, however, a former C.I.A. station chief and a former military intelligence analyst said that the camp near Salman Pak had been built not for terrorism training but for counter-terrorism training. In the mid-eighties, Islamic terrorists were routinely hijacking aircraft. In 1986, an Iraqi airliner was seized by pro-Iranian extremists and crashed, after a hand grenade was triggered, killing at least sixty-five people. ... Iraq then sought assistance from the West, and got what it wanted from Britain’s MI6. The C.I.A. offered similar training in counter-terrorism throughout the Middle East. “We were helping our allies everywhere we had a liaison,” the former station chief told me. ... The former C.I.A. official noted, however, that terrorists would not practice on airplanes in the open. “That’s Hollywood rinky-dink stuff,” the former agent said. “They train in basements. You don’t need a real airplane to practice hijacking. The 9/11 terrorists went to gyms. But to take one back you have to practice on the real thing.” ... A former Bush Administration intelligence official recalled a case in which Chalabi’s group, working with the Pentagon, produced a defector from Iraq who was interviewed overseas by an agent from the D.I.A. The agent relied on an interpreter supplied by Chalabi’s people. Last summer, the D.I.A. report, which was classified, was leaked. In a detailed account, the London Times described how the defector had trained with Al Qaeda terrorists in the late nineteen-nineties at secret camps in Iraq, how the Iraqis received instructions in the use of chemical and biological weapons, and how the defector was given a new identity and relocated. A month later, however, a team of C.I.A. agents went to interview the man with their own interpreter. “He says, ‘No, that’s not what I said,’” the former intelligence official told me. “He said, ‘I worked at a fedayeen camp; it wasn’t Al Qaeda.’ He never saw any chemical or biological training.” Afterward, the former official said, “the C.I.A. sent out a piece of paper saying that this information was incorrect. They put it in writing.” But the C.I.A. rebuttal, like the original report, was classified. “I remember wondering whether this one would leak and correct the earlier, invalid leak. Of course, it didn’t.” ... A former high-level intelligence official told me that American Special Forces units had been sent into Iraq in mid-March, before the start of the air and ground war, to investigate sites suspected of being missile or chemical- and biological-weapon storage depots. “They came up with nothing,” the official said. “Never found a single Scud.”


Iraq bank manager: Thieves, not Qusay

Ghassan al-Kadi, UPI: A top Iraqi banker Tuesday denied a news report that accused Saddam Hussein's younger son, Qusay, of taking $1 billion in cash from Iraq's Central Bank a day before the United States launched its war against the Arab nation. He said the money was looted by professional thieves.


Iraq reconstruction inches forward, as humanitarian disaster looms

AFP: US engineers struggling to restore power in the capital were grappling with a bizarre power grid built to light Saddam's palaces rather than the capital at large, said US Captain Travis Morehead. ... Rumsfeld also told US television that Iraqi prisoners could help US forces hunt down the weapons of mass destruction that Washington accused Saddam of hiding and that it used to justify the war. "The intelligence shows that they (Saddam's regime) were systematically trying to prevent the inspectors from finding them," he said on Fox television. Meanwhile the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) again demanded access to all Iraqi prisoners of war in US and British custody. ICRC spokeswoman Nana Doumani said the US-led forces "must respect the Geneva Convention on prisoners (of war)." ... Time magazine reported the US military may have downplayed the coalition's use of deadly cluster bombs during the campaign. While US officials claim that only 26 cluster bombs landed in civilian areas during the fighting, accounts from Iraqi hospitals, residents and civil defense officials indicate many more fired. ... The Karbala civil defense chief told Time his men were finding some 1,000 cluster bombs daily in places US officials said were not targets. ... Chalabi has taken possession of 25 TONNES OF DOCUMENTS from Saddam Hussein's secret police, some of them onerous for the Jordanian royal family, Newsweek reported. "Some of the files are very damning," Chalabi told Newsweek, implying that some of the most incriminating material concerned King Abdullah.

Birth Pangs: As a New Era Dawns in Baghdad, Life Goes On -- Sometimes, Just Barely

Richard Leiby, Washington Post: As the sun starts to set, Khaldoon stands weeping outside the entrance to the hospital. The grandfather, 65-year-old Ghanim, normally a placid man, flares with anger: "There's no milk, no medicine, no salaries, no safety in the streets. What kind of freedom are you talking about? Under Saddam it was better than now!" He collects himself, seems to regret the outburst and continues. "I don't know if tomorrow I will find my granddaughter dead." ... In a place that suddenly has no government, few police and effectively no laws, Officers City residents crave stability and many say they wish there was more -- immediately. They complain about what seems to remain a halfhearted military occupation. "You should be our savior," Osama Said Raheem, 35, insists to an American who approaches one darkened street corner. Volunteers like him congregate to surveil pitch-black streets for strangers. "No one provides for us." Can't Iraqis do it themselves? "People here don't know the meaning of freedom," says Raheem, the son of a retired staff colonel. ... In the hospital on Saturday evening, a cluster of distraught mothers start shrieking at an American reporter and photographer. They present their ill children for inspection and beseech us for help -- any kind of help. "Why are you here?" one asks angrily. "If you can't help, then leave. We don't want to be studied like specimens." That night, still fearing the worst, Mona and Khaldoon stay at the hospital, tending to baby Maryam. In a nearby crib, a 5-day-old baby dies. In the morning, a 7-day-old dies too.


Iran rebels in Iraq flex muscles on Iranian border

Saul Hudson, Reuters: The United States bombed Mujahideen bases at the start of the war against Saddam Hussein, but decided last month to let the rebels keep their weapons in "non-combat" positions. "We are obviously in combat positions here, but we are not against the U.S. forces," Mitrah Bagherzadeh, a Mujahideen commander, told Reuters, within sight of Iranian peaks. "We had to establish these bases near the border to defend ourselves against incursions and provide a shield against the Iranian regime," the 42-year-old woman fighter said. The United States and the Mujahideen have a common interest in stopping Iraqi fighters of the Tehran-based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) from returning to their homeland to fill the power vacuum left by Saddam's removal.


Children of Sadr City bear brunt of crisis made worse by war

Donald Macintyre, Independent: The gastroenteritis outbreak started at about the same time that much of the world was celebrating the fall of Baghdad, on 9 April, and when the hospital was working flat out to cope with civilian injuries inflicted by Allied cluster bombs. ... The US-led Organisation for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance has not provided any help, so it is the Islamic scholastic group Hawza that is paying the doctors, has hired the man at the door with the AK-47 to keep out looters, and is shipping in from Najaf what little medical supplies it can.


At Iraqi Oil Plant, Bitterness and Idleness: Workers' Frustrations Mount in South as Operations Remain Stalled

Peter S. Goodman, Washington Post: "We can do our jobs; we don't need anybody to help us," said Hadi Sultan, a chief technical officer at the plant. "All we need is the tools." At a nearby residential complex where workers live in crumbling brick houses built in the 1950s, Kadhen Sae'ed Kailan, a safety inspector with Iraqi Drilling, was again staying home for lack of any work to inspect. He complained that KBR has yet to replace his stolen and destroyed equipment, and he smirked at what he said was the one tangible piece of evidence of KBR's progress: the new laminated identification cards they have been furnishing to oil workers, complete with photo and the approval of a now essentially defunct "Ministry of Oil." "They do nothing," Kadhen said. "During a month, they do nothing. Just changing this. This is a joke."


Iraq's cancer children overlooked in war

Jonathan Duffy, BBC: With Iraq's hospitals in disarray, the long-term sick are being passed over in a frantic effort to treat emergency cases. For the thousands of young leukaemia victims, the outlook is bleaker than ever. ... Munther has been unable to travel the 230 miles to Baghdad for his monthly treatment session at a specialist cancer care hospital, where he receives chemotherapy drugs injected into the spine and intravenously. ... Munther's medicine dried up a week ago and no-one knows if, or when, new supplies will be available. ... "I've been to the American [military] hospital in Nasiriyah and the Red Cross for help but they only handle first aid and they can't do anything," says Mr Abbas.


Iraqi scientist: Sanctions killed germ war program

CNN: The scientist, Nassir Hindawi, left Iraq's bio-weapons program in 1989, and one of his students -- Rihab Taha -- eventually became notorious as Iraq's leading biological weapons expert. But Hindawi told CNN that Taha -- who was nicknamed "Dr. Germ" in the West -- didn't have the practical capability to advance the program. Hindawi said economic sanctions imposed after the first Persian Gulf War effectively halted the program, and it probably could not have been reconstituted with whatever materials that remained from the previous years.


U.S. Still Has Not Found Iraqi Arms: Search Goes On for Weapons Powell Cited

Walter Pincus, Washington Post: The United States has yet to find weapons of mass destruction at any of the locations that Secretary of State Colin L. Powell cited in his key presentation to the U.N. Security Council in February, according to U.S. officials. ... They also have not turned up anything to support Powell's claim to the Security Council that "nearly two dozen" al Qaeda terrorists lived in and operated from Baghdad. ... One of Powell's most dramatic disclosures was that ... the United States "knew from sources that a missile brigade outside Baghdad was dispersing rocket launchers and warheads containing biological warfare agents . . . to various locations in western Iraq. ... most of the launchers and warheads had been hidden in large groves of palm trees and were to be moved every one to four weeks to escape detection." None of those weapons has been found, a senior administration official said yesterday. ... Powell detailed Iraq's use of mobile laboratories to produce chemical or biological weapons as a way of avoiding discovery. ... None of the truck laboratories has been discovered and none of the defectors has come forward. "They are not likely to appear," the senior official said, until Hussein's fate is known.


Clerics take charge as generals dither

Roula Khalaf, FT: When a three-man US army medical team walked into Baghdad's Qadisiya hospital this week, commotion ensued. Sayed Hashem, a young theology student given charge of the hospital by Shia clerics from the holy city of Najaf, seemed perturbed and explained the director general of the hospital was absent. ... The conversation was relaxed, as if between friends, until the issue of security was mentioned. When Major Bozzo offered to send soldiers to stand guard outside the hospital, a poker-faced Mr al-Jawahiri started to fidget in his seat. "This issue is sensitive now," the co-director said. "The population is sensitive. We are highly conservative." ... Sayed Hashem, who stood outside the door of the office, had by that time sent two envoys to interrupt the conversation and whisper in Mr al-Jawahiri's ear. The co-director advised patience and said that his visitors were a medical team discussing medical issues. ... "We told the Americans we would not co-operate with them and we could restore security ourselves," said Sayed Hashem. "They believed they could stop us from having weapons when groups like Ahmad Chalabi's [the formerly exiled Iraqi National Congress] had been armed by them."

U.S. To Use Corporate Structure To Run Iraq's Vast Oil Industry

Susan Warren and Chip Cummins, Wall Street Journal: Philip J. Carroll, former chief executive of Shell Oil Co., the U.S. arm of Royal Dutch/Shell Group, will be chairman of the board, working closely with an Iraqi vice chairman. That position is expected to be filled by Fadhil Othman, who led Iraq's oil-marketing group before Mr. Hussein assumed power 24 years ago, though the final team and their titles are still being negotiated. ... Thamir Gadhban, a senior oil ministry official coordinating reorganization efforts in Baghdad, said he would expect Iraq's top oil man to come from the current ranks of the ministry. "The Iraqi oil industry is not a new one, and there are experienced people in the ministry of oil and its organizations," who would be best qualified for the job, he said, adding, "this is the only normal way." ... Though Iraq's politically appointed oil minister hasn't been seen since American forces pushed Mr. Hussein from power, many of the agency's top bureaucrats appear firmly back in control. Mr. Gadhban and Kahtan Al-Anbaki, another top official involved with ministry reorganization efforts, said they expect Iraq to be able to quickly resume significant crude-oil output and could increase its current production-growth targets under a new government.

US May Use Mujahideen Rebels in Tensions with Iran

Firouz Sedarat, Reuters: After years of shunning the Iraq-based People's Mujahideen as "terrorists," the United States might use Iran's main rebel group to pressure Tehran as tensions rise between the two countries over post-Saddam Iraq. ... A left-leaning Islamist group during the 1979 revolution against the U.S.-backed shah, the Mujahideen broke from the ruling clergy, accusing them of trying to monopolize power. The group -- also known as Mujahideen Khalq -- waged a bloody campaign in the early 1980s to topple the Islamic Republic with a wave of assassinations of top officials. But many agree the group lost much of its popular support after it collaborated with Baghdad during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. ... A U.S. official said in February Washington would remove the Mujahideen from Iraq as part of Saddam's "brutal apparatus."

Reason for War? White House Officials Say Privately the Sept. 11 Attacks Changed Everything

John Cochran, ABCNews: To build its case for war with Iraq, the Bush administration argued that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, but some officials now privately acknowledge the White House had another reason for war — a global show of American power and democracy. Officials inside government and advisers outside told ABCNEWS the administration emphasized the danger of Saddam's weapons to gain the legal justification for war from the United Nations and to stress the danger at home to Americans. "We were not lying," said one official. "But it was just a matter of emphasis." Officials now say they may not find hundreds of tons of mustard and nerve agents and maybe not thousands of liters of anthrax and other toxins.

U.S. to Offer Resolution to End Sanctions

Karen DeYoung and Colum Lynch, Washington Post: The Bush administration plans to introduce next week a U.N. Security Council resolution that would lift more than a decade of international sanctions on Iraq, while limiting U.N. involvement in Iraq's foreseeable future to a consultative role, senior administration officials said yesterday.


Media, Troops Investigated in Iraq Theft

CURT ANDERSON, AP: Members of the news media and U.S. soldiers are being investigated for taking art, artifacts, weapons and cash from Iraq, with criminal charges already brought in one case, federal officials said Wednesday. ... None of the items displayed at a news conference were priceless antiquities looted from Iraqi museums. ... Customs agents are in Baghdad working with the museums to inventory what was stolen. The FBI and the Interpol law enforcement network also are helping investigate and recover lost items.


Not a drop that's safe to drink

Jonathan Duffy, BBC News Online: The electricity shutdown has also brought the sewage pumps [in Nasiriya] to a halt, so that much of this city of half a million people is sitting on a bed of stale human waste. In places it has started to seep up to ground level. ... With temperatures rising as summer approaches, Nasiriya could find a cholera epidemic on its hands, says one highly experienced aid worker. Clean water, or the lack of it, is more of a problem than anything else in Nasiriya. There is no shortage of food. The central distribution system set up under the Oil for Food programme ensured everyone here had enough rations to last them through to August. ... In some medical practices, 80% of patients seen are suffering from some sort of water infection. Dr Abdul Al-Shadood says his Al-Meelad clinic is seeing an average of 22 gastroenteritis cases a day, compared to one or two before the war. ... Dr Shadood's clinic has run out of the most basic treatment - oral rehydration solution. Instead, he is prescribing an antibiotic called Flagyl. But he has only a few days' stock left and no deliveries are scheduled.

Iraq-Israel peace treaty falters

Richard Sale, UPI: Bush administration plans to instal a pro-U.S. interim government in Iraq that would quickly sign a peace treaty with Israel appear to be faltering, thanks to a power vacuum in Baghdad and mounting Islamic opposition to any continued U.S. military presence, administration officials said. A second administration plan that would allow U.S. military forces access to four long-term bases in Iraq are also in jeopardy, these sources said. ... Administration officials confirmed that the Pentagon has pushed very hard to install Iraqi exiles such as Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, as head of any Iraqi interim government. ... But the first setback to the Pentagon plans apparently came at the hands of the British during the recent U.K.-U.S. summit meeting in Northern Ireland, U.S. officials said. Thanks to stormy debates between British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and President Bush, the Bush administration agreed that the DOD leadership candidates such as Chalabi would not have the required following in Iraq, and that legitimacy of a new government there would best be established by promoting local figures with solid roots in the populace. ... A former senior DIA intelligence official, Pat Lang, said: "If we thought there would be a nice leisurely transition, we were wrong. It looks like the Shia have beaten us to the punch in the south - they're taking over the country, and they'll make it clear they don't want us there." ... "The priority of establishing relations with Israel has to be placed in the context of broader Iraqi needs and the importance of any new government first establishing respectable and legitimate nationalist credentials early on," said former CIA national intelligence officer and Middle East expert Graham Fuller.

U.S. Tries to Curb Iranian Role in Iraq

Jonathan Wright, Reuters: "We've made clear to Iran that we would oppose any outside interference in Iraq's road to democracy," said White House spokesman Ari Fleischer. ... But Iran and Iraq have cultural ties dating back to the beginnings of civilization. Interaction between Iran and the Shi'ite south of Iraq has been especially close since Shi'ite Islam became Iran's state religion in the 16th century. Iraqi and Iranian clerics have moved between the two countries for centuries as teachers and community leaders. ... "Chalabi helped sell the idea of secular Shi'ism to them and gave the policy makers a sense of security," said the official, who asked not to be named. Chalabi's Iraqi National Congress has failed to build a domestic constituency in the two weeks since the fall of Saddam, despite material support from U.S. forces. "I've heard rumblings their confidence in Chalabi is waning. The INC are like the Miami Cubans, who think they can go back from exile and run things," the official said. ... Former Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk told an audience at the Brookings Institution the United States would have to act in Iraq like old-style imperialists. "We have to get rid of this naive notion that by turning on the lights and fixing the hospitals we are going to be able to build a moderate, representative government in Iraq. We're going to have to play the old imperial game of divide and rule and the stakes could not be higher," he said.

Why the Mullahs Love a Revolution

DILIP HIRO, New York Times: The supreme council has a 10,000-man army, armed by Iran, and controls many Iraqi towns near the Iranian border. By contrast, the Free Iraqi Forces loyal to Ahmad Chalabi, leader of the American-sponsored Iraqi National Congress, has only about 600 men at arms. The Pentagon made a show of airlifting Mr. Chalabi's men into the April 15 assembly of Iraqi politicians convened by the American pro-consul, retired Lt. Gen. Jay Garner. But the attendance of a mere 80 delegates (the supreme council, previously part of the American-sponsored official Iraqi opposition, boycotted), along with a noisy anti-American protest by 20,000 demonstrators, showed the weakness of Washington's hand. ... Had [Chalabi] joined the hundreds of thousands of Shiites who made the pilgrimage to Karbala this week he might have enhanced his standing. ... Compare this luxury-loving, highly Westernized banker (who was convicted by Jordan in absentia of embezzlement and fraud) with Ayatollah Khomeini, the ascetic Iranian Shiite cleric who shunned worldly goods and and led a popular revolution that overthrew what was the most powerful regime in the Middle East. It is an illustration of the difference between a "regime change" achieved by the people and one imposed by a foreign military power.


What the Kurds Want

BARHAM SALIH, Wall Street Journal: The new Iraqi state should have clearly limited powers. Those who want a strong executive presidency show no understanding of either Iraq or the Middle East. ... Justice demands that we reverse ethnic cleansing. The Arabization of Iraqi Kurdistan, the settlement program that few have ever heard of, began 40 years ago, before the long tyranny of the Baath Party. ... The Arab settlers who were used to colonize Khanaqin, Sinjar, Makhmoor, Sheikhan and Kirkuk must be treated fairly. ... As for the U.N., it has a role to play; but it must win back the trust of Iraqis. The U.N.'s Oil-for-Food program has been mismanaged appallingly. Half of the money allocated to Iraqi Kurdistan never reached us, thanks to bureaucratic obstacles erected in Baghdad and supported by U.N. Plaza. In Suleimaniyah, we have waited five years for the program to build a 400-bed hospital. No money from Oil-for-Food was allocated to cover the basic running costs of the Kurdish authorities. We could not pay a single Kurdish teacher or doctor with this money, while Oil-for-Food largesse went to Uday Hussein's National Olympic Committee. ... We have been told that any money taken from the Kurdish account [under Security Council Resolution 1472] is "reimbursable," that we will still be entitled to it. When, how, and, frankly, if, this money will ever be reimbursed we do not know. Let international control of Iraqi oil continue, but please, let it be to the benefit of Iraqis and not U.N. bureaucrats.


Confusion over who controls Iraq oil ministry

Charles Clover, Financial Times: A man in a green suit, standing outside the barbed wire, introduced himself as Fellah al-Khawaja and said he represented the Co-ordinating Committee for the Oil Ministry, which few of the employees had heard of. It draws its authority from a self-declared local government led by Mohamed Mohsen al-Zubaidi, a recently returned exile who says he is now the effective mayor of Baghdad. According to Faris Nouri, a ministry section chief, the committee has issued a list of who should be allowed into the ministry by US troops guarding the building. ... The [former] director-general said he was confused by the lack of any formal notices, and had a only a vague idea of the committee, backed by the Iraqi National Congress, the formerly exiled opposition group. "I don't honestly know who they are, who chose them, how they are being motivated," he said. "I know I am in contact with no one and no one is in contact with me." However, he lamented the whole US approach to dealing with postwar Iraq. "We have a lot of experience with coup d'états and this one is the worst," he said. "Any colonel in the Iraqi army will tell you that when he does a coup d'état, he goes to the broadcasting station with five announcements." "The first one is long live this, down with that. The second one is your new government is this and that. The third is the list of the people to go on retirement. The fourth one, every other official is to report back to work tomorrow morning. The fifth is the curfew." This is usually done within one hour, he added. "Now we are waiting more than a week and still we hear nothing from them."

Illicit Arms Kept Till Eve of War, an Iraqi Scientist Is Said to Assert

JUDITH MILLER, New York Times: A scientist who claims to have worked in Iraq's chemical weapons program for more than a decade has told an American military team that Iraq destroyed chemical weapons and biological warfare equipment only days before the war began, members of the team said. ... Under the terms of her accreditation to report on the activities of MET Alpha, this reporter was not permitted to interview the scientist or visit his home. Nor was she permitted to write about the discovery of the scientist for three days, and the copy was then submitted for a check by military officials.

'Let Them Arrest Him,' Tariq Aziz's Aunt Says

DAVID ROHDE, New York Times


Gunfire interrupts first press conference by 'Pentagon's man'

Kim Sengupta, Independent: Outside, one of his supporters, Haqi Ismail, sat in shock dabbing the graze on his nose from one of the eight bullets fired into his pick-up truck. ... In an increasingly surreal atmosphere he refused to explain what the flag of his movement – yellow, green and blue with what looked like red cluster bombs in the middle – symbolised. It was being carried by the Free Iraqi Forces, he said. But who exactly were they? "They are brave volunteers who are part of the coalition forces. Just like the British they are under General Tommy Franks," he responded. How did he explain that these volunteers have told journalists that they were in fact being paid around $300 a month by him, Mr Chalabi. "It is not $300, that is not the right figure," said Mr Chalabi looking rather alarmed...

Soldiers Stumble on Outrageous Fortune: An estimated $650 million in cash discovered in barricaded cottages will be held for the Iraqi people, U.S. officials say

David Zucchino, Los Angeles Times: Two Army sergeants went searching for saws Friday to clear away branches that were blocking their Humvees. But they stumbled across a sealed-up cottage that aroused their curiosity -- and ultimately led to the discovery of an estimated $650 million in cash. ... Taylor Griffin, a U.S. Treasury spokesman, offered assurances that any cash retrieved from Hussein's regime would be held aside for the people of Iraq. "If we find money and it's not counterfeit, any assets belonging to Saddam Hussein and his cronies will be returned to the Iraqis," Griffin said. ... Each aluminum box was sealed with metal rivets and hard plastic straps. Green tags read, in English and Arabic: "Jordan National Bank," followed by a serial number. ... Cash has been the preferred medium for all off-the-books transactions in Iraq because bank transactions have been monitored since the Gulf War, the former Iraqi official said. ... Many of the 7-inch $100,000 bundles were sealed in plastic shrink wrap and labeled "Boston series," "New York series," or "Richmond series," corresponding to the Federal Reserve Bank in those cities. The labels also listed the serial numbers of the bills, which were sequential new notes, many dated 1999 or 2001.


Baghdad protesters denounce 'occupation'

BBC: Thousands of people have taken to the streets of Baghdad after Friday prayers, to protest against what they see as a foreign occupation of their country. The marchers carried flags and banners saying "No to occupation" and demanding that the unity of Iraq be preserved. ... The talks in Riyadh - the first such meeting since the start of the war - are to address the reconstruction of Iraq and the issue of how to deal with a future US-led administration in Baghdad. Egypt and Iran have already said they would not recognise such a government.

Firm to sue Annan over lost trade

Gulf Daily News: A Bahraini trading and marketing company is planning to sue UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the loss of millions of dollars worth of business in Iraq.

Expert Thieves Took Artifacts, UNESCO Says

Robert J. McCartney, Washington Post: Well-organized professional thieves stole most of the priceless artifacts looted from Baghdad's National Museum of Antiquities last week, and they may have had inside help from low-level museum employees, the head of UNESCO said today. ... Matsuura said top museum officials tried to protect the institution, but the thieves may have succeeded in paying off guards or other low-ranking personnel. He said he doesn't blame the U.S. military, even though UNESCO had urged the U.S. government before the war to safeguard it and other cultural sites. ... The University of Chicago's Oriental Institute has already listed between 2,000 and 3,000 lost objects in a database, according to institute professor McGuire Gibson, who is one of the specialists advising UNESCO. ... Some of Iraq's most valuable artifacts were placed in a vault in the national bank after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. It isn't yet known if that vault is secure, or which items were placed there.


Bush Cultural Advisers Quit Over Iraq Museum Theft

Reuters: The head of a U.S. presidential panel on cultural property has resigned in protest at the failure of U.S. forces to prevent the wholesale looting of priceless treasures from Baghdad's antiquities museum. ... Earlier this week, antiquities experts said they had been given assurances from U.S. military planners that Iraq's historic artifacts and sites would be protected by occupying forces. U.S. archeological organizations and the U.N.'s cultural agency UNESCO said they had provided U.S. officials with information about Iraq's cultural heritage and archeological sites months before the war began.


So who really did save Private Jessica?

Richard Lloyd Parry, The [London] Times: “What the Americans say is like the story of Sinbad the Sailor — it’s a myth,” said Harith al-Houssona, who saved Private Lynch’s life after she was brought to the hospital by Iraqi military intelligence. ... US soldiers videotaped the rescue, but among the many scenes not shown to the press at US Central Command in Doha was one of four doctors who were handcuffed and interrogated, along with two civilian patients, one of whom was immobile and connected to a drip. “They were doctors, with stethoscopes round their necks,” Dr Harith said.

Lack of troops threatens Bush's post-war goals

Alan J. Kuperman, USAToday: By contrast, during instability in places such as Northern Ireland, Malaysia, Bosnia and Kosovo, intervention forces have required approximately 20 troops per thousand residents to maintain order. Postwar Iraq will likely fall in the latter category. ... Given Iraq's population of about 24 million, that could mean 480,000 peacekeepers. Two factors potentially could lessen the demand for U.S. troops. First, past cases indicate that if violence were lighter or regionally circumscribed, policing requirements might drop as low as 10 troops per thousand, or a total of 240,000. Second, our allies might contribute troops ... At least 200,000 peacekeepers probably would have to be Americans. ... Thus, Bush will have to compromise at least one of his aspirations: He could sacrifice democracy in Iraq ... Bush could sacrifice the war on terror ... [or] he could either reinstitute the military draft or activate large numbers of military reserves for extended tours of active duty.


US manages interests by pushing for Iraq debt relief

Al-Jazeera: By having Iraqi debt forgiven, however, coming US building costs may be met by Iraqi oil sales and the US taxpayer may not end up spending much more than they are already being asked to pay for the invasion so far. ... "In exchange for debt relief, France, Germany, Russia and others are very likely to ask for contracts to rebuild the country and sell Iraqi oil, as well as a voice in economic policy," points out Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a former State Department official in the Carter Administration. ... Middle East countries, Russia, Germany and France are all owed billions of dollars worth of money – yet the House of Representatives approved an amendment that would prevent reconstruction contracts going to Syria, Russia, Germany or France last week. ... "No one has forgiven Russia's debt, regardless of what kind of regime it was and regardless of the country's clout," Kudrin said. "For this reason, international law and our membership of the Paris Club of creditor nations will allow us to press for the repayment of our loans."


Anti-US protest in Baghdad

Al-Jazeera: “They are guarding oil facilities, but have not done anything as yet to restore essential services like power and water, “ alleged Ali Zuhair. ... Stung by the pitch of the protests, US soldiers quickly set up barricades round the hotel to keep the protestors at bay. ... “I saw for myself how the US troops goaded Iraqis to loot and burn the University of Technology,” claimed the professor Shakir Aziz. ... The dean of Basra university, Abdul Jabar al-Khalifa was gripped with rage as he surveyed the charred remains of what once used to be his office. “Is this freedom of Iraq or the freedom of thieves,” he questioned. ... “One day or another, honest Iraqis are going to force out the Americans, not for the sake of Saddam Hussein, but for the sake of Iraq,”  Hadithi said.

US rejects Iraq DU clean-up

Alex Kirby, BBC: Both the US and the UK acknowledge the dust can be dangerous if inhaled, though they say the danger is short-lived, localised, and much more likely to lead to chemical poisoning than to irradiation. ... The UN Environment Programme study, published in March 2003, found DU in air and groundwater in Bosnia-Herzegovina seven years after the weapons were fired. The UN says the existing data suggest it is "highly unlikely" DU could be linked to any of the health problems reported. ... Reports from Baghdad speak of repeated attacks by US aircraft carrying DU weapons on high-rise buildings in the city centre.

Muslims save Baghdad's Jewish community centre from looters

AFP: Iraqi Muslims came to the aid of Baghdad's tiny Jewish community yesterday, chasing out looters trying to sack its cultural centre in the heart of the capital. "At 3am, I saw two men, one with a beard, on the roof of the Jewish community house and I cried out to my friend, 'Hossam, bring the Kalashnikovs!'" said Hassam Kassam, 21. ... Two days ago, amid rampant looting in the capital, neighbours removed the sign reading 'Special Committee for the Religious Affairs of Ezra Menahem Daniel' to make the premises less conspicuous. ... "The Jews have always lived here, in this house, and it is only normal that we should protect them," said Ibrahim Mohamad, 36, who works in a small undergarments factory near the centre of town. Although the majority of Jews fled the country in the early 1950s, many of their Muslim tenants come each week to pay their rent to an old woman at the centre, Mohamad said. ... "We are defending the synagogue like all houses on the street and we will not let anyone touch it," said Edward Benham, a 19-year-old computer science student. The young Christian said that Jews normally came each Saturday but because of the lingering security problem, no one came last Saturday.

Financial scandal claims hang over leader in waiting

David Leigh and Brian Whitaker, The Guardian: some more details on Petra Bank collapse

Iraqi External Debt Stands At $104-129Bn, Says Report

MEES: summary of Exotix report


Armed groups order Shi'ite leader to quit Iraq

Reuters: Dibaji said the house was surrounded by members of Jimaat-e-Sadr-Thani, a splinter group led by Moqtada Sadr, the 22-year-old son of a late spiritual leader in Iraq. ... Senior Shi'ite leaders have blamed Jimaat-e-Sadr-Thani for orchestrating Thursday's killing of Khoei ... Budairi said he believed Sistani had been targeted because he was Iranian-born, and the radical groups opposed to him wanted an Iraqi as the country's spiritual leader. ... Moqtada is the son of Mohammed Sadeq Sadr, a Shi'ite Muslim spiritual leader killed along with his two other sons in 1999. Their deaths are widely blamed on the Iraqi secret service. After the death of his relatives, Moqtada took his fight against Saddam underground, attracting a large following of religious activists from poverty-stricken areas. His group resurfaced after U.S.-led forces captured Najaf on April 4.

Scandal-hit US firm wins key contracts

Antony Barnett, The Observer: DynCorp, which has donated more than £100,000 to the Republican Party, began recruiting for a private police force in Iraq last week on behalf of the US State Department. ... An Observer reporter who contacted the firm's US headquarters purporting to be a potential police recruit for Iraq was told it was hoping to 'get people on the ground in two to four weeks'. The recruiter told the reporter he could expect a salary of $80,000plus 'hazard bonuses'. He was offered a contract of between three months and a year and told he did not need to be able to speak Arabic. ... DynCorp personnel contracted to the United Nations police service in Bosnia were implicated in buying and selling prostitutes, including a girl as young as 12. Several DynCorp employees were also accused of videotaping the rape of one of the women. When Dyncorp employee Kathy Bolkovac blew the whistle on the sex ring she was dismissed by the company for drawing attention to their misbehaviour, according to the ruling of a British employment tribunal in November. ... A group of Ecuadorean peasants have filed a class action against the company alleging that herbicides spread by DynCorp in Colombia were drifting across the border, killing legitimate crops, causing illness, and killing children. The company denies the charges.


Looters Ransack Baghdad's Antiquities Museum

Hassan Hafidh, Reuters: Surveying the littered glass wreckage of display cases and pottery shards at the Iraqi National Museum on Saturday, deputy director Nabhal Amin wept and told Reuters: "They have looted or destroyed 170,000 items of antiquity dating back thousands of years...They were worth billions of dollars." She blamed U.S. troops, who have controlled Baghdad since the collapse of President Saddam Hussein's rule on Wednesday, for failing to heed appeals from museum staff to protect it from looters who moved into the building on Friday. "The Americans were supposed to protect the museum. If they had just one tank and two soldiers nothing like this would have happened," she said. "I hold the American troops responsible for what happened to this museum."

Abdul Majid al-Khoei: Shia cleric who preached tolerance

Adel Darwish, Independent:

U.S. Search for Illegal Arms Narrowed to About 36 Sites

DON VAN NATTA Jr. and DAVID JOHNSTON, New York Times: American forces have narrowed their hunt for banned weapons in Iraq to about three dozen sites, hoping to accelerate their search, government officials say. So far, no chemical, biological or nuclear weapons have been found. ... They were selected from more than 1,000 laboratories, plants, military installations and storage facilities once thought to contain banned weapons and component materials, the officials said. ... the inspection of the sites is expected to take at least a month, the officials said. ... American military intelligence officials have also sought evidence that the Qaeda terror network had a presence in Iraq and ties to Mr. Hussein's government. Here, too, they have come up empty. However, United States officials said they had still not found any evidence linking Al Qaeda's presence in northern Iraq with the toppled Baghdad government. ... Officials said they had not located Mr. Zarqawi or found any evidence of a Qaeda cell operating in Baghdad.


U.S. Plans for Iraqi Economy Hit Friction: To Help, World Bank Says It Needs U.N. Go-Ahead

Paul Blustein, Washington Post: The Bush administration hopes to start marshaling international support behind its reconstruction plans for the Iraqi economy, including forgiveness of much of the country's debts, at meetings this weekend of top economic policymakers from around the world. ... For the World Bank -- traditionally a major source of funding and expertise in "post-conflict" situations such as Kosovo and East Timor -- part of the problem is that it knows little about the Iraqi economy because of Baghdad's long-standing proclivity for secrecy. The bank last made a loan to Iraq in 1973. Its top staffers are now relying on figures supplied by the Economist Intelligence Unit Ltd., an analytical arm of the company that publishes the Economist magazine, for estimates of Iraq's gross domestic product, which they peg at about $26 billion. ... "We stand ready in any situation of reconstruction to be helpful," Wolfensohn said. But he added that the bank can only lend to a recognized government, "and that is a decision for the United Nations to take in principle." Even just to launch an assessment of needs, he said, bank staffers' activities would be severely limited by a long-standing U.N. resolution prohibiting any bank support for Iraq.

Iraqis left to fight debt mountain up to 383 billion dollars

AFP: Rick Barton, director of the Iraq post-conflict reconstruction project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), a Washington think-tank, said the liabilities broke down as follows: -- 199 billion dollars in Gulf War compensation claims. Of this, 172 billion dollars is for companies, governments and institutions. The rest is money still owed to families and individuals. -- 127 billion dollars in debt, of which 47 billion dollars was accrued interest. -- 57 billion dollars owed for pending contracts, such as energy and telecommunications deals. Most of this is owed to Russia. ... The debt, removing the accrued interest, would be 80 billion dollars, of which about 30 billion dollars is due to Gulf States, 17 billion dollars to Kuwait and 12 billion to Russia. "Like a typical bankrutpcy, it is probably worth a penny to two pennies on the dollar," he said. ... Michael Mussa, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund (news - web sites) and scholar at the Institute for International Economics, said the debt was expected to be written down substantially. "You need to have a new Iraqi government in place that is capable of negotiating its side of that issue. It is not something that is going to be settled by an interim military administration or an interim UN-backed administration," he said. ... Barton, however, pressed for a quicker solution, preferably wiping out all of the Iraqi debts and obligations, with the struggle starting as soon as IMF-World Bank meetings here this weekend.

Boston Globe: IMF and World Bank pledge billions

Martin Crutsinger, Associated Press: Preliminary estimates of the cost of that effort have ranged from $20 billion per year for the first several years to as much as $600 billion over a decade. ... Wolfensohn and IMF Managing Director Horst Koehler both said that their boards, which include the United States and the other G-7 nations, would have to approve any new loan programs. That means the United States will need to resolve any disagreements over the reconstruction effort before it will be able to achieve IMF and World Bank backing. Wolfensohn and Koehler said that before new loans begin flowing, the two institutions would join to send fact-finding missions to Iraq to gather data on Iraq's economy, which has been an enigma to the outside world because of the secrecy imposed by Hussein's regime. ... The US Treasury Department already has a team in Washington, headed by Undersecretary John Taylor, that is working on plans to set up a functioning banking and currency system for the country. ... The administration has also seized some $1.65 billion in Iraqi government assets that have been frozen in US banks since the first Persian Gulf War in 1990-91, money it plans to use to help in the rebuilding effort.

End of a dictator

Faleh A. Jabar, FT

Flow of Oil From Postwar Iraq Could Be Blocked by Rifts at U.N.

Jess Bravin and Bhushan Bahree, WSJ: "The French have been threatening to veto resolutions [on Iraqi reconstruction] before they've even been circulated," one council diplomat said. ... Now, without Security Council action, Iraqi oil exports might not be able to resume. ... Mr. Khelil and Abdullah Hamad bin Al-Attiyah, the president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said they had no idea when Iraq would resume oil exports. ... [ChevronTexaco Corp.] is waiting until there is "some certainty to the [oil-for-food] program and assurances about the title and who has the authority to sell it" before they purchase any Iraqi crude, he says. ... U.S. diplomats acknowledge they need council assent to lift the embargo. "There is no suggestion whatsoever of going outside of the system," said one U.S. official. Instead, the U.S. hopes to persuade the Security Council to approve pumping Iraqi oil again and selling it to help pay for reconstruction and other Iraqi needs. ... If the U.S. and Britain "are going to be in charge of selling the oil, there should be safeguards to ensure the proceeds are used for the benefit of the Iraqi people," a U.N. diplomat said. ... With that regime gone and no legitimate successor recognized, oil companies fear their dealings could be tied in legal knots.


Saddam key in early CIA plot

Richard Sale, UPI


Russia And Iraq: The Question Of The Russian Oil Contracts

Florence C. Fee, MEES


Red Cross says hospitals no longer counting casualties

AP: ''All of the hospitals are under pressure and the medical staff is working without respite,'' said the ICRC statement. ''Despite the intense and desperate activity, hospital staff is still managing the situation.'' But it said that hospitals urgently needed more water supplies. Given the general power outage in Baghdad, most hospitals and water installations are now being powered by backup generators. It said it was getting many requests for service kits, spare parts and repairs for water plants. ... The ICRC said that Red Cross delegates who reached the southern city of Basra reported that the medical situation was generally under control and that there were no signs of epidemics. But it said it feared the worst for other hospitals outside Baghdad and Basra.

The fight yet to come

Ed Vulliamy and Kamal Ahmed, The Observer: many relief organisations - including Oxfam and Medecins Sans Frontiers - have said they will refuse to operate under such arrangements. Thirteen leading non-governmental aid groups have sent a letter to George Bush urging him to 'ask the UN to serve as the humanitarian coordinator for Iraq'. ... Meanwhile, the Americans lay their plans regardless, with some controversial names emerging for the postwar government. Woolsey is a controversial figure, principally for his proximity to those who harbour fervent ideological commitment to unchallenged US power in the region and the world. ... He claimed the new war faces three enemies: the religious rulers of Iran, the 'fascists' of Iraq and Syria, and Islamic extremists such as al-Qaeda. ... 'It looks like we are on the verge of further alienating allies,' said one State Department official, 'and it looks like we are going to do exactly what we promised we would not - take small groups of exiles with limited influence in Iraq and bring them in as the bulk of a transition government.' One senior former diplomat in Baghdad and elsewhere in the region told The Observer: 'There are no serious Arabists left in the government now; only those who have been telling the White House what it wants to hear. The dragons have taken over'.

The U.S. Ex-General Who Will Run Iraq

Paul Holmes, Reuters: Garner is a friend of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, one of the administration's main hawks, and chaired a panel in the late 1990s on strategic missile defense. ... During the 1991 Gulf War, he commanded Patriot missile batteries used to defend Israel from Iraqi Scud missile attacks. He was then assigned to lead the military mission to set up a safe haven for Kurdish refugees in northern Iraq after Saddam's brutal suppression of a post-war Kurdish uprising. ... Garner was among 43 retired senior U.S. officers to sign a statement in October 2000 blaming the Palestinian Authority for the violence that followed the collapse of peace talks and praising the "remarkable restraint" of the Israeli army. The declaration was circulated by the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, a Washington-based lobby group that says a strong and secure Israel is essential in the Middle East. ... He was fixing the boat deck when the call came to turn his attention to rebuilding Iraq, the Orlando Sentinel newspaper reported last month. "I'm going to be away for a while," the newspaper quoted him as telling a family friend. "I have to do a little work for Donald Rumsfeld."

Blasts Thunder Across Baghdad; U.S. Tightens Grip

Hassan Hafidh, Reuters: Figures for the number of civilians killed or injured in Baghdad were not available but International Committee of the Red Cross spokesman Roland Huguenin-Benjamin in Baghdad told Reuters on Sunday, "During fierce bombardment, hospitals received up to 100 casualties per hour." ... "I've been a doctor for 25 years and this is the worst I've seen in terms of number of casualties and fatal wounds," said Dr. Osama Saleh al-Duleimi, 48, who witnessed the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war and the 1991 Gulf War. An ICRC spokeswoman in Geneva said the situation in the city was becoming desperate. "The situation is extremely problematic now in terms of clean water supply and sewage evacuation. Everybody now is operating on backup generators as there is hardly any power any more," said Antonella Notari.

US accused of plans to loot Iraqi antiques

Liam McDougall, Sunday Herald [Scotland]: FEARS that Iraq's heritage will face widespread looting at the end of the Gulf war have been heightened after a group of wealthy art dealers secured a high-level meeting with the US administration. It has emerged that a coalition of antiquities collectors and arts lawyers, calling itself the American Council for Cultural Policy (ACCP), met with US defence and state department officials prior to the start of military action to offer its assistance in preserving the country's invaluable archaeological collections. The group is known to consist of a number of influential dealers who favour a relaxation of Iraq's tight restrictions on the ownership and export of antiquities. Its treasurer, William Pearlstein, has described Iraq's laws as 'retentionist' and has said he would support a post-war government that would make it easier to have antiquities dispersed to the US.


Postwar Plan Worries Legal Community: Iraqi Lawyers, Judges Object to Interim Authority, Propose Rules for Elections

Caryle Murphy, Washington Post: A group of exiled Iraqi lawyers and judges yesterday expressed concern about the Bush administration's plans for creating an interim authority in postwar Iraq and said that anyone appointed to serve in a transitional government should be barred from running in the country's first elections. ... Those recommendations are in a 700-page report that the group will present to the State Department and the United Nations.

U.S. Expects Fresh UN Fight Over Iraq Oil Exports

Bernie Woodall, Reuters: The United States is expecting another fight in the United Nations with Russia and France over how to get Iraq's oil exports going again once the war is over, U.S. officials said on Friday. ... Under international law, a country's resources belong to its people, oil industry figures said, raising questions about the power of a military government such as that contemplated by Washington to exploit Iraq's oil, even if the money went to reconstruction, as the United States has pledged. ... "Some companies, and this includes major U.S. oil companies, may not want to touch Iraqi oil because of all the legal questions," this trader said. "The lawyers in these companies may say they are not sure they are not buying stolen oil."


3 CIA assets killed in Baghdad

Richard Sale, UPI: Three Iraqis who aided the CIA in the March 20 attempt by the United States to kill Iraqi President Saddam Hussein were executed this week by Iraqi counterintelligence, former and serving U.S. officials told United Press International. ... Delta and Special Forces units in the country had help from three Iraqi agents recruited by the CIA some time after June 2000, when the first CIA paramilitary teams secretly entered Baghdad to do reconnaissance and recruitment. ... The March 20 operation involved more than 300 Special Forces, who moved into the country to join Delta troops and CIA paramilitaries, these sources said. ... One former long-time CIA operative said it was the Delta men, already in country, who made the breakthrough for the U.S. attack by infiltrating a key Baghdad telecommunications center and tapping a fiber optic telephone line. ... CIA paramilitary teams, working with Delta Forces, still are inside Iraq, attempting to kill 30 top Iraqi leaders, including Saddam's other son, Uday, who commands the Iraqi Fedayeen, several U.S. sources said. One administration official confirmed that U.S. intelligence has the names, addresses and cell phone numbers of the 30 targets. ... "The strategy is to goad [Saddam] to appear so that we can kill him," one former senior agency covert operative said.


Resisting occupation

Al-Ahram Weekly interview with Sayed Mohamed Baqer Al-Hakim, of SCIRI


WHO LIED TO WHOM? Why did the Administration endorse a forgery about Iraq’s nuclear program?

Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker: One senior I.A.E.A. official ... told me, “These documents are so bad that I cannot imagine that they came from a serious intelligence agency. It depresses me, given the low quality of the documents, that it was not stopped. At the level it reached, I would have expected more checking.” ... It took Baute’s team only a few hours to determine that the documents were fake. The agency had been given about a half-dozen letters and other communications between officials in Niger and Iraq, many of them written on letterheads of the Niger government. The problems were glaring. One letter, dated October 10, 2000, was signed with the name of Allele Habibou, a Niger Minister of Foreign Affairs and Coöperation, who had been out of office since 1989. Another letter, allegedly from Tandja Mamadou, the President of Niger, had a signature that had obviously been faked and a text with inaccuracies so egregious, the senior I.A.E.A. official said, that “they could be spotted by someone using Google on the Internet.” ... Baute, according to the I.A.E.A. official, “confronted the United States with the forgery: ‘What do you have to say?’ They had nothing to say.” ... Forged documents and false accusations have been an element in U.S. and British policy toward Iraq at least since the fall of 1997 ... A former Clinton Administration official told me that London had resorted to, among other things, spreading false information about Iraq. The British propaganda program—part of its Information Operations, or I/Ops—was known to a few senior officials in Washington. ... Over the next year, a former American intelligence officer told me, at least one member of the U.N. inspection team who supported the American and British position arranged for dozens of unverified and unverifiable intelligence reports and tips—data known as inactionable intelligence—to be funnelled to MI6 operatives and quietly passed along to newspapers in London and elsewhere. ... The chance for American intelligence to challenge the documents came as the Administration debated whether to pass them on to ElBaradei. The former high-level intelligence official told me that some senior C.I.A. officials were aware that the documents weren’t trustworthy. “It’s not a question as to whether they were marginal. They can’t be ‘sort of’ bad, or ‘sort of’ ambiguous. They knew it was a fraud—it was useless. Everybody bit their tongue and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if the Secretary of State said this?’ The Secretary of State never saw the documents.” He added, “He’s absolutely apoplectic about it.”


Post-Saddam Iraq Could Be A Supergiant Producer, Says Fadhil Chalabi

MEES: Dr Chalabi concluded that an ambitious program of capacity expansion would not be achieved easily in Iraq: “It would require political stability and the existence of a credible government, along with reforms to the oil industry with a view to higher rates of growth and contributing to solving the economic problems of Iraq. This can only be done if a new structure for the oil industry in Iraq is created. Iraq has politically always been against the presence of international oil companies, but in order to secure capital, good management and good market outlets, Iraq would have to allow the participation of foreign oil companies. Iraq would have to be realistic, and allow at least partial privatization.” He recommended the creation of an independent Iraqi oil company, supervised by government but self-managed. Importantly, a 25-40% privatization through the sale of shares in stock markets would enable the Iraqi industry to be managed jointly by international companies and Iraqi nationals, some representing the government, giving Iraq a majority share in decision-making. This radical reform in the structure of the oil industry in Iraq would need a thorough study by experts in legal and financial affairs, and it could take time before clear-cut measures are taken, Dr Chalabi noted. He drew a parallel to the case of Statoil of Norway, which was first 100% owned by the Norwegian Government and is now 20% privatized ... “It is also worth studying the case of the Russian oil industry after the collapse of communism and the conversion of the oil industry into the private sector. In fact, the present privatized Russian industry has achieved progress for expansion in the industry. However, this kind of radical reform may face particular resistance in Iraq, especially by the older generation, which may still be attracted by outdated concepts of oil nationalization.”

Three Administrative Regions For US Rule In Post-Saddam Iraq



Bush team sets war cost at $80 billion: Estimate comes after Congress has OKd budget

Dana Milbank, Mike Allen, San Francisco Chronicle [Washington Post?]: President Bush plans to tell congressional leaders on Monday that the war in Iraq will cost about $80 billion, administration officials said, three days after both chambers of Congress passed budget plans and authorized tax cuts without a war-cost estimate from the administration. For weeks, White House officials refused to provide a cost estimate, saying they could not account for the various war scenarios. But officials said Saturday that on Monday, Bush plans to tell congressional leaders he will ask for additional funding of about $80 billion. ... Pentagon officials last month suggested a range of $60 billion to $95 billion for the war alone.

First Stop, Iraq

Michael Elliott and James Carney, Time: "F___ Saddam. We're taking him out." Those were the words of President George W. Bush, who had poked his head into the office of National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. It was March 2002, and Rice was meeting with three U.S. Senators, discussing how to deal with Iraq through the United Nations, or perhaps in a coalition with America's Middle East allies. Bush wasn't interested. He waved his hand dismissively, recalls a participant, and neatly summed up his Iraq policy in that short phrase. The Senators laughed uncomfortably; Rice flashed a knowing smile. The President left the room.


Blow for Short in battle with Pentagon: Military wants US firms to run Iraq's hospitals

Charlotte Denny, The Guardian: Whitehall officials expressed concern that America's military planners appear to be cutting the UN out of any political role in favour of its own plan to put a retired general, Jay Garner, in the driving seat. ... The Wall Street Journal reported last week that the US agency for international development has called for American companies to bid for more than $1bn (£640m) worth of reconstruction contracts, including running health and education services. Without a UN resolution, Whitehall lawyers say that the US and UK occupying forces would have no legal right to run the country's institutions. "There is no legal mandate for that sort of activity," said one Whitehall official. "It's all quite bizarre."


Oil groups eye stake in wake of conflict

Cathy Newman, FT: The [senior Whitehall] insider added that although the value of the oil would be handed back to the Iraqis, the US and the UK were keen to use some of the proceeds of developing it to offset the cost of war.


U.S. Is Quietly Soliciting Bids For Rebuilding Postwar Iraq

Neil King Jr, Wall Street Journal: The Bush administration is preparing to award a contract valued at as much as $900 million to begin rebuilding a postwar Iraq ... The U.S. Agency for International Development quietly sent a detailed "request for proposals" to bid on the contract to at least five of the nation's infrastructure-engineering firms. ... The work would form the core of a plan that Bush administration officials say is meant to demonstrate its resolve to immediately improve the quality of life in Iraq ... The plan sees starting reconstruction in Iraq immediately after a war ends and restoring essential water systems, roadways, ports, hospitals and schools. Planners envision wrapping up the rebuilding in 18 months, creating "a new framework for economic and governance institutions," the document says. "We are attempting to do something unusual, which is to begin humanitarian assistance and reconstruction simultaneously," said USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios, who otherwise declined to discuss the matter in detail. "We have never done anything on this scale before." ... [Anthony Cordesman:] "But what bothers people is that some of these contracts may not be real aid, but may obligate the Iraqis to pay for the work. There is also a concern that work may be given only to U.S. and British companies."

The Cost Of War And Reconstruction, Iraqi Debt – Who Will Foot The Bill?

MEES: good survey of various costs facing Iraq

Iraq’s Downstream Requires Immediate $700Mn Investment, Says 'Uqaili

MEES: former INOC, MinOil senior official assesses needs


A Hazy Target: Before going to war over weapons of mass destruction, shouldn't we be sure Iraq has them?

William Arkin, LA Times: Instructively, the one place where policy is not being driven by the focus on chemical and biological weapons is inside the American armed forces. ... Incredible as it may seem, given all the talk by the administration -- including Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's discourse last week about continuing Iraqi deception -- there is simply no hard intelligence of any such Iraqi weapons. There is not a single confirmed biological or chemical target on their lists, Air Force officers working on the war plan say. ... Moreover, "it takes a lot of chemicals to have a significant effect on the battlefield," [Maj. Gen. John Doesburg, the Army's top biological and chemical defense commander] told Bloomberg News. "We don't suspect he has the stockpile."


Some Evidence on Iraq Called Fake: U.N. Nuclear Inspector Says Documents on Purchases Were Forged

Joby Warrick, Washington Post: Documents that purportedly showed Iraqi officials shopping for uranium in Africa two years ago were deemed "not authentic" after careful scrutiny by U.N. and independent experts, Mohamed ElBaradei ... told the U.N. Security Council. ElBaradei also rejected a key Bush administration claim -- made twice by the president in major speeches and repeated by Secretary of State Colin L. Powell yesterday -- that Iraq had tried to purchase high-strength aluminum tubes to use in centrifuges for uranium enrichment. Also, ElBaradei reported finding no evidence of banned weapons or nuclear material in an extensive sweep of Iraq using advanced radiation detectors. ... Knowledgeable sources familiar with the forgery investigation described the faked evidence as a series of letters between Iraqi agents and officials in the central African nation of Niger. The documents had been given to the U.N. inspectors by Britain and reviewed extensively by U.S. intelligence. The forgers had made relatively crude errors that eventually gave them away -- including names and titles that did not match up with the individuals who held office at the time the letters were purportedly written, the officials said. "We fell for it," said one U.S. official who reviewed the documents. ... Despite international sanctions intended to block Iraq from obtaining weapons components, Western intelligence agencies and former weapons inspectors were convinced the Iraqi president had resumed his quest for the bomb in the late 1990s, citing defectors' stories and satellite images that showed new construction at facilities that were once part of Iraq's nuclear machinery. ... Several have said that the "anodized" features mentioned by Powell are actually a strong argument for use in rockets, not centrifuges, contrary to the administration's statement. ... "Despite being presented with the falseness of this claim, the administration persists in making misleading arguments about the significance of the tubes," the institute's president, David Albright, wrote in the report.


Unready for the Aftermath

Kenneth H. Bacon and George Rupp, Washington Post: The United States boasts that it has shipped nearly 3 million humanitarian daily rations to the region to help feed Iraqis. But individual meal packets will feed only a tiny portion of Iraq's 24 million people, and for just a few days. A United Nations official recently called U.S. and U.N. preparations to feed the Iraqi people "grossly inadequate." ... So far the U.N. refugee office has raised less than $20 million of the $60 million it is seeking for tents, stoves, blankets and other materials for refugee camps. Most of that money came from the United States. As result, the agency has positioned only about 20 percent of the equipment it needs in the region. ... In a flurry of news conferences last week, administration officials admitted that the military may have to provide food and medical assistance during and immediately after a conflict, but they said humanitarian tasks would quickly be turned over to the United Nations and private relief agencies. Sadly, private relief agencies, most of which depend on government funding, aren't yet well prepared for the task. Although the United States has spent $2.4 billion to send troops to the Persian Gulf region, it has spent less than $1 million to position relief agencies in the region.


Foreign Editor's Briefing: February 26, 2003

Bronwen Maddox, The Times: But there is much speculation that he would quickly hand over the day-to-day tasks to General John Abizaid, a three-star general, an Arabic-speaking Harvard graduate of Lebanese descent, and now regarded as one of the Administration’s most prized players. ... The military leader will work with a civilian administrator. One name repeatedly mentioned is that of Bernard Kouchner, the former head of the United Nations civil administration in Kosovo, and a French politician who loves America. Another mooted is Surin Pitsuwan, Thailand’s former Foreign Minister. Co-ordinating all the relief efforts will be the new Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, run by the Pentagon. It would be based in Doha, Qatar, during a war and moved to Iraq afterwards. The office is led by retired Lieutenant-General Jay Garner, who headed Operation Provide Comfort after the 1991 Gulf War, providing aid for Kurds in northern Iraq. His deputy is Ronald Adams. There will be three wings to the office: humanitarian aid, reconstruction, and civil governance. Michael Mobbs, a lawyer with good contacts in the Bush Administration, is now widely tipped for the governance wing.


Powell's U.N. report apparently contains false information

Gilbert Cranberg and George H. Gallup, Sarasota Herald Tribune: When Powell referred to this conversation, he quoted one of the parties as ostensibly saying, "And we sent you a message yesterday to clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas, the abandoned areas. Make sure there is nothing there." The State Department's transcript of the actual conversation makes it evident that Powell had embellished the quote to make it appear much more incriminating. Instead of being a directive to "clean out all of the areas, the scrap areas and the abandoned areas," as Powell claimed, the transcript shows the message from headquarters was merely "to inspect (emphasis added) the scrap areas and the abandoned areas." [State Department transcript]


Inspectors Call U.S. Tips 'Garbage'

CBS News: In fact, the U.S. claim that Iraq is developing missiles that could hit its neighbors – or U.S. troops in the region, or even Israel – is just one of the claims coming from Washington that inspectors here are finding increasingly unbelievable. The inspectors have become so frustrated trying to chase down unspecific or ambiguous U.S. leads that they've begun to express that anger privately in no uncertain terms.
  1. satellite photographs purporting to show new research buildings at Iraqi nuclear sites. When the U.N. went into the new buildings they found "nothing."
  2. Saddam's presidential palaces, where the inspectors went with specific coordinates supplied by the U.S. on where to look for incriminating evidence. Again, they found "nothing."
  3. Interviews with scientists about the aluminum tubes the U.S. says Iraq has imported for enriching uranium, but which the Iraqis say are for making rockets. Given the size and specification of the tubes, the U.N. calls the "Iraqi alibi air tight."


No Overnight Oil Boom In Post-Saddam Iraq, Major Rehabilitation Needed, Says Issam al-Chalabi

MEES: "It is estimated that it will take a minimum of two years of hard and unrestricted efforts, plus around $3bn, to bring Iraq’s oil production capacity back to its pre-August 1990 level of 3.5mn b/d." ... In early 1990 the Iraqi government formed a plan to raise production capacity to around 6mn b/d by 1996, through the joint efforts of the Iraq National Oil Company (INOC) and the international oil companies (IOCs). This target would still be attainable under a new regime on the assumption of a period of political stability, but not realistically much before 2010. ... “In my view, talk of raising production and export capacity to 8mn b/d is premature; and such a move would be very expensive in terms of capital costs and operational needs. Iraq can, at some future point, consider a production target of around 8mn b/d, but only after reaching the earlier target of 6mn b/d, i.e., after 2010 at the earliest.”


Iraqi missile find raises tensions

BBC: Fresh allegations that Iraq is in breach of United Nations disarmament resolutions have been levelled at Baghdad after the discovery of a missile that marginally exceeds the maximum range set by the UN. However, it has emerged that it was Baghdad itself that informed arms inspectors about the existence of the al-Samoud II missile .... This would be enough to hit Kuwait, for example, but not enough to reach Israel.

War Will Cause Civilian Catastrophe: Aid Agencies, Iraq's Neighbors

[important] Islam Online and New Agencies: [Walter Fust, the Swiss government's development aid chief] was summarizing opinions expressed during a two-day closed-door meeting between experts from 29 governments and 21 aid agencies that ended on Sunday. ... The United States declined to take part in the Geneva meeting. "We are uncertain as to how the conference would assist the planning," a U.S. official said this week. ... "According to polls, 40 percent of children (in Iraq) do not think life is worth living," Fust said, quoting data from humanitarian agencies. ... Fust said the neighboring countries -- Iran, Jordan, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey -- had "made a strong commitment... to a policy of open borders" to facilitate relief efforts. Fust said aid agencies had received many verbal pledges from donor countries but little in the way of actual payments to carry out their contingency planning. ... Apart from Iraq's neighbors, the other participants included the four permanent members of the Security Council other than the U.S. -- Britain, China, France and Russia -- as well as major donor nations Germany and Japan.


US, UN agree: Washington to care for post-war Iraq

Irwin Arieff, Reuters: The military would be obliged to take care of ordinary Iraqis under the 1944 Geneva Convention on civilian rights in wartime, said Kenzo Oshima, the U.N. emergency relief coordinator. ... Mark Malloch Brown, head of the U.N. Development Program, said recently that rebuilding Iraq could cost up to $30 billion over three years and eventually soar to up to $100 billion. ... U.S. humanitarian groups, however, called the Bush administration's planning inadequate ... "Administration officials have told us they do not plan to take responsibility for the care and protection of Iraqi civilians should these weapons (weapons of mass destruction) be used during the war," [Mary McClymont, president of InterAction, an alliance of 160 U.S.-based humanitarian groups] said in a statement.


British report on Iraqi 'rapist' scorned

Nicholas Pelham and Jean Eaglesham, Financial Times: Evidence cited in a British government document alleging human rights abuses in Iraq has been attacked as "absolutely incorrect" by [Human Rights Watch]. ... The new claim of inaccuracy centres on a case study includeed in a report on Iraq's human rights abuses, published by the Foreign Office in December. A box headlined "A Professional Rapist" purported to show the "government personnel card" for Aziz Salih Ahmed, who "activity" was described as "violating women's honour". The same index card was used in a similar US State Department briefing - Iraq: A Population Silenced - released at the end of last year. ... "Rather than employing Aziz as a rapist, the Iraqi authorities were suspecting him of rape," says Mouin Rabbani, a Middle East analyst in Amman. ... Peter Bouckaert, senior researcher at Human Rights Watch said ... "It's a mistranslation." ... The case study is sourced in the dossier to the Iraq Research and Documentation Project at Harvard University. The project is headed by Kanan Makiya... The Foreign Office stood by the case study.

Iraqis face famine and thirst

BBC: Donor countries have pledged nearly $40m to help deal with any humanitarian crisis, but Mr Oshima said they needed to give much more - estimating that at least $120m was needed.


A Terrorist With a Deadly Past

DON VAN NATTA Jr. with DAVID JOHNSTON, New York Times: But there is less consensus about Mr. Powell's contention that Mr. Zarqawi exemplifies a fledgling alliance between Iraq and Al Qaeda. In Germany, officials have investigated Mr. Zarqawi for more than a year, but Mr. Powell's assertion surprised them. "We have been investigating Mr. Zarqawi for some time," said a senior German intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. "We need to examine the evidence that Powell has drawn from, and it is possible that he knows things that we don't. But as of yet we have seen no indication of a direct link between Zarqawi and Baghdad." ... Mr. Zarqawi's group is known as Al Tawhid, which Mr. Powell described as an "affiliate" of Al Qaeda whose terrorist goals seemed indistinguishable from those of Osama bin Laden's network. Though Mr. Zarqawi trained with Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, several intelligence officials, who are somewhat skeptical of Mr. Powell's analysis, emphasized that Mr. Zarqawi might not be a member of Al Qaeda. "He has not pledged allegiance to bin Laden," said one American official. ... Some terrorism and intelligence experts questioned how the Americans could have such specific information so quickly. "It takes a long time to backtrack the chain of evidence from all these different arrests — not only being able to link them together in Europe but also to link them all the way to Iraq," said Magnus Ranstorp, a terrorism expert at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "It seems awfully quick to be able to draw such solid lines between this large group and find evidence that leads all the way back to Zarqawi." ... Along with Mr. Zarqawi's medical treatment, one of the strongest circumstantial links cited by Mr. Powell was an incident last summer. Mr. Zarqawi, who was living openly in Baghdad at the time, disappeared from the Iraqi capital after officials in Jordan, at the urging of the Bush administration, asked Iraq to hand him over to face terrorism charges in Jordan.


France, Germany to Push Iraq Proposal

AP: France and Germany intend to present a proposal to the U.N. Security Council next week to send U.N. soldiers to disarm Iraq, ... The plan, according to a German newsmagazine, involves reconnaissance missions, the deployment of thousands of U.N. peacekeepers and tripling the number of U.N. weapons inspectors. ... The reported plan drew harsh criticism from U.S. officials including Secretary of State Colin Powell, who called it an ineffective ploy by Berlin and Paris to delay military action. ... ``Rumsfeld was here for 24 hours meeting with German and French officials and no one told him anything. That was not an auspicious start,'' a senior U.S. official at the Munich meeting said on condition of anonymity. ... [Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.] recalled the failure of U.N. soldiers to protect civilians in the Bosnian Muslim enclave of Srebrenica, where more than 7,500 were slaughtered in the summer of 1995. But Belgium backed the German-French plans Sunday, saying they were a chance to avoid war.


Journalists visit Iraq 'chemical weapons site'

[important] Jim Muir, BBC: The site, used as a base by the Ansar al-Islam, is adjacent to the small hamlet of Sargatt in the hills which run along the Iranian border north of the Kurdish town of Halabja. ... At the back of a row of buildings there was one drum which had originally contained plastic-related chemicals but it was empty. The Ansar said it had been used to store fuel. ... If the site had been used for producing or experimenting in chemical or biological weapons, there was no obvious sign that that is still the case. ... We were told that fear of [an American] attack had led villagers in the immediate area to leave. In other nearby villages outside the Ansar pocket, elders also expressed fears that they might be the victims of American attacks gone wrong, like those that happened in Afghanistan. ... The people of the town of Khurmal, about five kilometres away to the west are particularly anxious since Mr Powell gave their town's name to the alleged chemical weapons site.


Hands off Kirkuk, US tells Turks, Kurds

Reuters: Turkish troops can enter a border area of Iraq for border control and humanitarian purposes if the United States invades Iraq but Washington does not want any Turkish or Iraqi Kurdish forces in the oil city of Kirkuk , an Iraqi opposition source said on Friday.

U.S. in Talks on Allowing Turkey to Occupy a Kurdish Area in Iraq

DEXTER FILKINS with C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: Mr. Dizayee [KDP] referred to the various Turkish rationales for intervention as "pretexts." Like many Kurdish leaders, Mr. Dizayee expressed pride in the democratic institutions the Kurds have built during their 12 years of autonomy. ... "We think these democratic institutions have set a precedent for the rest of Iraq," Mr. Dizayee said. "If they were undermined, it would reflect badly on the whole operation." ... The senior official with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan said the Kurds were eagerly anticipating the arrival of American soldiers, but not that of the Turks. ... "We regard America as liberators," the official said. "And our neighbors as looters."

'The Game is Over,' Bush Warns Iraq: President Calls on U.N. to Follow Pledge to Punish, Disarm Hussein

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: According to those surveyed in the Washington Post-ABC News poll, the allegation of Iraqi ties to al Qaeda was among the least convincing parts of Powell's argument. ... Powell told senators that if Hussein were serious, he would "turn over all [his] cards. ... he would be telling us what happened to the anthrax, what happened to the bombs, what's going on at this facility."

U.S. inaction on Iraqi camp is questioned

GREG MILLER, Los Angeles Times: Lawmakers who have attended classified briefings on the camp say that they have been stymied for months in their efforts to get an explanation for why the United States has not launched a military strike on the compound near the village of Khurmal. ... "This is it; this is their compelling evidence for use of force," said one intelligence official, who asked not to be identified. "If you take it out, you can't use it as justification for war." ... Failing to intervene appears to be at odds with President Bush's stated policy of pre-empting terrorist threats ... U.S. intelligence agents are said to be operating among the Kurdish population nearby, and U.S. and British warplanes already patrol much of northern Iraq as part of their enforcement of a no-fly zone.

Key White House Iraq Aide Is Out: Miller and Leverett Of CIA Will Leave

ADAM DAIFALLAH, New York Sun: The departures are being interpreted as a sign that Elliott Abrams, the NSC's recently appointed senior director for Near East, Southwest Asian and North African affairs with responsibility for Arab-Israeli issues, is exerting his influence.

Study: Postwar Iraq May Cost $50B a Year

MICHAEL McDONOUGH, AP: Peacekeeping operations after a war in Iraq could cost the United States and its allies between $12 billion and $50 billion a year, a leading military think tank said Friday. The Institute of International Strategic Studies computed the cost of a 50,000 to 200,000-person force using U.S. estimates that a peacekeeper in Bosnia costs $250,000 a year. ... The institute report said any fighting would likely cost less than the 1991 Gulf War. It cited a U.S. Congressional Budget Office estimate ...

Radical Islam in Iraqi Kurdistan: the mouse that roared?

International Crisis Group. [important] Detailed discussion of Ansar al-Islam, suggesting that much of its perceived importance owes to the PUK's presentation of it.

Iraq, al Qaeda Link Is Questioned

Ian Johnson, David Crawford and Gary Fields, Wall Street Journal: "Iraq is certainly allowing freedom of movement and financial transfers, but they're not in any way directing things," said Magnus Ranstorp of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "Powell's remarks were for domestic consumption." ... German officials say their skepticism is based on their 18-month investigation of Mr. Zarqawi's Al Tawhid organization. A year ago, they scored a break by rounding up a dozen members of the group. ... But members of the cell say Iraq never figured into the picture. Indeed, they say Mr. Zarqawi isn't himself a core member of al Qaeda. They say his operations are more like an affiliate to the group, focusing on the Palestinian cause and establishing a theocracy in Jordan.


Kurds Puzzled by Report of Terror Camp

[important] C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: As [Powell] spoke, a monitor displayed a photograph with the caption: "Terrorist Poison and Explosives Factory, Khurmal." ... Some here quickly seconded Mr. Powell's opinion. "We have some information about this lab from agents and from prisoners," Kamal Fuad, the Parliament speaker, said. But Mr. Powell's assertion also produced confusion tonight. One senior Kurdish official, a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan who is familiar with the intelligence on Ansar, said he had not heard of the laboratory Mr. Powell displayed. "I don't know anything about this compound," he said. ... Khurmal, the village named on the photo, is controlled not by Ansar al-Islam but by Komala Islami Kurdistan, a more moderate Islamic group. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which is allied with Washington and has been hosting an American intelligence team in northern Iraq for several months, maintains relations with Komala. It has been paying $200,000 to $300,000 in aid to the party each month, in an effort to lure Komala's leaders away from Ansar. ... "My sources say [the lab] is in Beyara," one Kurdish official said. "Not in Khurmal." Ansar has a headquarters in Beyara, a village several miles from Khurmal. Abu Bari Syan, an administrator for Komal Islami Kurdistan, the party that controls Khurmal, took an even stronger stand about Mr. Powell's claim. "All of it is not true," he said.

Exiled Mullah Denies Claims of Terror Ties Made by U.S.

DON VAN NATTA Jr., New York Times: "This is just not true," Mullah Krekar, whose group is Ansar al-Islam ... "Powell is trying to make a link that does not exist. Saddam Hussein is my enemy. I have never met a member of Al Qaeda. Powell's information is propaganda - it's very odd and very weak." ... Three months before Sept. 11, Mullah Krekar called Osama bin Laden the "jewel in the crown of the Muslim nation" a phrase widely attributed to him in the European press. But tonight he denied meeting Mr. bin Laden or allowing his organization to become a safe house for Qaeda members on the run.

A 'Big Cat' With Nothing to Lose: Leaving Hussein no hope will trigger his worst weapons, U.S. envoy in historic '90 meeting warns

Joseph C. Wilson [chief of mission at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad from 1988 to 1991 and acting ambassador during Operation Desert Shield] LA Times: [insightful discussion of meeting with Saddam on 6 August 1990.] In exchange for keeping Kuwait, he would give the U.S. oil at a good price and would not invade Saudi Arabia. In a matter-of-fact manner, he dismissed the Kuwaiti government as "history" and scoffed at President Bush's condemnation of him. He mocked American will and courage, telling me that my country would run rather than face the prospect of spilling the blood of our soldiers in the Arabian Desert. I was never prouder than when the American response was to confront Hussein and ultimately force him from Kuwait. ... By all indications, Hussein is clear in his own mind about our intentions: He believes we are going to war to kill him, whether he disarms or not. ... When he released the women and children hostages, Hussein initially threatened to keep dual Kuwaiti-American citizens. I told his underling that unless all Americans were put on the evacuation flight within half an hour, I would inform the American TV networks that Hussein had again reneged on his promises and was toying with the lives of children. Hussein relented, and our official statements acknowledged Iraqi cooperation. There is now no incentive for Hussein to comply with the inspectors or to refrain from using weapons of mass destruction to defend himself if the United States comes after him.

Powell's Case Against Iraq: Piling Up the Evidence

MICHAEL R. GORDON, New York Times: "I think he made a strong case that Iraq is not cooperating with the United Nations and is in material breach of Resolution 1441,"' said Gary Milhollin, director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. But Mr. Milhollin argued that Mr. Powell had not demonstrated that the United States faced an imminent threat from Iraq. "Just because there is a terrorist cell in Iraq," he said, "does not prove that Saddam Hussein is ready to transfer mass destruction weapons to Al Qaeda for use against the United States." ... But a senior State Department officials stressed after the speech that the Bush administration was not asserting that Saddam Hussein was "exercising operational control" of Al Qaeda.

Despite Defectors' Accounts, Evidence Remains Anecdotal

Joby Warrick, Washington Post: A key intelligence source, described as an Iraqi chemical engineer, helped supervise one of the labs and knew intimate details of the project, Powell said. For example, Powell added, Iraqi scientists would often begin producing pathogens on Thursday nights and complete the process on Fridays, believing that U.N. officials were unlikely to conduct inspections on the Muslim holy day, Powell said. But such anecdotes did not ring true with some weapons experts. Raymond Zilinskas, a microbiologist and former U.N. weapons inspector, said a 24-hour production cycle was insufficient for creating significant amounts of pathogens such as anthrax. "You normally would require 36 to 48 hours just to do the fermentation," said Zilinskas, director of Chemical and Biological Weapons Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies. "The short processing time seems suspicious to me." Zilinskas and other experts said the schematic presented by Powell as an example of Iraq's mobile labs was theoretically workable but that turning the diagram into a functioning laboratory posed enormous challenges -- such as how to dispose of large quantities of highly toxic waste. "The only reason you would have mobile labs is to avoid inspectors, because everything about them is difficult," Zilinskas said. "We know it is possible to build them -- the United States developed mobile production plants, including one designed for an airplane -- but it's a big hassle. That's why this strikes me as a bit far-fetched."

US recycles human test claims: Iraq accused of using prisoners as guinea pigs

Audrey Gillan, The Guardian: Colin Powell highlighted the claim that Saddam Hussein had used 1,600 prisoners on death row as guinea pigs for his biological and chemical weapons programme ... But last night, it emerged that this part of Mr Powell's testimony to the security council was old news. ... a spokeswoman for Amnesty International said it had no recent reports of such experiments: "We are aware that that did happen, but it happened in the 1980s. Prisoners were being experimented on, but as far as we know it's not something that is actually happening currently. We do know of political prisoners who are being subjected to systematic torture but as far as we know there are no transfers of prisoners for experiments." A spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said it had no records of such experiments on its file of Iraqi human rights abuses.

Intelligence Break Led U.S. to Tie Envoy Killing to Iraqi Qaeda Cell

PATRICK E. TYLER, New York Times: An intelligence breakthrough in the last several weeks made it possible for Secretary of State Colin L. Powell to set forth the first evidence of what he said was a well developed cell of Al Qaeda operating out of Baghdad that was responsible for the assassination of the American diplomat Laurence Foley last October. ... Mr. Powell withheld some critical details today, like the discovery by the intelligence agencies that a member of the royal family in Qatar, an important ally providing air bases and a command headquarters for the American military, operated a safe house for Mr. Zarqawi when he transited the country going in and out of Afghanistan. ... The decision to identify Mr. Zarqawi, still at large in Iraq, as the leader of a Qaeda cell will put his life in jeopardy because Mr. Hussein has insisted that Baghdad has no links with Osama bin Laden's network. "A half hour after Powell mentioned his name, I'll wager he disappears or is killed," said a coalition official, recalling the death in Baghdad in 2001 [sic.] of the Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal, after intelligence reports suggested than he might be activating his own terrorist network.

All too human failings of 'human intelligence': Information from defectors, spies and prisoners may be unreliable, say experts

Jeevan Vasagar, The Guardian: Mr Powell also talked about at least two detainees, one of whom has claimed that Iraq had offered chemical or biological weapons training for "two al-Qaida associates". But, as a Guardian investigation revealed last month, the US is condoning the use of torture on prisoners held after September 11, raising doubts about the value of their confessions. ... There is also concern that al-Qaida detainees may be eager to see America going to war with a Muslim country. Mr Cirincione said: "When al-Qaida attacked us on September 11, they didn't just want to kill a lot of people, they wanted to provoke the US into a response they thought would ignite a war between the Islamic world and the west. The Bush administration may be about to give them that war."


The Exotic but Fallible Spy Machines Behind America's Case for War

PHILIP TAUBMAN, New York Times: If Baghdad knows the orbit, which is not hard to learn from public sources, it can time the movement of suspicious munitions when no satellite is passing overhead. India perfected these deceptive arts in 1998 when it was secretly preparing to conduct a series of underground nuclear tests. Work at the test site in the desert southwest of New Delhi was suspended whenever an American satellite flew overhead.

UN given 'peanuts' for Iraq clean-up

[important] Greg Barrow, UN: Aid officials have told the BBC that they may have to divert money from existing emergencies in Angola, Ivory Coast and Afghanistan. Some have even indicated an unwillingness to undertake an operation that could appear to be "cleaning up" after a war by big powers in Iraq. ... Some agencies have even decided not to take money from countries which attack Iraq. ... "Nobody's interested to do it," [High Commissioner for Refugees Ruud Lubbers] said. "There's not one government who has come to me with money. "When you ask me, is there a sort of planning of governments on what to do when it comes to military intervention, my impression is simply that they are not prepared for that." ... To date, they have received almost nothing - just a pledge from the United States for $15m, a figure described by one UN official as "peanuts". ... The BBC has learned that a number of leading international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) have made a policy decision not to take funds from sponsors of war in Iraq.


No Evidence Thus Far Of Mining Of Iraqi Oil Wells

MEES: There is no evidence thus far that the regime in Baghdad has taken steps to blow up oil wells in the event of a US-led attack on Iraq, MEES learns from independent industry and diplomatic sources. Therefore, suggestions that the regime is carrying out such action are not based on any facts on the ground. ... Foreign drilling companies from Russia, Turkey and eastern Europe are working in northern and southern oilfields. Furthermore, the cooperation of Iraqi professionals in a project to sabotage the country’s oil industry in such a major way can not be taken for granted. ... UN oil-for-food inspectors make frequent visits, without notice, to oilfields and oil facilities to check that dual-use items are being used, as designated, in the hydrocarbon sector and not elsewhere. ... In its 29 January issue, The Wall Street Journal reported that the US was studying international law on oilfield rights, adding that “Pentagon and State Department attorneys also are debating how to interpret various treaties and precedents for a number of scenarios that may unfold in Iraq.” It is also being suggested in the US, by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar, among others, that countries failing to support the US-led attack on Iraq risk losing out on future oil contracts there. A spokesman for Sen Lugar said on 27 January “the case he made is that the Russians and the French, if they want to have a share in the oil operations or concessions or whatever afterward, they need to be involved in the effort to depose Saddam as well.” ... Under the proposed arrangement, the Turkish army would only enter the country alongside the US army and without laying claims to Mosul and Kirkuk.

U.N. Inspectors Search Campus in Kurdish Zone, Provoking Anger

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: "I stopped them," said the president, Dr. Saedi Barzinji. Dr. Barzinji said he ordered that the Iraqi minders be escorted from the science buildings on the grounds that they were Iraqi intelligence agents. The Iraqis were quickly driven back to a checkpoint at Kalak, where a highway passes from the government-controlled zone of Iraq to the Kurdish-held north.


War Plan Calls for Precision Bombing Wave to Break Iraqi Army

ERIC SCHMITT and THOM SHANKER, New York Times: The Pentagon's war plan for Iraq calls for unleashing 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the first 48 hours of the opening air campaign, an effort intended to stagger and isolate the Iraqi military and quickly pave the way for a ground attack to topple a government in shock. ... Military planners said the immediate goals would be to break the Iraqi Army's will to fight, driving large number of troops to surrender or defect — and offering them guarded sanctuary if they do — while cutting off the leadership in Baghdad in hopes of causing a rapid collapse of the government of President Saddam Hussein. ... The tactics would expand on those used in the 1989 invasion of Panama, when troops flew in, dropped onto and attacked more than two dozen separate targets almost simultaneously in the opening assault. The strategy, called vertical envelopment, was not central to the gulf war, when Army and Marine troops drove Iraq from Kuwait by chewing through the desert, mile by mile. ... "Enormous effort is being given to how we prevent him from doing things," said one senior Defense Department official, referring to Mr. Hussein.

Iraqi Aide Threatens Suicide Attacks Across Region if U.S. Invades

IAN FISHER, New York Times: "Martyrs, perpetrators of suicide attacks, are our new weapons, and they will not only take action in Iraq," Taha Yassin Ramadan, a vice president who is considered one of the nation's top two officials after Saddam Hussein, is quoted as saying in the new issue of the German magazine Der Spiegel.

Split at C.I.A. and F.B.I. on Iraqi Ties to Al Qaeda

JAMES RISEN and DAVID JOHNSTON, New York Times: Some analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency have complained that senior administration officials have exaggerated the significance of some intelligence reports about Iraq, particularly about its possible links to terrorism, in order to strengthen their political argument for war, government officials said. At the Federal Bureau of Investigation, some investigators said they were baffled by the Bush administration's insistence on a solid link between Iraq and Osama bin Laden's network. "We've been looking at this hard for more than a year and you know what, we just don't think it's there," a government official said. ... Paul D. Wolfowitz, deputy defense secretary, and Stephen J. Hadley, deputy national security adviser, were cited as being most eager to interpret evidence deemed murky by intelligence officials to show a clearer picture of Iraq's involvement in illicit weapons programs and terrorism. Their bosses, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and the national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice, have also pressed a hard line, officials said. ... "It's more than just skepticism," said one official, describing the feelings of some analysts in the intelligence agencies. "I think there is also a sense of disappointment with the community's leadership that they are not standing up for them at a time when the intelligence is obviously being politicized." ... Mr. Powell is expected to focus on intelligence about possible connections between Mr. Hussein, an Islamic militant group that may have produced poisons in a remote region of northern Iraq and a Qaeda terrorist leader, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. Much of the intelligence has been publicly known for months. Some of the most recent intelligence related to Mr. Zarqawi centers on charges that he orchestrated the plot on Oct. 28 in Amman, Jordan, in which two Qaeda followers — under Mr. Zarqawi's direction — stalked and shot to death Laurence Foley, an American diplomat. In December, the Jordanian authorities announced that the two men had confessed to killing Mr. Foley and that they had been directed by Mr. Zarqawi. The connection to the Foley killing was important because the United States had evidence that Mr. Zarqawi, a Jordanian of Palestinian descent, had spent time in Baghdad earlier in 2002. ... He was hospitalized in Baghdad for treatment of his wounds, and then disappeared in August, after Jordanian officials told the Iraqi government they knew he was there. ... But intelligence officials say there is disagreement among analysts about whether there are significant connections between Ansar al-Islam and the Baghdad government. Some administration officials, particularly at the Pentagon, have argued that Ansar al-Islam has close ties to the Iraqi government, but other intelligence officials say there is only fragmentary evidence of such a link.


A Sign That U.S. Military May Use Turkey as a Base

DEXTER FILKINS, New York Times: Turkey's national security council, made up of top civilian and military leaders, recommended tonight that the Turkish legislature take up a constitutional provision that, among other things, allows for the basing of foreign troops on Turkish soil. The statement stopped short of an explicit call to open up Turkish bases to the American military. But a senior Turkish official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the country's leaders had decided privately to ask Parliament to let the United States base troops here in the event of an attack on Iraq. ... Some Turkish political analysts have theorized that any government request to allow American troops into the country could be so broadly worded as to let leaders deny the full extent of what they were doing.


Shadow of Impending War Darkens Kuwaitis' Horizons

Patrick E. Tyler, New York Times: Kuwait has opened its doors and territory so Washington can have another shot at Saddam Hussein. But many Kuwaitis say their hearts are not in it. ... If he could join the army and fight with the Americans he would, he said. But the Kuwaiti Army is not expected to play a role. ... "Mistrust" is the word he uses to describe his feelings about American intentions.

U.S. May Give the U.N. Data on Iraqi Labs

James Dao, New York Times: In a remarkably candid moment, Mr. Armitage, a blunt-spoken former Navy officer, also acknowledged that the administration had on occasion tried to build its case against Iraq on ambiguous intelligence, and he pledged that Mr. Powell would bring only the most compelling, clear-cut data available to the United Nations. As an example of such ambiguous information, Democrats today cited the administration's assertion, repeated by President Bush in his State of the Union address, that Iraq had bought aluminum tubes to restart its nuclear weapons program. ... Administration officials have expressed concern not only that some of the intelligence is subject to varying, even contradictory, interpretations, but also that revealing it might compromise sources or help other countries learn about American spy satellites. Some officials also worry that if Mr. Powell discloses precisely what the United States knows about Iraqi missiles, the Iraqis will move them before the United States can destroy them in a war. ... Many American intelligence officials contend there is little if any intelligence indicating a clear connection between Mr. Hussein and Ansar.

Blix Says He Saw Nothing to Prompt a War

JUDITH MILLER and JULIA PRESTON, New York Times: Mr. Blix took issue with what he said were Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's claims that the inspectors had found that Iraqi officials were hiding and moving illicit materials within and outside of Iraq to prevent their discovery. He said that the inspectors had reported no such incidents. Similarly, he said, he had not seen convincing evidence that Iraq was sending weapons scientists to Syria, Jordan or any other country to prevent them from being interviewed. Nor had he any reason to believe, as President Bush charged in his State of the Union speech, that Iraqi agents were posing as scientists. He further disputed the Bush administration's allegations that his inspection agency might have been penetrated by Iraqi agents, and that sensitive information might have been leaked to Baghdad, compromising the inspections. Finally, he said, he had seen no persuasive indications of Iraqi ties to Al Qaeda, which Mr. Bush also mentioned in his speech. "There are other states where there appear to be stronger links," such as Afghanistan, Mr. Blix said, noting that he had no intelligence reports on this issue. ... Blix said that his examination of a liquid-filled warhead that inspectors had discovered in a bunker on Jan. 16 found no signs of any chemical weapons agent. The other 11 warheads found in the bunker were empty, he said, adding that scores of samples his team had taken across Iraq in the past two months had turned up "no trace" of either chemical or biological agents. ... Mr. Blix said that the intelligence information being provided by Washington had improved of late. But diplomats and American officials said that tensions lingered over American suspicions that Iraq had infiltrated the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspections Commission, known as Unmovic. Both sides agree that American satellites photographed what American analysts said were Iraqi clean-up crews operating at a suspected chemical weapons site they had identified within 48 hours after the information about the site was shared with Unmovic. But the diplomats say inspectors concluded that the site was an old ammunition storage area often frequented by Iraqi trucks, and that there was no reason to believe it was involved in weapons activities. "It was a wild goose chase." one diplomat said.

Bush Warns Iraq It Has Only Weeks to Yield Weapons

RICHARD W. STEVENSON, New York Times: Mr. Bush directed Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, in a memorandum made public today, to free up $15 million from a special fund to prepare for any "humanitarian emergency in the Middle East" that might result from military action there. [ED: This figure is about 60 cents per Iraq, roughly what `oil for food' delivers every day.]


U.N. Estimates Rebuilding Iraq Will Cost $30 Billion

JULIA PRESTON, New York Times: The United Nations, stepping up the pace of its contingency planning for rebuilding Iraq after war, has concluded the costs will run to at least $30 billion in the first three years, according to the organization's top development official. ... But besides the United States and Britain, no other nation wants to finance contingency planning for Iraq, officials said, because it makes them appear to be endorsing war. United Nations agencies recently appealed for $37 million to begin planning, and got no response.


The myth of the war economy: Markets loathe uncertainty and volatility. Conflict brings both

Joseph Stiglitz, The Guardian

NATO Defers Decision on Iraq After Debate

Reuters: NATO postponed a decision on Wednesday on whether to prepare supporting measures in any U.S.-led war against Iraq after a heated debate among ambassadors, diplomats said.

Iraq extends war missing talks - sources

Reuters: Yuli Vorontsov, who is in charge of accounting for hundreds of people and property missing since Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait, said he had spoken to Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri and believed he was serious about cooperating. Wednesday's meeting was thesecond this month and came a day after a U.N. official said Baghdad was ready to present new information on Kuwaitis and other nationals held in Iraq since the Gulf War...

Iraqi Kids Train as Saddam’s Soldiers But Will They Put Up a Fight?

Leela Jacinto, most experts are unwilling to predict the extent of the resistance Saddam's civilian security units would put up if there were a ground war in Iraq. "That's the big question," says Marr. "I don't know if anybody knows the answer. I don't know if Saddam knows either, and it's certainly a lot more serious question for him." ... "The real difficulty is a very serious potential problem of retribution," she says. "I believe there are a number of people in Iraq who want to kill a lot of other people. There are a number of scores to be settled in Iraq."

Low US petroleum stocks may hurt refiners

Carola Hoyos and Adrienne Roberts, Financial Times: Inventory data to be released on Thursday are expected to show that the US's commercial levels of crude oil have dropped below the 270m-barrel level at which the distribution system of pipelines and oil storage tanks begins to falter. ... Venezuela's outage has prompted US refiners to rely increasingly on Iraqi crude oil exports in the past two months, and Opec has already made clear that it would find it difficult to make up for a loss in production from both Venezuela and Iraq.



John B. Judis, The New Republic: Neoconservatives also want to bypass the Iraqi National Oil Company in favor of a free-market approach to oil. The State Department, one neoconservative official laments, "wants the Sunnis to remain in power, and they need access to resources through the state. The Shiites and others would like to see more breakdown of the state and competitive enterprises." Kim Holmes, who recently became assistant secretary of state for International Organization Affairs, commissioned a proposal for Iraqi oil privatization earlier this year when he was director of international studies at the Heritage Foundation. The study, produced by Ariel Cohen and Gerald O'Driscoll, has been well-received among administration neoconservatives. "The Bush administration," Cohen and O'Driscoll argue, "should provide leadership and guidance for the future Iraqi government to undertake fundamental structural economic reform. This process should include a massive, orderly, and transparent privatization of state-owned enterprises, especially the restructuring and privatization of the oil sector." ... They support privatization on ideological grounds--they favor investment by new Iraqi companies as much as by U.S. oil companies. "We need to support indigenous [private] groups," says one energy consultant who works closely with administration neoconservatives. They also see the privatization of Iraqi oil as setting in motion a chain of events that could transform the Middle East. If Iraq privatized its oil resources, it would inevitably leave OPEC, which requires each member country to strictly regulate their output and oil exports. And, if Iraq left OPEC, that would mean that two of the world's largest oil producers (Russia is the other) would be outside of the cartel, fundamentally undermining its ability to regulate world output and prices. That would probably mean lower oil prices, but, more important to the neoconservatives, it would undermine Saudi Arabia's economic and political clout and perhaps endanger the Saudi regime itself. Says one senior official, "I don't think an upheaval or splitting apart of Saudi Arabia would be the worst thing. I don't see a graceful exit for them. ... I would expect them to align with Syria and Iran and Libya to bleed us in Iraq. They may become a real enemy in five years. I don't think we can get more mileage out of this relationship."


Grim Truth About To Emerge in Iraq

Christopher Hitchens, Daily Mirror: A very senior former inspector, who is a highly-regarded international civil servant, told me that he had been offered his own personal Swiss bank account by a top official in Saddam's government, on condition that he produced a favourable report. He declined the offer, which he later discovered had been accepted by some junior members of his staff. The Iraqis later tried to poison his food, which he had to have flown in from Bahrain thereafter.


The United States of America has gone mad

John le Carré, The Times: Those who are not with Mr Bush are against him. Worse, they are with the enemy. Which is odd, because I’m dead against Bush, but I would love to see Saddam’s downfall — just not on Bush’s terms and not by his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy.

Gulf War anniversary evokes bitter memories in Iraq

Reuters: [interviews with Iraqis harmed in 1991 war.] "People here are more sympathetic to the government at the moment, since it allowed the inspectors back in. Salaries have been raised and the streets are cleaner," said Khodr, a local government official. "So it won't be easy for them (Americans) here. People are armed."

Iraq's new elite living large: Smugglers make fortunes amid nation's squalor

Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle: "They steal, they cheat. A new class of unethical people are doing very well," said Ghazwan Al-Mukhtar, a member of Iraq's old business elite, which has fallen on hard times lately. ... Uday has been identified in various reports as a key figure in the illegal importation of Western cigarettes. But Baghdad-based diplomats caution that there is little hard information on the subject and that much of the smuggling revenue may be used by the government for normal expenses. ... Why doesn't he become a smuggler himself? "I can't work under the sanctions. I work only with reputable companies," Al-Mukhtar replies, haughtily. ... "Just yesterday, my last friend left Iraq," said Nermin Al-Mufti, a political columnist for the El Thawra newspaper, which is run by the ruling Ba'ath Party, and an editor of several government publications. ... Al-Mufti then described her daily battles to obtain the medicine she needs for a heart problem. "I can't hate the smugglers. The pill I put under my tongue every day, nitroglycerin, is forbidden under the U.N. sanctions,"

Airstrikes In Southern Iraq 'No-Fly' Zone Mount: Attacks' Growing Precision And Scope May Aid Invasion

Vernon Loeb, Washington Post: Last month, U.S. military officials acknowledged that they used an incident of Iraqi fire on jets patrolling the northern no-fly zone to justify a retaliatory strike in the south. The tactic represented another escalation of enforcement activity by the Bush administration. ... Cordesman said. "And when you conduct these strikes, you are preparing part of the battleground for a war. But it doesn't mean that you've gone to war, and it doesn't mean war is inevitable." ... Freedom of movement across the border for U.S. aircraft would be especially important in a war against Iraq, [Loren B.] Thompson said, since the Pentagon envisions flying thousands of troops into airfields inside Iraq aboard slow-moving C-17 transports.

U.S. Covert Ops Said Unlikely to Prevent Iraq War

Tabassum Zakaria, Reuters: "Given the timeline here it's unlikely you're going to be able to put together a successful coup in a couple of months," said one former intelligence official. ... U.S. spy operations are focused instead on paving the way through propaganda and organizing opposition groups, similar to the 2001 campaign in Afghanistan against the Taliban and al Qaeda, these experts say. ... "How do you insert yourself into that process? We can't even recruit a decent al Qaeda person let alone get inside Saddam's circle." There was a chance, however improbable, that a general close to him might decide that toppling Saddam would be less risky than trying to survive a U.S. assault. But without a declared U.S. war, any top Iraqi general considering switching sides would be reluctant because of uncertainty over how serious America was to take action, experts said. ... "It's just a matter of getting to his circle and we have no assets close to Saddam that would get people in," said Robert Baer, a former CIA officer who worked in Iraq. ... In spy terminology Iraq is a "denied area" with no U.S. access to insiders, no U.S. offices in the country and limited opportunities to contact Iraqi officials when they travel abroad because they are usually accompanied by minders. "Anybody who even appears to be anti-regime is probably going to be detected by Iraqi intelligence before we detect them, and they're probably going to be dead before we realize they're a possible ally," said Anthony Cordesman ... Saddam's closest security personnel are seen as unlikely to turn on him because they believe their fate is tied to his. "People who control Saddam's security all are convinced if Saddam dies, they are going to go to jail at best," Baer said.

U.S. military expert says Iraq war, terror attacks imminent

DANIEL LOVERING, Associated Press: "The American military is like a giant medieval crossbow which you then winch up to the point where it's cocked and you put the bolt in to fire it," said Eliot Cohen ... "You can't do that and then just put that thing on the shelf for six to nine months," he said, speaking at a meeting of local business leaders and academics in Bangkok. "Yes, there will be a war." ... "If the United States did not go to war and act fairly soon against Iraq, it will be a major blow to American prestige, certainly to the president's personal prestige," said Cohen


U.S. Expects Iraqi Experts Will Be Questioned Abroad

DAVID E. SANGER, New York Times: The Bush administration expects that international inspectors will try to bring Iraqi scientists and engineers out of the country starting next week to interview them about weapons programs, according to American and European officials familiar with the plans. ... In hopes of speeding things up, American intelligence officials have put together a list of approximately 100 scientists and engineers who they believe are central to the weapons programs ... "The idea is to make sure that life starts getting a lot hotter for Saddam in the next few weeks," said one official familiar with the plans. ... "We cannot force anybody to go abroad or force them to defect," Mr. Blix said Thursday. ... At the White House today, Ari Fleischer ... said Mr. Bush believed there was no point to using diplomacy with Mr. Hussein ... Mr. Fleischer later amended his comment, saying Mr. Bush "was not optimistic" about the success of a diplomatic solution in Iraq.

Iraq's Shiites Describe Reign of Fear: Visitors, Exiles in Syria Tell of Tight Grip in Restive South

Daniel Williams, Washington Post: "When we are sure that Saddam's security apparatus has collapsed, we will arise," Hamaadi said, "but not before." ... One traveler from Kufah, a retired government employee, ventured that "Saddam is finished." However, he added, the Iraqi leader is trying hard "to ingratiate himself with the people." Fees on permits to leave the country have been slashed and rations of flour, beans, lard, sugar and rice increased in recent months. A prisoner amnesty last fall was regarded by the Kufah residents as a travesty. They said the government released only common criminals. ... "Everyone will run when the bombs fall," the bookseller continued. "[The Jerusalem army] is just a way Saddam tries to keep us busy." The recruits are taught to use a gun, but no one gets to take a weapon home. ... "The rhetoric on Sawa is not bad, but it won't make us American," Hamaadi said. He and the others are loyal to Dawa ... Dawa boycotted the recent exile conference in London on grounds that many of the exile leaders were American puppets. The U.S. government has been leery of Dawa because of its association with Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite movement that the State Department has listed as a terrorist organization. ... The invasion is unnecessary, [a Dawa official in Damascus] argued, because Iraqis could overthrow Hussein if U.S. bombers would pin his troops in their barracks for a time. He rejected the prospect of U.S. military rule in Iraq. "This idea shows a misunderstanding of Iraqi feelings," he said. "We don't want anyone's occupation." ... He expects many Iraqis will be tempted to carry out vendettas against pro-Hussein activists should the government collapse. "Only against criminals, of course" he took pains to say. "Many people only cooperate with Saddam in order to get by. No one wants killing for killing's sake." The retired government employee piped in with an exception. "There was a Baathist who hit me on the head with a rifle butt because I didn't know where my brother was. He, I will kill."

EU May Not Help a Post-Saddam Iraq

BETH GARDINER, AP: "I would find it much more difficult to get the approval of member states and the European parliament if the military intervention that had occasioned the need for development aid did not have a U.N. mandate," Patten was quoted [in The Guardian] as saying.

Beirut Seizes Equipment Destined for Iraq

SAM F. GHATTAS, AP: Military equipment destined for smuggling to Iraq including helmets, uniforms and communications gear was confiscated at Beirut's airport, officials said Tuesday. The 13.2 tons of equipment arrived aboard a flight Sunday night from Belarus and was intended for land transport through Syria to Iraq, security officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity. ... Lebanese customs agents were suspicious of boxes labeled "Head Protectors" that arrived on a plane from Belarus' capital Minsk.

Pressures build against fast action in Iraq

John Donnelly and Thanassis Cambanis, Boston Globe: ''Late February is the earliest that the Pentagon can do it, under the present plans,'' said a senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity. ... Analysts said the Pentagon may prefer to begin an attack under the cover of darkness accompanying a new moon, on Feb. 1, March 2, and April 1. ... ''If the international community is dead against us, it may be prudent to back down,'' said Michael Vickers of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a defense policy think tank in Washington. ... ''There's a lot of ambiguity out there, and ambiguity is not necessarily bad for our purposes,'' the [senior Pentagon] official said.

U.N. Ambassador Emerges As Voice of Caution on Iraq

Colum Lynch, Washington Post: John D. Negroponte ... knows a thing or two about regime change. As a young Foreign Service officer during the Vietnam War and later as ambassador to Honduras, he was at the center of troubled American efforts to overthrow communist governments in North Vietnam and Nicaragua. ... "It's not for me to decide. It's the president's decision; he's our commander in chief," Negroponte said. "Obviously, we must be prepared to use force if necessary. But if you're asking me my view based on the most important experience I have had with regard to the use of force, which was Vietnam, it is one of caution." ... "Regime change is really not something that's ever been dealt with in Security Council resolutions," he said. "It's not part of the purview of our U.N. policies." ... Citing the political turmoil plaguing Central America at the time, he appealed to the Senate not to judge his performance or the broader events in Honduras "through the exclusive prism of human rights considerations."


Real Estate Booms on Iraqi Border: Land Prices Soar in Kuwait on Hope That War Will Restart Trade

Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, Washington Post: "The wealthy people are invading Abdaly, buying up land here," Halail said. "They think that Saddam is going to be kicked out." ... In downtown Kuwait City, already a gleaming mixture of American-style malls and marble-halled mansions, real estate prices are also hitting new highs. A half-dozen additional luxury hotels, like the new seaside Four Seasons, are being built. The Kuwaiti stock market ended 2002 up 39 percent and is continuing its climb in the first weeks of the new year. ... "We're going to have a war, and this economy is going through the roof?" said one longtime resident of Kuwait. "It should be the opposite." ... "After September 11, so much money came back from abroad to Kuwait, and they want to invest it," Halail said of the customers he sees almost daily wanting to spend their money in Abdaly.

A Question of Timing: Go Slow or Fast on Iraq?

JULIA PRESTON, NYT: While the United States is trying to hurry things along in the debate in the United Nations about Iraq, other members of the Security Council are becoming more determined to take their time.

Officials Reveal Threat to Troops Deploying to Gulf

THOM SHANKER, New York Times: In a full mobilization to war, more than 90 percent of the troops deploying would fly aboard private air carriers contracted by the military, officials say. Commercial rail and trucking companies would help haul armored vehicles, fuel and food to domestic ports.

Antiwar Activists From Across U.S. Prepare to Descend on Washington

Manny Fernandez, Washington Post: "I'm told they're some kind of radicals, but I don't care," [70 year old Dallas lawyer Robert B. Dennis] said, of ANSWER. "Good organizers are worth their weight in gold."

Kirkuk: Iraq's northern tinderbox: 12,000 Turkish soldiers are poised to intervene if Kurds move to retake the oil-rich city of Kirkuk

Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor: "Some people have been away from their ancestral homes for up to 30 years or more - do they have the same rights as those who were moved out of a home in Kirkuk last week?" says Michael Amitay, director of the Washington Kurdish Institute. ... "It's not just how you fight and win the war - I'm sure they've thought through virtually everything on that. But how do you deal with the population bomb? How do you adjudicate disputes?" asks Fawcett. Preserving official documents in Kirkuk - from birth and land ownership records, to lists of who was forced out and who was moved in - will be key to preventing future headaches. But that's a tall order for soldiers who will be expected to wage war at the same time. "It's very tricky, and we've never gotten it right in any of these interventions; we've always screwed it up," Fawcett says. Unless American forces establish an "adjudication process that has some rule of law to it, rather than rule of the Kalishnikov ... the US military is going to be sitting there [imposing] martial law for some time."

U.N. Inspectors: Need More Time in Iraq

EDITH M. LEDERER, AP: "We are perhaps 250 or 300 people on the inspection side. We cost about $80 million a year. If you take the armed path, you are talking about $100 billion, you're talking about 250,000 men, you're talking about a lot of people killed and injured, a lot of damage. So I think the whole world prefers a peaceful solution if you can have one that is credible," Blix said.


U.S. Decision On Iraq Has Puzzling Past: Opponents of War Wonder When, How Policy Was Set

Glenn Kessler, Washington Post: Over the next nine months [after 11 September 2001], the administration would make Iraq the central focus of its war on terrorism without producing a rich paper trail or record of key meetings and events leading to a formal decision to act against President Saddam Hussein, according to a review of administration decision-making based on interviews with more than 20 participants. Instead, participants said, the decision to confront Hussein at this time emerged in an ad hoc fashion. Often, the process circumvented traditional policymaking channels as longtime advocates of ousting Hussein pushed Iraq to the top of the agenda by connecting their cause to the war on terrorism. ... Bush, during the campaign, focused more on the dangers of nuclear proliferation than on the removal of Saddam Hussein. In a December 1999 debate among GOP presidential contenders, Bush backtracked when he said he'd "take 'em out" if Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Asked by the moderator whether he had said "take him out," Bush replied, "Take out the weapons of mass destruction." ... Cheney, as he watched the World Trade Center towers collapse while he was sitting in front of a television in the White House's underground bunker, turned to an aide and remarked, "As unfathomable as this was, it could have been so much worse if they had weapons of mass destruction." ... "The issue got away from the president," said a senior official who attended discussions in the White House. "He wasn't controlling the tone or the direction" and was influenced by people who "painted him into a corner because Iraq was an albatross around their necks."

Only Choice for U.S.: Oust Hussein

Henri J. Barkey [State Department's Policy Planning Staff, 1998 to 2000], Los Angeles Times: Truth be told, the [27 Jan Unmovic/IAEA] report will be irrelevant to the Bush administration's intentions. Some of Iraq's neighbors are only now catching on to the fact that, for Washington, Saddam Hussein and his regime have always been the issue. ... As long as Hussein rules Baghdad, the U.S. must keep a strong military presence in the Persian Gulf to enforce the U.N. sanctions, as well as protect Kuwait, the Gulf states and the Kurds in northern Iraq. This is not a role the U.S. cherishes or wants to have indefinitely.

An Old-Fashioned Fight: Expecting a war in Iraq to feature mostly high-tech wizardry? Think again

William M. Arkin, Los Angeles Times: After six or seven days of preparatory bombing, hundreds of tanks and a force of more than 200,000 soldiers and Marines would roll into Iraq from Kuwait. The first objective would be capturing the southern Rumaila oil fields intact. Then, the force would pivot north, reaching the outskirts of the Baghdad megalopolis within two weeks, planners forecast. ... The Pentagon has been given three priority missions in presidential directives: thwart any use of weapons of mass destruction by Iraq; depose Hussein; create conditions for a new democratic government in Iraq after the invasion. (In Pentagon planning, at least, the Iraqi opposition-in-exile appears to have been gently elbowed aside.) According to senior Defense officials, the White House also levied two additional requirements that influenced military planning. First, Iraq was to be preserved "as a unitary state, with its territorial integrity intact," according to a presidential directive signed in December. Second, Iraq's oil infrastructure was to be protected as much as possible.

Iraqi civilians arming for war

Andrew Hammond, Reuters: Iraqi clan groups, a key force in the country, are stocking up on rifles and pistols from the Iraqi capital's 45 retail gun outlets, taking heed of government calls for the populace to ready itself for a U.S. invasion, [Bedouin gunshop owner Yassin] Jabbouri says. ... "This is the one I'm going to fight with," Jabbouri said, pulling out a $1,500 Italian-made rifle. "Everyone has three or four guns each now. There's no tribe that doesn't use arms. Even my wife can fire a good shot over a distance."

Iraqi Exiles See No Hope for Nation: Refugees say their homeland will be riven by bloodshed even if Hussein is toppled

Alissa J. Rubin, Los Angeles Times

U.S. Force in Gulf Is Said to Be Rising to 150,000 Troops

ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times: In an unusual move, the Marine Corps this week barred virtually all marines from leaving the service. The order, the first service-wide freeze on discharges since the Persian Gulf war, prohibits the nearly 175,000 active-duty marines and tens of thousands of reservists from leaving or changing assignments, starting Jan. 15.

Iraq shuts down Net access to block U.S. e-mail campaign: Message urged defections, defying Hussein's orders

Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle: Apparently in response to a blanket e-mail campaign by the U.S. military urging dissent and defections, the Iraqi government shut down -- at least temporarily -- all Internet access and the country's two e-mail servers. Although no official explanation was given, e-mail service stopped midafternoon on Friday. Some service was resumed Saturday morning. CNN reported Friday that the Pentagon and other U.S. government agencies were sending e-mails from disguised sources encouraging dissent and military defections. ... Despite the threat of American invasion, nearly all U.S. government Web sites are freely available, from the White House to the State Department and the Pentagon. Only the CIA's site is blocked. Moreover, access is unlimited to all U.S. and other international media sites. Also blocked are all Web-based free e-mail sites, such as Hotmail and Yahoo.

Poll finds unilateral war on Iraq lacking support

MARTIN MERZER, Knight Ridder: The survey by Princeton Survey Research Associates questioned 1,204 American adults from Jan. 3 to 6, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. ... Two-thirds of the respondents said they thought they had a good grasp of the issues surrounding the Iraqi crisis, but closer questioning revealed large gaps in that knowledge. For instance, half of those surveyed said one or more of the Sept. 11 terrorist hijackers were Iraqi citizens. In fact, none was. The informed public is considerably less hawkish about war with Iraq than the public as a whole. Those who show themselves to be most knowledgeable about the Iraq situation are significantly less likely to support military action, either to remove Hussein from power or to disarm Iraq. ... Forty-eight percent said the president had not clearly explained his rationale for a war against Iraq; 46 percent think he has.

Delicate Iraqi Kurd notes batter mighty U.S. dollar

Jon Hemming, Reuters: "Our dinar is strong, because America is going to attack Saddam," said dealer Bestoon referring to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. "When Saddam leaves, the economy will improve."

Iraq government cuts petrol supplies to Kurds

Reuters: Iraq's government has cut off petrol supplies to the breakaway Kurdish-run north of the country, Kurdish officials said, sending prices soaring and ordinary Kurds rushing to stock up on fuel.

U.S. Maintains War Footing Despite Allies' Reservations: Report's Jan. 27 Deadline to Mark Start of 'Final Phase'

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: "People who are saying that the 27th is not an important day don't know what they are talking about," the [senior administration] official said. "It is a very important day" marking "the beginning of a final phase" that the administration sees as quickly leading to decisive action. ... "The idea that the inspectors have to find something, or that we have to show them where to go to find something" is incorrect, the official said. ... Having already twice declared Iraq in "material breach" of last November's council resolution that began the new round of inspections -- first when Baghdad continued shooting at U.S. and British planes overflying the country, and again last month when the administration said Iraq's required declaration of prohibited weapons programs "totally failed' to meet council demands -- there is widespread belief that Bush cannot afford to cry wolf again.

Iraq's pain game

MICHAEL O'KEEFFE, New York Daily News: Uday's job was to boost the patriotism of Iraqi youth, the cannon fodder in Saddam's bloody war with Iran. Instead, he has left Iraqi sports in shambles. Although the country has won only one Olympic medal, a 1960 weightlifting bronze, it was an Asian soccer and boxing power. Now coaching and administrative jobs are filled by loyalists who know little about sports. Iraq sent just three athletes to Atlanta and four to the 2000 games in Sydney, compared to 43 it sent to the 1980 Olympics. Rather than using its facilities to train athletes, the Iraqi Olympic committee uses them primarily to store smuggled cigarettes and contraband looted from Kuwait, Indict and former athletes say. ... Torture in Iraq is usually a motivational tool, says Hania Mufti of Human Rights Watch, used to inspire athletes to perform better next time. Few are killed or permanently injured. "They want to make sure they can continue to compete," she says. ... But the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch continued to receive reports of abuse, and although officials say those reports have been difficult to confirm, they are consistent with the allegations presented by Indict. Indict's complaints, human rights activists say, are entirely credible.


Fearing extradition to U.S., Abu Abbas leaves Egypt

Daniel Sobelman, Ha'aretz: Palestine Liberation Front leader Mohammed Abbas, also known as Abu Abbas, cut short his visit to Egypt on Thursday and returned to Iraq, due to U.S. attempts to extradite him. ... Abu Abbas is wanted by the U.S. due to his responsibility for the hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, and the murder of one of the ship's passengers, Leon Klinghoffer, a disabled elderly Jewish American. ... Abbas has spent most of the last 17 years in Iraq, beyond the reach of U.S. and Italian justice.

Saddam prepares deadly surprise for own people

Nicholas Blanford, Daily Star: Mohammed Hariri, the Lebanon representative of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), said that Baghdad has divided the country into four security zones, with potentially unstable areas, such as in the Shiite-dominated south, designated “black” areas. ... The internal security measures have been placed in the hands of General Ali Hassan al-Majid, a key ally of Saddam who earned the nickname “Chemical Ali” for leading the Iraqi forces that used chemical weapons against the Kurdish town of Halabja in 1988. “If there is any uprising they are going to completely raze the black areas,” Hariri said. “Most of the preparations being taken by the regime are against the people rather than against an American invasion,” Hariri said. “The regime fears the Iraqi people more than it does the Americans.” ... Hariri’s allegations could not be independently verified. ... Hariri believed there were three possible scenarios for Saddam’s downfall. The first was an internal coup that would not require an invasion. The second was a full-fledged US assault similar in scale to the 1991 Gulf War. “This would be very dangerous for the Iraqi people and would cause much damage,” he said. ... The favored option would run along similar lines to the campaign in Afghanistan to oust the Taleban regime: air power and special forces units combined with local forces. “The third option is the easiest and would allow all the groups to participate,” Hariri said.

Libya's Gadhafi says Saddam irrational, but no threat

AP: "Injustice is being done to Saddam. He was wrong to invade Kuwait. He opened his country for full inspections. What more can he do? Now it's a fight to the finish. He must stand against the wall and fight."

Fledgling Baghdad bourse remains bullish

Reuters: Investors, at least for now, have gone on a buying spree and the main index of the fledgling bourse has risen by more than a third since Iraqi President Saddam Hussein accepted a U.N. resolution that demands he disarm or face serious consequences. ... But some Iraqis appear to be betting on a brighter future for their oil-rich land. Many of the bourse's 115 companies, mainly industrials and banking firms, had distributed earnings and free stocks, "so it's only natural that prices go up," said Abdul Salam, who also teaches finance at Baghdad University. ... The BSI surged to 2,170 by the end of 2000 from a starting point of 100 in 1993. Even the bull stampede of the 1990s on Wall Street paled by comparison. But the bourse was mired in a slump in 2001 which many here blamed on sanctions. The index fell to as low as 1,312 by the end of that year.

Allies Slow U.S. War Plans: British and French Urge Time for Inspectors; Turkey Delays on Troops

Michael Dobbs, Washington Post: "The odds have gone down for war," said a well-placed U.S. official. "We don't have a good war plan; the inspectors have unprecedented access to Iraq; we have just started giving them intelligence; we have to give them more time to see how this works. There is no reason to stop the process until it can't proceed any further."


U.S. Seeks to Tone Down Drums of War: Bush aides downplay speculation about Iraq invasion next month, citing possible extended inspections and a bid for international support

Robin Wright, LA Times: the United States and many of the key players in the showdown with Iraq indicated Thursday that U.N. weapons inspections will run well beyond the Jan. 27 due date for the first formal report to the world body on Saddam Hussein's cooperation. ... a senior State Department official said Thursday on condition of anonymity. "We have to exhaust the U.N. process to get people to come through with military and other support." ... "Blair is very vulnerable on this issue. He's been an overachiever for the United States up to now. But he has a price too. He needs certain things, including giving the U.N. a real opportunity to prove Iraq still has weapons, in order to face the political backlash, particularly within his own party," said a well-placed official who requested anonymity. ... "There's a new dynamic among a number of countries that are very interested in finding ways to get Saddam to depart the scene some other way -- either through a coup or exile," the well-placed source said

US intelligence is finally given to arms inspectors

David Usborne, Independent: The United States has belatedly started to feed intelligence to United Nations inspectors to help them in their hunt for prohibited weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. But it is not being given all at once, because of lingering concern about leaks of sensitive information to the Baghdad regime. ... The frustration of Mr Blix was echoed by France, which asked the UN Security Council yesterday to pass a resolution requiring all countries with relevant intelligence on Iraq to share it with Mr Blix and his counterpart at the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, Mohamed al-Baradei. ... The US is putting great store on Mr Blix beginning interviews with Iraqi scientists about their work for the regime, if necessary outside the country. ... The Secretary of State refused to offer any personal assessment on the likelihood of war. His comments appeared to be directed at Jack Straw, the Foreign Secretary, who said this week that he saw the probability of peace over war at about 60:40. "I think war is too serious to make those sort of predictions," Mr Powell said. [Overlaps with 9 Jan Washington Post DeYoung, Pincus story]

Saddam makes an exhibition of himself

Rory McCarthy, The Guardian: The most prized of them all, however, is currently absent from the museum. It is supposedly stored in a warehouse elsewhere in Baghdad, or is perhaps even being worn by Saddam himself - a pair of golden riding spurs presented by former US president Ronald Reagan in the early 80s. ... The Californian senate might be surprised to remember that, on November 1 1984, it presented an official seal, in a red velvet box, to "His Excellency Saddam Hussein". ... In 1998, the Indo-Iraq Friendship Society, based in Delhi, presented Saddam with its "man of the century award". The accolade hailed the Iraqi dictator as a "statesman, a thinker and a revolutionary" who had "infused new life and hope in his people". It was only outdone two years later, when another plaque arrived from Delhi. This one is inscribed "with love from India", and declares Saddam to be "man of the millennium".

Plan: Tap Iraq’s Oil: U.S. considers seizing revenues to pay for occupation, source says

Knut Royce, Newsday: Bush administration officials are seriously considering proposals that the United States tap Iraq's oil to help pay the cost of a military occupation, a move that likely would prove highly inflammatory in an Arab world already suspicious of U.S. motives in Iraq. Officially, the White House agrees that oil revenue would play an important role during an occupation period, but only for the benefit of Iraqis, according to a National Security Council spokesman. ... "There are people in the White House who take the position that it's all the spoils of war,” said the source, who asked not to be further identified. "We [the United States] take all the oil money until there is a new democratic government [in Iraq].” ... Laurence Meyer, a former Federal Reserve Board governor who chaired a Center for Strategic and International Studies conference in November on the economic consequences of a war with Iraq, said that conference participants deliberately avoided the question of whether Iraq should help pay occupation or other costs.

Beating the retreat may be Bush's call

Patrick Seale, Daily Star: several indications suggest that the tide may have turned against the war.

US will attack Iraq 'without UN backing'

Toby Harnden, Daily Telegraph: Mr Perle ... said he did not expect the UN Security Council to reach agreement on the use of force but had little doubt that George W Bush, the US president, would press ahead regardless and lead a coalition to victory. ... "It would be a great mistake to become dependent on it and take the view that we can't act separately. That would be an abrogation of the president's responsibility." ... Mr Perle said inspectors would not find actual weapons in the face of Iraqi concealment. "If that's the test, we're never going to find a smoking gun," said Mr Perle. ... He said inspectors had mainly visited previously known sites. "They are the last place you would expect Saddam to put something," Mr Perle said. "You would have to be a complete idiot to do that. The inspectors returning to known sites makes Blix look foolish."


Serge Schmemann, New York Times: The chief United Nations arms inspector in Iraq told the Security Council on Thursday that his team had found no "smoking gun" so far, but he also charged that the information supplied by Iraq was "devoid of any new evidence" that the country had no weapons of mass destruction. ... Blix also criticized Iraq for failing to provide the names of all personnel currently or formerly associated with programs to develop weapons of mass destruction. The names supplied by Iraq, he said, did not even include those given in previous lists.

Hellish scenarios of a new Gulf War: ‘Scorched earth’ fears tower over ’91 fallout in Kuwait

Miguel Llanos, MSNBC: DRIVING INTO Kuwait City “you began to see the smoke pitch black for most of the wells, white from a few others all rising and mingling to form one large plume,” he recalled. “The most striking feature was the noise and the wind the power of the fire at each well roaring like a jet engine and the heat from the fires creating their own weather, very surreal.” ... Health studies are still being undertaken to track any long-term effects on Kuwaitis of the cancer-causing soot. ... If oil or chemicals spilled into a river, [Matthew Naud] noted, the impact “would have a much more significant effect” than a desert spill. “I don’t know that a river would recover as quickly as the desert.”

Iraqi Scientists Not Likely To Be Interviewed Abroad: Despite Pledge, Official Says Arms Experts Not 'Ready to Go'

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: "Nobody is ready to go outside to make an interview with UNMOVIC or the IAEA," said Gen. Hussam Mohammed Amin, head of Iraq's weapons monitoring directorate ... Despite Iraq's pledge to permit scientists to leave with their immediate families, some diplomats and U.N. officials say they believe the fear of retribution against extended family members may be dissuading some experts from leaving. "It's fine to take one's wife and children," one diplomat here said. "But what about the wife's brother? Or the husband's sister and her children? In Iraq, brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, cousins -- they're all considered close family members."

Iraqis Seek Primary Role in Prosecuting Crimes Against Humanity

Vicki Silverman, Washington File: [Sermid Al-Sarraf] Iraqi-American attorney participating in State Department-sponsored discussions on transitional justice in Iraq following the fall of Saddam Hussein says those who committed genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity should be prosecuted in Iraq before Iraqi judges.


UN weapons team warns on hasty response

Mark Turner, James Drummond, Jean Eaglesham, Financial Times: Tariq Rauf, head of verification and security policy co-ordination at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), told a conference in London on Wednesday that inspectors in Iraq needed "several months" to verify whether the country had an undisclosed nuclear capability. "We need time. The international community should await the conclusions by Unmovic [the UN inspection commission searching for chemical and biological weapons] and the IAEA and then - on the basis of those conclusions - decide what action to take," he said. "Actions that threaten the authority of non-proliferations regimes in the longer term will lead to a more insecure world." ... David Albright, a former weapons inspector and head of the Institute for Science and International Security, conceded that the inspectors were "trying", but was concerned that "they're still focused too much on long-term monitoring". However, he said that much of the responsibility lay with the US, both over its reluctance to hand over intelligence information, and on slow progress on plans to house Iraqi scientists and their families with whom inspectors might request interviews outside the country.

The White House strays from the truth

Gerard Baker, Financial Times: The ambiguity points up the central problem that continues to give even Iraq hawks like me heartburn about the administration's plans. The suspicion lingers that we do not really know the main reason for going to war against Iraq.

A Routine Briefing Embarrasses Fleischer Over Iraq

IslamOnline & News Agencies: A routine news briefing by U.S. President George Bush's press secretary Ari Fleischer on Monday, January6 , turned into a war of words with Helen Thomas, the most senior member of the White House press corps, over the unjustified war on Iraq. ... Fleischer said Bush deplored “in the strongest terms the taking of those lives and the wounding of those people, innocents in Israel." "Why does he want to drop bombs on innocent Iraqis?" Thomas fired back to Fleischer.


Roland Watson, The (London) Times: DONALD RUMSFELD, the US Defence Secretary, has suggested that Washington may present little or no evidence of Iraq's quest for banned weapons even if President Bush decides to go to war. ... When weighing the demands of global opinion for proof of President Saddam Hussein's danger against the need to shroud an effective military campaign in secrecy, Mr Rumsfeld said the safer option would be for the US to tilt towards secrecy.

Dr Mahmoud Osman: The Iraqi people do not trust American policy

Mahmoud Osman, The Iraqi people have an extremely negative experience with US policy in Iraq. ... Here, I would like to mention three examples of our legitimate fears: 1. Who would guarantee that a secret agreement between the US and Turkey would not emerge from the forthcoming war at the expense of the Kurds? ... 2. The people of Kurdistan-Kurds, Turkomans and Assyrians-could face reprisals from Saddam Hussein using chemical weapons. ... 3. The policy of Arabization has been continuing for decades against the people of Kurdistan. ... An important point to mention here is that Mr Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's envoy, spoke in the afternoon session [of the December opposition conference] for 15 minutes. He failed to mention either the words "Kurd" or "Federalism" in his speech. This despite the fact that he had been sitting between the two Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani and Jalal Talabani since the morning; and had been hearing the word "Federalism" dozens of times from the various other speeches. This can only suggest to us that the US does not support federalism and does not pay attention to the Kurdish issue, a factor that contributes to the growing Kurdish fears and anxiety.

Turkey's Reluctance on Use of Bases Worries U.S.

MICHAEL R. GORDON, New York Times: "From the military planning standpoint, we have just about reached the critical mass point for a yes or no from Turkey," said a senior United States official who is familiar with American preparations. ... Turkish officials said the financial package could be worth up to $14 billion, but American officials said it might be worth more.

Anti-war train drivers refuse to move arms freight

Kevin Maguire, The Guardian:

Britain urges US to delay war until autumn

Anton La Guardia and George Jones, Daily Telegraph: Britain is pressing for war against Iraq to be delayed for several months, possibly until the autumn, to give weapons inspectors more time to provide clear evidence of new violations by Saddam Hussein.


AFP: Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials opened crucial Red Cross-sponsored talks yesterday in Jordan on the fate of hundreds of their citizens who have been missing since before the 1991 Gulf war.

Letter from Field Marshal Sir John Stanier

The (London} Times: I am fully in support of our Government's wish to stand firmly with the United States in their determination to defeat terrorism. I believe strongly that we should retain our close ties with America, whose people and way of life I respect and admire. I am also old enough to remember the immense debt which we in Europe owe to America, without whom we should have fallen under Hitlerite Fascism or later under Soviet Communism. But, despite this, I remain unconvinced that an attack on Iraq is a necessary step in the War on Terrorism. ... It is my reluctant conclusion that, until the United States shows herself to be a caring and committed participant in combating the woes of the world, her military options will only regenerate terrorism.


Vivienne Walt, USA Today: Relief organizations recently completed a study of the potential impact of a war to determine how to help residents. ... Water taps would run dry within 12 hours; Food would become scarce; Epidemics could erupt if raw sewage spewed into the water supply and residents began drinking from the polluted Tigris River that cuts through the city. ... Relief officials say they're moving large supplies of U.S. dollars to Baghdad. Without cash up front, no truck driver is expected to risk distributing water or transporting food and medicine in a war zone. CARE's foreign staff has opted to stay if there is a war, says Morgan, who remained in Baghdad through the Gulf War. ... "The Pentagon says we're exaggerating," Christof says. "But war is war, and you don't have a half-war or quarter-war. The U.S. says it will do precision bombing. But the targets are all in civilian areas."

Saddam, 13 others on 'blacklist' for trial

AFP: President Saddam Hussein tops a list of 14 Iraqis who have been put on a U.S. "blacklist" of figures to be removed from power and put on trial, a statement by the Iraqi opposition said yesterday. [Also on list: Uday and Qusay, Ezzat Ibrahim, Taha Yassin Ramadan, Ali Hassan al-Majeed, Mohammad Hamza al-Zubeidi, Taher Jalil al-Takriti, Hani Abdellatif al-Takriti, Abed Hammud, Taha Mohieddin Maaruf, Iyad al-Rawi, Abdul Tawwab Mulla Howeish and Amer Rashid. Absent include Tariq Aziz and Naji Sabri.] ... The form the trials would take had not been determined but could involve the international community, U.S. officials told United Press International.

Blair Tries to Cool Speculation on Iraq

BETH GARDINER, AP: "There have to be different messages for different audiences, and they have to be sent simultaneously," [Rosemary Hollis] said. The buildup of forces was likely aimed at rattling Saddam, while [Blair's] cool talk could be meant to reassure the British public and dissenters within the Labor Party, Hollis said.

U.N. food agency makes contingency plan for possible Iraq war

TOM RACHMAN, AP: A U.N. food agency has worked out an emergency plan to feed 900,000 of the most desperate Iraqis for 10 weeks if the United States and its allies launch a war against Saddam Hussein. The World Food Program has asked for $4 million for basic rations and to get the food in place, spokesman Trevor Rowe said Thursday. ... The $4 million is the WFP's share of a $37.4 million appeal the United Nations made last month to get food and other humanitarian supplies in place in case of war in Iraq. Rowe said the Rome-based food agency hadn't yet received any contributions.

U.S. Is Sharing Iraq Data With Blix: Powell Says Some Intelligence Withheld

Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus, Washington Post: But Powell said in an interview that the Bush administration was still holding back some of its most sensitive information, waiting to see if inspectors "are able to handle it and exploit it. . . . It is not a matter of opening up every door that we have."



Robert Windrem, NBC: According to the official Iraqi News Agency, Rashid was transferred by presidential decree to the Directorate of Reserve Service, which will allow him to be recalled to another job if necessary. ... However, U.S. officials were unconvinced by Iraq's statement that Rashid stepped down because he had reached the mandatory retirement age. ... Overall, his reputation was one of total competence ... "He has kept the oil industry going with Band-Aids and chewing gum," said a leading oil trader. "He was not handicapped by the restrictions ... As a result, analysts are considering two possibilities as they try to figure out what happened: one is that as he did just before the Gulf War, Saddam is ousting technocrats in favor of loyalists, believing in a fight to the death he would prefer having his own men around him. The other is more ominous. "[He] is one of the sole progressive/Westerners in the inner circle, kind of like [Former U.N. Ambassador Nizar] Hamdoun," said a military analyst outside the government who knows the former oil minister. [al Hayat reports that Rasheed was dimissed because he was too harsh in dealing with the Lukoil contract, against the wishes of Uday, who had also been involved in the negotiations.]

Discord Among Iraqi Opposition Groups May Leave them Sidelined

Daniel Williams, Washington Post: As the clock ticks toward a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq and the destruction of President Saddam Hussein's rule, the lack of a cohesive strategy appears to be dooming any clear role for exile leaders. Reports from the United States indicate that the Bush administration is planning a military and civilian authority to run postwar Iraq for a time, with no decision on any role for the exiles. ... "It is a struggle. We certainly won't meet by Jan. 15," lamented a Kurdish official, who asked that his name not be used.

U.N. Inspectors Extend Reach With Aircraft: Mobility Enhances Element of Surprise at Iraqi Sites

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: They were followed by anxious Iraqi officials and a small group of journalists in two lumbering Soviet-made military transport helicopters emblazoned with Iraqi Airways insignia. ... Although conversations among Iraqi officials traveling in the helicopter suggested that the Qaim site probably had about an hour's notice today, that was significantly less warning than when the nuclear experts sought to visit. ... The inspectors have eight helicopters, which are parked at an Iraqi air force base in Baghdad. The arrival of the helicopters in Iraq was delayed because of U.N. requirements that several firms be allowed to bid on the contract to provide air support.

Saddam: Iraqi Soldiers More than Match for US GIs

Nadim Ladki, Reuters: The American GI's 21st-century kit will count for nothing, says President Saddam Hussein, against the Iraqi infantryman armed with a rifle, God's blessing -- and local villagers ready to feed him on the battlefield. But with rations tight, supplying the troops with food could be a real concern, he was quoted as conceding Wednesday.

KHATAMI SETS PREREQUISITES FOR SABRI'S VISIT: PRESS Iran has set preconditions for the visit of Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to Tehran, the Wednesday edition of the English-language daily 'Tehran Times' quoted a source as saying, IRNA reported. ... The conditions were put forth during Sabri's previous trip to Iran but Iraq has not taken any measure in this regard. ... The conditions Khatami has put forth include: Iraq must once again officially announce its commitment to the Algiers Treaty of 1975; must announce its commitment to full implementation of the UN Resolution 598 and pay war indemnities to Iran; must apologize to the Iranian nation for imposing an eight-year war on Iran; and must release all Iranian POWs


John Hooper, The Guardian: The head of the UN's weapons inspectors in Iraq, Hans Blix, will tell the security council tomorrow that several of the key claims in Tony Blair's dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein are unfounded, according to a German newspaper report. But, Die Tageszeitung says today, the UN will also be told that Baghdad had failed to answer questions concerning its alleged efforts to produce weapons of mass destruction. ... The claims in the British dossier that the paper says cannot be verified are: That production has been resumed at two key Iraqi plants suspected of producing biological toxins; That Iraq breached a UN resolution by extending the reach of its short-range missiles to 200km; That Baghdad had attempted covertly to acquire more than 60,000 of the specialised aluminium tubes used in uranium enrichment.


Paul Majendie, Reuters: [British National Gulf Veterans and Families Association] treasurer James Moore: "If I was going out, there is no way I would have the vaccine. There is a minuscule risk of being exposed to anthrax. I think Saddam Hussein would more likely use mustard gas rather than something as unreliable as anthrax," he told Reuters. "In the United States, over 30 percent have come down with symptoms and six have died after taking the vaccine," he said.

Ironic Iraqi arbiter

Harlan Ullman [Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Center for Naval Analyses Corp], Washington Times: Two weekends ago, Powell filled the Sunday morning TV talk shows ... Powell noted on each of the five programs that if Iraq eliminated all of its mass destruction capabilities permanently, that would constitute a "regime change." ... To be sure, critics and contestants for the president's heart complain this line is purely "wordsmithing," not genuine change.


Iraq War Could Put 10 Million In Need of Aid, U.N. Reports

Colum Lynch, Washington Post: The United Nations estimates that a U.S.-led military campaign to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein could place about 10 million Iraqi civilians, including more than 2 million refugees and homeless, at risk of hunger and disease and in need of immediate assistance, according to a U.N. planning document. ... "The bulk of the population is now totally dependent on the government of Iraq for a majority, if not all, of their basic needs," the document said. "Unlike the situation in 1991, they have no way of coping if they cannot access them: the sanctions regime, if anything, has served to increase dependence on the government as almost the sole provider." ... The United Nations also issued an appeal last month in Geneva to the United States and other international donors for $37 million to finance their initial preparedness plans. However, implementation of the plan could cost billions, according to U.N. officials. ... "The United Nations often engages in contingency planning in countries in which we work. In the case of Iraq we are of course preparing for all eventualities," said David Wimhurst, the U.N. spokesman for peacekeeping. "However, it is standard practice that we do not discuss such planning nor disclose details about it."

Daman launches Dh184m Iraq-focused fund

Gulf News: Daman Asset Management has launched a new investment product - Daman Iraq Opportunity Fund - with a view to providing investors with the opportunity to participate in the international reintegration and reconstruction of Iraq. ... With the valuation of assets available in Iraq being very attractive, Daman believes this is the right time to participate in asset acquisition in Iraq so that the fund will be able to make windfall once the reconstruction of Iraq begins, and at the same time investors are getting an opportunity in the rebuilding of Iraq. The fund, which is a discretionary private equity initiative, will initially identify investment opportunities that are permissible given the current international legal consensus surrounding commerce with Iraq, and plans to increase its scope of activity as and when sanctions against the country are lifted.


Bill Gertz, Washington Times: The Iraqi military believes that U.S. and allied forces will break through the first ring but be held back by the inner ring's better-trained and better-equipped Special Republican Guard, the [US intelligence] officials said. ... In September, two Republican Guard units were moved from bases to less vulnerable sites in Iraq. Other signs include construction of earthen barriers, the dispersal of ammunition and the movement of surface-to-air missile batteries. ... The double perimeter may be designed to draw U.S. and allied forces toward Baghdad and then conduct artillery attacks on them using shells filled with chemical and biological weapons.


Abdul Raheem Aly, Palestine Chronicle: [Egyptian] Political analysts Monday, January 6, stressed that a U.S. war against Iraq could hardly be prevented, even if Iraqi President Saddam Hussein stepped down, adding that Washington is not just after Saddam, but also the Iraqi security and armed forces.

After Saddam, an Uncertain Future

Jamie Dettmer, Insight: But those perceptions have grown in the wake of the recent disclosure by Insight that a National Security Council working group headed by former assistant secretary of state Elliott Abrams has recommended that the United States assert de facto control over Iraq's oil wells. Abrams apparently has the backing of Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. ... "CENTCOM wants the U.N. and allies involved intimately now; the buzz phrase is 'international buy-in.' They fear any prospect of the U.S. military acting as a long-term civil authority in a post-Saddam Iraq and of GIs having to be policemen," says a Department of Defense (DoD) source. ... But Franks himself is said by administration sources to be highly reluctant for CENTCOM to become the de facto governing authority in Iraq. He believes that role should pass to the United Nations with U.S. support.

The Role Of Iraq's Oil As War Nears

John E. Carbaugh Jr., Insight Magazine: Analysts point out that if cheap oil were the real U.S. objective it would be easier for Washington to convince the United Nations to lift the economic embargo imposed on Iraq after the Persian Gulf War of 1991. The United States also could invalidate present domestic laws prohibiting its participation in the development of oil in Iraq and fellow producers Iran and Libya, each of which the United States long has accused of fomenting terrorism. ... "Oil will be the engine of Iraq's reconstruction," State Department spokesman Gregg Sullivan told the New York Times. "No one is talking about a Marshall Plan for Iraq because oil will take care of that." ... In a recent Chicago Tribune article, Charles V. Peña, senior defense-policy analyst for Washington's conservative/ libertarian Cato Institute, asked: "Would this debate be taking place if the country in question were in sub-Saharan Africa? After all, the Defense Department claims there are 12 nations with nuclear-weapons programs, 13 with biological weapons, 16 with chemical weapons and 28 with ballistic missiles as existing and emerging threats to the United States. But only one of those countries sits atop the second-largest oil reserves in the world. Just remember the adage: 'Follow the money' ... or in this case, the oil." ... Margelov, who is a foreign-policy adviser close to President Vladimir Putin, says Russians particularly are interested in participating in the privatization of the Iraqi oil industry. ... Mikhail Khodorkovsky of Russian oil company Yukos recently told the Washington Post: "If America wants Russia to be a participant in solving the problem, then the best way to go about doing this is to get Russia interested from an economic view. ... If there were consortia formed between Russian and American companies before all of this happened ... it would provide a sufficient level of guarantees for Russian companies and Russia as a whole."

Sources: Turkey has doubled presence to 12,000 troops in northern Iraq

SELCAN HACAOGLU, AP: The number of Turkish troops deployed in northern Iraq has been doubled to some 12,000 in recent weeks, a senior intelligence source said Tuesday, a sign that Ankara wants to make sure its interests are taken into account in case of war.

Iraq discusses Gulf War missing

Caroline Hawley, BBC: Iraqi and Kuwaiti officials are sitting down together on Wednesday for the first time since 1998 to discuss the fate of those who went missing during the last Gulf War. The meeting is being chaired by the Red Cross in the Jordanian capital, Amman.


Reuters: Turkey has granted the United States permission to inspect its ports and airbases ahead of a possible attack on neighbor Iraq, military officials were quoted as telling a parliament committee late Monday.


The Moral Quandary

MICHAEL MASSING, The Nation: Danner, who in early October joined such other liberals as Derek Bok, Aryeh Neier and Arthur Schlesinger Jr. in signing an ad in the Times opposing the war, says, "The most forceful argument for going to war is helping the Iraqi people. But that's not the reason for this war. I don't remember anybody in the Administration talking about the Iraqi people before August. Rather, it's about America's larger strategic goals in the region. They're going to get rid of this guy, then get out. During the 2000 campaign, George Bush was totally against nation-building. And I don't see any sign of change in that." ... One nonviolent alternative, proposed recently in these pages by Andrew Mack (a former aide to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan), would seek to bolster the internal Iraqi opposition by lifting most of the sanctions on Iraq and opening up the country to foreign investment and other forms of international engagement [see "Containing Saddam," December 16].

Saddam accuses UN inspectors of spying

BBC: The Iraqi leader charged: "Instead of searching for so-called weapons of mass destruction to reveal the lies of liars... the inspection teams became interested in compiling lists of Iraqi scientists, ask workers questions that are not what they seem and gather information about army camps and legitimate military production. These things, or most of them, are pure intelligence work,"

Iraq has no N-weapons, claims expatriate scientist

Michael Jansen, The Irish Times: Iraq has no nuclear weapons and no means to deliver nuclear weapons. This is the assessment of a former senior Iraqi nuclear scientist, Dr Imad Khadduri. ... He said accusations that Iraq might manufacture a large, "dirty" bomb deliverable by aircraft or missile were in the realm of science fiction. Iraq had neither the reactors nor the neutron generators needed to produce such a weapon," he said. ... Dr Khadduri decided to speak out to counter the "misinformation campaign" mounted by the US and British governments which, he said, had relied on sources with little credibility. One such source is the sole Iraqi nuclear expert to defect to the US, Dr Khidhir Hamza ... Historically, he said, the US had initiated Iraq's nuclear programme in 1956 by dispatching to Baghdad the "Atom for Peace library" which, during the Eisenhower administration, was supplied to many world governments and used by at least two, India and Pakistan, as the starting point for bomb-making. ... While still pursuing the Atoms for Peace vision without military intent, Baghdad had turned to the Soviet Union and bought a two-megawatt research reactor which went critical in 1966-67. ... During 1975 France provided Iraq with a light-water reactor, Osirak, which was specifically designed to be unsuitable for the production of plutonium for a bomb, he said. Meanwhile, Iraqi scientists were, said Dr Khadduri, "dabbling with rudimentary research on fission bombs." ... The bombing by Israel of Osirak in June 1981 prompted Iraq to take the decision to go ahead with weaponisation. ... During the waning years of the 1990s, Iraq's nuclear scientists did their utmost to produce a comprehensive report for the IAEA, their final task, Dr Khadduri said. Today Iraq's scientists were "gripped by poverty . . . Their former determination and drive have been crushed by economic realities . . . Their skills atrophy from lack of activity in their fields," Dr Khadduri said. ... Most remain in Iraq. "The number of senior scientists who managed to leave, by hook or by crook, number no more than the fingers of your two hands."

Sharon Claims Iraq Is Hiding WMD In Syria

Charles Snow, MEES: (Mr Sharon did not explain why Syria would want to run the risk of becoming a target in the war against terrorism for the sake of Iraq’s WMD.) Indeed his assertions came so much out of the blue that even Israel’s usual apologists in the US failed to pick up the ball and run with it.

U.S. Sees Opportunity to Transform Mideast

Howard Witt, Knight Ridder: "I favor regime change. But I can tell you that I have nothing but contempt for people who say it will be really easy or that it's going to miraculously solve all these other problems," said David Mack

U.N. Iraq report may complicate U.S. plan

TOM RAUM, AP: "So it starts in March. Or it starts next year. Saddam isn't going anywhere," he said. "And the fact that the inspectors are there bottles up his weapons programs. It puts him on the defensive. He has to hide things carefully. It's very hard to make progress with everybody watching. I think Iraq has become far less of a risk just because the inspectors are there."

US Poll: Iraq a greater threat than North Korea

AP: More people are seriously worried about the threat of Iraq than about North Korea, according to new polls. The ABC News poll released Monday said 55 percent felt Iraq was the greater threat, while 35 percent said North Korea.

Turkey Prepares To Stake Claim to Iraq's Northern Oilfields

Amberin Zaman, Daily Telegraph: Yasar Yakis, the foreign minister, said he was examining treaties from the early 20th century to see whether Turkey had a claim to the oil fields of the Mosul and Kirkuk provinces, which the Turks ruled during Ottoman times. In comments published yesterday in the Hurriyet newspaper, Mr Yakis said: "If we do have such rights, we have to explain this to the international community and our partners in order to secure those rights." ... While Mr Yakis was careful to emphasise that Turkey had no territorial claims over the provinces, his comments were greeted with anger by Arab diplomats in Ankara.

Hussein grows as icon as potential war looms

Elizabeth Neuffer, Boston Globe: Meanwhile, the drumbeat of war from Washington appears to have only enhanced Hussein's stature, not lessened it. "There seems to be a continuous provocation toward Saddam Hussein," said Wamidh Nadhmi, a professor of political science at Baghdad University, who is openly critical of many of the Iraqi president's actions. "It is as if [President] Bush and [Defense Secretary Donald H.] Rumsfeld want to push him into a desperate act as if to justify an invasion here," Nadhmi said.


Ed Johnson, AP: Asked to comment on a statement that the odds of war with Iraq had slipped from 60-40 to 40-60, Straw told British Broadcasting Corp. radio that "I think that is a reasonably accurate description." ... Ellie Goldsworthy, head of the U.K. armed forces program at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense Studies, said Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein would have no incentive to cooperate with weapons inspectors if a U.S.-led attack was inevitable. "Britain and America want the threat of military action to be credible but not inevitable and want Saddam to think he can still do something about it. They do not want him to start concentrating on defense strategies," Goldsworthy added.


David Rising, AP: "This is a grouping that is actually going to fight the war if necessary in Iraq, and they have to do these exercises to get their procedures right and for the officers to get to know each other," said retired British Army Maj. Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies. "These are the formations we've kept our eyes on for quite a long time, so the pieces of the jigsaw are falling into place."


In Iraq's Tribes, U.S. Faces a Wild Card

NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times: The country is home to about 150 major tribes, which break down into about 2,000 smaller clans. The largest number more than one million people, the smallest a few thousand. Of the larger groups, roughly 30 to 35 are believed to have a significant role in controlling Iraq. ... Sheik Talal, echoing other tribal chiefs, said he had placed a request with the local Baath Party leader in Mosul for heavier arms, like rocket-propelled grenades, antiaircraft guns and antitank weapons, to help fight the Americans, but he has yet to receive a response. ... Expecting a warm tribal welcome when they marched into Iraq to toss out the Ottomans, the British instead were met with hostility from the tribes, which united to massacre tens of thousands of British soldiers. ... Wamidh Nadhmi, a political science professor at Baghdad University, said: "The tribal leaders were very happy that their old role was to be returned. They were good at protecting roads, delivering water and sorting out the problems the government can't. ... Sheik Ahmed Mohiedin Zangana, the leader of a small Kurdish tribe opposed to his American-allied brethren in the north, noted that he had already assigned members of his tribe positions to take up around the city of Mosul and elsewhere in event of an attack, although he too, awaits heavier weapons. "I have my specific plans to distribute members of the tribe if paratroopers land," he said. "Each sniper knows his special assignment."

Casualty issue rising again

THOMAS GINSBERG, Knight Ridder Newspapers: A senior researcher at Pittsburgh's Carnegie Mellon University, Daponte was the Census Bureau demographer who postulated in 1991 that 158,000 Iraqi men, women and children died during and shortly after the Persian Gulf war. In return she was reprimanded by her government, and saw her report rewritten and her career sidetracked. Today ... Daponte says she has no intention of trying to estimate Iraqi deaths again. ... Some independent analysts have speculated that 50,000 Iraqi civilians could die in a U.S. invasion. But most, including Daponte and Galen Carpenter, say there are far too many variables to make such a prediction. ... Daponte, a staff demographer at the Census Bureau, was assigned to estimate Iraq's population as part of her usual job of producing country-by-country population estimates. The University of Chicago-trained sociologist says she got permission to speak to any expert and use the best data from any source. She recalls she was given a few months, rather than the usual few days. She says she expected her findings, like all others, would be printed in an unclassified report. ... "I would do the work differently now. ... We'd present the numbers as a range instead of a single estimate," she says. "But I still stand by those numbers." ... "When I was told not to think or talk about Iraq, that was wrong," she says. Besides: "Nobody has ever said the numbers were wrong."

Supplies Amassed Along Frontline of Iraq's 'Other' War: As U.S. Military Prepares for Fighting, Relief Groups Mobilize to Save Lives

Peter Baker, Washington Post: Tanker trucks that could be used to deliver water might be pressed into military service. "So we thought that by using these bladders we would transform regular trucks into tankers," explained Majeed Waleed, deputy project manager at CARE. ... U.N. contingency planners estimated that as many as 4.5 million to 9.5 million Iraqis could need food from outside shortly after the beginning of a war and predicted that as many as 900,000 refugees could spill into neighboring countries such as Iran, Turkey, Syria and Jordan. Three weeks ago, U.N. relief agencies requested $37.4 million to cope with the expected crisis.

Wartime Iraq aid calamity feared: Relief agencies predict humanitarian disaster

Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle: Despite the near-constant talk of a U.S.-led invasion to overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, aid officials here say there appears to be little preparation by the Bush administration, the United Nations or private foreign aid agencies to handle a potential humanitarian disaster. ... The U.N. World Food Program has said that its storehouses in Iraq hold about two months' supplies. "But that won't mean anything if bridges are blown up, if fuel depots are blown up, if electricity stations are bombed, if there's no transport," said CARE's Waleed. ... But on Saturday, the day after a Chronicle reporter interviewed Abbas Salem, the Information Ministry announced a ban on foreign media visits to ration centers. No explanation was given.

Turkey, Iraq Upgrade Ties to Ambassador Level

Tehran Times

On the banks of the Tigris, fatalism, but little panic

Elizabeth Neuffer, Boston Globe: Nadhmi is one of the few in Baghdad to voice criticism of Hussein, faulting him for invading Kuwait and failing to allow multiparty democracy to develop. Still, Nadhmi, like many Iraqis, cannot understand why Washington has focused on Hussein now and on a conflict aimed at the leader's demise. "I'm not trying to say that according to Western standards Saddam Hussein is a perfect leader," said Nadhmi, seated in the living room of his house, complete with a photo of the Iraqi president, which backs up onto the Tigris River. "But by Third World standards, Saddam Hussein is not so evil as he is being described by the American press and by American propaganda."

U.S. Is Completing Plan to Promote a Democratic Iraq

DAVID E. SANGER and JAMES DAO, New York Times: Those plans call for a heavy American military presence in the country for at least 18 months, military trials of only the most senior Iraqi leaders and quick takeover of the country's oil fields to pay for reconstruction. ... While publicly saying Iraqi oil would remain what one senior official calls "the patrimony of the Iraqi people," the administration is debating how to protect oil fields during the conflict and how an occupied Iraq would be represented in the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, if at all. After long debate, especially between the Pentagon and the State Department, the White House has rejected for now the idea of creating a provisional government before any invasion. ... Notably, the administration's written description of its goals include these two objectives: "preserve Iraq as a unitary state, with its territorial integrity intact," and "prevent unhelpful outside interference, military or nonmilitary," apparently a warning to neighboring countries. ... "We know one thing," said a diplomat involved in the planning. "Things will have to come together a lot faster than they have in Afghanistan." ... But it is unclear how the administration plans to finesse the question of Iraq's role in OPEC and who would represent occupied Iraq at the organization's meetings. ... One official said Washington "fully expects" that the United States will be suspected of undermining the oil organization, and it is working on strategies, which he would not describe, to allay those fears. ... Senior civilian officials in the Pentagon and some advisers to Vice President Dick Cheney argued for the creation of a provisional government even before Baghdad falls

Inspectors Close Exits at Research Site for Hours, Confining Thousands

NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times: United Nations weapons inspectors today made the most dramatic use so far of their authority to close exits and entrances to any site where they are working, confining thousands of people at a sprawling government research complex, including the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations, for almost six hours. ... So the Iraqis, while increasingly testy about the inspections, work assiduously to avoid the constant confrontations that marked the previous round of inspections, from 1991 to 1998. They also try to undermine confidence in the entire process. ... United Nations spokesmen said the entire site, which has some 50 buildings, had been frozen to try to make an overall assessment of how the research facilities might be allied. ... [Ewen Buchanan] said the United Nations team had decided to keep thousands of workers there after consulting with the Iraqi minders, the two sides determining it was better to keep everyone there to get answers to any pending questions rather than have to return another day if someone essential had left. ... [Hiro Ueki] said anyone who wanted to leave could as long as they agreed to be searched first. ... After 2 p.m. — quitting time in Iraq — thousands of employees were milling around the site waiting to go. After about 30 minutes, a group of women, some accompanied by small children who had evidently been in day care, approached the reporters at the gate to protest vociferously. "Is this the kind of freedom the Americans are talking about?" one woman shouted. "Look at what they are doing to us."


Is Washington trying to ‘persuade’ Saddam to resign?

Daily Star (Beirut): There’s talk in the Arab press of moves behind the scenes aimed at persuading Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to resign so as to spare his country an American invasion. Pan-Arab Al-Quds Al-Arabi highlights reports that Washington is seeking Moscow’s help in brokering such an arrangement and suggests the administration of President George W. Bush’s principal concern is to save itself the massive financial bill necessary for toppling the Iraqi leader by means of war. Elsewhere it is suggested that the upcoming tour of Arab capitals by Abdullah Gul, Turkey’s new (and apparently temporary) prime minister, may be related to these endeavors. [See also "White War!", Parviz Esmaeili, Tehran Times, 2/01/3.]

Battle of the boffins

Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald: A military affairs analyst, William M. Arkin, elaborates: "Microwave weapons work by producing an intense surge of energy, ... They send a narrow beam of energy that penetrates about th of an inch into [human] skin, to where nerves that cause pain are located." Describing the panic-causing intensity of the pain inflicted by the high-powered microwaves, he quoted a military officer who had experienced it: "All the glossy slide presentations cannot prepare you for what to expect when you step in the beam." ... In the much-vaunted surgical precision of the 1991 conflict, only 7 per cent of the munitions used were "smart". That proportion jumped to 30 per cent in Kosovo in 1999 and to 60 per cent in Afghanistan. The Pentagon is punting on 100 per cent smartness in the coming conflict. ... The JDAM engineers promised the Pentagon that 50 per cent of the weapons fired would hit within 13 metres of their targets. But an Air Force general who had a hand in the Afghanistan war, bragged to Time magazine that they fell within three metres of their target 100 per cent of the time. ... Arkin, the military affairs analyst, recently lifted the veil of secrecy on the newest so-called "agent defeat" weapons in the US, revealing the development of a new cluster bomb that would release 4000 titanium rods to cut through chemical and biological bunkers with explosive force, and a new incendiary device which he said would create a firestorm so intense that water would not extinguish it.

Jordan tries to keep a very big secret

Sarah Smiles, Sydney Morning Herald: "We're not allowed to admit the Americans are here. It will get us into big trouble. It's a secret to Iraq, so you can't talk about it," says Khalid, 30, from the town of Al-Azraq, 250 kilometres from the Iraqi border, and home to Muafaq al-Salti airbase.

US stirs fear, hope in Iraqi exiles: Anxiety coloring postwar scenarios

Elizabeth Neuffer, Boston Globe: There is wide consensus in the homes along the steep streets of old Amman, where thousands of Iraqi exiles live: Bring an end to the reign of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. ... Iraqis who have settled here are divided over the effects that a US-led military strike would have on their battered homeland. ... Uncertainty about the future of a postwar Iraq can be heard along the alleys and byways here and in the voices of many of the more than 450,000 Iraqis who live in Jordan ... "Are the Americans serious? We just don't believe yet they really are," said Mohammed, a 28-year-old Iraqi Shiite from southern Iraq, who said he wishes for a strong show of American force and even hopes the United States administers Iraq for a while. But the former Iraqi Air Force corporal disagreed. "If you come to occupy, every man and child will fight America," he warned. "If you come to liberate, we will go out with songs and cheers." ... "We don't want Saddam Hussein, and we don't want civil war," Fadal said. "We want stability. We want security. And we want freedom."


Alan Elsner, Reuters: Arab-Americans in one of the country's oldest Arab communities are looking ahead to the prospect of a U.S. war against Iraq with a mixture of fear and fury. [Describes some Arab American opinions and concerns.]


Alex Duval Smith, The Independent: the pride of the Iraqi navy has quietly been bobbing away on the still waters of the Italian Riviera. Every morning, a dozen sailors dutifully hoist the Iraqi flag aboard the Moussa Ben Noussair and the Tarek Ben Ziad. Then they rev the engines of the two Esmeralda-class corvettes and swivel their 76mm cannons menacingly along the horizon.


We Don't Invade Iraq. Then What?

ROBERT MALLEY (Middle East program director at the International Crisis Group, was special assistant to President Bill Clinton), New York Times: The responsibility today, especially for those who wish to oppose a conflict, is to think about what will happen if war is avoided. The central pillar of any plan needs to be deterrence, with commitments from our allies for a crushing military response so credible that the regime will understand that any use of weapons of mass destruction, or indeed any threat to his neighbors, would bring its immediate demise. ... A second pillar would be to induce political change in Iraq. The United Nations resolutions adopted after the gulf war demanded that it cease its repression of its citizens. Needless to say, this call has not been heeded. But Iraq is in dire straits. The oil industry operates at nowhere near capacity, roads and water facilities are a shambles, and Iraq's isolation from most of the industrialized world makes paying for improvements impossible. The quid pro quo for Iraq's economic reintegration, including international aid, loans for reconstruction projects and the lifting of sanctions, ought to be key domestic reforms: real elections, political pluralism, ethnic rights. Ultimately, so long as any concerns remain about the country's intentions regarding weapons of mass destruction, the ban on military goods and the oil-for-food program should be maintained. Other sanctions - such as those on technology that has both civilian and military uses - could gradually be lifted to encourage domestic reform. A third pillar would be a Persian Gulf regional security system.

Israel Defense Chief Sees U.S. Siege on Iraqi Cities

Reuters: U.S. forces are likely to surround Baghdad and other Iraqi cities but avoid street fighting in the initial stage of any war against Iraq, Israel's defense minister said in an interview published Friday. ... "The decision on how we will respond must be kept secret...(but) it will be a very tough and painful action." However, Mofaz described Iraq's ability to fire missiles or mount an air attack against Israel as limited. Most strategic experts believe Iraq retains little of the missile firepower it had in the 1991 Gulf War during which it launched 39 Scuds at Israel, causing one death and extensive damage to residential areas.

A Doctors' Dilemma Hits Kurdish Patients

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: The surgeon looked at a radiologist's images of the tumor in Mustafa Othman's brain. He spoke gently, telling the patient that only one thing could be done. The tumor was treatable, he said, just not in the Kurdish-controlled regions of northern Iraq. Mr. Othman, 70, would have to travel to Baghdad to find a specialist. But with war perhaps looming, it is a trip the old man is unwilling to make. He does not want to be bedridden in the Iraqi capital if bombs begin to fall. ... The shortage of reagents means there is little chance that a rush of donors would produce stores of useful blood. "As a surgeon I cannot say this more clearly," said Dr. Giorgio Francia, a manager for Relief International, a Los Angeles-based health aid organization that is assessing the region's medical needs. "If someone goes to a hospital, and he needs a transfusion and they do not have reagent, he will die. Period." ... Between the expected bombing and the dislocated people wandering across regional lines, health officials anticipate an influx of victims suffering typical war traumas, including bullet, shrapnel and burn wounds, and complicating infections. "It will be a catastrophe," said Dr. Rajan Ezzat, deputy director of the teaching hospital in Sulaimaniya.

Saddam's Foes Plan to Meet in Iraq

KHALED YACOUB OWEIS, Reuters: "We have agreed that a mid-January meeting [in Irbil] in Iraq is the priority. The final decision rests with our leaders," Hamid Bayati, a senior official in the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, told Reuters after a meeting of representatives from the six groups.

Analysis: Iraq's divided Shiia opposition

Eli J. Lake, UPI: In the past few months, al-Shaalan, as the London representative for the Tribal Council for Diwan, has become one of several links between this remote population and the U.S. government. ... "If the Americans are coming to remove the regime, then they will have more help from us than they can imagine," al-Shaalan says, sipping sweet tea. But he is also skeptical. "We don't want to be a victim of a double game once again. We are suffering too much now." ... Al-Shaalan is an important contact for the Bush Administration because he is one of a handful of Shiite leaders who is not formally connected to the Islamic Republic of Iran [i.e. SCIRI]. ... The Bush Administration has yet to make a decision on how much influence SCIRI will be allowed to have in future opposition activities. Instead, as one U.S. official told United Press International, "We are placing all bets."

U.N. Inspectors Ready to Step Up Pace: As Report Deadline Nears, Evidence of Banned Iraqi Weapons Seems Lacking

Peter Baker, Washington Post: In the meantime, the inspection force has assembled a fleet of six U.S.- and Russian-made helicopters to begin exploring the country from the air and pouncing on faraway sites with greater surprise. On Saturday, it expects to open its first branch office, in a hotel in Mosul, about 240 miles north of Baghdad. ... A diplomat concurred that the Iraqis still have some moves left. "There will be more [concessions]. Definitely there will be more," he said. "This is a chess game being executed on 10 levels at the same time." Mohammed Muthafar Adhami, dean of political science at Baghdad University and a member of the Iraqi parliament, said the strategy was to divide the United States from its allies by going along with inspections. "The most important thing is to keep cooperating with the inspection teams," he said.


Joshua Mitnick, Washington Times: Israel is putting the final touches on a $15 billion special aid request to the United States to bolster an economy under pressure from the Palestinian uprising and preparations for any attack by Iraq. ... "The unspoken word is that it is going to be part of an inducement package for Israel to stay on the sidelines," said Scott Lasensky, a research fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.


Arab Intellectuals Seek Saddam Resignation

Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Reuters: About a dozen Arab writers and lawyers plan to appeal to the Arab world to put pressure on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to step down to avert a war.


David Usborne and Marie Woolf, New Zealand Herald: The United Nations Secretary-General said yesterday that he saw no justification for attacking Iraq - at least until UN inspections chief Hans Blix submits a first full report to the Security Council at the end of this month. ... But alarm is growing in London and Washington as it becomes clear that the work already done by inspectors has failed to pick up a scent of any prohibited weapons activity. Unless that picture changes, the political task of justifying an armed invasion to the UN will be immeasurably harder. The absence of incriminating evidence was highlighted yesterday by an inspector speaking anonymously to the Los Angeles Times: "We haven't found one iota of concealed material yet." The inspector agreed that the failure to find anything may signify only the Iraqis' concealment skills.


AFP: The Americans are "100 times more savage" than the Iraqis and their threats to attack Baghdad are based on oil interests, the commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guards army charged Thursday. "American policy is driven by force, and force has to be responded to by force," General Rahim Safavi said, quoted on state television.


Tom Hundley, Chicago Tribune: "We are in the middle of a major psychological operation against Saddam Hussein," said Charles Heyman, editor of Jane's World Armies. "The pressure is being ratcheted up day by day. If Saddam suddenly collapses or goes off into exile, then this military buildup has done its job." If the Iraqi leader hangs tough, Heyman predicted, the U.S. and its allies will then initiate a limited assault on a key target - perhaps the southern port city of Basra - to see whether that might encourage the Iraqi military command to revolt against the dictator. If that failed, an all-out assault would follow, Heyman said.


Baghdad Bustles With Few Signs of Worry Over War

Peter Baker, Washington Post: The Iraqi dinar has fallen in value, reaching about 2,300 to the dollar, but the Baghdad Stock Index has soared to new heights. ... Salman Ali, 58, who sells athletic attire at a crowded bazaar, finds no deep concern among his customers. "They don't care about war," he said. "I don't see any difference between six months ago and today. It's the same life and the same people. I was sitting here six months ago, and I'm sitting here today." ... However, prices for imports have begun to rise because of the falling value of the dinar. At the Pyramids Supermarket, the price of a liter of milk from the United Arab Emirates has gone from 1,500 to 2,000 dinars, the equivalent of 87 cents, and a box of Twinings Lady Grey Tea has risen from 4,200 to 5,000 dinars, or $2.17. The owner, Muaad al-Douri, 38, looked around the empty store and noted that customers were not stockpiling. "Most of them are saying there won't be a war," he said.


A Witness to War

Kathy Kelly, The Progressive: While in Amman, I watched incredulously as CNN aired a U.S. military tape showing a three-dimensional simulation of urban areas in Baghdad. Suddenly, I was seeing an accurate rendering of Abu Nuwas Street, and then the Al Fanar hotel, our home in Baghdad. The tape precisely depicts our immediate neighborhood, detailing the main intersection, walkways, buildings, and alleys. It didn't show any people. [Talks about how some of her Iraqi friends are planning for a war]

Iraq and the Arabs' Future

Fouad Ajami, Foreign Affairs: There should be no illusions about the sort of Arab landscape that America is destined to find if, or when, it embarks on a war against the Iraqi regime. There would be no "hearts and minds" to be won in the Arab world, no public diplomacy that would convince the overwhelming majority of Arabs that this war would be a just war. An American expedition in the wake of thwarted UN inspections would be seen by the vast majority of Arabs as an imperial reach into their world, a favor to Israel, or a way for the United States to secure control over Iraq's oil. ... There is no need to pay excessive deference to the political pieties and givens of the region. Indeed, this is one of those settings where a reforming foreign power's simpler guidelines offer a better way than the region's age-old prohibitions and defects.

U.S. Support for the Iraqi Opposition

Chris Toensing, Foreign Policy in Focus: "I want to create the national story that Iraqis liberated themselves," said Patrick Clawson of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank close to key policymakers in the Bush administration. "It may have no more truth than the idea that the French liberated themselves in World War II," he added.

Opposing War Is Good, But Not Good Enough

Faleh A. Jabar, The Progressive: You had either to be with the Ba'th or you were against it. ... I took solace in the writings of German intellectuals who sought refuge outside beleaguered Europe under the Nazi rule. ... Massive oil reserves and revenues provided the government with autonomous resources that reinforced its authoritarian tendencies and enabled it to build massive security services. ... But an invasion of Iraq may well prove too costly or degenerate into chaos. The demise of the totalitarian regime, however welcome, will involve and unleash latent, uncontrollable institutional and social forces beside which fantasy will pale. A civil war may begin nobody knows where and end up in nobody knows what. A palace coup might be convenient for the U.S. Administration, but it would be another tragedy for the Iraqi people. War is as pernicious as totalitarianism.


White House Cuts Estimate of Cost of War With Iraq

ELISABETH BUMILLER, New York Times: The administration's top budget official estimated today that the cost of a war with Iraq could be in the range of $50 billion to $60 billion, a figure that is well below earlier estimates from White House officials. ... The administration is scheduled to present its budget to Congress on Feb. 3. Mr. Daniels would not provide specific costs for either a long or a short military campaign against Saddam Hussein. But he said that the administration was budgeting for both, and that earlier estimates of $100 billion to $200 billion in Iraq war costs by Lawrence B. Lindsey, Mr. Bush's former chief economic adviser, were too high. ... Mr. Daniels declined to explain how budget officials had reached the $50 billion to $60 billion range for war costs, or why it was less in current dollars than the 43-day gulf war in 1991. He also declined to specify how much had been budgeted for munitions and troops. ... Congressional Democrats have estimated that the cost would be $93 billion, not including the cost of peacekeeping and rebuilding efforts after a war. ... Pentagon officials say the cost of munitions in a potential war with Iraq will not be materially more than the cost of munitions in the 1991 gulf war. The reason, they say, is that the military now uses more precision-guided bombs, which are far more accurate, so fewer are needed. ... The cost of any war with Iraq would not be part of the budget for the 2004 fiscal year that Mr. Daniels is reviewing. Rather, the money would have to be appropriated as emergency spending by Congress. The cost of a war would also not be part of a record $355 billion military spending measure approved by Congress this year.

Kingdom denies deal with US on bases

Arab News: Saudi Arabia denied yesterday reports of a secret promise by Riyadh to make its airspace and bases available for use by the United States in the event of war against Iraq.

Amid Brutal Poverty in Iraq, a Favored Few Enjoy Riches

JOHN F. BURNS, New York Times: When the visitor asked him whether the drugs required were not available in Baghdad's thriving black market for medical drugs, the doctor said: almost all cancer drugs are available, but at a cost. In the boy's case, he said, the cycles of chemotherapy required would have cost $2,500, an unimaginable sum for the parents of the boy, a $15-a-month soldier in Mr. Hussein's army and his wife. And so, he said, the boy would die, probably within a day or two.

Kuwaitis seethe with anger as U.S. war drum beats

Michael Georgy, Reuters: "We don't like Saddam. But we hate the Americans," said Ramiz Abu Qweidar, a civil engineer who lives in the poor town of Jahra, a 30-minute drive from the capital.

Iraq Belongs on the Back Burner

WARREN M. CHRISTOPHER, New York Times: In foreign affairs, Washington is chronically unable to deal with more than one crisis at a time. As deputy secretary of state in the Carter administration, I helped to negotiate the release of 52 Americans held hostage in the United States Embassy in Iran. I recall how this relatively confined crisis submerged all other issues for 14 months, including the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. ... While Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld may be right in saying that our military can fight two wars at the same time, my experience tells me that we cannot mount a war against Iraq and still maintain the necessary policy focus on North Korea and international terrorism.

Two Crises, No Back Burner

Samuel R. Berger and Robert L. Gallucci, Washington Post: Nevertheless, putting Iraq on hold to deal with North Korea would have serious consequences. It would send a chilling message that the United States can be knocked off course in one arena by troublemaking in another. ... The administration's approach -- which appears to be "Iraq first, North Korea later" -- is equally unrealistic.

Kurdish Leader May Spare Man Who Tried to Kill Him

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: Mr. Khadir gleefully admits his guilt and says that according to Islamic law he should be hanged. But local law requires that death warrants be signed by Dr. Salih, the very man Mr. Khadir intended to kill. Dr. Salih says he will do no such thing. The prime minister is opposed to capital punishment. "I think this is a fundamental question of what type of society we want," he said. "I don't believe that anyone, or the state, should take people's lives." ... Mr. Khadir's credibility appears doubtful. In conversation, he is evasive, raising doubts even as he provides answers to questions. For example, a native Iraqi Kurd, he studied at an Islamic school in Yemen. When asked if he met any members of Al Qaeda there, he quickly said, "None." For a moment he sat wide-eyed and compliant, waiting until his answer was written down. Then he burst into a deep, extended laugh. ... He has confessed to killing three of the guards, and now he awaits a conviction and death, chuckling at all talk of mercy or restraint. "It will be a shame for human rights organizations if they execute me," he said. "But what about the rights of the people I killed?" ... Since becoming prime minister two years ago, Dr. Salih said, he has received more than 20 death warrants from the courts. He has refused to sign any of them.


Daily Record: A COMPUTER hacker is threatening to unleash the most destructive computer virus ever if Iraq is attacked. Malaysia-based Vladimor "Melhacker" Chamlkovic, 23, who named a previous virus after Osama bin Laden, refused to say what the new virus would do. But in an e-mail to the New York Post, he said: "I hate war. I hate people die." Internet security firms are taking his threat seriously, fearing the virus could cause global economic damage.


AP: President Bush said Tuesday that an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy," offering new justification for potential war against Iraq even as he said North Korea's nuclear ambitions can be curbed without military conflict. ... "This economy cannot afford to stand an attack," he said, even as his budget team was predicting war with Iraq would cost at least $50 billion. It marked the first time Bush has used potential damage to the U.S. economy as justification for military action.


Ken Guggenheim, AP: "The fat cats in the White House are showing a despicable willingness to play accounting games with national security in order to finance huge tax breaks for their rich friends," said David Sirota, spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee.


Daniel Williams, Washington Post: He proudly recounted his career in building nuclear facilities for Iraq's efforts to produce an atom bomb. "I felt that as an Arab, it was right that an Arab country have the bomb," he said. "Israel has one. So should we." He felt this way even though he said two of his cousins were executed by Saddam's security forces during the early 1980s for anti-government activities. ... Nonetheless, his supervisors warned Ahmed and his colleagues to "say little and answer only as narrowly as possible -- the specifics of our particular job, not what we knew about the whole program, ... In my case, I was just building a vat." ... He left in 1997 and applied to emigrate. The government, fearful of defectors, forced him to stay in Iraq for two more years. In that time, officials surmised, he would lose contact with the programs he worked on and have nothing to offer investigators abroad. "I was very careful to cut off all ties with my former work," he said. "I wanted to leave. I stayed completely isolated. I didn't want to know anything."


U.S. Had Key Role in Iraq Buildup: Rumsfeld Helped Open Door to Trade in Weapons That Is Now Deplored

Michael Dobbs, Washington Post: "It was a horrible mistake then, but we have got it right now," says Kenneth M. Pollack, a former CIA military analyst and author of "The Threatening Storm," which makes the case for war with Iraq. "My fellow [CIA] analysts and I were warning at the time that Hussein was a very nasty character. We were constantly fighting the State Department." "Fundamentally, the policy was justified," argues David Newton, a former U.S. ambassador to Baghdad, who runs an anti-Hussein radio station in Prague. "We were concerned that Iraq should not lose the war with Iran, because that would have threatened Saudi Arabia and the Gulf. Our long-term hope was that Hussein's government would become less repressive and more responsible." ... The U.S. tilt toward Iraq was enshrined in National Security Decision Directive 114 of Nov. 26, 1983, one of the few important Reagan era foreign policy decisions that still remains classified. According to former U.S. officials, the directive stated that the United States would do "whatever was necessary and legal" to prevent Iraq from losing the war with Iran. ... In a September interview with CNN, Rumsfeld said he "cautioned" Hussein about the use of chemical weapons, a claim at odds with declassified State Department notes of his 90-minute meeting with the Iraqi leader. A Pentagon spokesman, Brian Whitman, now says that Rumsfeld raised the issue not with Hussein, but with Iraqi foreign minister Tariq Aziz. The State Department notes show that he mentioned it largely in passing as one of several matters that "inhibited" U.S. efforts to assist Iraq. ... Some former U.S. officials say that removing Iraq from the terrorism list provided an incentive to Hussein to expel the Palestinian guerrilla leader Abu Nidal from Baghdad in 1983. On the other hand, Iraq continued to play host to alleged terrorists throughout the '80s. The most notable was Abu Abbas, leader of the Palestine Liberation Front, who found refuge in Baghdad after being expelled from Tunis for masterminding the 1985 hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro .... Geoffrey Kemp, a Middle East specialist in the Reagan White House ... "[Nizar Hamdoon] was particularly effective with the American Jewish community." ... According to a sworn court affidavit prepared by Teicher in 1995, the United States "actively supported the Iraqi war effort by supplying the Iraqis with billions of dollars of credits, by providing military intelligence and advice to the Iraqis, and by closely monitoring third country arms sales to Iraq to make sure Iraq had the military weaponry required." Teicher said in the affidavit that former CIA director William Casey used a Chilean company, Cardoen, to supply Iraq with cluster bombs that could be used to disrupt the Iranian human wave attacks. ... "The U.S.-Iraqi relationship is . . . important to our long-term political and economic objectives," Assistant Secretary of State Richard W. Murphy wrote in a September 1988 memorandum that addressed the chemical weapons question. "We believe that economic sanctions will be useless or counterproductive to influence the Iraqis."

Iraq war may mean high death toll of troops, civilians

MICHAEL KILIAN, Chicago Tribune: "No one can predict the casualties that will result," said Anthony Cordesman, military analyst for the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a leading Middle East expert. "People make estimates and they get put in the papers but they're meaningless. We just don't know - especially if Saddam Hussein decides to use his weapons of mass destruction." ... William Taylor, a Washington military consultant and former instructor at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, predicted that U.S. losses would likely be less than 1,000, as they were in the first gulf war. "A lot of people said we'd lose 20,000, 30,000, 40,000 at the time," Taylor said. "We ended up with 148 killed. ... That's a different ball game," he said. "If Saddam decides to commit suicide and use them, we're going to take casualties, no doubt about it, and no one can give you an estimate."

As goes Iraq, so go the Kurds: Visit to enclave finds more loathing of U.S. than of Saddam

Patrick Graham, National Post: "A lot of people live here and work on the other side of the bridge and vice versa," says Khalil Mahmud, who runs the Iraqi customs post from a small room heated by kerosene stoves. ... Until the Turkish government cut off the diesel traffic from Kurdistan, it provided the provisional Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) led by Massoud Barzani with much of its revenue. The oil trade, less lucrative for the Kurds than diesel, continues unabated as the Americans turn a blind eye to smuggling that gives the depressed Turkish economy a shot in the arm. ... Sheik Ganem Mohammed accosts us when he hears we are journalists. The Sheik, who says he leads 3,000 men, is dressed Arab-style with white headscarf and blue robe thrown over his shoulders. "I have just come from Arbil where I met with many Kurdish sheiks," he says, shoving his way into a crowd. "We talked about how much we hate America -- we have hated them since the 1970s when their oil companies came here. And we talked about how much we hate Barzani and how we like Saddam Hussein. We are still one people and we will die one people."

UN approves new curbs on Iraqi imports

AP: Russia and Syria abstained from the vote, arguing that the changes hurt deliveries of humanitarian goods to Iraq, which has been subject to international economic sanctions for more than a decade. ... Some of the items on the list will be banned outright, while others could be imported only after extensive scrutiny by the United Nations. ... Besides adding new items to the list, the resolution gives the UN sanctions committee greater power to scrutinize each order and possibly single out suppliers deemed dishonest or unco-operative.


Sergei L. Loiko and Maggie Farley, Los Angeles Times: "Even private facilities which are not part of their state-run military industrial complex open up for us -- like magic," the inspector said. "But even if they open all the doors in Iraq for us and keep them open 24 hours a day, we won't be able to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if it is not there. We need help. We need information. We need intelligence reports if they exist. ... We can't look for something which we don't know about. If the United States wants us to find something, they should open their intelligence file and share it with us so that we know where to go for it." A senior Bush administration official said Monday that the United States has passed on "high quality" information regarding suspected chemical or biological sites but that the inspectors hadn't acted on it yet.


Theory: 'Iraq-Via-Yemen' Export Route for Missiles

Yomiuri Weekly: Military expert Hajime Ozu comments: "Yemen possessed only the old model Scud missiles, while a theoretical enemy necessitating the need for new model Scud missiles does not exist. On the other hand, introduction of missiles of a different size would require the purchase of new launchers, making the situation even more irrational. There is increasingly strong evidence that transshipment and resale to a third nation was intended."

Iraq: the party in power

David Baran (translated by Luke Sandford), Le Monde Diplomatique: The Ba'ath party is the central pillar of a system of constraint that relies more on intimidation than force. It enables the regime to exert moderate yet steady pressure on lives. This is enough to secure the superficial, yet smooth, co-operation of a population grown passive and indifferent. For the retired military personnel responsible for training them, the Jerusalem army represents a rare opportunity to top up their pension income ... But Ba'ath party activists, responsible for recruitment, need to work hard if they hope to meet quotas and gain promotions within the party. ... This is a lucrative practice, since some recruiters charge people $75 to find replacements for them in the camps. ... In the countryside, where each household must "volunteer" a member for a two-month training session every summer, manpower shortages are a real hardship. ... And the party uses arguments that are tailored carefully for each professional sector. Only Jerusalem army-affiliated university staff are eligible for foreign teaching assignments. For students, volunteering means access to certain career tracks; and military training also qualifies them for bonus points on exams. ... A section member receives a monthly stipend of roughly $250, a considerable sum considering sanctions, providing a level of social prestige magnified by Iraq's wide income disparities. General secretaries at branch level earn $750 a month, and this year they were awarded luxury vehicles in an ostentatious display. For this, activists must compromise themselves by doing dirty work, from tracking down deserters to conducting repressive operations together with the security apparatus. ... Party membership's most widely sought benefit is the five-point bonus given to baccalauréat-level children of party members ... Admission to Baghdad University's prestigious College of Medicine requires so many points that students from non-Ba'ath party families are automatically excluded.

Rivalry over city could feed violence

Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times: "Taking Baghdad will determine the outcome of the war. Sorting out Kirkuk will determine what happens afterward," a senior US official said.

Kurdish Agents Play Spy Games With Iraqis on Arms Tips

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: The Kurdish security official sat at his desk, handling letters from his informants. Each contained a tip that might change the future of Iraq. Or maybe he was being played for a dope. He held a sheet of paper aloft. "This one says the Iraqis built a mosque in Tuz Khormatu, but under the ground is a hollow place," he said. "The mosque has no guards, people go there and pray, but underneath them chemical weapons are stored." ... "Saddam wants us to leak his misinformation to the U.N., so the U.N. will go there once, twice, three times, and waste their time, and lose respect for the credibility of the Kurds," the official in Erbil said.

US cancels Charles visit over Iraq views

AFP: An unidentified plane flew over Baghdad at midday on Sunday, apparently breaking the sound barrier over the Iraqi capital, in the second such incident in a month.


Chris Stephen, The Scotsman: LAWYERS have told the Ministry of Defence that British troops could be indicted for war crimes if we go to war with Iraq. Even units used in a supporting role with United States troops could face indictments from the new International Criminal Court, now setting up shop in The Hague. ... But lawyers have told the MoD that indictments could follow if our troops and airmen, or their commanders, are ruled to have assisted American forces in committing war crimes. This could include something as simple as providing reconnaissance pictures that led to a US airstrike against civilians.


Patrick Anidjar, AFP: As Washington prepares to go to war against Baghdad, US defence officials - mindful of the widespread devastation that a military campaign would inflict - are looking for ways to preserve and protect Iraq's priceless antiquities and archeological treasures.


Xinhuanet: An electrical short circuit caused a fire Sunday morning at the headquarters of the UN weapons inspectors in Baghdad. Three Iraqi fire engines and a police car raced to the UN weapons inspectors' headquarters at the Canal Hotel to put out the blaze apparently sparked by a short-circuit, an Iraqi civil defense official said. The fire started in a ground floor room and damaged an Internet server used by UN employees, UN officials said, adding no one was reported hurt.


Iraq Lists 500 Scientists from Arms Programs

Nadim Ladki and Charles Aldinger, Reuters: Ueki said on Friday the scientist, with expertise in restoring aluminum tubes used in missiles, had provided technical details of a military program. "I strongly deny this," Mijbil told a news conference. "Frankly I'm very disturbed ... over these statements because they don't relate to reality. Does cleaning an aluminum tube from corrosion with basic chemicals ... lead to a secret program?"


Reuters: Administration officials plan to keep the United Nations oil-for-food programme running, at least temporarily, to ensure that post-invasion oil dollars are spent on the country's basic needs, US officials say. ... The Bush administration is debating whether to ramp up Iraqi oil production. ... The administration is carefully weighing how oil policy in a post-Saddam Iraq might affect oil prices, officials said. The stakes could be enormous for the ailing US economy. ... A recent report by the James Baker Institute at Rice University and the Council on Foreign Relations estimated it would take $5 billion to bring the Iraqi oil industry back to pre-1990s production levels, in addition to $3 billion in annual operating costs.


Jim Muir, BBC: (SCIRI) says it is regrettable the UN is only dealing with the Baghdad government and ignoring the opposition. ... He feared there would be heavy casualties among civilians if they were caught between the two, being used as a human shield by the regime.


Iraq Says It Will Hand Over Required List of Scientists, but Plans Anti-U.S. Exercises

AP: The Iraqi government will hand over to the United Nations in the next few days a list of hundreds of Iraqi scientists who have worked on nuclear, chemical, biological and missile programs, a senior Iraqi general said today. ... While weapons inspectors have spoken to engineers and experts at the sites they have searched, they made their first request to interview a scientist privately on Tuesday. The scientist, Prof. Sabah Abdel-Nour of the University of Technology, who had worked on a nuclear program that Iraq says is now closed, refused to see the inspectors alone and insisted that Iraqi officials be present, General Amin said. ... General Amin responded to accusations by the Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, who had said that Iraq might be transferring chemical and biological weapons to neighboring Syria. General Amin called the allegation a "baseless lie."

Iraq's improved biological weapons a serious threat, officials say

MATT KELLEY, AP: "Before the inspectors were forced to leave Iraq, they concluded that Iraq could have produced 26,000 liters of anthrax. That is three times the amount Iraq had declared," Secretary of State Colin Powell said recently. "Yet the Iraqi declaration is silent on this stockpile, which alone would be enough to kill several million people." The omissions, U.S. officials and former inspectors say, are strong evidence that Iraq has retained at least some of its biological arsenal. ... "Iraq developed these drones because I think they realized their air force wouldn't be flying long if there was a war," Tucker said.

Turkey reluctant to back Iraq war, seeks to secure US economic aid first

Sibel Utku, AFP

Saudis win $44m Iraq contracts

AFP: Saudi exporters have won contracts worth $44-million with the Iraqi government during the past two weeks to supply vehicles, milk powder and air-conditioners.

Bush Urged to Limit Weapons in Iraq: Human Rights Groups Warn of Harm to Civilians From Land Mines, Cluster Bombs

Peter Slevin and Vernon Loeb, Washington Post: Refugees International, Human Rights Watch,

U.S. Courted Top Iraqi Scientist for Defection: Nuclear Weapons Pioneer Rebuffed Overture

Colum Lynch, Washington Post: When a senior Iraqi delegation arrived in New York on May 1 to finish plans for the resumption of U.N. inspections in Iraq,, a key member of the team was missing. Jaffar Dhia Jaffar, widely regarded as the father of Iraq's secret nuclear weapons program, had been held up by American officials at the U.S. embassy in Amman, Jordan, and questioned for several hours before he was given a visa. The British-trained physicist had been "singled out for interrogation" by U.S. officials in Jordan and would not be arriving until the following day, said Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri in the opening meeting with a U.N. delegation. Iraqi diplomats subsequently told U.N. officials that U.S. officials also offered money to Jaffar and other Iraqi officials in an unsuccessful attempt to persuade them to defect, according to Iraqi and Western diplomats. ... Still, the Iraqis complained about it at the time -- before the issue became so highly charged -- and U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan took the claims seriously enough to channge the venue of the next round of talks to Vienna. While the Iraqi claims that the United States had targeted several officials for defection have been generally known, until now their names were unpublicized. In addition to Jaffar, the diplomatic sources said, the Americans also targeted Gen. Amir Saadi, a senior adviser to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein who was also instrumental in developing Iraq's chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs. ... Khidhir Hamza, a former aide to Jaffar who defected to the United States, said that the United States and the United Nations are potentially endangering the lives of Iraqi scientists. ... Jaffar then launched into a tirade, saying the United Nations falsified its reports on Iraq's efforts to dismantle its nuclear weapons. "He went ballistic," the official said. "Some people in the meeting thought that he was probably being aggressive with us to show his own government that he had no intention of defecting." At one point, Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the IAEA, threatened to stop the discussions when Jaffar insulted ElBaradei's chief aide, Jacques Baute, the French head of the IAEA's Iraq action team, criticizing his command of English. One U.N. official said Jaffar said, " 'My English is much better than yours, Baute, so don't come play with words in English. Though I must admit that since you married a British national, your English is improving.' "

Top Talent Lining the War Path

Pamela McClintock, Variety: Earlier this month, the State Dept.'s International Information Programs put out a pamphlet featuring essays written by 15 well-known authors, including Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford. The "Writers on America" publication won't be seen at bookstores in this country, since federal law forbids the dissemination of government-sponsored information domestically. The law was enacted in the late 1940s to shield Americans from U.S. propaganda.


Fraser Nelson, The Scotsman: Father Timothy Russ, priest of the Roman Catholic church near Chequers ... said after saying mass. "He has had a moral surrender from his past ... He may not like me very much for telling you, but it is my job to try to speak the truth from God and apply it to a very fallen world."


Niger: Iraq Asked for Uranium in 1980s

AP: Iraq sought to buy uranium from Niger in the 1980s, but the desert West African nation rebuffed the request, Niger authorities said in response to U.S. allegations. ... Niger, a landlocked largely Muslim nation, is the world's third-largest producer of mined uranium. Uranium is the country's leading export. ... Hamadou said his country was a signatory to international arms conventions, and, ``Niger can't defy the international conventions.''

Sharon's war?

Robert D. Novak, Washington Post: Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, having just returned from a week-long fact-finding trip to the Middle East ... said out loud what is whispered on Capitol Hill: "The road to Arab-Israeli peace will not likely go through Baghdad, as some may claim." The "some" are led by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In private conversation with Hagel and many other members of Congress, the former general leaves no doubt that the greatest U.S. assistance to Israel would be to overthrow Saddam Hussein's Iraqi regime. That view is widely shared inside the Bush administration, and is a major reason why U.S. forces today are assembling for war. "Military force alone," Hagel told his Chicago audience, "will neither assure a democratic transition in Iraq, bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians, nor assure stability in the Middle East." Indeed, the senator returned from the Mideast more concerned than his prepared speech indicates. As the U.S. gets ready for war, its standing in Islam -- even among longtime allies -- stands low. ... In private conversation, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has insisted that Hezbollah -- not al Qaeda -- is the world's most dangerous terrorist organization.

Intelligence Predicts Hussein's Reaction to Attack

Walter Pincus, Washington Post: Radio Free Iraq, which broadcasts into Iraq from Europe, reported that the Iraq Ministry of Commerce is planning to distribute six-month food allocations in one swoop, something not done during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war. Some analysts said Baghdad was trying to reassure the public so that should war come they would be willing to fight rather than just turn to the invaders for food.

Iraq stockpiles food for possible attack by U.S.

Nadim Ladki, Reuters: Iraq has increased food rations to let citizens stock up for a possible war with the United States, its trade minister said on Thursday. The minister, Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, told Reuters supplies distributed so far should ensure everyone had a stockpile to last three months. "And we are going to increase the quantity in the coming months so that everybody is secured in this regard," he said.

Once Fans, Arabs Now Souring on Saddam

SALAH NASRAWI, AP: "People look for real heroes who can deliver and Saddam is only a drowning, defeated ruler who is clinging to the wreckage," Talab said.

In Baghdad, There's Little Romance in Music by Candlelight

NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times: Moments after he spoke on Monday night, the power failed in the performance hall. Mr. Jamil, the tenor, stepped to the edge of the stage before his solo to say the candlelight made the night seem blessed, expressing his wishes for a Merry Christmas and a far happier New Year for all. "Everybody always makes wishes, but nothing ever changes," said a voice in English from the dark.

'No Third Way' for U.S. Iraqis: Americans who oppose Hussein and policy that cripples their homeland say speaking out on either front carries risks

Faye Fiore, Los Angeles Times: "There is no third way," explained James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute. "Ordinary Iraqis here and there are caught between the anvil of a brutal regime and the hammer of a brutal sanctions policy. You're either going to get smashed by the anvil or smashed by the hammer." ... "The Bush administration operates under the delusion that the majority of Iraqi Americans favor a war," said Khalil Jahshan, executive vice president of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in Washington. "I met recently with some State Department officials who said 80[%] to 90% of Iraqi American leaders were with them. I said, 'What ... are you talking about?' Clearly, we swim in different circles." ... As a result, many Iraqi nationals live in quiet distrust of two governments -- one that kills families of critics in exile, another known for jailing immigrants when national security is compromised.


AFP: [Jayantha Dhanapala, the UN undersecretary for disarmament affairs] said [in Cairo] Tuesday that Washington would not have the right to withdraw UN weapons inspectors if it goes it alone and attacks Iraq without the approval of the world body.


Palestine Chronicle: Tsvi Farkash, the head of Israeli military intelligence. ... was quoted on Monday as saying that "there is no evidence of any transfer of chemical or biological weapons from Iraq to Syria."



John Daniszewski and Sebastian Rotella, Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service: Three key members of the UN Security Council ­ Russia, France and China ­ say they are not yet convinced that an Iraqi declaration this month failed to fully disclose any weapons of mass destruction, an indication that the United States might face an uphill battle building the case for war against Baghdad.


Pramit Pal Chaudhuri, Hindustani Times [sources Gary Milholin and WINEP]

Another Russian Company To Be Awarded Lukoil’s West Qurna Contract

MEES: MEES learns from authoritative sources in Baghdad that another Russian oil company is to be awarded the West Qurna Development and Production contract that was previously held by Lukoil (MEES, 16 December). MEES further learns that Iraq decided to cancel Lukoil’s contract because it discovered that the Russian company had held contacts with Iraqi opposition officials to try to ensure that the West Qurna venture would remain in its hands after any regime change in Baghdad.


Iraq says it is willing to talk to the U.N. about its weapons declaration but has nothing new to add


Iraqi Planes Shoot Down American Predator Drone

THOM SHANKER, New York Times: "They got a lucky shot today, and they brought down the Predator," Gen. Richard B. Myers, chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, said during a Pentagon news briefing. "I do not see it as an escalation. It's been something they've been doing for literally the last couple of years." Pentagon officials said at least two Predators had been shot down previously by Iraq, although by antiaircraft fire from the ground and never before by Iraqi warplanes. One Predator was destroyed on Aug. 27, 2001, and another on Oct. 10 of last year. A third Predator was lost over Iraq on Sept. 11, 2001, but officials said it has never been conclusively determined whether it was shot down or crashed because of mechanical problems or weather.


Peter Shinkle and Jeremy Kohler, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: An Iraqi native living in St. Louis, who friends say was merely helping Iraqis here send money home to impoverished relatives, was ordered Tuesday to remain in jail in Seattle until his trial on charges he was part of a conspiracy that illegally sent money to Iraq. ... U.S. officials have said there is no sign the money went to terrorists. ... He sends the money to Jordan, and it is hand-delivered to his relatives, he said. ... Al-Waeli, a cook at the Marriott West who was watching the store for his cousin, said it is ridiculous to think that any Iraqis in St. Louis, many who are fleeing persecution as Shiites, would try to help Saddam.


Reuters: The crossing point would be the first between longtime foes Iraq and Iran to be set up under the U.N. humanitarian program ... The five existing entry points under the program are at the Iraqi towns of Trebil on the Jordanian border, Al-Walid on the Syrian border, Zakho on Iraq's border with Turkey, Ar'Ar on Baghdad's border with Saudi Arabia, and at Um-Qasr on the Gulf.


Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian: 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.


For U.N. Labor of Hercules, a Talk- and Walk-Through

NEIL MacFARQUHAR, New York Times: "We believe Iraq can still offer more by way of evidence to back up some of the assertions in the declaration," Ewen Buchanan, the spokesman for Unmovic, as the inspection organization is known, said via e-mail from the United Nations. "If we were to indicate what we know and in what way it differs from what they said, they might be likely to try and make something up to suit that." ... [the inspectors] will usually take swabs of the dust or other material, and find the Iraqis doing exactly the same in tandem.

Iraqi dossier missing data on 6,000 chemical bombs

Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: The account of the missing bombs, contained in the so-called "Air Force document," first came to light in July 1998. A U.N. inspector saw the six-page document and took a few notes before it was snatched from her hands during a 16-hour inspection search and standoff at the Air Force headquarters. After withholding the Air Force document since then, Iraqi officials handed it over to a U.N. inspector in Baghdad on Nov. 30. But Iraq gave no explanation for the missing weapons in its covering letter or in the 12,000-page weapons declaration submitted a week later, the sources said.

U.S. Testing Missiles and Spy Planes in Its Gulf Buildup

ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times: The Air Force has also quietly test-fired Stinger missiles from some of the Predators. The missiles would allow a slow-moving drone to defend itself against Iraqi fighter jets that cross into restricted airspace and threaten it.

How US might counter 'scorched-earth' tactics

Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor: The number of American troops is expected to double to about 100,000 in coming weeks. ... It also is understood that CIA and Special Forces teams most likely are already inside Iraq providing vital targeting and other intelligence as a precursor to the US (and whatever international coalition forms) invasion.

Saddam's bioweapons plan: CIA

Herald Sun: IRAQI President Saddam Hussein had a secret plan for a biological weapons strike during an early stage in the Gulf War but failed to carry it out because his reconnaissance planes got shot down, according to a newly-declassified Central Intelligence Agency document. ... The second phase of the operation was to include another three conventionally-armed MIG-21s, whose task was to divert the attention of enemy air defences from a single SU-22 fighter-bomber, which was to deliver a biological agent. ... The three reconnaissance MIGs were all shot down over the Persian Gulf shortly after taking off from Tallil Airfield near the southern Iraqi city of An Nasariyah, according to the dispatch.


Ewen MacAskill, Suzanne Goldenberg and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian: "We do not even have any objections if the CIA sent somebody with the inspectors to show them the suspected sites," Gen Sadi said. ... But it emerged that British intelligence is reluctant to hand over everything it claims to have, insisting there is a danger that sources could be compromised. British government officials have already privately admitted that they do not have any "killer evidence" about weapons of mass destruction.


John Diamond, USA TODAY: U.S. intelligence has photographic evidence of Iraq hastily clearing and cleaning suspected weapons sites, raising suspicion the activity is intended to avoid detection of prohibited arms by United Nations inspectors. ... U.S. officials acknowledge the intelligence is circumstantial but not irrefutable proof that Iraq continues to develop weapons in defiance of U.N. resolutions. ... "I would like to at least have the president, who I think is an honest person, look us in the eye and say, 'We have evidence, here it is.' We've never heard the president of the United States say that," Vermont Gov. Howard Dean, a possible Democratic presidential candidate, said on ABC's This Week. "There is nothing but innuendo, and I want to see some hard facts," Dean said.


Hoover's: 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.


Jason Zengerle, The New Republic: Faisal II was Sharif Ali's maternal cousin, and the Hashemite dynasty has traditionally followed a patrilineal line, which is why some Iraq watchers argue that Crown Prince Hassan of Jordan--the late King Hussein's brother and a paternal relative of Faisal II--is a more likely king should Iraq restore its monarchy. ... Sharif Ali has not set foot in Iraq since 1958--when he was two years old. ... the exiles are most heartened by the fact that American officials, in making plans for what will undoubtedly be the more difficult job of rebuilding Iraq once Saddam is gone, have made it clear that the United States is counting on the exiles for help. ... Even Iraqis' more ignoble accomplishments under Saddam are a source of pride. "Iraqi scientists managed to, or near enough according to American intelligence, produce a nuclear weapon without direct assistance from anybody!" Shaikly said. ... Indeed, I did not meet one exile who would even entertain the notion that a democratic government should not eventually follow Saddam.


Diplomatic Strain on Iraq: Allies See U.S. as Hasty

JULIA PRESTON, New York Times: Sir Jeremy Greenstock, the British ambassador, stuck to the word of honor he had given to France, Russia and China, three other permanent members, that Britain would not find Iraq guilty without an obvious pattern of flagrant noncooperation. Not the least of the reasons why Washington's charge of a "material breach" seemed premature was that most of the 10 nonpermanent Council nations had barely had time to read the cover sheets of the 12,000- page Iraqi tome. The rotating nations only got their filtered copies late Tuesday.

The Last Cartoon: Saddam Donald Duck or Don Corleone?

THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN, New York Times: Because, unlike Gulf War I, too many nations don't want Gulf War II to happen. ... Finally, the Sunni Muslim-dominated Arab world knows that there is not a single credible Sunni Muslim among the whole U.S.-funded Iraqi opposition front (a group of losers, who will never be accepted as legitimate in a post-Saddam Iraq and will only bring the U.S. trouble). ... We need to be cool and let the U.N. inspections process play out - because we have such reluctant allies in this Gulf War II, we must not appear as overanxious warriors. We still need a smoking gun to justify a war, if we expect to have any allied support.


Calvin Woodward, AP: The overarching claim, that Iraq possesses weapons of mass destruction, may have the weight of probability behind it, but it has yet to be backed by proof shared with the public. ... Human rights monitors, for example, say it is news to them that when Iraqi soldiers captured by Iran in the 1980s returned from that war, President Saddam Hussein ordered their ears cut off, as the Pentagon stated. ... When President Bush flatly asserted about Saddam, "He possesses the most deadly arms of our age," he seemed to ignore the consensus that Iraq does not have the weapons of Armageddon - nuclear ones - however actively it may be pursuing them. ... intelligence officials said Iraq has an audacious plan to destroy its own food sources, power supplies and oil fields, and blame America for it, if war against U.S. forces does not go well - all for the purpose of turning international opinion against Washington. They refused to describe their evidence. ... Government sources also said, in leaked comments, that Islamic extremists affiliated with the al-Qaida network might have taken possession of the deadly chemical weapon VX while in Iraq. The claim weakened under examination. ... In this case, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld would not talk about any Iraq-terrorist VX transaction but said: "I have seen other information over a period of time that suggests that could be happening." But a variety of counterterror and defense officials said later they had no credible evidence that Iraq supplied the nerve agent to al-Qaida operatives. [Also covers 1990 incubator story.]


AP: "They are not handing over the things that are important to us, like the war prisoners and the historic documents," Abdul-Hamid al-Awadhi, a foreign ministry official, told The Associated Press.


Esther Schrader, Los Angeles Times: Designed partly to address Turkish opposition to basing large numbers of U.S. troops on its soil, the plans call for ferrying soldiers into Turkish bases and transferring them quickly to helicopters that would deposit them in northern Iraq, senior defense officials said. ... Special Forces troops, preceded by days of assaults by bombers, fighter jets and gunships, would be the first into Iraq from Turkey. They would arrive by helicopter near the Iraqi air base at Kirkuk and the nearby Kirkuk oil fields, oil refinery and petrochemical plant, and the air base near the city of Mosul. ... Once the airstrips are secured, U.S. C-130 transport planes would land, disgorging light armored vehicles and other equipment to support a ground force. At the same time, airborne light infantry units would be helicoptered in on Apache and Black Hawk attack helicopters to meet up with the equipment. The whole operation is expected to take a few days.


Tehran Times: "There has never been any question of selling uranium to Iraq and there has been no contract whatsoever," the minister said over radio. "Niger reserves the right to file charges against this libel," he said, challenging Washington to release proof of Niger's involvement "if they have any." He also slammed the United States for "not contacting Niger officially" over alleged moves by Iraq to buy uranium from Niger to make nuclear weapons. ... "I took part in negotiations in Paris between Niger and its three partners (France, Japan and Spain) regarding uranium and I state that Niger does not control its uranium output," Sanoussi Jackou, a former head of the National Minerals Office told AFP. "Therefore it would surprise me that Niger could ever sell part of its production, which is entirely controlled by its partners."


Declaration Lists Companies That Sold Chemicals to Iraq

PHILIP SHENON, New York Times: The list, obtained by lawyers for ailing gulf war veterans, could be important as the veterans pursue lawsuits accusing some of the companies of responsibility for their health problems. ... By sheer bulk, a Singapore-based company may have been the largest supplier of the chemicals used in the 1980's to make chemical weapons, including 3,300 tons of a chemical that can be used to make nerve gas and 950 tons of an separate chemical used to make mustard gas and sarin.

Oil-for-food program faces halt if Iraq is attacked

Peter Slevin, Washington Post: The United Nations oil-for-food program that feeds 24 million Iraqis would almost certainly be suspended during a military conflict, U.N. officials have told international relief organizations. ... In Geneva last week, U.N. officials sought $37.3 million from donor nations to prepare for a potential conflict. Tens of millions more would be needed to purchase and ship emergency supplies. UNICEF has begun moving supplies to Iraq and four neighboring countries for 550,000 Iraqis inside their country and perhaps 160,000 nearby, according to a document drafted for the meeting. The World Food Program has started to move food supplies sufficient for 900,000 people for one month. ... "We have several ongoing emergency situations right now that need what funding we have. Whereas in the past we've been able to juggle, we don't have that safety net now," said Joung-Ah Ghedini, a UNHCR spokeswoman. "We don't have any money for contingency funding."

Anxiety Clouds Holiday Season for Iraqi-Americans

James Donahower, Voice of America: Other Iraqi Americans oppose a war for reasons that have little to do with political goals. Mohammed Al-Omari, for example, thinks the Iraqi people need a break from hardship. "Prior to 1990, Iraq provided clean drinking water to over 90 percent of their citizens," he said. "They had adequate civilian services, sewage, electricity. These services still have not been restored fully. When you talk to people over there, they still feel that the 1991 war hasn't ended. They feel, When is this all going to end? That's the constant question."


CNN: Germany is to be chairman of the U.N. Security Council's Iraqi sanctions panel despite opposition from the United States. ... But key security council countries, including permanent members France and Russia, backed the German appointment, Reuters reported. ... Usually the high-profile post is given to a Western European nation and Germany, which chaired the committee in 1995-96, was considered the most able to do the job again.

Countdown begins, war not inevitable

Michael Dobbs [from Washington Post?], Gulf News: "It just isn't true that war is inevitable, and it's never been true throughout political and military history," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies. "If Iraq does something truly dramatic in this period, the administration will have to respond."


US not sharing intelligence, say UK agencies

Kim Sengupta, The Independent: There is also concern in London that the Americans are again trying to link Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden's al-Qa'ida network, a link British and European intelligence agencies do not believe exists. ... But although classified information is routinely exchanged by Washington and London, British officials say they do not have the " smoking gun" the Americans claim to possess about Baghdad's alleged chemical, biological and nuclear arsenals. ... a senior source said ... "The main problem is known to us all. After all, it was Paul Wolfowitz [the hawkish deputy US Defence Secretary] who said, 'Iraq isn't a country where we've had human intelligence for years'." ... Donald Rumsfeld, the US Defence Secretary, is also being blamed for a lack of clarity over plans for attack. The divisions he has with military commanders on strategy mean the Ministry of Defence still does not know what exactly the Americans require from Britain.

Quizzing scientists will be tricky

Roula Khalaf, Financial Times: "The issue is still being looked at. . . there are some practical things to be worked out," says Ewen Buchanan, spokesman for Unmovic. "How many people, how do you take them and do you send them back if they don't give you useful information?" ... Mark Gwozdecky, spokesman for the International Atomic Energy Agency, which is responsible for Iraq's nuclear file, says three issues must be addressed before attempts are made to extract researchers and technicians. "First, we need to have good information that there's someone who has information and can't give it to us inside the country," he says. "Second, we have to know that the person is willing to leave, and third, that there's a country willing to provide him with protection and asylum."

In Blix's Words: Unresolved Issues

(New York Times): The overall impression is that not much new significant information has been provided in the part of Iraq's declaration which relates to proscribed weapons programs, nor has much new supporting documentation or other evidence been submitted. New material has, on the other hand, been provided concerning non-weapons-related activities during the period from the end of 1998 to the present time. ... In the chemical weapons field, Iraq has further explained its account of the material balance of precursors for chemical warfare agents. Although it does not resolve outstanding issues on this subject, it may help to achieve a better understanding of the fate of the precursors. In the missile area, there is a good deal of information regarding Iraq's activities in the past few years. As declared by Iraq, these are permitted activities ... Iraq has also provided information on a short-range rocket that is manufactured using 81-millimeter aluminum tubes. Although this is not a new disclosure, the information may be relevant to well-publicized reports concerning the importation of aluminum tubes. ... In the biological area, Iraq previously provided ... a table concerning the additional import of bacterial growth media. ... This table has been omitted from the current declaration and the reasons for the omission need to be explained. ... Because of the potential of such a missile, Unscom had informed Iraq that such a development should not proceed until technical discussions had resolved the question of capability. In the latest update of the semiannual monitoring declarations, Iraq has declared that in 13 flight tests of the Al Samoud, the missile has exceeded the permitted range. The greatest range achieved was 183 kilometers [114 miles]. ... In most cases, the issues are outstanding not because there is information that contradicts Iraq's account, but simply because there is a lack of supporting evidence. Such supporting evidence, in the form of documentation, testimony by individuals who took part, or physical evidence, for example, destroyed warheads, is required to give confidence that Iraq's declaration is indeed accurate, full and complete.

Saddam’s foes skewed by sectarianism

Khairallah Khairallah, Daily Star (Beirut): When Saddam assumed the presidency in 1979, most of the victims of the bloodbath that followed were Sunnis.

Iraq: The Decade After

Joseph R. Biden and Chuck Hagel, Washington Post: Various experts have testified that as many as 75,000 troops may be necessary, at a cost of up to $20 billion a year. That does not include the cost of the war itself, or the effort to rebuild Iraq. Americans are largely unprepared for such an undertaking. ... This is one reason why we will need our allies to help rebuild Iraq. ... Going it alone and imposing a U.S.-led military government instead of a multinational civilian administration could turn us from liberators into occupiers, fueling resentment throughout the Arab world.

Rapid Buildup in Gulf on Horizon: Troops, Big-Ticket Items Poised to Move for Iraq Conflict

Vernon Loeb, Washington Post: One senior defense official said the Pentagon had been moving heavy equipment for months as part of a buildup that was kept low key to avoid alarming the international community and creating the impression that the Bush administration had prejudged the U.N. arms inspection process. "But without a doubt, within the next week or so, you'll see more muscle movements than you've seen up to now," the official said. "We've been below the threshold of pain of the international community. I think you're going to see a strategy change to one of demonstrated resolve, if not overt coercion."

Air campaign plans to spare Iraq infrastructure

Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: "I would shut down the electricity," Col. Warden said. "I know I'm in a minority here...

U.S. Asks Germans to Guard Bases End of Jan -Source

Reuters: Washington has asked Germany to provide 2,000 troops to guard U.S. bases in the country at the end of January, a government source said on Friday.

Baghdad Orders 5,000 Volga Taxis From GAZ

Simon Ostrovsky, Moscow Times: Baghdad has ordered 5,000 Volga taxis from GAZ, breathing new life into the No. 2 automaker's best-known brand, the company said Thursday. The contract, estimated to be worth more than $25 million, is a godsend for the company, which has seen demand for its outdated sedan plummet, forcing it to shut down production until February


Richard Cowan, Reuters: "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 said.


U.S. Sets Late January Decision on Iraq War

Walter Pincus and Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: In disclosing their plans, administration officials offered the clearest timetable to date of how they would like to see the inspections process brought to a head. They are pointing to Jan. 27, when Blix is scheduled to make his first substantive report to the Security Council on Iraq's weapons declaration as well as the Baghdad government's cooperation with inspectors already on the ground and in making Iraqi scientists involved in banned weapons programs available for interviews with U.N. officials.

12 linked to Iraq money laundering plan

Associated Press: A Seattle money-service business and 12 people have been indicted by a federal grand jury, accused of illegally wiring at least $12 million in money and goods to Iraq in violation of a decade-old U.S. embargo, the government said today. ... Alshafei Family Connect is a money wiring business that Iraqi immigrants and others in the United States used to send money to family and friends in other countries, authorities said.

Western patrols choke off trade in illegal Iraq oil

Peter Graff, Reuters: At some point over the last year, the United States and its allies quietly decided to ignore Iraq's sea border and drive their sanctions-busting patrols deep into Iraqi territory. ... It is deep within Iraqi territorial waters. "We go just about as far up the estuary as we can," says the Cardiff's Captain Tim Fraser. The change in enforcement tactics, which would probably be seen as illegal by some members of the U.N. Security Council, was never formally announced and has not been widely reported. ... The United States and its allies say they believe Security Council resolutions have always given them the right to operate in Iraqi waters without asking permission.

Tension mounts over arms dossier

TIMOTHY APPLEBY, Globe and Mail: Mr. Cirincione said. "What happens if they find a cache of chemical weapons? Is that proof that the inspections process has failed or that it's working?"

Germany May Lead Iraq Sanctions Panel

REUTERS: In a surprise reversal, Germany is now expected to head the United Nations Security Council's sanctions panel on Iraq, despite White House anger at the antiwar policy of Germany's chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, diplomats said today.

US Runs Into Trouble on Revising Iraq Export List

Bernie Woodall, Reuters: A United Nations Security Council vote to revamp a list of civilian goods Iraq can import is likely to be delayed by a week or two because of resistance from other council members to changes proposed by the United States, diplomats said. ... Among changes Washington wants is for U.N. arms inspection commissions to suggest goods it suspects might have military uses as Iraq decides to purchase them. ... "We have some strong reservations," said a French official. "The main objection is that the Americans want to question the idea of a limited list of items. They want to have a catch-all provision." A British diplomat said that the vote could be held soon if the United States modified its position. ... "It's introducing a gray tint to what was supposed to be a clear area. It moves away from that clarity that everything is fine unless it's on the list," the diplomat said.

Iraq's Shortage of Medicine May Grow More Severe: U.S. Proposal to Tighten Sanctions Would Restrict Antibiotics, Other Goods With Potential Military Use

Peter Baker, Washington Post: Saddam Teaching Hospital for Pediatrics here use gentamicin to treat urinary tract infections, doxycycline to help those with cholera or diarrhea, and streptomycin in cases of tuberculosis. All three would be added to the list of restricted items if the U.N. Security Council agrees to the U.S. proposal. "We're a developing country and infections are common diseases here, not like in Europe or the United States, so antibiotics are vital," said Mohammed Hassan, the 28-year-old chief resident presiding over wards of children at the pediatrics hospital. "There's no thinking of humanity, there's no thinking about the patients in our hospital." ... At the Mishin complex in south Baghdad, a rollicking bazaar where automotive parts are sold, Hisham Ali bristled at the idea that the large tires he sells might be restricted. "This is oppression," he exclaimed. "They're trying to affect my living. They're trying to destroy the whole economy." "Why do they focus on tires?" asked Jasim Sadiq, 35, a farmer who was buying some tires. "Do they think they're weapons?"

Is a War Inevitable? Maybe Not

Stan Crock, BusinessWeek: As the 2002 congressional election approached, for example, the Administration made sure the U.N. Security Council didn't pass any resolution on Iraq. That would have upset the GOP's conservative base

Talabani: I have no knowledge of Khazraji taking part in crimes in Kurdistan

Bryar Mariwani, Jalal Talabani, the secretary general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), supported the suspected war-criminal Nizar Al-Khazraji in yesterday’s hearing at a court in Denmark.

Full List of Corporate Suppliers To Iraqi WMD Programs

Die Tageszeitung (Germany)



International Herald Tribune: After a meeting following the official conclusion of the conference, organizers released a list of the 65 members of the committee. Shiite Muslims, largely denied political power under Saddam, held nearly half the seats, 32, one fewer than delegates had said going into the last session.

Suspect in the killing of the U.S. diplomat is thought to be in hiding in northern Iraq

SHAFIKA MATTAR, Associated Press


Iraqi Report Could Prove Damaging to Germany

Deutsche Welle: On Tuesday, the Berlin-based left-wing paper, Tageszeitung reported that ... the Iraqi declaration contains the names of 80 German firms, research laboratories and people, who are said to have helped Iraq develop its weapons program. ... In some cases, conventional military and technical dealings between Germany and Iraq are said to date till 2001 ... The paper reports that the dossier contains several indications of cases, where German authorities right up to the Finance Ministry tolerated the illegal arms cooperation and also promoted to it to an extent.

Iraq Used Many Suppliers for Nuke Program

DAFNA LINZER, AP: U.N. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the only difference between the two reports is that the latest has a 300-page section in Arabic on civilian nuclear programs and a slightly larger typeface that stretches it to 2,100 pages.

Conditional Support for US: Turkey to Insist on Troop Presence in Iraq

Ugur Ergan and Metehan Demir, Hurriyet: During the talks anticipated to be held in the coming weeks Turkey will state that it will support the US plan to deploy its troops on condition that Turkey maintain more troops than the United States in northern Iraq. ... Barring a counteroffensive that could be mounted by Baghdad, 65,000 to 70,000 Turkish soldiers are anticipated to remain in northern Iraq. The main mission of the Turkish military units, which are regarded as a "security guarantee," will be limited to supervision of refugees and prisoners of war. Turkey will underscore at the negotiating table that the Turkish military units "may go beyond the limits of their mission" in response to a unilateral action that could be taken by the Kurdish groups.

Woman killed in bomb blast in Iraqi Kurdistan



Iraq renovates its shelters, but few want to use them

Janine di Giovanni, The Times: IRAQ is preparing to renovate more than 30 bomb shelters around the capital as a war led by the United States appears increasingly likely.

US casualties 'high' in Iraq war

AFP: [Fox News interview] "Nobody in the region, with the exception of the Kuwaitis, who are psychologically sick . . . would love to have America attacking Iraq," Aziz said. "But they are not able to stop it."

Pentagon Debates Propaganda Push in Allied Nations

THOM SHANKER and ERIC SCHMITT, New York Times: The Defense Department is considering issuing a secret directive to the American military to conduct covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policy makers in friendly and neutral countries, senior Pentagon and administration officials say. ... Senior Pentagon officials say Mr. Rumsfeld is deeply frustrated that the United States government has no coherent plan for molding public opinion worldwide in favor of America in its global campaign against terrorism and militancy.

US begins stockpiling military equipment in Northern Iraq

MSNBC (Turkey): Fifty long vehicles loads of US military equipment that was landed at the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey has already been transferred to northern Iraq, a location cited as a possible conflict point should the US administration hit Iraq according to reports. It is also reported that more than 500 US military and information gathering personnel are currently in Northern Iraq.


Scientists Are Sought As Key to Iraqi Arms: U.S., U.N. Look to Brains Behind Weapons

Joby Warrick, Washington Post: brief bios of some Iraqi scientists with weapons links. Khidir Hamza and David Albright as sources.

Hussein Reveals a Glimpse of Tactics: U.S. Analysts Expect Two-Pronged Strategy Using Delay and Public Opinion

Michael Dobbs, Washington Post: "There is a huge difference whether we go in unilaterally or multilaterally through the United Nations," [Gerald] Post said. "The more personalized this becomes, the more Saddam will be seen in the Arab world as a leader with the courage to stand up to the mightiest nation on earth."

Saddam's Brother Slips Through Swiss Net, Evades Genocide Charges

Jon Swain, The Times: A ruthless half-brother of Saddam Husayn has escaped arrest and trial in Switzerland on genocide charges after being freed to return to Iraq. ... The circumstances of Barzan's departure have dismayed war crime investigators who had tried to persuade the Swiss to arrest him. His escape has prompted speculation that Switzerland made him leave so as to avoid a diplomatically awkward investigation.

Syrians 'Smuggling Arms To Baghdad'

Con Coughlin, Sunday Telegraph: Western intelligence officials have discovered that at least 52 crates containing new air-defence systems and spare parts have been smuggled into Iraq from Syria since the start of December. The Russian-made equipment, which has been purchased through a Belorussian middleman, was taken into Iraq through al-Walid border crossing earlier this month.

Saudi Arabia Restores Iraq Phone Links

AP: Saudi Arabia restored direct telephone service with Iraq for the first time since the 1991 Gulf war, and an official on Sunday said the move was based on economic, not political motives.

US cash squads 'buy' Iraqi tribes: Secret operation aims to make sheikhs rise against Saddam

Jason Burke, The Observer: The secret campaign, based on tactics used successfully in Afghanistan last year, has been under way for several weeks ... 'The logic is, if Saddam can buy them, then so can the Americans,' said one tribal leader who fled to the UK. The CIA was recently given more than $200m (£130m) to pay for covert operations in Iraq.

U.S. Seeks to Trip Up Iraq

Robin Wright, Los Angeles Times: "This is the trickiest stage. We won't have many chances to screw up. Otherwise, we'll lose the initiative. If the first couple inspections turn up nothing and it looks like we're crying wolf, then it'll discredit or make harder subsequent efforts that may have more merit," said one well-placed U.S. official who requested anonymity.

The Great Scud Hunt

MARK THOMPSON, Time Magazine: But a study by the Rand Corp. earlier this year concluded that the U.S. Air Force still can't detect and destroy a Scud within 10 minutes, whereas the Iraqis can flee in six.

Saddam's foes urge federal, tolerant Iraq

REUTERS: As the delegates arrived at the London conference, they were met by a protest of around 50 people organised by the Workers' Communist Party of Iraq, which opposes Saddam but places little faith in the conference. "These people are taking their orders from George Bush and Tony Blair," one of the protesters, Said Arman, told Reuters. "They will run Iraq by the gun," he added, as the protesters shouted through megaphones and waved their party flag.

'Saddam': Tracing an Ugly Career

WARREN BASS, New York Times: Coughlin's account is a swift, grisly read, but it's light on analysis. ... Calling Saddam the ''King of Terror'' growls suspicion that Iraq masterminded the World Trade Center and Pentagon atrocities. In that vein, Coughlin opens with what should be a bombshell: shortly before the 9/11 assaults, Hussein supposedly ''placed his troops on 'Alert G,' the highest state of military readiness Iraqi troops had seen since the 1991 gulf war.'' Coughlin reports that Hussein retreated to Tikrit, seemingly because he knew Al Qaeda's attacks were coming. He then offers other allegations of Iraqi links to Al Qaeda, including a pre-9/11 meeting in Prague between the hijacker Muhammad Atta and an Iraqi intelligence officer that many American and Czech officials now doubt ever occurred.


Peter Slevin and Daniel Williams, Washington Post: "No gap in sovereignty" is the way Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Congress, described his argument for the establishment of an Iraqi authority as soon as any invasion begins. "I do not want any foreign governor, whoever appoints him."


Iraq After D-Day: The Cordesman Memo

ALEXANDER COCKBURN, CounterPunch: describes 11 page Cordesman memo circulating in Washington, calls Operation Oust Saddam a bloody mess. [Revision 3 online at, "Planning for a self-inflicted wound", 29/12/2.]


AP: UN teams were held up for two hours on Friday at a newly declared site - an infectious diseases center - forcing inspectors to use their hotline to higher Iraqi authorities for the first time since returning to the country last month. ... Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin, head of the National Monitoring Directorate, arrived two hours after being summoned by the hotline call. He and the inspectors agreed the rooms would be sealed for inspection later, perhaps on Saturday.


Did Saddam's army test poison gas on missing 5,000?

Robert Fisk, The Independent: Why, in all their "dossiers", did [Bush and Blair] not refer to the 5,000 young men and women who were held at detention centres when their families - of Iranian origin - were hurled over the border to Iran just before President Saddam invaded Iran in 1980? Could it be because these 5,000 young men and women were used for experiments in gas and biological warfare agents whose ingredients were originally supplied by the United States? Just months before his September 1980 invasion of Iran – in which tens of thousands of Iranian soldiers died an appalling death by gas burns and blisters – Saddam's Interior Ministry issued directive No 2884, dated 10 April 1980, stating that "all youths aged between 18 and 28 are exempt from deportation and must be held at detention centres until further notice". Most, though not all, of the young men and women affected by this order were Kurds. None of their families ever saw their loved ones again, but they have since been told that the detainees were killed during experiments in gas and chemical warfare centres in Iraq. ... As always in Iraq – and elsewhere in the world – there is no proof.


Susan B. Glasser, Washington Post: The Russian giant Lukoil, which leads the group tapped to develop the massive West Qurna oil field, announced the cancellation today, saying it had received a letter on Monday from a deputy Iraqi oil minister breaking the $3.5 billion, 23-year contract. Two other Russian companies, state-owned Zarubezhneft and Machinoimport, are part of the consortium. A spokesman for Lukoil, Alexander Vasilenko, denounced the move as "blackmail" by Iraq and said the Russian firms would fight the decision. "We do not understand how a petty bureaucrat from Iraq's Oil Ministry can tear up a law that has been passed by the parliament of Iraq," ... The Iraqis have pressured Lukoil to defy the sanctions and begin work, but it has refused.


Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: Iraq for the first time has invited to Baghdad the U.N. envoy in charge of accounting for stolen Kuwaiti property and prisoners of war during Iraq's 1990 occupation of its southern neighbour, a U.N. official said on Thursday.

Iraq's Smallpox Samples May Be From 1970s

JOHN J. LUMPKIN, AP: U.S. intelligence agencies believe any smallpox samples Iraq possesses came from the last domestic outbreak of the deadly disease in the 1970s, rather than from rogue Russian scientists or other external sources, U.S. officials said.

Iraq Arms Report Has Big Omissions, U.S. Officials Say

DAVID E. SANGER with JULIA PRESTON, New York Times: American intelligence agencies have reached a preliminary conclusion that Iraq's 12,000-page declaration of its weapons programs fails to account for chemical and biological agents missing when inspectors left Iraq four years ago, American officials and United Nations diplomats said today. ... Among them is why Iraq was seeking to buy uranium in Africa in recent years, as well as high-technology materials that the United States and Britain have said were destined for a program to enrich uranium. ... A second American official said there were "omissions big enough drive a tank through," citing as examples Iraq's failure to explain what happened to 550 shells filled with mustard gas, and another 150 bombs filled with biological agents, that the United Nations could not account for in the late 1990's. ... In Vienna, analysts at the International Atomic Energy agency were busy combing through the 2,400 pages of documents that make up Iraq's nuclear declaration, which they received on Sunday. Officials at the agency said 2,100 of the pages appeared very similar, if not identical, to the last declaration the agency received from Iraq, in 1998. The similarities were so clear that agency analysts were going through pages line for line to determine whether there were any changes at all.

U.S. Won't Endorse Germany to Chair Sanctions Committee: Position on Iraq Causes Discord

Colum Lynch, Washington Post: The Bush administration, still angry over German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder's anti-war stance on Iraq, has blocked Germany's quest to assume the chairmanship of a key Security Council sanctions committee that oversees billions of dollars in Iraqi trade, according to U.S. and U.N. diplomats.

Sean Penn visits children's hospital in Baghdad

AFP: US actor and filmmaker Sean Penn visited a children's hospital in Baghdad on Friday, on the first day of a visit to Iraq to forge "a deeper understanding of the conflict." ... The Institute for Public Accuracy already sponsored a Baghdad visit by US House of Representatives member Nick Rahall in September in a bid to "give peace a chance."

Tariq Aziz: We bombed Halabja with chemical weapons

Bryar Mariwani, For the first time since the chemical attack on Halabja in 1988, the Iraqi government admitted that they have used chemical to bomb Halabja, the Kurdish town in south Kurdistan (Iraqi Kurdistan). [This story is likely incorrect. See Did Tariq Aziz Admit the Iraqis Gassed Halabja?, which translates the Aziz interview cited as the source.]

Economists Debate Impact of Possible War With Iraq

Laurie Kassman, Voice of America: James Placke, Larry Meyer,

Comment Washington voit l'après-Saddam

Renaud Girard, Le Figaro: interview with Richard Perle. [Q] Pensez-vous que l'Amérique soit vraiment capable aujourd'hui de remplir au sein du monde arabo-musulman une «mission civilisatrice» du type de celle que l'Administration Truman avait réalisée dans le Japon et l'Allemagne d'après-guerre ? [A] Non. Je ne pense pas que le modèle soit le bon. Le bon modèle serait plutôt celui de l'aide que nous vous avons apportée, en France et en Italie, juste après la Seconde Guerre mondiale, dans votre lutte contre les communistes. Comme d'ailleurs, aussi, en Grèce et en Turquie. Dans ces pays, les États-Unis ont été en mesure d'apporter leur aide. Mais, en dernier ressort, ce sont les Français, les Italiens, les Grecs, les Turcs qui durent livrer ce combat. ... Les gens qui pensent que nous sommes là pour le pétrole seront vite détrompés. ... Ici, j'aimerais être bien clair : nous ne pouvons pas gouverner l'Irak, nous ne devons même pas essayer de le faire. L'Irak doit être gouverné par des Irakiens. Notre rôle y sera seulement de fournir un niveau de sécurité suffisant au pays, afin qu'un processus politique normal puisse s'y dérouler. ... Scott Ritter n'avait absolument aucun moyen à sa disposition pour le savoir. Je suis abasourdi de voir que cet homme puisse être pris au sérieux !

Why Some Parties Boycot Iraqi Opposition London Conference

Muid Fayyad, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: The boycotting groups, which formed the "Iraqi National Forces Alliance," include: the Islamic al-Da'wah Party, the Iraqi Communist Party, the Socialist Party in Iraq, the Islamic Party in Iraq, the Iraqi Command of the Ba'th Party that split from the Iraqi ruling party, the Democratic Alliance in Iraq, and the Council of Ulema Mujahideen.



AP: Joe Wilson, a former charge d'affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, said such a strategy could include air strikes at Iraqi bases if the Iraqi president denies U.N. weapons inspectors access to a particular site. "Muscular disarmament is a viable alternative which might actually yield the desired national security result - as much disarmament as we can possibly achieve without the cost both to our international prestige, our troops and to our standing in the region," he told reporters. ... He said President Bush was following the path of this kind of disarmament strategy by providing the military muscle behind the weapons inspections by massing troops in the region and adopting a policy of zero tolerance with regard to any Iraqi resistance to the inspections.


Frances Williams, Financial Times: Unicef's 2003 report on the state of the world's children published yesterday shows that Iraq's under-five mortality rate, considered the best single indicator of child welfare, was 133 per 1,000 live births in 2001. ... Unicef data also show that nearly a quarter of babies born in Iraq between 1995 and 2000 were underweight, compared with 7 per cent for neighbouring Iran, and that more than a fifth of young children - close to 1m - had moderate or severe stunting from malnutrition. Iraq's regression over the past decade is by far the most severe of the 193 countries surveyed. But child mortality has also risen in several southern African countries afflicted by the Aids epidemic.


Borzou Daragahi, AP: Russia's ambassador to Iraq visited the autonomous Kurdish enclave in the north and criticized U.S. calls for the overthrow of Saddam Hussein.


Reuters: Military and civilian opponents of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein said Wednesday that the United States should spare the Iraqi army if and when it tries to overthrow the Iraqi leader by force. But Salhi said he and his colleagues were opposed to attacks on any Iraqi military forces. Units like the elite Republican Guard could be disbanded after Saddam, he added.


Palestine Chronicle: Iran will not allow Iraqi opposition groups to attack Baghdad from Iranian soil and does not intend to attend a weekend London conference on regime change, a government spokesman said Wednesday, December 11.


Salah Nasrawi, AP: But al-Haboubi, a former minister in the government overthrown by Saddam Hussein's Baath party, has no plans to participate in a U.S.-backed conference of major Iraqi opposition groups to be held this week in London. "This is an American conference with an American agenda to serve American interests and objectives," al-Haboubi said. "Regime change should be done by Iraqis and for Iraqis." ... He now lives in Egypt. Al-Haboubi is respected in Iraqi opposition circles because of his past political prominence, his support for liberal causes and his roots in a prominent Shiite family known for its resistance to British rule in Iraq at the turn of the 19th century.


Peoples Daily: The Organization of Islamic Conference (OIC) stressed Wednesday that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's recent speech on Kuwait undermines efforts of restoring relations between the two countries, Kuwait's official KUNA news agency reported.


Barton Gellman, Washington Post: The Bush adminstration has received what's been termed a credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al-Qaida took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or late October ... government analysts suspect that the transaction involved the nerve agent VX and that a courier managed to smuggle it overland through Turkey. ... On the central question of whether Iraqi President Saddam Hussein knew about or authorized such a transaction, U.S. analysts are said to have no evidence. Because Saddam's handpicked Special Security Organization, run by his son Qusay, has long exerted tight control over concealed weapons programs, officials said they presume that it would be difficult to transfer a chemical agent without the president's knowledge. ... "The way we gleaned the information makes us feel confident it is accurate," said one official whose responsibilities are directly involved with the report. "I throw about 99 percent of the spot reports away when I look at them. I didn't throw this one away." ... Even authorized spokesmen, with one exception, addressed the report on the condition of anonymity. They said the principal source on the chemical transfer was uncorroborated, and that indications that it involved a nerve agent were open to interpretation. ... First developed as a weapon by the U.S. Army, VX is an oily liquid, odorless and tasteless, that kills on contact with the skin or by inhalation in aerosol form.

Officials downplay report of Iraq-al Qaeda chemical agent transfer

John King, CNN: One senior official described a Washington Post report suggesting al Qaeda or a group closely affiliated with al Qaeda had obtained the nerve agent VX from Iraq as "far too conclusive sounding" and said the U.S. government had no conclusive or corroborated evidence of such a transaction.


Jim Wolf, Reuters: The U.S. aircraft carrier George Washington and its battle group have begun steaming back to the U.S. East Coast, the Navy said on Thursday, a move analysts said made a large-scale U.S.-led attack on Iraq less likely in the near future. ... Baker, a retired rear admiral now at the private Center for Defense Information in Washington, said the U.S. military would want four or five carriers in the region before launching an attack "at the minimum."

Iraq won't turn over names of scientists until formal request, official says

E.A. TORRIERO, Chicago Tribune (KRT): Lt. Gen. Hossam Mohammed Amin said ... "We are preparing the names," he said. "We could deliver it at any time they request. We didn't receive a letter from them."

Activist going to Iraq in protest of US policy: Man bringing gifts, urging nonviolence

Agnes Blum, Boston Globe: The activists support Iraq's totalitarian regime financially when they spend money to visit Iraq, said Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a think tank focused on US interests in the Middle East. If they are concerned about poverty and suffering in Iraq, they should work with the UN and not against it, he said. ''Iraq gets more humanitarian imports than any other country in the world through the UN's Oil for Food program,'' Clawson said. ''Any humanitarian problems are due to Saddam Hussein.''


After Hussein: Ethnic, Religious, Political Rifts Test U.S. Hopes for a Stable Iraq

Hugh Pope and David S. Cloud, Wall Street Journal: Indeed, the Pentagon wants to insert U.S. troops in the north, possibly in Kirkuk, from the start of any U.S. invasion in part to keep Kurdish forces from claiming territory to augment their political power in a post-Hussein Iraq. ... While residents of the south don't possess heavy weapons, Mr. Hussein's regime has armed them with plenty of guns to fight the U.S. If central control is smashed by U.S. bombing, in remote places such as this, the weapons could be turned on fellow Iraqis to settle old scores or protect territory. ... To head off a cycle of violence, U.S. officials are trying to forge alliances with Shiite leaders who they hope can reassure their followers that the U.S. occupation will mean greater political power for Shiites. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz recently wrote a letter to Muhammad Bakir al-Hakim ... inviting him to consider sending followers through a Pentagon program to train them as a police force that would help put an Iraqi face on U.S. efforts to maintain security, a U.S. official said. ... But the administration is leaning toward keeping the number of prosecutions limited to a dozen or so top officials, including Mr. Hussein and his sons, according to a U.S. official.

U.S. Set to Use Mines in Iraq

Tom Squitieri, USA Today: The Pentagon is preparing to use anti-personnel land mines in a war with Iraq, despite U.S. policy that calls for the military to stop using the mines everywhere in the world except Korea by 2003.


Vivienne Walt, USA Today: Iraqi officials have yet to hand over a list of the country's weapons scientists to U.N. monitors, even though the United Nations asked them to do so two weeks ago. ... Under a U.N. Security Council resolution passed unanimously last month, Iraq is obliged to name its weapons scientists and allow U.N. inspectors to interview them. But the resolution has no deadline for providing the list.

U.N. Official Won't Reveal Iraq Suppliers to the Public

JULIA PRESTON, New York Times: Mr. Blix confirmed to the Council that there appeared to be bomb recipes in the hundreds of pages detailing Iraq's secret nuclear program


Joe Lauria, The Ottawa Citizen: Financial Times journalist Alan Friedman, in his 1993 book, The Spider's Web: How the White House Illegally Armed Iraq, claimed former U.S. president George Bush, future Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and current FBI head Robert Mueller were involved in arming Iraq through the Department of Agriculture's Commodity Credit Corporation.


Colum Lynch, Washington Post: The Pentagon became alarmed about the potential military uses of atropine after discovering that Turkey had been approached by Iraq to supply it with massive quantities of atropine and auto-injectors ... U.N. officials said Iraq has never imported auto injectors through the oil-for-food program ... Frederick R. Sidell, a retired U.S. Army expert on chemical warfare ... said that the lower doses used for heart treatment could be easily converted to military uses if administered with a common needle and syringe.

Still Suffering From '88 Gas Attack, a Village Distrusts Iraq's Arms Report

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: As the United Nations reviews the 12,000-page Iraqi disclosure of its prohibited weapons and missile programs, the declaration in which Baghdad claims to have no such weapons anymore, the people of Halabja have already reached a conclusion. They talk about it as if it were a book of nonsense.

Brutalised poor await their fate while the rich live it up

Janine di Giovanni, The Times: Abdel Amir Salman, a minor government official who lives in grinding poverty in the al-Kuraimat neighbourhood ... Steaming piles of rubbish smoke in unpaved alleys with open sewers. Despite the onset of winter the children are all barefoot. "We are poor enough," he said. "Now we are going to be poorer." ... He remembers the last "American war" because the house next door was bombed and his has not been repaired since. He points to a ceiling patched together with plasterboard and says that he spent most of the war in the bomb shelter at the nearby Ministry of Judgment. ... "I can't understand why they are doing this to us," he said. He has not yet begun to stockpile food, mostly because on a combined monthly household income of $100 (£64), the family can barely survive day to day.

World Bank says oil may top $40/barrel in Iraq war


Iraqi regime hiding scientists

David Wastell, DAILY TELEGRAPH: "Most of those working on the nuclear program in the 1980s and early 1990s have been sent away to university or industrial positions. Some have been sent outside Iraq, including those working on chemical- and biological-warfare agents," said Hussein Shahristani [to where?]

Iran wants access to Iraqi weapons declaration

AFP: Iran will ask for access to Iraq's arms declaration, government spokesman Abdullah Ramezanzadeh said here on Wednesday. "We were the main victim of Iraqi chemical weapons" during a devastating 1980-88 war, he told a news conference after an Iranian cabinet meeting.


US and UK admit lack of 'killer' proof

Julian Borger, Nick Paton-Walsh, Ewen MacAskill and Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian: The US and Britain lack "killer" intelligence that will prove conclusively that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, according to sources in London and New York. "If we had intelligence that there is a piece of weaponry at this map reference, we would tell the inspectors and they would be there like a shot," a source said.

Disquiet at US move on Iraq papers

Mark Turner and Carola Hoyos, Financial Times: The surprise move appeared an about-turn from an earlier decision that all 15 members would receive copies at the same time, once stripped by UN experts of any "proliferation-sensitive" material on nuclear weapons. ... US officials said it was essential to ensure the copying was done in a secure environment. "You can't just send this thing out to Kinko's," said one.

The smallpox scenario

Unmesh Kher, CNN: Eight of 69 Iraqi POWs screened during the Gulf War were immune to smallpox. Since the vaccine works for only four to five years, this suggests they had been inoculated relatively recently--perhaps as protection from their own biological weapons. There's more: U.N. inspectors who toured Iraq's illegal weapons sites in 1995 stumbled upon a freeze dryer candidly labeled SMALLPOX. [also cites Miller's NYT story]

Iraq Accuses U.S. of Blackmailing U.N.

Nadim Ladki, Reuters: Diplomats said the dossier appeared to contain the names of foreign arms suppliers -- something that could prove embarrassing for the countries involved, including Security Council members. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said he expected U.S. experts to take weeks to draw conclusions about the dossier which Iraq issued at the weekend in hopes of avoiding war. "The thing to do is to not prejudge it, be patient and expect that it will take days and weeks probably to go over, and come to some judgments about it,"


Priscilla Cheung, AP: The United States presented Security Council members Tuesday with a list of 36 items it wants reviewed before Iraq could import them, including antibiotics, broadcast equipment and heavy tires that could be used for military vehicles. ... The U.S. list ... could be expanded to cover 50 to 75 items. ... The United States is seeking to ban some of the items on the new list outright, while allowing some other items to be imported only after extensive scrutiny by a U.N. sanctions review team. Beside adding new items to the list, the United States also wants to allow the U.N. review committee greater power to scrutinize each order and possibly single out suppliers deemed dishonest or uncooperative. Washington also wants the Security Council to have the power to review the list of items whenever necessary.

US wants to install dictator in Iraq: Iran

AFP: Iran's powerful former president Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani has accused the United States of seeking to install "another dictator" in neighbouring Iraq, press reports said Tuesday.


The Secrets of Dr. Germ: U.N. inspectors have begun searching Iraqi weapons sites. But what happens when they investigate the scientists? The ‘human factor’ could be a trigger to war

Christopher Dickey and Colin Soloway, NEWSWEEK: [some good anecdotes] But is Rihab Taha the banal genius of evil behind the biological-weapons program? Or was there someone else? Former inspectors interviewed by NEWSWEEK said they thought she was a front. “I always had the impression we never met the person who was really in charge,” said chief biologist Spertzel. No inspector was sure who that was—or is. But they look to Taha’s superiors and most intimate colleagues as possible candidates. [Abdul Nasser Hindawi, Huda Amash, Hazem Ali mentioned as candidates.]

Iraq Under Siege

Tim Llewellyn, MEES: The Iraqis are pleased with themselves that Saddam, at last showing the erudition he so notably lacked in 1980 and 1991, has called the US bluff. Iraq, so far, has been so devastatingly welcoming to the Hans Blix team as to be almost guilty of irony – not, as far as anyone knows, grounds for “material breach.” By this device the Iraqis are buying the time they need and the opportunity for invasion America sees ebbing away. Cooperation has a capital ‘C’. In 1991, a Foreign Ministry adviser told me, the Iraqis also thought that “cooperation” would work. The Americans made it clear, however, that as fast as Saddam yielded his weaponry, nothing would suffice. As long as he was there, the details of the UN Security Council resolutions counted for nothing. That mentality and that perception still command in Baghdad and Washington. ... Fortunately for Saddam, the West, with its inconsistent policies, lack of focus, dismissal of any Iraqi and/or Arab interests and heavy-handed pursuit of puritanical punishment of a helpless people, has reconstituted him as the only power in the land. It would be foolish to say he is popular; but the administrators of sanctions, the purveyors of Western moralizing, the supporters of Israel, and the bombers of Najaf and Mosul, have restored him to a kind of credibility. None of the West’s opposition figures can match him. An Iraqi academic told me: “I can travel out of Iraq. When I go to London they come to me and say, ‘why are you staying in Baghdad, earning $100 a month? Here, just one appearance with us on TV, telling the world how it is in Iraq, and you would have money, a Mercedes, a flat in Kensington or Georgetown…what’s the matter with you?’ “I think that approach, the financial approach, to betray your country, is not one I wish to contemplate. And it says absolutely everything about the Iraqi opposition that the US and the UK are funding.”

Bush Appoints Envoy For “Free Iraqis"

MEES: On 2 December, President Bush named Zalmay Khalilzad – currently special envoy for Afghanistan – as the “special envoy and ambassador at large for free Iraqis,” with the task of serving “as the focal point for contacts and coordination among free Iraqis for the US Government and for preparations for a post-Saddam Husain Iraq.”

U.N. Teams Begin Analysis of Documents From the Iraqis

JULIA PRESTON with MARK LANDLER, New York Times: The 15 nations on the Council, including the United States, decided on Friday not to take possession of their copies until Mr. Blix has removed for his confidential safekeeping any information that might be used by rogue nations or terrorists to make prohibited weapons. [But United Nations officials and diplomats said that in a surprise decision late Sunday, the Security Council agreed to give the United States, Russia, France, China and Britain full access to Iraq's declaration, The Associated Press reported. ... Under the agreement, the other 10 Council members, including Syria, will only see the declaration once it is translated, analyzed and gleaned of sensitive material — including possible instructions on bomb-making.]

A Top Iraqi Aide Defies U.S. to Find Proof of Weapons

JOHN F. BURNS, New York Times: But in private, administration officials concede that there is no single piece of dramatic intelligence that Iraq has continued to try to acquire nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

Ironic Chemistry: The U.N. Boosts Saddam's Threat

STEPHEN D. BRYEN [director of the Defense Technology Security Administration in the Reagan administration], Wall Street Journal: In a little-noticed book published in 1999, by Rick Francona ... "What I saw were used atropine injectors all over the place. And atropine is used as an antidote for only one thing: nerve gas." ... Over the last month the U.S. has tried to reverse a U.N. decision made last May which allows Iraq to buy atropine and atropine auto-injectors designed for military use. ... Saddam didn't use chemical weapons in the Gulf War for two reasons. One: his troops lacked atropine auto injectors. ... Two: Saddam believed the U.S. did have chemical weapons and would use them if Iraq used theirs.

Poisoning the air: US reports of Iraqi stockpiles of nerve gas antidote should be treated with a healthy dose of scepticism

Brian Whitaker, Guardian: atropine investigation.


Kathleen Ridolfo, RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY IRAQ REPORT: The second meeting of the Economic and Infrastructure Working Group on Iraq took place in Washington, D.C., on 2-3 December. ... they devised a three-stage plan to rebuild the Iraqi infrastructure. The first stage would cover the first six months following the liberation of Iraq, and focus on essential services, including an emergency infrastructure to distribute food, and establish communication as well as a sense of peace and security. The second stage would last two years and aim to restore the level of services to meet the basic needs of the people. The third stage would focus on aligning Iraq's infrastructure with nations with a GDP similar to Iraq. ... The participants noted that they reached a consensus that the oil-for-food program should remain in place for at least the first six months after liberation ... Al-Khatib said: "We don't think Iraq should deviate from its commitments and from its obligations, but any agreement is subject to renegotiation if it is in the interests of the Iraqi people. If they were agreements that were done under duress or under the interests of those other parties to profit at the expense of the Iraqi people, then they need to be renegotiated." ... Sandi said that ... participants felt strongly that a new Iraqi government should honor civilian debts. But, military debts should be renegotiated because they were incurred by a government that was not representative of the population.

Bush directs 92 million in aid to Iraqi opposition

AFP: The [Bush] memorandum to US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Powell, names Iraqi National Accord; the Iraqi National Congress; the Kurdistan Democratic Party; the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq as eligible for the 92 million dollars in [in military equipment and training]. ... The [Bush] official message to Powell designates the Assyrian Democratic Movement; the Iraqi Free officers and Civilians Movement; the Iraqi National Front; the Iraqi national Movement; the Iraqi Turkmen Front; and the Islamic Accord of Iraq as democratic opposition groups [making them eligible for US military assistance].

Iraq's denies connection to killing of opposition member, al-Mayahi A well-informed source at the Iraqi embassy in Lebanon has denied any connection for the Iraqi authorities to the killing of the Iraqi opposition member, Walid Ibrahim al-Mayahi, whose body was found in an apartment he lives in al-Sader Islamic complex in the Lebanese southern city of Tyre. ... the Lebanese specialized security departments continue their investigations in the issue of assassinating al-Mayahi ( 35 year old) without reaching new evidence, except confirming that those who committed the crime are three Iraqis, who know the victim closely and the victim was exposed to tortures by sharpened instruments before he was strangled by a rope.

67 PUK men killed in recent fighting with Ansar Al-Islam Credible sources in the region told that 67 PUK Peshmergas and 21 militants of Ansar Al-Islam were killed in the fighting.


George Jahn, AP: Nobody here denies a Yugoslav state arms dealer ignored a U.N. ban on weapons trade with Iraq, but culprits and investigators alike say the bottom line is that war-battered Yugoslavia had little to offer. "We were repairing old engines," said one, downing a second glass of whiskey as he acknowledged involvement in refurbishing Iraq's Soviet-era MiG jet fighters. "So what? What's the MiG-21 in comparison to the (U.S) F-16?" ... Interior Minister Zoran Zivkovic put the value of all arms and related material shipped to Iraq over the past three years at less than $25 million. ... While U.S. officials won't discuss what their investigation has uncovered, Yugoslavia's claim that little of military value was shipped to Iraq appears to be getting a sympathetic hearing from the Americans. A report last week by the International Crisis Group linking Yugoslavia to Iraqi attempts to acquire chemical weapons and cruise missile technology was dismissed as "full of speculation and errors" by U.S. Embassy spokesman Abelardo Docal. ... But a senior employee said plasma technology, which sprays worn-out metal components with a new metal coating, was used to refurbish some MiG engine turbine parts. ... "The metal was so corroded that it was too far gone for repair," he said.


Richard Cleroux and Roland Watson, The Times: Republican strategists are concerned at the anti-war feeling in blue-collar workplaces and organised labour. John Sweeney, president of the AFL-CIO, one of the biggest unions in the country with 13 million members, and once courted by President Bush, has come out against the war.

In Iran, grim reminders of Saddam's arsenal

FARNAZ FASSIHI, Star-Ledger: At times, as many as 60 percent of the beds at Sassan Hospital in Tehran, designated to treat victims of chemical weapons, are occupied by veterans, according to Hamid Jamali, the physician responsible for their care. ... "Iran probably has the most experienced team of physicians in dealing with chemical victims because no other country has had to treat thousands of victims in recent memory. We are more than willing to share it with our colleagues around the world," said Sohrabpour, who trained at Cornell University in New York.

Baghdad Regime's Policies Continue to Shred Iraq's Social Fabric (Brookings/SAIS report on internally displaced groups in Iraq)

C. David Noziglia, Washington File: According to the [October] study, an estimated 600,000 to 800,000 persons are displaced in the north of the country and an estimated 300,000 in the center/south of Iraq and "the numbers of internally displaced persons have continued to grow."

Iraq's oil bonanza a continuing tempting target for foreigners

Dr Aileen Keating, Financial Times: AS THE Americans contemplate occupation of Iraq, officials in the Bush Administration are privately calming nervous domestic economists by explaining that the cost of their occupation will not be borne by the American taxpayer. All expenses, they say, will be paid from revenue generated by Iraq's plentiful oil resources. ... An editorial in The Times of London commented cynically that the Prime Minister, Lloyd George, seemed to think Mesopotamia's oil would pay the cost of administration: 'We doubt it,' the paper said, 'for oil profits generally seem to find their way by some invisible pipeline into private pockets.' The prospect of British rule inflamed the citizens of Mesopotamia and inspired the tragic Iraq Revolt. By the time it was put down at the end of September 1920 the tally was 450 British and 10,000 Iraqi deaths and thousands of casualties. ... As T. E. Lawrence commented wryly, while the Turks were in control of Mesopotamia they 'only managed to kill' an average of about 200 people each year 'but Britain has managed to eliminate 10,000 in one summer. At this rate the population will soon be no more trouble.'


To Build Coalition, U.S. Legislators Tour Iraq's Kurdish Region

C. J. CHIVERS, New York Times: Borrowing from a local saying that Kurds have no friends but the mountains, Senator Joseph R. Biden Jr., Democrat of Delaware and the committee's chairman, told a special session of the Kurdish parliament that "the mountains are not your only friends." ... The senators repeatedly turned away questions about whether Kurds might be enlisted to fight alongside American troops, or about providing logistical support or chemical weapons defense for Kurdish fighters and civilians. ... Mr. Barzani, who admitted that some past experiences with Americans have been bitter, said this time he sensed a difference. "Now the interests of us, and the United States' interests, are closer together," he said.


AFP: "We are not claiming that (Iraq) still has weapons of mass destruction but the British and the Americans are. They feel that they have secret material that proves it but we have been given no such material," Blix told Swedish Radio in an interview.


Bassem Mroue, AP: Earlier Sunday at the Baghdad airport, the first of eight helicopters destined for the U.N. operation was being assembled after being flown in as cargo a day earlier. With the helicopters, arms monitors can range farther afield on their surprise inspections.


AP: In Iran Sunday, the leader of the biggest Iraqi opposition group [SCIRI] told The Associated Press that he has documents proving Saddam is hiding weapons of mass destruction and that he was prepared to hand over the documents to the United Nations if the safety of his informers inside Iraq was guaranteed.

Iraqi opposition member confirms Baghdad had liquidated al-Mayahi

Arabic News: The police said that other three Iraqis who were living in the same building disappeared since the body was found. Al-Basari said that the three Iraqis were intelligence officers who came as refugees, and that workers at the complex gave them support and used to stay with al-Mayahi. Al-Basari added that one of the three men tried to kidnap him and steal his computer which contains files relating to the activities of the Iraqi opposition in Lebanon. When they failed they killed al-Mayahi who informed the police before his killing that the three Iraqis tried to recruit him.


Xinhuanet: Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Abdelrahman Bin Hamad Al-Atiyya on Sunday dismissed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's speech to the Kuwaiti people as "disappointing," saying the message "reflects no good intentions." ... "The GCC refuses all kinds of terrorism and based on that, we refuse incitement that was included in the speech which supports the recent terrorist acts in Kuwait," Al-Atiyya said.



Edith M. Lederer, AP: Butler said inspectors remained strongly convinced [in 1998] that Baghdad had documents that would reveal "the full picture" of its weapons programs -- but had refused to hand them over.


Fox News: He maintained Iraq was the victim of a conspiracy by Kuwaiti officials who were syphoning off oil along the two countries' borders that actually belonged to Iraq. He also repeated charges that Kuwait was producing oil beyond its assigned OPEC quota, bringing down oil prices and hurting the Iraqi economy. In the speech read by Information Minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, the Iraqi leader was careful to distinguish between the Kuwaiti people and the country's leaders. ... "We are saying what we are saying not out of weakness or as a tactic to an illegitimate end but to clarify facts as we see them. ... On that basis, we apologize to God for any action that may anger the Almighty if such an action took place in the past, unbeknownst to us but considered to be our responsibility, and to you (Kuwaitis) we apologize on this basis as well. O, you brothers, what we wish for is what we are working to achieve for your brothers in Iraq: to live free, without foreign control of your destiny, will, decisions, wealth, present and future. ... "We and the people of Iraq salute those young believers who stand up to the foreign occupier with arms and those who see or believe that it is a shame that requires the cleansing of the land, and of the people, by fire and other means."


Delayed Retaliation in 'No-Fly' Zones: Turkish Sensitivities Are Factor for U.S. At Incirlik Air Base

Bradley Graham, Washington Post: But two days later, U.S. fighter jets used the attack in the north as a reason to drop 23 bombs in the south, hitting what a Pentagon statement said were air defense facilities between Basra and Tallil and what Iraq's Defense Ministry said were oil company offices in which four people were killed. ... Familiar as this route into Iraq has become to U.S. aircrews, things can go wrong -- and did early last month. An F-16CG pilot flew south out of Incirlik instead of east and ended up over Syria before realizing he was off-course. The pilot, a seasoned aviator and member of an Iowa Air National Guard squadron on its fourth tour here in six years, had punched the wrong coordinates into his navigation system. A mechanical problem compounded the error, according to officials. The pilot was sent back to Iowa, and flight operations were suspended for a few days as crews reviewed navigation procedures. ... "Typically if we see a site for the first time we just don't roll in there and shoot, because we have no idea what else is around there," said "Tuna," a lieutenant aboard an EA-6B Prowler. "It usually takes a couple of days to nail down and get intel reports on what else is around there." ... Even so, they often find it impossible to spot a target that satisfies not only U.S. concerns but those of Turkish commanders, who closely monitor each mission.


Michael Howard, The Guardian: Baghdad is stopping vital humanitarian supplies reaching the Kurdish self-rule region in northern Iraq, and the UN, which administers the oil-for-food aid programme, is doing nothing to stop it, Kurdish officials said yesterday. ... Stafford Clarry, an adviser on humanitarian affairs to the Kurds, said that half of the amount earned for Iraqi Kurdistan had been spent in the past six years through the programme.


Brian Handwerk, National Geographic News: [Peter Arnett] Iraqis fear renewed war and speak freely about it to visiting reporters. People we meet express the greatest concern over the fate of their children in an upcoming conflict. The population of Baghdad did survive with relativity few casualties during the bombings of the Gulf War in 1991. But most people seem aware that if the United States and its partners launch war for a second time, the ramifications will be much greater. The possibility of a violent change of government frightens those who look back to recent history when such changes came with murderous outbreaks of violence on the streets during ethnic clashes. ... There are many truths in Iraq, as there are in any society. There is the truth of the many students we interviewed at Baghdad universities who pride themselves as being from "the Saddam Generation," those who were born about the time he came to power in 1979. Free education, free health care, and basically free food have enabled them to pursue their dreams of success. ... Then there is the truth of the Kurdish and Shia people. ... There is the truth of the Iraqi opposition located overseas. ... So, what is the truth? The groups I listed above will respond with predictable answers when you question them. ... I learned in Vietnam that war coverage was an essential ingredient in a democracy.


Iraq: The Economic Consequences of War

New York Review of Books, Williamm B. Nordhaus: [Good survey; drawn from longer] Reconstruction and nation-building costs will be largely determined by the ambitions for postwar Iraq. If Iraq is to attain a per capita GDP equal to Egypt or Iran, and if one half of the capital stock requires rebuilding, this would imply reconstruction needs of about $800 per capita, or a total of $20 billion. ... Strategists in the Bush administration may be betting on happy outcomes in oil markets. ... A reasonable optimistic scenario would involve Iraq increasing its production capacity to around four million barrels per day within five years after a war. Under plausible assumptions about the effects on the supply of oil from other regions, this would lead to a decline of slightly under $1 per barrel over the next decade. ... the US could end up paying the "low" costs of around $120 billion if the dice come up favorably. ... if the US has a string of bad luck or misjudgments during or after the war, the outcome, while less likely, could reach the $1.6 trillion of the upper estimate. ... The projections I have described exclude any costs to other countries, omit the most extreme outcomes (such as chemical or biological warfare), and exclude Perry's "worst" case in oil markets. [concludes by outlining risks, including that US admin hasn't reckoned costs] ... Finally, one senses an obsession bordering on woodenheadedness in the Bush administration's concentration on Iraq in general and on regime change in particular. In contrast to the clear danger from terrorist activities, there is no imminent threat from Iraq. ... Notwithstanding all the warning signs, the administration marches ahead, heedless of the fiscal realities and undeterred by cautions from friends, allies, and foes.

The naïveté of the native critic

Sinan Antoon [an Iraqi doctoral candidate in classical Arabic literature at Harvard University], Al-Ahram: While it is almost impossible to take the pulse of the general public in Iraq, it is evident that the vast majority of Iraqis in the diaspora are against a war. Makiya can see that for himself on any number of Iraqi Web sites or in chatrooms. There have also been a number of anti- war petitions circulating of late with signatures of Iraqis hailing from all political and ethnic backgrounds. ... Most Iraqis dream of the day when Saddam is gone. However, we cannot, even in the absence of practical and realistic alternatives, call on the US to occupy Iraq -- the same US which, along with Saddam, is the main culprit in destroying the country's infrastructure through war and sanctions. [Makiya] deemed Barzani an honest and visionary man who embodied all that a future president of a federal and democratic Iraq should. He even suggested that Barzani nominate himself for the presidency of the INC. But Makiya was shocked in 1996 when Barzani called on Saddam, the very Saddam who slaughtered 100,000 Kurds in the infamous Al-Anfal operations, to send his troops to Erbil to aid Barzani in his fight against his arch-rival Jalal Talbani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). Makiya, in an article he published in the New York Review of Books, discovered that Barzani was "no more than a tribal leader with limited horizons and selfish interests that do not go beyond his primary group". Any Iraqi -- Kurd or Arab -- could have informed Makiya of this well-known fact ahead of time.


Jean Serror, Daily Yomiuro: Amsel: One should never forget that India, Pakistan and North Korea have signed the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have visited nuclear facilities in these countries regularly. But inspections have never prevented these nations from developing clandestine nuclear programs.


Jonathan Fowler, AP: [Indict] formally demanded that the IOC expel Iraq's national Olympic committee because its chief - Saddam Hussein's eldest son Uday - tortured and jailed athletes who failed to please him. ... Indict said the Iraqi leader's son once made a group of track athletes crawl on newly poured asphalt while they were beaten and ordered that some be thrown off a bridge. It also alleged he ran a special prison for athletes who offended him. ... Iraq was investigated in 1997 by FIFA, the international soccer governing body, following allegations that members of the Iraqi national team were tortured because they lost a key match. ... "They weren't able to find any evidence or any witness to confirm those allegations," Herren said. But, he added, "We were quite conscious of the fact that our investigative resources were very limited.


Iraqi ship fires at Kuwaiti vessels

Charles Clover, Financial Times: there has been a steady number of border violations by both sides, according to Kuwaiti experts.

Britain and US step up bombing in Iraq: Ministry of Defence reveals 300% rise in ordnance dropped over southern no-fly zone

Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian: Ordnance dropped on southern Iraq in response to threats has increased by 300% since March this year, according to figures released by the Ministry of Defence today in response to questions from the Liberal Democrat spokesman on foreign affairs, Menzies Campbell. ... Whitehall officials have admitted privately that the "no-fly" patrols, conducted by RAF and US aircraft from bases in Kuwait, are designed to weaken Iraq's air defence systems and have nothing to do with their stated original purpose of defending the marsh Arabs and the Sh'ia population of southern Iraq. ... Mr Campbell said ... "The inference is that these operations have little to do with humanitarian purposes but are being carried out to soften up Iraq air defence systems. There must be a risk that escalation of this kind could provoke wider military action at a time when the inspectors still appear to be able to carry out their work."

Baghdad objects to palace inspection; inspectors say treading thin line, getting results

CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP: the international arms experts secured about a dozen Iraqi artillery shells -- previously known to be there -- containing a powerful chemical weapon, the liquid agent mustard.


BBC: According to the government's dossier, Saddam Hussein's son Udayy ordered the national football team to be caned on the soles of their feet after losing a World Cup qualifying match. But Mr Dalyell said a probe by football's governing body Fifa found no evidence to back up the allegation. Mr Blair appeared to concede the point, made during angry exchanges at Prime Minister's Question Time, but insisted it was not important. ... But Downing Street later said statements from players who had escaped Iraq after the Fifa probe backed up the allegations.

Voices from the Iraqi Street

International Crisis Group: interviews with dozens of Iraqis, primarily in Baghdad and Mosul. Found An overwhelming aspiration to normalcy; A reliance on the outside; An expectant attitude towards a U.S.-led war; Anticipation of manageable internal conflict in post-Saddam Iraq; Hostility toward the opposition in exile; A lack of interest in Iraq's future political make-up.


US steps up verbal and military pressure on Iraq

Peter Spiegel, James Drummond and Kim Ghattas, Financial Times: the White House said Iraqi officials acknowledged attempting to purchase specialised aluminium tubes for its weapons programme. ... But Iraqi officials told inspectors the tubes were sought only for conventional weapons systems ... some US specialists said that on the evidence available, the tubes might have been destined for artillery or anti-tank rockets. ... the UK government said there was no "definitive intelligence" that the aluminium was heading for a nuclear programme. However, Ari Fleischer, White House spokesman, insisted yesterday: "Iraq did, in fact, seek to buy the tubes not, as Iraq now claims, for conventional weapons, but for nuclear weapons."

Turkey Would Open Air Bases for U.S. Iraq Strike

Reuters: "What we mean by cooperation is opening air bases and opening facilities to use," Turkish Foreign Minister Yasar Yakis told an Ankara press conference after meeting with British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Asked if Turkish cooperation would include combat strikes, Yakis said: "Yes ... If you're talking about air bases, yes, those will be opened."

Arming Saddam: The Yugoslav Connection

International Crisis Group: From ICG’s own investigations, as well as from those initial revelations and stories that have appeared subsequently in the Serbian press, it appears that arms deals of considerable monetary value continued with Iraq and Liberia despite the change of administrations.

Britain Releases New Report Alleging Iraqi Rights Abuses: Announcement Timed to Pressure Hussein

Glenn Frankel, Washington Post: "There's no question that the regime has an appalling human rights record," said a spokesman for Amnesty, Kamal Samari, who said the group had collected the names of as many as 170,000 Iraqis who had "disappeared" over the past two decades. "But what we don't want to see for Iraq or any other country is that the human rights record is used selectively in order to achieve political goals."

Equipment Missing at Iraqi Missile Development Plant

JOHN F. BURNS, New York Times: Now, the statement said, inspectors for the new United Nations monitoring agency found that none of the tagged items remained. "It was claimed that some of these had been destroyed by the bombing of the site; some had been transferred to other sites," the statement said. ... Nuclear experts reached by telephone in the United States and Britain said they knew of no connection between brewing alcohol and the processes required to build nuclear weapons. This seemed to leave two possibilities. One was that the inspection team included biological weapons specialists and that labeling them as nuclear experts might have been a ruse to fool the Iraqis into thinking that the day's target was a nuclear site, when the real concern was to see whether fermenting equipment might have been used to develop biological toxins. Since the team leader was Jacques Baute, the French nuclear physicist who heads the atomic energy agency's team, a more probable explanation was that the inspectors suspected that equipment used in developing nuclear weapons might have been hidden at the plants.

C.I.A. Hunts Iraq Tie to Soviet Smallpox

JUDITH MILLER, New York Times: The C.I.A. is investigating an informant's accusation that Iraq obtained a particularly virulent strain of smallpox from [Nelja N. Maltseva] a Russian scientist who worked in a smallpox lab in Moscow during Soviet times, senior American officials and foreign scientists say. ... Her daughter, a physician in Moscow, said she had no recollection of her mother's ever going to Iraq. Svetlana Sergeyevna Marennikova, Dr. Maltseva's deputy in the Moscow laboratory, said in an interview that Dr. Maltseva had never gone to Iraq as far as she knew. ... Donald A. Henderson, a senior adviser to the Department of Health and Human Services and a leader of the smallpox eradication campaign ... said she had traveled widely for the W.H.O in the eradication campaign. While the organization's records show that she visited Iran, Iraq and Syria


Georgie Anne Geyer, UPS: De Borchgrave quoted at length Mohammed Said Nabulsi, who had been Central Bank governor at the time: "I asked all Jordanian banks to deposit 30 percent of their hard currency holdings with the Central Bank. Of the 20 banks solicited, only Petra was unable to transfer anything, yet it had $200 million on its books. I then conducted a full examination of Petra's books and concluded they had been cooked and that Ahmad Chalabi was the master cook. ... Chalabi was one of the most notorious crooks in the history of the Middle East." ... Ahmad Chalabi was always particularly close to Crown Prince Hassan, the brother of the late King Hussein, and most people in Amman believe that it was Hassan who helped Chalabi escape that night in 1992. ... Meanwhile, Ahmad Chalabi has not tried to make nice with the young king or, for that matter, with anybody in Jordan. In an extended interview in The Daily Telegraph of London Aug. 1, ... Chalabi said in the interview that Abdullah was "under the thumb of Saddam," that he was playing a "double game" with the West in passing on sensitive information to Saddam, and that the king has "become Saddam's lawyer in America." ... None of this is to say that an opposition has to be lily-white. That is nonsense. But neither should the United States be deliberately and secretively supporting an opposition that is both ineffective and corrupt. It sounds too much like some of the South Vietnamese leaders we so haplessly -- and expensively -- supported to the end in the Vietnam War; it reflects too much the memories of some of our former brutal "friends" in Central America and the Caribbean.


Reuters: A source close to U.N. weapons inspectors said Tuesday that Iraq recently admitted to several failed attempts to acquire aluminum tubing for use in conventional weapons in violation of United Nations sanctions. But Baghdad immediately denied that claim, saying it has had the aluminum tubing since 1989, before the U.N. sanctions imposed for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait, and was using them for the production of artillery shells.


Richard Beeston, The Times: THE Foreign Office's report into human rights abuses in Iraq fails to advance substantially what is already known about the tactics employed by the regime in Baghdad to stay in power. ... It is clear from reading the latest report, however, that receiving accurate and timely information from inside Iraq is a serious problem for the Foreign Office ... All the documents published in the report are more than a decade old and many appear to be the same well-circulated government papers that were captured in the aftermath of the Gulf War. ... The report also ignores the changes taking place in Iraq today. In October this year the Iraqi authorities released 10,000 prisoners, most of them criminals, in a general amnesty. Saddam has also invited some opposition figures back into the country to discuss allowing groups other than the Baath Party to run Iraq.


Nicholas Watt, The Guardian: Human Rights Watch also took issue with a key allegation in the report, which was used to show that women "lack even the basic right to life". In a section on the treatment of women, the report said: "A 1990 decree allows male relatives to kill a female relative in the name of honour without any punishment." But Hania Mufti ... said the decree was repealed months after it was imposed. "The decree was introduced at a specific time after the end of the Iran-Iraq war when soldiers coming back from the front found their women had had sexual relations with other men, mainly Egyptian workers. Lots of the Egyptians were killed. The decree was an amnesty for these people and was repealed within months."


U.N. Team Gets to Work, Wary of Both Iraq and U.S.

John F. Burns, New York Times: A fleet of eight helicopters for aerial surveillance of sites under inspection will begin arriving at the Baghdad airport in crates early this week. An electronic de-bugging team will sweep the inspectors' second-story offices at the United Nations headquarters. ... In principle, officials from Iraq's National Monitoring Directorate are in the convoys to cooperate with the inspectors, and to translate. ... In practice ... The Iraqis' first task is to use radios on their dashboards to tell their superiors which military plant, vaccine laboratory or crop-spraying airfield the inspectors are heading for. ... So far, at every site the inspectors have visited, the Iraqis have been prepared. ... Mr. Blix has said he regards that provision as unrealistic. "We are not an abduction agency," he said in a CNN interview.

Economy set to be next Iraqi battle

Roula Khalaf, Financial Times: With the US seeking support for its policy by promising to safeguard other countries' economic interests in Iraq ... Iraqi economists fear a post-Saddam era will benefit outsider interests far more than their own. ... But Iraqi economists estimate total external debt at about $90bn, including accumulated unpaid interest. ... But economists estimate that once the embargo is lifted, more than 25 per cent of oil income could be earmarked for debt servicing. ... Donors could be reluctant to pour new funds into Iraq if the money is intended for payment of other countries' debts rather than reconstruction.


Planes Raid Iraqi Oil Plant, Four Killed-Residents

Huda Majeed Saleh, Reuters: Western warplanes killed four people in a strike on a southern Iraqi oil plant, according to local residents, as U.N. arms experts inspected an agricultural facility and military complexes near Baghdad. ... U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida, said it had no information on the report. "We have nothing on it," Lieutenant Colonel Martin Compton said.

Pattern of Iraqi Cooperation Shifts as a Plant Is Searched

JOHN F. BURNS, New York Times: But the pattern broke down today, at least as far as the smiles and the geniality were concerned, when the inspectors arrived in a drizzling rain at Al Furat, an industrial plant outside this town about 20 miles southwest of Baghdad. The Iraqi military officer who is the plant's director general, Brig. Samir Ibrahim Abbas, expressed some irritation about the inspectors interfering with the plant's work, and had much harsher words for the United States, which has identified the plant as one where Iraq appears to have been preparing to resume work on developing nuclear weapons.

U.S. Facing Bigger Bill For Iraq War: Total Cost Could Run As High as $200 Billion

Washington Post: surveys various cost estimates.

Beyond Regime Change

Sandy Tolan, Los Angeles Times: The new map would be drawn with an eye to two main objectives: controlling the flow of oil and ensuring Israel's continued regional military superiority.


Kim Sengupta, The Independent: When it emerged that the director of a military industrial complex had received advanced notice of the "no warning" raid, there were suggestions that UN security had been breached. ... But late last night came the admission that it was the UN itself that had told the Iraqis. ... Another UN team undertook the first search of a "sensitive site" at the Balad military base, 48 miles north of Baghdad ... It is believed the inspectors may have been checking for atropine


Barzani to the Paris Conference: No compromise on Kirkuk

Bryar Mariwani, During the Paris Conference which was held yesterday in the French Capital Paris, the KDP president Massoud Barzani said in his speech that Kurds are not ready to compromise and negotiate on the Kurdistani identity of Kirkuk.

Kurds Want In on Post-War Plans If Part of War

AP:But he and Jalal Talabani, of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, expressed reservations over the possibility of the United States installing a military administration of Iraq after a war. "We don't want to see any military ruler in Iraq, whether it's an Iraqi military dictator or a foreign military ruler," Barzani told reporters. Barzani and Talabani insisted that Iraqi Kurds were united in support of a democratic federal government in Iraq.

Inspector's Resignation Rejected by U.N.'s Blix

James V. Grimaldi, Washington Post: Chief United Nations weapons inspector Hans Blix rejected yesterday a resignation offer tendered by one of his Iraq-bound inspectors after reports appeared that the Virginia man lacked a specialized degree and has played a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs.



Michael Evans, The Times: Saddam has been sufficiently worried about potential internal opposition to his regime to take the extraordinary step of canvassing opinion in all the key cities. Intelligence sources say that Kurds have been used to carry out the survey. The answers coming back from the quasi-opinion poll, had given strong indications that people were looking towards a post-Saddam era and wondering whether it would improve their standard of living. To counter this, Saddam's regime has begun circulating rumours in Iraq that even if he were to fall from power, there would be no lifting of sanctions. ... Baghdad claimed it was also a 100 per cent turnout. However, intelligence emerging since then has revealed that only one in three people actually voted. ... Iraqi troops are now being required to go through the equivalent of the British system of positive vetting every three months to test their loyalties to Saddam. ... One piece of intelligence revealed that in the town of Dahuk in northern Iraq, close to the Turkish border, the police had not been paid since September.


Joost R. Hiltermann, International Herald Tribune: As President Ronald Reagan's special envoy for the Middle East, Rumsfeld in December 1983 made the first visit by a U.S. official of his seniority to Baghdad ... Iraq had started to use chemical weapons on the battlefield - primarily mustard gas, a blister agent that can kill. This was known in Washington at least as early as October 1983. ... In the first Iranian offensive after Rumsfeld's visit, in February 1984, Iraq used not only large amounts of mustard gas but also the highly lethal nerve agent tabun. It was the first recorded use of the nerve agent in history. In November 1984, shortly after Reagan's re election, diplomatic relations between the Washington and Baghdad were restored.

Kurds Say a Turkish Crackdown on an Illegal Fuel Trade With Iraq Is Aimed at Them

DEXTER FILKINS, New York Times: But now, row after row of fuel trucks stand empty on the roadside [at Habur], while throngs of young men mill about, puzzling over the mysterious turnabout by Turkey's leaders, who long had allowed the illegal trade to flourish. Turkish officials said they had decided to stanch the flow of cheap Iraqi diesel fuel because of an oversupply at home that was hurting local suppliers. But Iraqi Kurdish leaders and local businessmen contend that Turkish officials had something else in mind. The diesel sales were enriching the leaders of the Kurdish Democratic Party inside Iraq, providing millions of dollars to set up a functioning public administration through large stretches of northern Iraq. ... The decision by the Turks to ban diesel imports, which has been in place for months, appears to have been motivated almost entirely by political self-interest: at the same border crossing point, the Turkish government allows dozens of tankers to import Iraqi crude oil [rather than diesel] each day ... The diesel truckers say that they have not been able to drive their trucks across the border for a year, but Turkish officials say they did not formally impose the ban on diesel imports until September. ... The Kurdish official said that the cutoff of diesel fuel has cost the Kurdish party a large chunk of its annual $150 million budget.


All smiles for inspectors' first day

Kim Ghattas, Financial Times: "We were surprised by the arrival of the UN inspectors but we co-operated fully with them and replied to all their questions," said Haitham Mahmud, director of the [Tahaddi] factory. ... A jet fighter was spotted flying above the capital, leaving a thin white line of vapour.


James V. Grimaldi, Washington Post: The United Nations launched perhaps its most important weapons inspections ever yesterday with a team that includes a 53-year-old Virginia man with no specialized scientific degree and a leadership role in sadomasochistic sex clubs.

Experts doubt Brown's £1bn war chest is enough for attack on Iraq

Jason Beattie, The Scotsman: DEFENCE experts yesterday questioned whether the £1 billion set aside by the Chancellor to cover the cost of possible military action against Iraq would be sufficient. ... The cost of the 11-week bombing campaign against Slobodan Milosevic in 1999 is estimated to have cost the UK Treasury at least £40 million a day.


Gulf News (Reuters): "I can't imagine that war in Iraq will allow any country to go about the war against terrorism as business as usual," said Abdul-Karim Al Iryani, a former Yemeni prime minister and senior adviser to President Ali Abdullah Saleh. ... "Who in the world will have the genius ability to rule Iraq when the regime is removed by force? I can't imagine how it will be. I fear there will be many civil wars," he said.


Iraq Inspectors Search Military Complex

CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP: Adding a sense of drama, an air raid siren wailed in Baghdad hours after the inspections began, followed by an all-clear siren. An Iraqi Civil Defense official, who refused to give his name, reported a "hostile flight" over the capital. A spokesman for the U.S. Joint Task Force at the Prince Sultan air base outside Riyadh, Saudi Arabia refused comment. ... The U.N. teams say they are interested in up to 900 Iraqi sites in the new inspections round.

Air Raid Sirens Sound Off Over Baghdad

AP: A thin, white line of smoke could be seen in the sky, but its source was unclear.


Times of India (from AFP): "There were no coalition aircraft flying in the region this morning," a ministry spokesman said, adding that Iraqi news reports of such a flight were "false information." The Pentagon in Washington issued a similar denial, while a spokesman for the UN inspectors in Baghdad said the team had "nothing to do with any plane overflying the area."

Security Council members predict showdown on Iraq after U.S. torpedoes deal on humanitarian program

Edith M. Lederer, AP: Several council diplomats blamed Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld for shattering a broad agreement reached last Friday by Security Council experts to expand the oil-for-food humanitarian program in Iraq for the usual six months. ... On Monday, the United States suddenly insisted on a maximum three-month extension of the program and review of the U.N. list of military-related goods that Iraq requires approval to import. Much of the council objected because it would run out in late February or early March, a time many military analysts say is optimal for an attack on Iraq. ... Several diplomats quoted Lavrov as saying U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell gave the assurance to Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov during intense negotiations on the resolution, which was adopted unanimously on Nov. 8. But Richard Grenell, spokesman for the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, said: "There absolutely has been no quid pro quo." The Russian Mission's spokesman, Sergey Trepelkov, said Lavrov denied making the comment during Monday's council meeting. The spokesman declined to say whether the ambassador made it afterward.

Questions on governance roil Iraqis in exile: Groups at work in US differ on draft report

Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe: A 101-page report that charts the transition to a democratic government after a US-led invasion of Iraq has bitterly divided Iraqi exiles and dissidents over the key issue of post-Hussein rule: the role of the Iraqi opposition in building a new government. ... The disagreements revolve around the authority that would fill the vacuum created by a US-led overthrow of Hussein and what role forces inside Iraq would play in building the provisional government that would follow. ... The report downplays the importance of traditional opposition groups ... The report also calls for the Iraqi Army to have little to do with guaranteeing postwar security. ... Makiya has argued that the domination of those traditional parties "will be the death of civil society," but a State Department official and some of the group's members contend that the provisional government as outlined by Makiya reflects the minority view. "Not even with 1 million American soldiers are you going to enforce this on Iraqis or build consensus," said Laith Kubba, one of the members of the working group who opposes the latest version. "It has to be a process coming from within. You cannot use US might to favor one group."

U.N. restricts inspectors' use of intelligence reports

John Diamond and Bill Nichols, USA TODAY: Still smarting from their admission that U.S. intelligence gave inspectors secret missions during the last round of inspections in 1998, United Nations officials have deliberately curbed access to the CIA and allied intelligence agencies.

Russian plan to topple Saddam Hussein to prevent US occupation of Iraq The Paris- based al-Watan al-Arabi magazine said, according to well-informed sources, that the military and intelligence leadership in Moscow had prepared a plan to topple the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein by a military coupe or an assassination operation in order to protect the Russian interests in Iraq and the region and to block plans of an American occupation of Iraq.


Reuters: The United States is raising fears at the United Nations that Baghdad may be buying cheap electronic devices capable of knocking America's smart weapons off-track in the event of war on Iraq. U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte says Washington wants the U.N. oil-for-food program for Iraq tightened so it can block Baghdad from using money from its oil sales to buy the devices, known as Global Positioning System (GPS) jammers. [See also 09/01/03 NBC, IRAQIS MAY HAVE GPS JAMMERS by Jim Miklaszewski; 11/01/03 U.S. "Official: Iraq Can Jam American 'Smart' Weapons", by Knut Royce and Earl Lane, Newsday.]

'Saddam's bombmaker' is full of lies

Imad Khadduri: attack on Khidir Hamza based on first-hand experience in Iraq's nuclear programme. See also Who is Khidhir Hamza?


Team of 'detectives' begins hunt for weapons

Bill Nichols, USA TODAY: The United States claims the largest contingent of inspectors — 31 — followed by France with 25 and Russia with 22.

U.N. Monitor Says Iraqis Are Denying Having Arms Cache

New York Times, JULIA PRESTON: Suggesting that the declaration was too broad to finish by that deadline, the Iraqis wondered if they had to include every detail of their civilian chemical industries, down to "the production of plastic slippers," Mr. Blix said. ... On a day when many Council nations expected a show of unity to support the inspections, some diplomats were surprised that the United States wanted to add several items that it said could be used for military purposes to a list of restricted imports to Iraq. ... The Russian ambassador, Sergey Lavrov, took issue with Mr. Blix's statement that "many governments" believed that there were still programs to build weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. "I can only think of a few," Mr. Lavrov said, according to diplomats in the session, making it clear that Russia was not one of them.

Emigres discuss 'change' in Baghdad

Kim Ghattas, BBC: A group of Iraqi opposition figures is in Iraq for talks with the government about the possibility of change and a new constitution. ... members of the little-known Iraqi National Alliance ... Abdul Jabbar el-Qubaysi, chairman of the group, said they had been promised that a new constitution would be drawn and that new political parties would be allowed as well as independent newspapers. ... Mr el-Qubaysi fled Iraq in 1976. His two brothers were executed in the early 1980s. ... But Mr el-Qubaysi said he and his colleagues would not agree to participate in any government and would remain in the opposition. ... The opposition figures now in Baghdad have maintained some ties with the Iraqi regime over the years and would therefore be willing to return to Iraq and show support for the Iraqi president at this crucial time.

Unidentified Senior Iraqi Official: We Used WMD in the Past and Will Not Stand Idly By This Time Either

MEMRI, source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London): "A senior Iraqi official who refused to reveal his name said ... 'When the regime was under intense attack in Al-Fau and began to be under threat, it did not hesitate to use all the weapons of mass destruction in its possession. Similarly, when the people of Halabja, or some of them, became guides for the Iranian forces that tried to breach the northeast [front], the regime did not hesitate to use chemical weapons.' Therefore, 'do not expect us to stand idly by in the face of any aggression that seeks to destroy and banish us not only from the regime but also from life.'"

A Love-Hate Relationship: Young Iraqis Adore American Culture, Not Government Policies

ABCnews, David Wright: "We don't have any future. In fact, my generation is finished," said Wamidh Omar Nadhmi, a professor at Baghdad University.

Investigators of alleged Ukrainian radar sale to Iraq shift focus to China

AP, TIM VICKERY: Investigators probing an alleged Ukrainian arms deal with Iraq are now focusing on China's possible role in the transaction, the U.S. ambassador to Ukraine said Tuesday.

Straw admits MPs may not get Iraq vote before action

Financial Times, Christopher Adams and Krishna Guha: Jack Straw has conceded that MPs may be denied a vote on military action against Iraq ahead of British participation in any campaign.

U.S. fears friendly fire on U.N. inspectors

CNN: U.S. military officials expressed "serious and significant" concerns Tuesday about the risk that coalition warplanes patrolling Iraq's no-fly zones could accidentally strike U.N. inspection teams on the ground. ... At the United Nations, officials said there will be an "air liaison" on the ground talking with Iraqis and U.S. and British military authorities as inspectors move through Iraq. ... Coordination could be more difficult this time, however, because the inspectors do not plan to give advance notice before conducting their operations. ... There are also concerns the Iraqi's could move weapons to an area where inspectors might be


Fareed Zakaria, Straits Times [Newsweek?] 26th November: Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution notes that Iraq's leader has not moved any army divisions, is not encircling Baghdad and is not building fortifications. 'Saddam is not preparing for war; he's preparing to derail America's plans diplomatically.' ... At home, the continuing uncertainty, high oil prices and low business investment will cripple the economy. The administration has set its course. It's now or never.

Abrams to Be 'MacArthur of Mesopotamia'?

Convicted Iran-Contra felon Elliott Abrams, currently a senior member of President George W. Bush's National Security Council, is said to be heading a power-grab by hawks in the Pentagon to seize control of a huge swathe of the Bush administration's reconstruction planning for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq to keep it out of the hands of liberals at the United Nations and the State Department. ... Jamie Dettmer and Martin Edwin Andersen, Insight: Three common denominators of all the members of the Abrams group are that they are fiercely opposed to U.N. involvement in post-Saddam planning, are closely allied to Wolfowitz and are firmly pro-Israeli. Many of the critics of the secretiveness of the group have focused their attention on Abrams, questioning why someone who was convicted of lying to Congress is being allowed such power.


Will Saddam decide to disarm -- or fight? Profilers, former Iraqi officials debate whether Saddam, who is both ruthless and cunning, will give in to U.N., U.S. demands

Gregg Zoroya, USA TODAY: When Iraq's war against Iran was faltering in the early 1980s, Saddam Hussein startled his Cabinet with a seemingly uncharacteristic request. He sought advice, encouraging the assembled ministers to speak freely. Health Minister Riyadh Ahmed took Saddam at his word and suggested that he temporarily step down to appease the Iranian religious leader, Ayatollah Khomeini. A peace agreement would be secured and Saddam could later return to power. Saddam thanked Ahmed and then ordered his arrest. The minister was sent home to his wife in pieces, the remains stuffed into a black canvas bag. ... Adeed Dawisha, a native of Iraq and a political science professor at Miami University in Ohio, believes that, if facing annihilation, Saddam would relinquish his weapons. "Survival is literal," he says. "You either survive or you don't. There are no choices about that." ... "He knows he himself is the target now," Gen. Wafic Samarai says. "This is a very, very dangerous situation". ... [Jerrold Post:] "When he does become quite dangerous is when he's backed into a corner. And then he can lash out." ... But he is not psychotic, Post says. "I see nothing in his conduct to suggest he's a madman," says Stanley Crossick, director of the European Policy Center in Brussels. "Just look at how this guy has survived. He is a very astute man. He's simply made miscalculations." ... "He's probably conducted the most effective Arab attempt to go modern ever," says Said Aburish.


Jonathan Curiel, San Francisco Chronicle: We see Hussein throwing grenades into a lake to kill fish. (Actually, it's not Hussein but a cousin of the Iraqi leader -- a fact the film doesn't reveal. Soler admitted this deception in a recent TV interview.)


Tim Cornwell, The Scotsman: In the streets of downtown Amman ... Iraqis declare their loyalty to their leader, and speak passionately of the US, not Saddam, as the problem. ... But he, like several others, mentions with approval that Baghdad doubled food rations last month. ... a separate offer of amnesty to Iraqi economic refugees who returned. About 1,000 came back from Jordan. ... Mr Janabi ... was quickly released in another prisoner amnesty in August 1990, when Saddam was facing another major test of his power - this one caused by the invasion of Kuwait.


Edith M. Lederer, AP: Negroponte said Washington was even willing to agree to a 30-day extension and review of the list - but would not agree to a six-month extension until the list was revised. ... Norwegian Ambassador Ole Peter Kolby ... said he "was surprised" that disputes over the timetable and oil pricing ... had come up at the last minute. ... In response to the U.S. demand Monday to quickly reopen the goods review list, France proposed that the oil pricing issue be addressed during the next phase of the oil-for-food program.

WHY THE ICP DOES NOT PARTICIPATE IN THE OPPOSITION CONFERENCE? The Iraqi CP will not be taking part in the "Opposition Conference" which is to be held in London next month, due to "differences regarding how such a conference should be convened, and how to build an alliance", in addition to "differences in opinion regarding the way to deal with international forces". []


Arabic News: Jordan, Yemen and Egypt have denied receiving messages from the USA asking for whether the three states are ready to cooperate in a likely war against Iraq.


Iraq blasts 'evil' UN resolution

BBC: A letter from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan says Resolution 1441 is being used as a pretext by the United States for a premeditated attack on Iraq. Mr Sabri's letter analyses each of the 13 paragraphs of the resolution text, highlighting the parts he considers unjust and illegitimate. Iraqi objections appear to centre mainly on Paragraph 4 of the resolution

Division in Past Bush White House Echoes in Current Struggles

STEVEN R. WEISMAN, New York Times: Mr. Cheney, then the defense secretary, told Secretary Powell, who was then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, that not one of his civilian policy aides favored such a step. "That's because they're all right-wing nuts like you," Secretary Powell says he replied, jokingly.

Smuggling thrives in the shadow of sanctions

Bob Drogin, Los Angeles Times: Hidden inside the trucks was a bonanza of banned military materiel - including night vision devices, global positioning systems, communications gear and other highly specialised electronic equipment from South Korea. An Iraqi smuggler had bought counterfeit export approval papers for $5,000 from officials in Amman, the Jordanian capital. That, plus a forged signature and a bogus blue stamp, was all it took to shatter strict United Nations sanctions against President Saddam Hussain's regime.

'Uncle Saddam': An Avuncular Uncle He Is Definitely Not

TED LOOS, New York Times: But he grew increasingly bold. During an interview with one of Mr. Hussein's chief designers and architects, Hussam Khadori, Mr. Soler locked the government agents out of the room. ... He also learned that the two Iraqi agents assigned to him had been punished for letting him roam. "Do I feel guilty?" Mr. Soler asked. "Not really, since they are agents of that regime. But I did feel guilty when I got a call from the State Department saying that two of Saddam's designers had been murdered." Mr. Khadori was one of them. It's not known if the killings were connected to "Uncle Saddam"; Mr. Khadori's murder occurred well before the film was completed.


Fear of war, as well as Saddam, on the streets of Baghdad

Kim Sengupta, The Independent: But one young man said: "The inspectors are here to look at weapons which can be used against other countries. But that does not solve all the problems. People are not happy here, and there are a lot of guns. We do not want foreign interference but I do not want to think what will happen here if war breaks out."


Reuters: Turkish soldiers have pursued Kurdish separatists across the border into northern Iraq, but the death toll from three days of clashes was not yet clear, a military official said on Saturday.


Dexter Filkins, New York Times: Turkish officials are preparing to send troops up to 60 miles into northern Iraq on what they say is a mission to prevent an influx of refugees in the event that a war there sets off a mass movement toward Turkey's borders.



Scott Peterson, Christian Science Monitor: With promises of $3,000 and a trip to America, the US is quietly recruiting - inside northern Iraq - part of a new 5,000-man force to help topple Saddam Hussein. ... This behind-the-scenes US drive - which may also include a separate US intelligence effort to recruit agents across Iraq - is exacerbating the infighting between the Iraqi groups. "The US should enter into partnership with the real freedom fighters of Iraq, the people with a real constituency," says Barham Salih, the prime minister of ... the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. "Mercenaries will not do the job. ... one of the top recruiters for America's new Iraqi opposition army is Bahaldeen Nouri, a septuagenarian former secretary general of the Iraqi Communist Party. ... The forms for applicants to the "Iraq Liberation Army" ask volunteers about their past military experience, family history of imprisonments and executions by the Baghdad regime, and whether they had taken part in war crimes or human rights violations. "Did you ever speak or give any pronouncement against America?" reads the final question. ... "This is not Chalabi's army," Nouri says. "This army is a power base for America - if they want Ahmed Chalabi to be a powerful man, or someone else, I don't know.


Straits Times: Australia said it was too soon to talk about committing forces. Japan could not even confirm receiving such a request from its biggest military partner.

Child Malnutrition Rate Falls in Iraq: UNICEF Cites Oil-for-Food Program, But Says Situation Is Still Unacceptable

Rajiv Chandrasekaran, Washington Post: According to a survey UNICEF conducted in conjunction with Iraq's Health Ministry, the proportion of children suffering from chronic malnutrition fell from 32 percent in 1996 to 23 percent this year. The figure for underweight children dropped from 23 percent to 9 percent in the same period. ... "It is undeniable that the oil-for-food program has had a positive impact on the well-being of children in Iraq," said Carel de Rooy, the director of UNICEF operations in Iraq. ... De Rooy also posed a question to himself: "Should the government receive credit for this achievement?" "Definitely," he said. ... U.N. officials have expressed concern that the revenue shortfall could have serious consequences on the government's ability to address humanitarian needs by early next year. "We're ringing the alarm bell," said Ali Hamati, a spokesman for the U.N. humanitarian operation here. "If things continue as they are, we'll start to see a very serious impact. Many of the gains we've achieved could be eroded."


Evelyn Leopold, Reuters


Khaled Yacoub Oweis, Boston Globe, Reuters: "The concept of resignation does not exist in Saddam's Iraq," Khazraji said by telephone from Soro, west of Copenhagen. "My family would have been also killed if I tried to step down."



Jonathan Wright, Reuters: One hundred and fifty U.S. congressmen on Thursday came out in support of the Iranian Mujahideen Khalq, the opposition group the Bush administration calls a terrorist organization. The lawmakers, more than one third of the 432 current members of the House of Representatives, said the Mujahideen was a legitimate resistance movement and should be removed from the State Department's list of "foreign terrorist organizations." ... The National Council of Resistance of Iran runs an office two blocks from the White House and holds news conferences in Washington


Patrick Wintour and Richard Norton Taylor, The Guardian: The chief of the defence staff, Admiral Sir Michael Boyce ... bluntly warned that the army's fighting capability in an Iraqi conflict would be severely undermined by the diversion of 19,000 troops to cover for striking firefighters. He said he was "extremely concerned" that the use of the army in the strike was undermining troop morale and weakening their fighting strength. ... Mr Hoon confirmed that he had received a formal US request for a troop commitment to Iraq. The request, one of 60 sent by President George Bush to potential allies


Anne Penketh, The Independent: Saddam Hussein has ordered a month-long shutdown of the newspaper run by his eldest son, Uday ... there was speculation that the paper's criticism of pro-American Arab regimes may have prompted the decision

Iraq's nuclear non-capability

Imad Khadduri, It is often stated that lack of inside information on this matter is scarce. Perhaps it is not too late to rectify this misinformation campaign. I worked with the Iraqi nuclear program from 1968 till my departure from Iraq in late 1998. ... A fatal error was committed and the order was issued to return the project's documents which have been traveling up and down Iraq in a welded train car, and to be deposited back again in their original location. ... At one heated encounter, an American inspector remarked that the nuclear scientists and engineers are still around, accusingly hinting that they may be readily used for a rejuvenated nuclear program. The retort was, "What do you want us to do to satisfy you? Ask them to commit suicide?" ... In the meantime, and this is the gist of my discourse, the economic standing of the Iraqi nuclear scientists and engineers (along with the rest of the civil servants and the professional middle class) has been pathetically reduced to poverty level. Even with occasional salary inducements and some insubstantial benefits, many of those highly-educated persons have been forced to sell their possessions just to keep their families alive. Needless to say, their spirits are very low and their cynicism is high. ... Pathetic shadows of their former selves, the overwhelming fear that haunts them is the fear of retirement, with a whopping pension that equates to about $2 a month. Yet, the American and British intelligence community, obviously influenced by the war agenda, vainly attempts to continue to provide disinformation.


Tehran Times

Arabs call on U.S. to stop threatening Iraq

SAM F. GHATTAS, AP: "The Arab states asserted that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1441 does not give the right to carry out military action against Iraq," said a statement issued at the end of a two-day meeting in the Syrian capital Damascus. "The ministers stress the necessity of halting the threats aimed at Iraq so that international inspectors can fulfill their work of implementing the missions entrusted to them by the Security Council in an appropriate climate,"



Richard Beeston, The Times: The arrest of General Nizar Khazraji, the former Iraqi Chief-of-Staff and the most senior officer to defect from Baghdad, appeared to wreck any chances that he might lead a mutiny in the Armed Forces and help to topple Saddam's regime.


Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, Britain, Russia and others contradicted U.S. contentions on Tuesday that any violation of the no-fly zones over Iraq breached a new U.N. Security Council resolution. ... Foreign Office source reaffirmed that Britain sought other justifications under international law for the zones, but the new resolution was not one of them. "We're already on the record as saying threats against our aircraft would not be a material breach of that resolution," he said.



CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, Ann Scott Tyson: "I would expect that less than 1,000 of these [elite] units would stay to the last minute to defend Saddam Hussein, and that is due to their lives being directly attached to his powers," says former Iraqi Gen. Najeeb al-Salhi, a former Republican Guard commander who defected to the Iraqi opposition in 1995.


AP: "We realize that a conflict with Iraq will not be like ... Afghanistan," said retired Rear Adm. Stephen Baker of the Center for Defense Information in Washington."Our tactics should be driven by what we learned in Kosovo," he said.


AP: The legal opinion from Matrix lawyers Rabinder Singh and Charlotte Kilroy argues that the resolution agreed by the Security Council on Nov. 7 does not authorize the use of force to disarm Iraq.


AFP: "The conference will now take place in December in Britain," said Nabil Mussawi, a member of the preparatory committee which has had to call off the meeting twice already. ... A diplomatic source in Brussels said Monday that Belgium had blocked the conference, saying it was inappropriate under current circumstances. "The timing was not good while there is a UN process aiming to disarm Iraq without seeking a regime change in particular," said the diplomat.


Helena Smith and Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian: in Cyprus ... Mr Blix rounded on his critics. Asked whether he thought US hawks were behind the smear campaign, Mr Blix said: "You can say there's some truth in that judgment."


Associated Press: Hamid al-Bayati, a London-based spokesman for the conference's organizers, said Tuesday the meeting was being moved from Brussels to London and had been tentatively scheduled for Dec. 10-11. ... Fouad Masoum of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan ... noted that the U.S. document does not refer to a federal system, a central demand of Iraqi Kurds.


The U.N. Trap? What does the Iraq resolution really mean?

Weekly Standard, William Kristol and Robert Kagan: All that remains is to go through the motions of U.N. inspections before the president orders military action to remove the world's most dangerous dictator. Right? ... Of the president's intentions we have every confidence. For months he has consistently declared that Saddam Hussein is a dangerous menace who must be removed. No one can doubt that the president means what he says.


James Drummond, Financial Times


David R. Sands, The Washington Times: The Washington representative of [the PUK] says his group is prepared to put 100,000 troops in the field against Saddam Hussein but that the Pentagon has shown little interest in the offer.


US divided on Saddam successor

Sunday Times, Marie Colvin and Tony Allen-Mills: A CONFIDENTIAL report setting out how Iraq should be run after the ousting of Saddam Hussein has divided the administration of President George W Bush and ignited a damaging row between exiles vying for power. ... It has been drawn up under the auspices of Kanan Makiya ... Makiya and his fellow authors have called for a transitional government to be elected by a conference of exiles. They say this government, whose first priority would be to limit disruption caused by the disintegration of Saddam 's authority, should be chosen on the basis of "professional and individual capability rather than political representation".

Iraq May Be Concealing Bioweapons in Trucks: Western analysts believe the fleet could evade inspectors and pose extreme danger in war

Paul Richter and Greg Miller, LA Times: these mobile weapons labs may look like ice cream trucks, motor homes or 18-wheeler tractor trailer trucks, officials and experts say. ... U.S. officials acknowledge that they do not know precisely how many labs there are, and what they look like, though they have pictures of what they take to be labs housed in 18-wheel tractor trailers. Some experts believe the Iraqis may use several types of vehicles to throw off the pursuers.

Iraq can make chemical weapons that penetrate U.S. protective gear

Matt Kelley, AP: The powder, sold under the brand name Aerosil, has particles so small that, when coated with deadly poisons, they can pass through the tiniest gaps in protective suits. Experts inside and outside the U.S. government say they are not certain Iraq has dusty chemical weapons. ... The poisonous powder also would settle in the tiniest nooks and crannies of buildings and equipment, making decontamination extremely difficult. ... U.N. documents show that Iraq's Samarra Drugs Industry sought 25 metric tons of Aerosil last year under the U.N.-run oil-for-food program, and at least some of that order was delivered last month. American intelligence agencies were not overly worried about the shipment of Aerosil because the substance has many legitimate uses. ... The sale was held up for three weeks by the U.N. commission that oversees the oil-for-food program, Egian said. That commission, whose members include the United States, decided colloidal silicon dioxide was not a banned substance and allowed the transaction, Egian said.


Philip Sherwell and David Wastell, Sunday Telegraph: But other sources say Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has persuaded Saddam to shift his remaining weapons of mass destruction to other countries in the Middle East. The Iraqi president has done this with the help of Libya, Syria and Egypt, sources say. ... In a significant breakthrough, the claims of Adnan al-Haideri, an Iraqi civil engineer who defected to America last year and revealed how Saddam was building underground vaults to hide chemical and biological weapons laboratories, have recently been backed up by U.S. spy plane missions. ... Several scientists responsible for Iraq's weapons program have already been shifted out of the country on false passports to prevent the inspectors questioning them, leading [INA] exiles have told the Sunday Telegraph.

Invisible Woman

Nuar Alsadir, New York Times: Iraqi-American woman's account of life in the US.


Associated Press: In a U.S-brokered compromise, Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmed Chalabi backed off demands to bring 300 more of his supporters to the meeting, which is expected to be dominated by his powerful political rivals. The sides agreed to bring just 40 more delegates to the meeting, said Hamid al-Bayati, a spokesman for the six groups. That means about 300 delegates will attend in all.


Hindustani Times, from Press Trust of India: Eight senior Iraqi officers were executed after they were accused of triggering an explosion at a missile storage site which they supervised, a Kurdish weekly said on Sunday. ... including those of a general and a colonel.


Chief U.N. Inspector Expects Work in Iraq to Start Nov. 27

NYT, PATRICK E. TYLER: United States military spokesmen said Iraqi antiaircraft batteries and surface-to-air missiles fired on American warplanes patrolling the "no-flight zone" in Iraq today, the second time they had done so since last week's Security Council vote. ... Mr. Blix's news conference was dominated by questions of what Iraqi act of obstruction might prompt the onset of war. He used a "flat tire" analogy to explain his view, saying, "If it is with the Iraqi escorts, having one flat tire is one thing; if they have four flat tires on the way out, delaying us much more, then it may be a different thing." Mr. Blix said the crucial issue for him in determining whether to return to the Security Council to report on an act of resistance or obstruction by Iraq would be where "you can read an intention" into it. ... Mr. Blix said he would not carry out "provocative" inspections that would the risk of war. Mr. ElBaradei on Thursday criticized past infiltrations of United Nations inspection work by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Iraqi Kurds Set Sights on Baghdad

DEXTER FILKINS, A senior leader of an Iraqi Kurdish group has said his forces intend to push all the way to Baghdad in the event of an American-led war in Iraq. In an interview here on Friday, Jalal Talabani, the leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, said he had no intention of limiting his group's military activities to its base in northern Iraq. ... While American officials have indicated that they would like to employ Kurdish forces in the event of a war, they speak of limiting the Kurds' role to their base in northern Iraq. ... Turkish leaders have expressed fears that an American attack on Iraq could embolden the Kurds on both sides of the border to form their own state.


BBC Some of Britain's top laboratories were infiltrated by Iraqi scientists researching germ warfare in the run-up to the Gulf War, a scientist has claimed. ... About 10 top Iraqi microbiologists had been granted places in sensitive research establishments around Britain.


Iranians may aid U.S. war on Iraq

Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY: A Pentagon official on Thursday acknowledged "preliminary feelers" between the two countries dealing with military emergencies such as downed pilots or naval accidents in the Persian Gulf. A similar arrangement was reached for the Afghan war a year ago. The talks are taking place through Arab intermediaries in a small gulf nation, the official said. ... [allowing SCIRI to work with US] ... Iran has already stepped up efforts to help the U.S. Navy catch Iraqi oil smugglers in the Persian Gulf by chasing the smugglers out of Iranian waters, Pentagon officials say. ... Iran's leaders seek: To gain leverage in a post-Saddam Iraq.


Michael Howard, The Guardian: Kurdish officials say there is about a two month supply of food and medicine. But crucial preparations are being hampered by the reluctance of the UN agencies on the ground in Iraq to get involved, for fear of being seen to condone a military attack. Rob McGilvray, emergencies adviser at Save the Children UK, expressed concern at the lack of coordination between the UN, international NGOs, and the Kurdish authorities.


Roula Khalaf, FT: Hans Blix, chief UN weapons inspector, on Friday said only the United Nations Security Council could decide what constitutes a "material breach" by Iraq of its UN obligations.


Reuters News Service: Rod Barton, a former Australian defense official who worked on UNSCOM biological inspections in Iraq, wrote in an analysis in 2001 that he believed Baghdad may have perfected a way of freeze drying anthrax so that it would retain its potency for many years.


Associated Press: Describing Iraq's military as disgruntled, al-Salhi predicted that in the event outside forces invade Iraq, Saddam cannot count on his forces to defend him. He suggested that a few hundred may fight for a few days and then stop. But Gen. Sadoum al-Dulaimi, who once headed the Center of Socio-psychological and Security Studies in Iraq, disputed that prediction, saying that Saddam's security forces would fight fiercely in his defense.


Ibrahim Hamidi, Daily Star: [analysis of Syrian-US relations]



Carola Hoyos, Financial Times: The Iraqi statement prompted a fall to eight-month lows in oil prices, with the Brent benchmark at $22.70. Equity markets were also heartened. Germany's Dax index, which had been down more than 3 per cent, was only just in negative territory towards the end of the day while in the US the Dow Jones Industrial Average was about 70 points higher by midday.


Carola Hoyos, Financial Times: But like Germany, France faces significant budgetary constraints if its deficit is not to breach the European Central Bank ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP.


Tehran Times: Turkey's AKP's leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan, opposes attacking Iraq. "As soon I hold office I will put all my energy into finding a peaceful solution to the Iraqi crisis," Erdogan said ... "Despite United States claims that Iraq posses weapons of mass destruction (WMD), they themselves might use WMD's against Iraq," Erdogan said.


A Grad Student Mimicked Saddam Over the Airwaves Broadcast Ruse

Ian Urbina, Village Voice: how Rendon does PR, including incubator story. "Were it not for Rendon," a State Department official tells the Voice, "the Chalabi group wouldn't even be on the map." With funding first from the CIA throughout the 1990s and more recently the Pentagon, Rendon managed the INC's every move, an INC spokesperson acknowledges, even choosing its name, coordinating its annual strategy conferences, and orchestrating its meetings with diplomatic heavy hitters such as James Baker and Brent Scowcroft.


UN inspection team 'cannot prevent war': Richard Perle, a key Bush adviser, has little faith in Hans Blix's ability to succeed against Saddam

Ewen MacAskill and Edward Pilkington, The Guardian: Unmovic, numbering little more than 200 inspectors, would be grossly outnumbered by the 1,000-strong special unit set up by President Saddam specifically to run rings around the UN. They would have no chance of covering a country the size of France with up to 3m dwellings each capable of hiding documents and chemicals. ... For many years Mr Perle was seen as a colourful but maverick voice in US foreign policy. Now several of his proposals - not just on Iraq - have become perceived wisdom within Washington.

Iraq rebuff of UN may be brief

Cameron W. Barr, Christian Science Monitor: Nadhmi says the leadership may now be engaged in discussions with Syria - and perhaps France and Russia - in search of assurances that the UN resolution does not simply pave the way to a US invasion. ... Although senior Bush administration officials told reporters Friday, "We gave no reassurances to Syria," Syrian Foreign Minister Farouk al-Sharaa told the Arab League over the weekend that Secretary of State Colin Powell had offered such assurances in a letter.

US prepares for a post-Hussein Iraq

Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor: "There are people who contend we should be ambitiously defining democracy, and for whom the only acceptable objective [in Iraq] is perfection that bowls over the region," says Patrick Clawson, deputy director of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "But our target should be something less ambitious," he believes, "where our role gives Iraqis a chance for a much better government but accepts that the outcome may not be everything we hoped for." ... On one hand, nation-building skeptics say the US is biting off more than it can chew in a region suspicious of its motives. "We were only supposed to be in Bosnia one year, but there we still are seven years out," says Ivan Eland, director of defense policy studies at the Cato Institute in Washington. On the other hand, many firm believers in nation-building doubt that the US under the Bush administration has the stamina for a long commitment to rebuilding Iraq. ... As for the cost of reconstruction and building a "better" Iraq, the US and most experts are assuming that the oil-rich country could foot that bill itself. ... Still, the Washington Institute's Mr. Clawson notes that Iraq is heavily indebted, so he says oil should not be relied on as some magic enabler for Iraq's transition.

Can Saddam Be Contained? History Says Yes

John J. Mearsheimer, Stephen M. Walt, November 12, 2002: [lengthy deterrence argument, but possibly dangerously complacent on possibilities of Iraqi nuclear weapons possession] Yet there is no good reason why the United States cannot contain a nuclear Iraq, just as it contained the Soviet Union during the Cold War. ... It is equally unsurprising that advocates of war have been willing to distort the historical record in order to make their case. As Secretary of State Dean Acheson famously remarked, in politics, advocacy "must be clearer than the truth."

Intelligence chief warns Iraq may be preparing missile launch

NINA GILBERT, The Jerusalem Post: The construction of a large engine workshop that has been detected in Iraq could signal preparations for the launching of ground-to-ground missiles, OC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Aharon Ze'evi (Farkash) told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Tuesday. He said Iraq has attributed the activities to work on truck engines.


Iraq Said to Try to Buy Antidote Against Nerve Gas

JUDITH MILLER, NYT: Iraq has ordered large quantities of a drug that can be used to counter the effects of nerve gas, mainly from suppliers in Turkey, which is being pressed to stop the sales, according to senior Bush administration officials. ... It is not clear how much, if any, of the drug has actually been delivered. ... Administration officials said the contracts demonstrated deficiencies in the system put in place last summer to simplify the shipment of aid to Iraqi civilians under the United Nations "oil for food" program. ... Technically, the [GRL] list can be reopened for changes every six months, but administration officials said the State Department was reluctant to do so. "If we try to add items to that list," an official said, "Russia and France will demand that other items be subtracted from it, and we'll be back again to square one."

Iraqi Exile Groups' Efforts Stalled by Intense Rivalries: Power Struggle Emerges Over Plan for Post-Hussein Era; Key Faction Also Feuding With U.S. on Funds

Daniel Williams, Washington Post: A much-heralded INC "information-gathering" operation inside Iraq has yet to get off the ground, the officials said, because of uncertainty in the Bush administration about the INC's ability to get and relay useful intelligence, as well as competing views within the Washington bureaucracy. ... Also stalled are the preparations for a pan-opposition conference that was meant to project a vision for democratic rule if President Saddam Hussein is overthrown. ... The INC leader, Ahmed Chalabi, may boycott the conference over the scope of its agenda, the number of delegates and the quotas given invited organizations. Chalabi had wanted the conference to endorse a provisional government, with him as its leader. ... "The problem is just one person -- Chalabi," said Hoshyar Zibari, a top Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official. "He doesn't want the conference to take place. He is fighting for his political life." ... In effect, the Kurds want a federated Iraq divided between Arabs and Kurds. "This is a non-starter for the Arabs," said a SCIRI representative.

Oil may hit $80 a barrel in war with Iraq -experts

Tom Doggett, Reuters: Crude oil prices could triple to $80 a barrel during the first quarter of next year and strangle the world economy under the worst case scenario of a U.S. attack Iraq, ... is the conclusion of energy experts who met at the Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank (CSIS) to discuss the impact of a U.S. war against Iraq on the oil market.

UN puts Blix in invidious position by handing him the trigger for war

Tim Trevan, The Guardian: Given that there is a good deal of "automaticity" in the new resolution - leading to military action if Iraq is found not to be complying - some see Mr Blix as the one who will decide whether or not to pull the trigger for war. He will be damned if he does, and damned if he does not. This is an abrogation of the security council's responsibilities, and unfair to Mr Blix. ... Thus Mr Blix has a choice: to seek to use ineffective inspections to prove Iraq's guilt or innocence and report sometime in February 2003; or to pass a judgment on the credibility of Iraq's declarations sometime shortly after 8 December 2002. Expect the US to pressure him to take the latter line.

Ekeus questions Iraq resolution

Reuters: ... has questioned whether a new U.N. resolution is tough enough to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to give up his suspected weapons of mass destruction. Rolf Ekeus, who led the inspectors in Iraq from 1991 to mid-1997, also said one of the resolution's weaknesses was the lack of a "trigger" leading to force. ... "Now it's very important if this 'convene' and 'consider' ... is threatening enough against Saddam to get him to give in," Ekeus, told reporters on Tuesday. "That is, I would say, the big question."

Former U.N. Weapons Inspectors Describe Iraq's Concealment Tactics

Vicki Silverman, Washington File: [Duelfer and Spertzel] Duelfer believes the Iraqi regime is well prepared to re-admit inspectors. "They took the decision (to admit inspectors) back in February, according to Iraqis with whom I have indirect contact."

Iraqi Kurds Say U.S. in Northern Iraq

Robin Wright, LA Times: Kurdish sources say U.S. intelligence officials are in Kurdish territory on multiple missions, which include doing advance work for a possible attack on Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein, establishing a listening post to monitor what is happening in the rest of Iraq and probing the strength and operations of an Islamic extremist group with ties to Al Qaeda. ... "Every person in Kurdistan has prepared food and medicine and is ready to go to the mountains or the border for fear that Saddam Hussein will move on the north..." said Nasreen Mustafa Sadiq, the Harvard-educated minister of reconstruction and development in the [PUK?] Kurds' government. ... "We now await guarantees from the United States," said Massoud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

Top level teams from Israel, U.S. to discuss war on Iraq

Aluf Benn, Ha'aretz [date may be 13/11/2]: Top level teams from the United States and Israel will meet in Washington on Thursday as part of the "strategic dialogue" between the two countries to discuss the ramifications of the expected war on Iraq. ... The Israeli delegation wants to hear from the Americans what kind of Iraq will follow Saddam. What kind of regime will rule? How will Iraq's territorial integrity be preserved, and how will the balance between the three main demographic groups - Sunni, Shia and Kurd - be maintained? What would a new Iraqi regime's attitude be toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? Israel's assessments are that Saddam's regime will collapse quickly and another oligarchy will take power. Jerusalem does not have much expectation that democracy will take hold in Iraq, and believes that an autocratic pro-Western regime, similar to Egypt's or Jordan's will take power, without the terror and intimidation that characterized the Saddam regime. ... One proposal that will come up in the meetings with the Americans this week will be to put together an Israeli team that would be appendixed to the working groups in the U.S. administration on the planning for a future Iraq. [not necessarily State's project?]


Tehran Times: [Mohammad Saleh al-Mosafar, a lecturer at the University of Qatar] I believe the resolution is the worst and most dangerous resolution that the Security Council has ever issued since its establishment in 1945. The Security Council has in fact deprived the United Nations of all its commitments and obligations by adopting the resolution, and handed the world body's duties to only one of its members, the U.S. The United Nations has thus given up its basic responsibility to protect international peace and stability and has given this responsibility to the U.S., thus enabling it to take revenge on a former friend, Iraq, for the first time in history.


John Vinocur, IHT: But much of the evidence - and an American official's contention - suggest that the United States decided in early September that it would get the resolution it wanted from the Security Council if it let France, a permanent member with veto power, cast itself as the defender of reason. ... the Americans were convinced that France saw the circumstances as an opportunity to rebuild the country's diminished international status and strengthen its position in the Middle East at the expense of the Germans ... When Schroeder, trailing in August in his bid for re-election, appealed to Germany's pacifist and neutralist voters by saying the country would not fight Iraq under any circumstances, Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin immediately made clear that France was in no way ruling out use of military force against Iraq. ... All through the debate, American officials carefully avoided any criticism of France, an easy and traditional target in Washington as a recalcitrant creator of problems.


Michael Evans, The Times: American jets launched air raids on Sunday on a key Iraqi base that forms part of a ring of frontline military sites protecting Baghdad. More than 30 bombing raids have taken place in the past three months. ... Tallil and other key airbases targeted recently, such as al-Kut and al-Amarah, form a network of Iraqi air defence facilities safeguarding the approaches to Baghdad. ... The pilots have been authorised to hit a wider range of targets. The officer said: "The target set has changed a bit since we were last here two years ago."


Iraq's Black Gold: How Saddam skimmed oil profits while United Nations looked the other way

Mark Hosenball, NEWSWEEK: In exchange for arranging the oil shipment, Iraqi officials later told him, Luguev would have to secretly wire $60,000 into a numbered account in Jordan. ... The call never came. At first, Luguev says, Iraqi officials told him that his oil shipment was delayed. When he complained, they canceled the contract entirely but kept his $60,000. ... Last month, in a formal complaint to the United Nations obtained by NEWSWEEK, the Russian detailed his under-the-table dealings with Baghdad. Luguev's allegations provide, for the first time, hard evidence of how Saddam has cleverly used the world's weakness for oil and oil profits to bypass the strict sanctions imposed on his regime after the gulf war to make himself stronger. (In response, Iraq has said Luguev is "incorrect" but offered to return his money.)

US revisits Gulf War pilot's case

Boston Globe, Anne E. Kornblut and Robert Schlesinger: Yet many intelligence and military officials assert that Speicher is almost certainly dead, and the administration's critics question its motives for revisiting the case as it plans for another war against Iraq. Skeptics note that 23 other servicemen captured during the Gulf War were released at the end of the conflict; Speicher (pronounced SPY-ker,) who was officially declared missing on Jan. 17, 1991, the day Cheney reported his death, was the only member of the US military to go completely unaccounted for in that battle or any military engagement since. ''All the signs that the military has say he's dead,'' said Vincent Cannistraro, a former CIA official. ... the Speicher case is ''a pretty blatant example of the cynicism of the Bush administration,'' said H. Bruce Franklin, author of ''MIA or Mythmaking in America.'' Franklin, a former military intelligence officer [presents evidence that he's alive as well]

Antiwar Cry: Invasion Opponents Face GOP Dominance, U.N. Resolution

Geraldine Sealey, In the U.S. Senate, two Democrats who voted last month in support of the joint resolution authorizing war with Iraq lost their re-election bids, while none who voted against lost. In the House, only one Democrat who voted against the resolution lost his seat, while four who voted with the president ended up losing their re-election bids.

Disarming Iraq Not as Easy as It Sounds, Intelligence Analysts Say: Baghdad may cooperate to muddy waters and make it difficult for U.S. to justify attack

Robin Wright, LA Times: "Saddam will look for one round of inspections where nothing is found, and then he'll want an end to everything imposed on him since the Gulf War ended," said Yaphe, the analyst.

U.N. Set to Move in Quickly to Seek Iraq Nuclear Arms

New York Times, JULIA PRESTON: The inspectors will not be alarmed by "a minor omission" in Iraq's weapons declaration, Mr. ElBaradei said. "We will be guided by the definition of material breach, which is really a major violation of the very purpose of the process."

Saddam 'will use entire arsenal' if cornered: Iraq may resort to banned armaments

Nicholas Blanford, Daily Star: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein will resort to weapons of mass destruction and attempt to spark an Arab-Israeli war by attacking Israel if the United States carries out a plan to topple the Iraqi regime, says Joe Wilson, former US acting ambassador to Baghdad ... Instead of a risky military drive to remove Hussein's regime, the focus should be on destroying Iraq's ability to manufacture weapons of mass destruction (WMDs), resorting, if necessary, to air strikes against WMD facilities and any Iraqi military assets that attempt to hinder the campaign, Wilson told The Daily Star ... "On Sept. 12, this whole band of neo-cons or neo-crazies as some people like to call them had a very coherent message which they took to the air waves," he said. "The thesis of their argument was really quite simple. It was: Sept. 11 was a bad event, Saddam Hussein is a bad man, ergo two bads equal kill Saddam Hussein." ... Wilson was deputy chief of mission at the US Embassy in Baghdad when Iraq invaded Kuwait in August 1990. US Ambassador April Glaspie was away at the time and Wilson stepped into the gap.

Dollars yielded unanimous vote: Resolution against Iraq

Inter Press Service, Thalif Deen: the 10 non-permanent members - Cameroon, Guinea, Mauritius, Bulgaria, Colombia, Mexico, Singapore, Norway, Ireland and Syria - voted under heavy diplomatic and economic pressure from the United States. ... Last week, Mauritius' UN ambassador, Jagdish Koonjul, was temporarily recalled by his government because he continued to convey the mistaken impression that his country had reservations about the US resolution against Iraq. ... The US aid package to the impoverished country, authorized by the US African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), demands that the aid recipient "does not engage in activities contrary to US national security or foreign policy interests". Besides Syria, Singapore is the only country in the [non-P5] Security Council that does not receive economic or military aid from the United States.

We're not spies, says inspection chief: Blix tries to allay Iraqi fears of espionage

Ewen MacAskill, The Guardian: Although the accusations were denied at the time, the involvement of at least the CIA was later confirmed by the UN, by the US administration and by former weapons inspectors. ... According to the Unmovic spokesman, Mr Blix told Mr Sabri that "we can never guarantee that we have not been infiltrated". Mr Blix said that if he had given a guarantee, the Iraqis would not have believed him anyway. Instead, he pledged that he had taken steps to filter out spies and anyone involved in such activities would face immediate dismissal. ... Mr Blix's team has only 27 members from the US, 10% of the total, and 13 from Britain. The Russians are sending 22 and France 25. ... only about half the staff have been provided by governments and the rest have been recruited directly through adverts. ... all the Unmovic staff will be paid for directly by the UN. ... The US involvement included smuggling into Baghdad a large listening device known as "Stephanie" which was stored in Mr Ritter's office.


Tehran Times: An Iraqi dissident said here Saturday that Iraq's intelligence services have been engaged in transferring hundreds of the dissident Iranian terrorists affiliated to the Mojahedin Khalq Organization (MKO) to European capitals during the past few months. ... Jabr said that he assumes the recent closure of MKO offices in Bonn, Amsterdam, Brussels, Luxembourg were due to revelation of information on Iraqi's plot in that regard.


War Plan For Iraq Is Ready, Say Officials: Quick Strikes, Huge Force Envisioned by Pentagon

Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post: The Bush administration has settled on a plan for a possible invasion of Iraq that envisions seizing most of the country quickly and encircling Baghdad, but assumes that Saddam Hussein will probably fall from power before U.S. forces enter the capital ... Most notably, the emerging U.S. approach tries to take into account regional sensitivities by attempting to inflict the minimum amount of damage deemed necessary to achieve the U.S. goals in a war. The plan aims to do that mainly by attacking quickly but with a relatively small force conducting focused attacks. But it also hedges by putting enough combat forces in the area -- including around 150,000 U.S. and allied ground troops -- to engage in close combat with the Special Republican Guard if Iraqi resistance is stiffer than expected. ... This article was discussed extensively in recent days with several senior civilian and military Defense Department officials. ... In phase one of the operation, the U.S. military would move into the nearly empty western desert bordering Jordan. The purpose of this action would be to keep Israel from being attacked ... In the south, British forces and the U.S. Marines likely would be assigned to seize airstrips and other key facilities in the heavily Shiite section around the port city of Basra, just north of Kuwait. This aspect of the plan "gives the Shiites a chance to get organized," said a former Central Command official.

US trains local force to join Iraq invasion

Independent, Raymond Whitaker and Andrew Buncombe: Military planners preparing for a possible invasion of Iraq have been told to make provision for an accompanying force of up to 5,000 Iraqis trained and equipped by the US. Their presence is considered so politically important, according to one source, that no attack is being contemplated until they are ready, "and that cannot happen until early January". Last month the Pentagon confirmed that Iraqi opposition groups had been asked to nominate 10,000 men to undergo American military training. According to sources in Britain and the US, their main purpose will be to provide security for a new civilian government in Baghdad ... About 5,000 men, mainly Kurds from northern Iraq, are likely to be selected for training, which will last from as little as six weeks to 16 weeks.

For Powell, A Long Path To a Victory: Pragmatism, Persistence Led to 15-0 U.N. Vote

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: "They acquitted themselves really well," a senior official in Powell's camp said of Blix and el Baradei. Carping stopped at the Pentagon. ... In a last stab Thursday night, Powell had sent a personal message to the Syrian foreign minister, saying that Damascus would be standing alone at the Council, and asked the U.S. ambassador to deliver it verbally, in person. Straw made a call to the Syrian capital, and so did Annan.

Sanctions cost Iraq $222b in lost oil sales

Gulf News: A crippling Gulf war embargo imposed by the United Nations on Iraq more than 10 years ago has cost the Arab country a staggering $222 billion in loss of oil exports while it also suffered billions in damage to its crude facilities, according to a former Iraqi Oil Minister [Fadil Chalabi]. ... "Iraq needs at least $5 billion to rehabilitate its oil sector and restore it to its state before the war," Chalabi said. "As for development of oil fields, Iraq needs tens of billions of dollars to develop its fields and increase production capacity, which could reach eight million bpd."

Powell Says U.N. Resolution Is Saddam's Last Chance

(Interview on Black Entertainment Television November 10), Washington File: And, Mr. Secretary, could Saddam stay in power? SECRETARY POWELL: It remains to be seen. I don't know. ... If you go back to the origin of regime change, it comes from President Clinton's Administration. And regime change was settled on as a national policy because he wasn't getting rid of his weapons of mass destruction in 1998. He had thrown the inspectors out, or caused them to be removed, and so it seemed the only way to get at the weapons of mass destruction and deal with other problems was to change the regime. That was the Clinton position. It was the position of the Congress. A law was passed to that effect. And then we came in, looked at it, and believed that was an appropriate policy. Now, if there's another way to disarm him, it doesn't mean we suddenly like him. We still wish he would leave the scene. But it is a different set of circumstances, and it would be a changed nature of the regime.

Is Iraq Building Nukes or Not?

CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP: [assessing conflicting claims and conclusions] Iraq is also developing prohibited longer-range missiles, contend the U.S. and British intelligence dossiers. Among other things, they cite reconnaissance photos showing a new, larger test stand at a site where liquid-propellant engines have been tested. Iraq's rebuttal counters with what it calls "strong technical evidence" that the test stand is horizontal, not vertical, and therefore unsuited for large liquid engines. The Iraqis are "technically correct," says Tim McCarthy, a researcher at California's Monterey Institute of International Studies and a former U.N. missile inspector in Iraq. McCarthy speculates, however, that Iraq might be able to test larger engines on the stand using solid propellants.

U.N. Plans Immediate Test of Iraq Inspections

NY Times, STEVEN R. WEISMAN: United Nations weapons inspectors plan to force an early test of Saddam Hussein's intentions by demanding a comprehensive list of weapons sites and checking whether it matches a list of more than 100 priority sites compiled by Western experts, Bush administration and United Nations officials say. ... But the concern in the administration is to make sure any defiance by Iraq is beyond dispute. ... Martin Indyk, a former staff member of the National Security Council under President Bill Clinton, recalled that while monitoring Iraq inspections in the 1990's, he frequently went to bed at night convinced that Washington had solid intelligence information on weapons sites. But often, he said, the next morning showed nothing was there. "There's a risk in the whole enterprise of not finding anything," he said. ... "I suspect that the chances are better than even that Iraq will come clean on something, maybe something of importance," Mr. McCarthy said. "It will be something like, `We just discovered that a Republican Guard officer had kept two anthrax bombs in his family's villa. He died and his wife called and told us about it.'


Military Faces Planning Dilemma: Arms Hunt Affects War Preparations

Bradley Graham, Washington Post: On the one hand, they must avoid rushing too many invasion forces to the Persian Gulf region, where troops could end up sitting and waiting while inspections play out, risking losses in efficiency and morale and straining relations with Arab host countries. On the other hand, they must ensure that enough forces are in place to keep the pressure on the Iraqi government and to respond rapidly should inspections fail or should Iraqi President Saddam Hussein provoke a conflict. ... Pentagon officials have made no secret of their desire to fight in the cooler winter months. But they insist that the heat of the desert summer, when temperatures reach well over 100 degrees, would not prohibit military action later next year.

With Triumph, U.S. Has a Balancing Act: Bush Faces Questions of War Plans and How to Define Iraqi Response

Glenn Kessler, Washington Post: The resolution does contain the seeds of conflict with Iraq -- such as a prohibition against Iraq firing on U.S. warplanes in the "no fly" zones [OP8] ... Another senior official pointed to language in the resolution that permits inspectors to spirit Iraqi scientists and their families out of the country for questioning, and to the prohibition against Iraq firing on U.S. and British planes patrolling the "no fly'' zones in northern and southern Iraq. ... Hussein "would certainly be in violation of the resolution" if he moved to block the interviews or if U.S. warplanes continued to come under attack, the official noted ... once Iraq makes that declaration, U.S. officials will be able to match it up against their intelligence and determine whether it is a "full and complete declaration" as required under the resolution. "We should be in a position to say he hasn't accounted for his stuff," Clawson said.

Bush Order Would Allow More Groups to Take Part in Invasion of Iraq

Knight Ridder, JONATHAN S. LANDAY: Bush signed a classified order, known as a Presidential Decision Directive, last month that added at least six groups to the seven already approved to receive U.S. financial aid, humanitarian assistance and military training under the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, said the officials


AFP: Iran will only allow into its territory Iraqi refugees whose lives are in danger in case of a US-led strike on its neighbor, a senior interior ministry official said Saturday. ... In mid-October, Hosseini said could set up 16 campts to welcome up to 700,000 refugees in the event of war, but on the other side of the border. He revised that figure to 500,000 on Saturday, saying 150,000 would be taken care of by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.


UN Approves New Resolution Ordering Iraq to Disarm

Reuters: The new measure still leaves Washington free to attack Iraq without a formal second U.N. resolution authorizing the use of force. But it requires the Security Council to assess any serious violation that could lead to war. ... Support from France and Russia was nearly jeopardized earlier this week when the United States introduced its third and final draft. It added a phrase that France, Russia and others believed gave Washington a "hidden trigger" for war under the guise of U.N. Security Council approval. ... "The main issue is how the Americans would use that resolution for their own purposes," Iraqi U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, told Reuters. "We find the whole resolution constitutes a trigger to wage war against my country." Washington Times, "U.S. says Baghdad is hiding anthrax Bill Gertz: U.S. intelligence agencies have told U.N. weapons inspectors that Iraq has hidden 7,000 liters of anthrax, but chief inspector Hans Blix never reported the information to the U.N. Security Council, The Washington Times has learned. ... Mr. Blix could not be reached for comment, but he said in a recent television interview that although he respects U.S. and British intelligence agency reports on Iraq's weapons, Unmovic cannot report the intelligence to the Security Council because spy agencies will not disclose their sources. ... "They will say that, 'Well, we have to protect our sources, so we will not give you evidence,'" he said. "And if some people ask me am I sure that they have weapons of mass destruction, I say, 'If I had that, I would take it to the Security Council straight away.'" ... According to intelligence officials, reports about Iraq's hidden anthrax were bolstered by a former Iraqi government official who defected two years ago but only recently came forward with new information, U.S. officials said. The former Iraqi official, who is part of an opposition group of ex-military officers ... The defector's accounts have been verified by other intelligence, the officials said.

New champions of the war cause

Jim Lobe, Inter Press Service: The Committee for the Liberation of Iraq ... its president, Randy Scheunemann, a veteran Republican Senate foreign policy staffer who until recently worked as a consultant to Rumsfeld on Iraq policy. The committee appears to be a spin-off of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), a front group consisting mainly of neo-conservative Jews and heavy-hitters from the Christian right ... Scheunemann, who is best known for drafting the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act that authorized US$98 million for the Iraqi National Congress ... the new committee appears to be based on a model that came to prominence before the previous Gulf War in 1991. The Committee for Peace and Security in the Gulf (CPSG) ... worked closely with both Bush Senior's administration and a second group financed by the Kuwaiti monarchy, called Citizens for a Free Kuwait.

Syria Fears Isolation More Than War

New York Times, DANIEL J. WAKIN: Others here wonder if another message was sent Monday, when an American plane patrolling the skies over northern Iraq strayed into Syrian air space. The United States quickly expressed regret over what it termed an accident, but suspicions linger.

CIA-BACKED IRAQ GROUP DISAPPOINTS: ˜North Korea-Style Propaganda" Is Faulted

ADAM DAIFALLAH, New York Sun: "I'm really disappointed in Ayad Allawi. If this North Korea-style propaganda is going to be the hallmark of his contribution to the future of Iraq -- we need to be worried," Ms. Pletka said. ... The INA and their allies want the conference to be smaller, with only 180 participants. ... Patrick Clawson, said the dispute is an example of "very complicated politics" but called the INA's comments "silly."


Arabic News: The Kuwaiti daily al-Qabas yesterday said, according to well-informed Iraqi sources that the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is seeking to revive an offer the US administration proposed to him in 1991, but his efforts are blocked by the unwillingness of the Bush administration to reconcile with his regime. [In late 1991] The CIA official informed the Iraqi envoy that Washington wants to close the file of the past but with conditions the first of which were to dismantle the mass destruction weapons, founding a monitoring system to Iraqi armament, establishing normal relations with Israel and accepting the settlement of the Palestinian refugees.


Philip Thornton, The Independent: Experian Business Strategies estimate; EIU more sanguine, anticipating fall in oil price after war.

Bush Signal: The Time to Act Is Now

NY Times, PATRICK E. TYLER: "Saddam has the power to prevent this war," said Senator Arlen Specter, Republican of Pennsylvania. "If he permits the inspections to go forward" and "submits" to every demand for disarmament, "then that's that, the president will not go to war," Mr. Specter said. And to right-wing critics who say that the president backtracked on his policy of regime change in Iraq, the senator said, "I think the president will declare victory and assert that the regime has changed" if Mr. Hussein gives up his weapons and forswears developing them in the future.

Can Blix nix Iraq's tricks?

Oliver Burkeman, The Guardian: IAEA inspectors accused Unscom's staff of macho brashness. "I remember when they dismantled one facility, they had T-shirts printed with a boot on Saddam Hussein's head," one person familiar with the inspections recalls queasily. ... Kay - who resigned from Unscom after falling out with Blix's IAEA over a stand-off with the Iraqis in the car park ... "He's very concerned with perceived fairness... " (Iraq would later claim that Kay was one of the spies on the inspections teams; Blix, despite their differences, has publicly declared this to be false.) ... Kay, for one, says he "recoiled" a week ago when Blix told the security council he would report "only significant results rather than every tiny act of Iraqi recalcitrance. "If you have any hope of getting cooperation from the Iraqis, you don't tell them what they can do to frustrate you that won't be called an obstruction," Kay fumes. "I used to loudly tell the Iraqis I would report them to the security council - it was the only force I had available. I think he's just handed them a large salami slicer to slice away at the inspections regime." ... the most damning Unscom gossip about the IAEA inspectors tends to focus not on him but on his deputy and chief inspector in Iraq, Maurizio Zifferero, an Italian diplomat who died in 1997. ... he emerges as a liability of cinematic proportions, often the worse for alcohol by midday, and prone to speaking loudly about which sites he intended to inspect in hotel rooms that everyone knew were bugged.


US intelligence: seeing what it wants to see in Iraq

Pat M. Holt [former chief of staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee], Christian Science Monitor: dissatisfied with what the CIA is telling the White House, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has set up his own unit to analyze reports from the CIA and other agencies. He is relying on this process for justification of his bellicose policy toward Iraq - something he thinks he is not getting from the CIA. Rumsfeld starts with a policy and looks for intelligence to support it.

Iraq's government-control media denounce latest US draft resolution as a pretext for war

SAMEER N. YACOUB, AP: "We can do nothing but to hope that France, China and Russia would oppose the U.S. draft resolution on Iraq," said Subhi Mahmoud, a grocery store owner, said. Ameer Abdul-Qassim, a school teacher, said approval of the U.S. draft "means that the war on my country is getting closer."


Iraqi opposition divided over Brussels meeting

JONATHAN WRIGHT, Reuters: A dispute over the allocation of seats pits the mainstream Iraqi National Congress (INC) and the small monarchist movement against three big groups with an ethnic or sectarian power base - the two Kurdish groups and the mainly Shi'ite Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), they said. ... An official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, who asked not to be named, played down the gravity of the dispute. ... "But unfortunately democracy is democracy and, if they are not happy with the outcome, it's up to them to withdraw or participate, as they wish," he added. [some of this relies on communications with US officials; how did it get out?]

Iran Reportedly Pledges Help in Ousting Qaeda From North Iraq

NY Times, DANIEL J. WAKIN: An Iraqi Kurdish leader said today that Iran had promised military help to oust Islamic militants suspected of having ties with Al Qaeda from a swath of northern Iraq. ... The Kurdish leader, Jalal Talabani, said in an interview here that he had not consulted the United States about such a plan ... Kurdish leaders contend that the militants have ties with Al Qaeda, but United States officials are skeptical and have not given direct military aid, as they did for the Philippines and Yemen after the attacks on Sept. 11. Other Islamic-oriented parties operate in the area. Mr. Talabani hedged a bit. "I cannot say if they are Taliban or Al Qaeda, but they are people from Afghanistan, and they are well trained there," he said.


Michael Smith, Daily Telegraph: One suggested that if a British reconnaissance aircraft passed information to a US ground attack aircraft that subsequently attacked civilians, the British servicemen might be held responsible.



AFP: Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has called on the international community to target Iran as soon as any war with Iraq is over, The [London] Times reported Tuesday.


E.A. Torriero, The State, from Chicago Tribune: Hameed, however, whose forefathers have presided over this region for more than a century, reports no mobilization among his Al-Azza tribal men or in any of the neighboring tribes. ... "If our president tells us to fight, we have a plan," Hameed said, adding that people will hop into passing cars and report to a depot in Samarra to get government-issued weapons. "Then we will defend our land and fight." ... A few miles from this impoverished village, regional tribal leader Riadth Safa Baha ... While he admires the acumen of neighboring tribal leader Hameed, he disputed his assessment of local battle preparedness. "Houses are stocked with weapons ... Let America be aware that tribes all over Iraq are ready to fight them."


Bill Gertz, Washington Times: The United Nations overruled U.S. government objections and allowed Iraq to buy a specialty chemical that U.S. intelligence officials say will boost Baghdad's chemical and biological warfare agents. A large quantity of a chemical known as colloidal silicon dioxide was ordered by the Iraqis in August 2001 and held up by the U.S. government because of concerns about its use. However, the United Nations approved the sale and it was shipped to Iraq last month, said Hasmik Egin, a U.N. spokeswoman. ... The chemical is not contained on the United Nations' list of banned equipment and material known as the Goods Review List (GRL), said Miss Egin, a spokeswoman for the U.N. oil for-food program in Iraq.


IRAQ: Bush Asserts Baghdad Link With Al-Qaeda, European Experts Disagree

UN Wire, Fred Dettmer

Allies Find No Links Between Iraq, Al Qaeda: Evidence isn't there, officials in Europe say, adding that an attack on Hussein would worsen the threat of terrorism by Islamic radicals

LA Times, Sebastian Rotella: In the last two months, Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and others have periodically revived and expanded on the allegations. On Friday, Bush specifically linked Hussein to the terrorist network. "We know he's got ties with Al Qaeda," Bush said during an election rally in New Hampshire. ... Talk of an Iraq-Al Qaeda connection is "nonsense," said a high-ranking source in the German intelligence community. "Not even the Americans believe it anymore." ... "It could well be the case that there were links, active links, between Al Qaeda and the Iraqi regime before Sept. 11," Straw said. "What I'm asked is if I've seen any evidence of that. And the answer is: I haven't."

10,000 reservists get Iraq attack call-up

Michael Evans, [London] Times: THE Government is planning to mobilise 10,000 reservists to ensure that war-strength units are ready for an attack on Iraq early next year.

Critics of attack on Iraq point to gambit's unknown costs

Chicago Tribune - Knight Ridder News Service: In a detailed estimate, the Congressional Budget Office differed from Lindsey's prediction of a $100 billion to $200 billion cost. The CBO said it would cost as much as $13 billion to redeploy U.S. troops in Iraq; up to $9 billion a month to fight the war itself; as much as $7 billion to send the troops back home; and up to $4 billion a month to occupy Iraq. A war lasting two months with a five-year occupation, in other words, could cost as much as $269 billion. ... they do not include "any costs for reconstruction or foreign aid that the United States might choose to extend after the conflict ends."


AFP: "We will cooperate with the (UN) Security Council, but as to entering the conflict or using the facilities as part of the conflict, that's something else," Prince Saud told CNN in an interview.

U.S. Lures Iraqi Weapons Experts

Noah Shachtman, Wired: Under a bill proposed by Sen. Joe Biden (D-Delaware), 500 Iraqi scientists and engineers -- and their immediate families -- could be given permanent residency in the United States if they supply information on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. ... "Without defectors, any (weapons) inspections process will fail," [Khidhir] Homza said. But, he noted, there hasn't been "a single defector since 1995."

New Group Aims to Drum Up Backing for Ousting Hussein: Effort Seeks to Reverse Decline in Support for Attacking Iraq

Peter Slevin, Washington Post: With the administration's blessing, a new group is forming to press the case in the United States and Europe for ejecting Hussein from power. Called the Committee for the Liberation of Iraq, the organization is modeled on a successful lobbying campaign to expand the NATO alliance. ... White House officials emphasize that Bush has made no decision about how to proceed against Hussein, and in recent weeks, officials have left open the possibility that Hussein could change sufficiently to preserve power. But leading administration officials privately give the Iraqi leader virtually no chance of coming clean. U.S. contingency planning continues for a wide array of possibilities, from coup d'etat to abdication to armed American invasion, with a follow-up military occupation to help install a new government.

Israel quietly helping U.S. prepare for war with Iraq

John Diamond, USA TODAY: Israel is secretly playing a key role in U.S. preparations for possible war with Iraq, helping train soldiers and Marines for urban warfare, conducting clandestine surveillance missions in the western Iraqi desert and allowing the United States to place combat supplies in Israel, according to U.S. Defense and intelligence officials. ... Because Israel's activities are classified, they have drawn little attention or criticism in the Middle East. ''The Americans have asked us to keep a low profile, and we accept that,'' an Israeli official says.

Agencies Prepare to Help Iraqis

AP: ``The prospect of staying in a camp within a country that you're trying to flee ... seems to me very improbable,'' said Geraldine Chatelard, an expert on Iraqi refugees at the European University Institute in Florence, Italy. ... This time, Iran has drawn up plans to shelter up to 900,000 people in camps ``just inside Iraqi soil,'' the official Islamic Republic News Agency quoted an Interior Ministry official, Ahmad Hosseini, as saying.

Live from Basra: Iraq's Oil Belt Prepares for War

JEREMY SCAHILL, CounterPunch: Already, most Iraqi households have guns_and not just pistols. Several non-military people have boasted to us that they have M-16s or other machine guns in their homes. This would seem to contradict the Bush administration's assertion that the Iraqi government sees its own population as a great threat. ... What is clear is that the government knows well that regardless of what people think of Saddam Hussein, they intend to fight a foreign occupier.


US plans to ditch industry rivals and force end of Opec

Peter Beaumont and Faisal Islam, The Observer: Next month oil executives will gather at a country retreat near Sandringham to discuss Iraq and the future of the oil market. The conference, hosted by Sheikh Yamani, the former Oil Minister of Saudi Arabia, will feature a former Iraqi head of military intelligence, an ex-Minister and City financiers. ... 'When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add three to five million barrels [per day] of production to world supply,' [Larry Lindsey] said in September. 'The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy.' Analysts believe that after five years Iraq could be pumping 10m barrels of oil per day. Opec is already starting to implode, with member nations breaking quotas in an attempt to grab market share before oil prices fall.

Iraq Kurd Chief Says Has Pledge of U.S. Protection

Joseph Logan, Reuters: Washington has promised to protect Kurdish-held northern Iraq from an attack by Saddam Hussein during any military action to topple him, [Talabani] said.


Con Coughlin, The Age (Australia): sources US/UK intelligence officials; request to use Libyan sleeper agents.

The Dissident: Kenan Makiya

Boston Globe, By Laura Secor: "I think there's a less than five percent chance that what I'd like to see happen actually happens," Makiya tells me. "But it seems to me an obligation, even if it's a five percent chance, to try to make it happen. You could call it a triumph of hope over experience. But what else is politics if not that?"


Treasury asked to let aid groups inside Iraq: State Dept.: Request has 'nothing to do' with Bush stance

CNN: The U.S. State Department has asked the Treasury Department to issue licenses for seven humanitarian groups to allow them to work inside [northern] Iraq, U.S. officials said Friday. ... The names of the humanitarian groups expected to travel to Iraq are not being released because the contracts have not been signed, officials said.

Swathes of Kuwait Sealed Off for U.S.-Led Wargames

Reuters, Ashraf Fouad: Kuwaiti authorities sealed off about one-third of the oil-rich country bordering Iraq on Saturday to ensure the security of military exercises being carried out by U.S.-led troops.

Brown warns defence chiefs war on Iraq is 'too expensive'

Michael Smith, Daily Telegraph: Gordon Brown has told the Ministry of Defence that Britain cannot afford to send ground troops to the Gulf to take part in a war against Iraq. ... The Treasury has ordered military planners to come up with new strategies after it worked out that the contribution to a US-led war would cost pounds 3 billion, about pounds 1/2 billion more than the British deployment in 1991. ... Half of the Treasury's pounds 3 billion figure was for its estimate of the cost of deploying an armoured division to Kuwait to oppose Saddam Hussein's Republican Guard. "They have told the planners at PJHQ [Permanent Joint Headquarters] to go away and come up with a plan that does not involve deploying ground forces," a senior defence source said. ... Military planners put the cost of a British contribution to an operation that lasts more than a year and involves a post-war occupation force as high as pounds 15 billion. "The Treasury said we can't afford it," a senior source said. "Well that will look great for Tony Blair, the only allied leader who has actually been asked to send ground forces.


Sending in a dupe to disarm Saddam

Per Ahlmark, The Washington Times: former Swedish deputy PM accuses Blix of being a dupe, a wimp, naïve and terrible. [Ahlmark regarded in Sweden as satire of himself: extremist, hateful, anti-Palme.]

130,000 troops sought for invasion force in Iraq

Knight-Ridder (from Miami Herald), JONATHAN S. LANDAY: The commander who is planning a possible U.S. invasion of Iraq has won Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's support for a ground force well in excess of 100,000 American troops, according to senior defense officials and military analysts. ... In fact, it is not clear that Rumsfeld ever supported his aides' push for an invasion force of 80,000 troops or fewer. The second senior defense official said news reports of those options were ``disinformation.''

Pentagon takes over program to gather intelligence on Iraq

Bill Gertz WASHINGTON TIMES: The Pentagon has rescued an intelligence-collection program in northern Iraq from critics in the Senate and State Department who held up U.S. funds for an Iraqi opposition group that has scored major successes in getting information from defecting government officials in Baghdad. National Journal, "The New New World Order James Kitfield: "In the early 1980s, I was personally responsible for selling Congress on the presence of U.S. forces in Lebanon, as the State Department official in charge of the region," said David Mack, the vice president of the Middle East Institute. "And we used the same arguments then that I hear in selling regime change in Iraq. We said it would be easy, that the people in the region would embrace us, and that wonderful developments would flow from our spreading democracy in the region. That doesn't mean we don't need to get rid of Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction," Mack said, "but I would caution against viewing that as a panacea for our troubles in the region. Given our sometimes disastrous past history in the Middle East, we should be a little gun-shy over what is about to come down in Iraq."


Daniel Williams and Nicholas Wood, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, from Washington Post: A ship carrying 14 containers of chemical pellets sat in the Yugoslav military port of Tivat in October, preparing for a voyage. U.S. officials believed the cargo was solid rocket fuel bound for Iraq, in violation of a U.N. ban on arms deliveries. ... Yugoslavia on Thursday formally acknowledged illegal military sales to Iraq. "These violations concerned the repair and return of Iraqi jet engines for MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter jets and providing certain services in military-technical cooperation," a government statement said.


David Rising, Las Vegas Sun (from AP): Raid Fahim of the Iraqi Communist Party said non-military means of pressing Saddam to give up weapons of mass destruction and also halt human rights abuses had not yet been exhausted.

Nov 2002

The Fifty-first State?

The Atlantic Monthly, James Fallows. I began my research sharing the view, prevailing in Washington this year, that forcing "regime change" on Iraq was our era's grim historical necessity: starting a war would be bad, but waiting to have war brought to us would be worse ... I ended up thinking that the Nazi analogy paralyzes the debate about Iraq rather than clarifying it. ... The Great War is also relevant as a powerful example of the limits of human imagination: specifically, imagination about the long-term consequences of war. The importance of imagination was stressed to me by Merrill McPeak, a retired Air Force general with misgivings about a pre-emptive attack. ... Wars change history in ways no one can foresee. ... "It is quite possible that if we went in, took out Saddam Hussein, and then left quickly, the result would be an extremely bloody civil war," says William Galston, the director of the Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy at the University of Maryland, who was a Marine during the Vietnam War. "That blood would be directly on our hands." Most people I spoke with, whether in favor of war or not, recognized that military action is a barbed hook: once it goes in, there is no quick release. ... Some proponents of war viewed the likelihood of long involvement in Iraq as a plus. If the United States went in planning to stay, it could, they contended, really make a difference there. ... Most examples in this article, from Nash and others, involve the occupation of Kuwait and parts of Iraq after the Gulf War, rather than ongoing operations in Afghanistan. The campaign in Afghanistan may have a rhetorical connection to a future war in Iraq, in that both are part of the general "war on terror"; but otherwise the circumstances are very different. Iraq and Afghanistan are unlike in scale, geography, history, and politics, not to mention in the U.S. objectives and military plans that relate to them. And enough time has passed to judge the effects of the Gulf War, which is not true of Afghanistan. In the drive to Baghdad, you are going to do a lot of damage," [Ret. Gen.] Nash told me. "Either you will destroy a great deal of infrastructure by trying to isolate the battlefield-or they will destroy it, trying to delay your advance." Postwar commerce and recovery in Iraq will depend, of course, on roads, the rail system, air fields, and bridges across the Tigris and the Euphrates-facilities that both sides in the war will have incentives to blow up. "So you've got to find the village elders," Nash continued, "and say, 'Let's get things going. Where are the wells? I can bring you food, but bringing you enough water is really hard.' Right away you need food, water, and shelter-these people have to survive. Because you started the war, you have accepted a moral responsibility for them. And you may well have totally obliterated the social and political structure that had been providing these services." Most of the military and diplomatic figures I interviewed stressed the same thing. ... As McPeak concluded from reading psychological profiles of the Iraqi dictator, he is not only a thug and a murderer but an extremely clever adversary. "My concern is that he is smarter individually than our bureaucracy is collectively," ... For Iraq's 23 million people that would mean an occupation force of about 50,000. Scott Feil told a Senate committee that he thought the occupation would need 75,000 security soldiers. ... After the Gulf War, William Nash told me, he supervised camps containing Iraqi refugees and captured members of the Republican Guard. "We had a couple of near riots-mini-riots-in the refugee camps when Saddam's agents were believed to have infiltrated," Nash said. "We brought a guy in, and a group of refugees in the camp went berserk. Somebody said, 'He's an agent!' My guys had to stop them or they were going to tear the man to shreds. We put a bag over his head and hustled him out of there, just to save his life. And when that happens, you have no idea what kind of vendetta you've just fallen in the middle of. You have no idea if it's a six-camel issue or something much more. I take that experience from 1991 and square it fifty times for a larger country. That would be a postwar Iraq." ... "What you will need is a man with a black moustache," a retired British spy who once worked in the region told me. "Out of chaos I am sure someone will emerge. But it can't be Chalabi, and it probably won't be a democracy. Democracy is a strange fruit, and, cynically, to hold it together in the short term you need a strongman." ... In the first month, therefore, the occupiers would face a paradox: the institution best equipped to exercise power as a local government-the U.S. military-would be the one most reluctant to do so. ... But they would be oddly threatened by a post-Saddam breakup or implosion. The Turks, as noted, have a particular interest in preventing any country's Kurdish minority from rebelling or forming a separatist state. The monarchies of Saudi Arabia and Jordan fear that riots and chaos in Iraq could provoke similar upheaval among their own peoples. "In states like the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, even Saudi Arabia," says Shibley Telhami, the Anwar Sadat Professor of Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, "there is the fear that the complete demise of Iraq would in the long run play into the hands of Iran, which they see as even more of a threat." Iran is four times as large as Iraq, and has nearly three times as many people. Although it is Islamic, its population and heritage are Persian, not Arab; to the Arab states, Iran is "them," not "us." As Arab regimes in the region assess the possible outcomes of a war, Telhami says, "they see instability, at a minimum, for a long period of time, and in the worst case the disintegration of the Iraqi state." ... First, the threat of sabotage, which would become greater to the extent that Iraq's oil industry was seen in the Arab world more as a convenience for Western consumers than as a source of wealth for Iraq. ... "Leaving Iraq saddled with a massive debt and wartime-reparations bill because of Saddam is an act of moral and ethical cowardice," says Anthony Cordesman ... "We must show the Arab and Islamic worlds that we will not profiteer in any way from our victory. We must persuade the world to forgive past debts and reparations." ... "As the occupying power, we will be responsible for the territorial integrity of the Iraqi state," says Charles William Maynes, of the Eurasia Foundation. "That means we will have to move our troops to the border with Iran. At that point Iran becomes our permanent enemy." ... The transforming vision is not, to put it mildly, the consensus among those with long experience in the Middle East. "It is so divorced from any historical context, just so far out of court, that it is laughable," Chris Sanders told me. "There isn't a society in Iraq to turn into a democracy. That doesn't mean you can't set up institutions and put stooges in them. But it would make about as much sense as the South Vietnamese experiment did." Others made similar points.


In The Fog Of War, A Greater Threat

Washington Post, Daniel Benjamin: Iraq has hundreds of tons of chemical weapons and precursors and thousands of liters of biological agents. Throughout the 1990s, the United States was repeatedly surprised by discoveries in the course of inspections and defectors' accounts of the extent of these programs. On any given day, we could locate only a fraction of these weapons. In the fog of war, much of this material would rapidly be "privatized" -- liberated by colonels, security service operatives and soon-to-be unemployed scientists.

US warned not to seize control of Iraqi oil

Sydney Morning Herald [from Guardian, agencies?]: The chief executive of BP, Lord Browne, has warned Washington not to carve up Iraq for its own oil companies in the aftermath of any future war. The comments from the most senior European oil executive, who has impeccable political connections in Britain, will be seen by anti-war protesters as further proof that the United States President, George Bush, has already made his mind up about an early attack.

Iraq's Shiites Pledging Loyalty: But true feelings difficult to discern

Matthew McAllester, Newsday: But in Iraq itself, there are plenty of outward signs the Shiites will remain loyal to the government. If this is the case, as some Western diplomats in Iraq and Iraqi sources say, American troops could find themselves fighting against the Shiite majority rather than with it. "They don't see America as their savior from the regime," one Western diplomat said. "Let's not forget the Shiites have an Iraqi identity. ... The Shiites don't favor the U.S."

Iraqi Kurd leader "certain" of US attack after Ramadan

AFP, Siavosh Ghazi: Iraqi Kurd leader Jalal Talabani said Thursday he was "certain" of a United States attack aimed at ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein after the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan. ... Although Talabani said he was "against an invasion of Iraq by the American forces" he admitted that Iraq's armed opposition "is incapable of overthrowing Saddam Hussein's regime without outside help."


U.S. and France Near Deal on Iraq Attack

STEVEN R. WEISMAN, NYT: The United States and France are moving toward a compromise on Iraq that would oblige the Bush administration to consult the United Nations Security Council before embarking on military action against Saddam Hussein but still leave it the freedom to act alone.

At the UN, it's not just about Iraq: Many nations may use next week's expected Security Council vote on US resolution to bridle US might

Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor: The world, more concerned about the unbridled use of American power than it is about the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, is as intent on limiting the giant's power as it is in taking away the despot's weapons. The global interest in restraining American power is one factor explaining why so many countries are balking at US pressure to support its resolution in the United Nations Security Council. It also explains why so many are supporting France and its alternative approach to dealing with Baghdad. ... Administration officials are mostly leaving to like-minded pundits the job of casting doubt over the motives of countries - chiefly France and Russia - that are so far standing in the way of a resolution that includes authorization of American use of force. ... But the case of Mexico, one of 10 rotating members of the Security Council which so far has sided with France on curtailing any war "triggers" in the resolution, illustrates the nonpecuniary motivations.

U.S. Doesn't Plan to Control Iraq's Oil

Reuters, Tom Doggett: "I think that it's impossible for anybody to speculate about anything and everything that could possibly happen under any military scenario. And I wouldn't even try to start guessing what the military may or may not do," [Fleischer] said.

U.S. to set up Gulf command post

Rowan Scarborough, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: "[Saddam´s] only hope of survival is a complete change of course," Mr. Wolfowitz said.

Peaceful Disarmament of Iraq Depends on Credible Threat of Force: Deputy Defense Secretary Wolfowitz's Oct. 28 speech

Washington File: The other quote is from somebody who's been in the news quite a bit lately, Scott Ritter, who describes part of the horrific reality of what's inside Iraq. And he does so even though he admits reluctantly -- in fact, he said he's not going to describe quite how horrible it is, because, in his words, he's waging peace now. He describes the prison in Baghdad, whose stench, he said, was "unreal," an amalgam "of urine, feces, vomit and sweat;" a hellhole where prisoners were "howling and dying of thirst." In this prison the oldest inmates were 12, the youngest mere toddlers. Their crime was being children of the regime's political enemies.


U.S. Waits for U.N. Resolution; Iraq Sees 'Pretext'

Jonathan Wright and Hassan Hafidh, Reuters: The United States on Tuesday gave the U.N. Security Council more time to agree a resolution on disarming Iraq, but Baghdad said Washington was only seeking a pretext for war. The United States and France have circulated competing Security Council resolutions, the U.S. one mapping a much quicker route to attacking Iraq than France is willing to accept.

Iraq's major contract for power generators released from hold

Xinhua: Benefited from new procedures aimed at accelerating the release of items on hold, Iraq will receive two power plant gas turbines valued at 80 million US dollars, a UN office running the "oil-for-food" scheme announced Tuesday. The newly approved contract has been on hold for nearly two years, the office said in a weekly update.


War on Iraq will heighten risk of further al-Qaida attacks - report

AP: A U.S.-led war on Iraq would heighten the risk of regional conflict and increase support for Osama bin Laden's al-Qaida terror network, researchers warned Monday. The independent Oxford Research Group said conventional war would kill 10,000 civilians in Iraq, and could trigger a desperate and destructive response from Saddam Hussein's regime. ... Regarding the researchers' report, Paul Rogers, its author and a professor of peace studies at Bradford University, said: "The United States has sufficient forces to ensure regime destruction, but the regime's replacement by occupying forces or by a client regime, even if the war is not greatly destructive, should be expected to increase regional opposition to the U.S. presence."

Saddam woos cowed population

Rory McCarthy, The Guardian: [mentions abolition of the $200 exit tax?]


Inspecting Saddam: An Israeli historian helps diagnose the dictator

Boston Globe, Tamar Miller and Tamar Morad: As Baram explained over breakfast in downtown Boston recently, ''Saddam wants weapons of mass destruction not for survival, but to manifest his historical destiny - to become protector and ruler of the Arab world.'' ... Baram recently collaborated on a study, sponsored by the US Air Force, of Saddam's personality and modus operandi with Dr. Jerrold Post ... The essay appears in a forthcoming volume titled ''Know Thy Enemy.'' Though the authors emphasize there is ''no evidence that he is suffering from a psychotic disorder,'' Post does label Saddam a ''malignant narcissist'' - a person dangerously obsessed with the admiration of others and acutely sensitive to offense. ... But Saddam is no Hitler, Baram says, ''not only because Iraq has never had a fraction of Germany's capabilities, but also because he is not pathologically anti-Jewish.'' At the same time, he adds, ''Saddam is similar to Hitler in his compulsive, big-time military gambling, even against the advice of his professional generals.'' ... Not all of Baram's colleagues swallow his psychohistorical analysis of Saddam and the Arab street, or his hawkish recommendations. ... Stephen Walt, an Iraq expert at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, warns, ''Be suspicious when a scholar or expert from another country - no matter which country - tells us how to do things.'' He adds: ''Saddam is concerned with survival. He never used weapons of mass destruction against anyone who could pay him back.'' ... Why should we push toward what [Baram] admits might be a disastrous strike against Iraq? ''Because the alternative is worse.''


In Opening the Gates of Its Gulag, Iraq Unleashes Pain and Protest

NYT, JOHN F. BURNS: Iraqis with contacts at senior levels of the government said the events on Sunday had caused a new alert to be sent out to the southern governorates, especially Basra, that have been centers of Shiite unrest in the past. As well, security officials were reported to have tightened their grip on Saddam City, a vast poverty-stricken district on the outskirts of Baghdad where many of the capital's three million Shiites live.


NYT, "BUSH DECLARES U.S. IS USING DIPLOMACY TO DISARM HUSSEIN": The White House immediately said that Mr. Bush was not backing away from his past insistence that Mr. Hussein must leave office. ... An official who sits in many of the Iraq policy discussions said tonight: "I don't think the president is backing down one iota from his conclusion that Saddam's got to go. But he's learned that talking about it doesn't help his cause." NYT, "U.S. REFINES PLANS FOR WAR IN CITIES": Instead, for example, they are studying how the Israeli Army, in the recent fighting in Jenin, used specially loaded tank rounds to blast holes in the walls of buildings. The charge is designed to open the wall, but not to blast through the building, collapse it or hit what lies beyond. ... Urban operations would begin after sundown, when American optical technology allows its forces to dominate the battlefield while many adversaries are blinded by the night. Most residents are at home, so they do not fill the streets. The streets are the most dangerous place. NYT, "IRAQI CITY SEEN AS POWDER KEG IF HUSSEIN WERE TO BE OUSTED": Kirkuk power struggle


NYT, "Hussein and Mobs Virtually Empty Iraq's Prisons JOHN F. BURNS: But the mob scenes that developed at Abu Ghraib and elsewhere appeared to have overwhelmed the prisons and caused a mass exodus. ... In this view, opening the prisons was a dramatic last-ditch reach for popularity - a signal to Iraqis that Mr. Hussein is now ready to become a herald of a new and more tolerant Iraq, and to put behind him the image Mr. Bush sketched in a speech two weeks ago in which he explained his reasons for threatening a military strike on Iraq, when he called him a "dictator," a "student of Stalin" and a man who uses "murder as a tool of terror." ... Diplomats in Baghdad with memories of the rapid collapse of Communist power across Eastern Europe in 1989 said Mr. Hussein and his aging inner circle in the Revolutionary Command Council may be drawing on that experience, concerned that the specter of war with the United States could cause a crumbling of loyalties that could bring the government tumbling down from within. ... The government gave no figures on the numbers of those eligible for release. But a reading of the amnesty terms, coupled with estimates of the prison population made in recent years by Western human rights groups like Amnesty International, suggested that figures of 100,000, possibly as many as 150,000, might not be exaggerated.


Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle: Many international legal experts disagree. They say 678's mandate referred only to those resolutions related to Iraq's occupation of Kuwait. They also note that 687 and other Iraq resolutions after the Gulf War state the council "remains seized of the matter" -- legal jargon meaning that all further actions are to be decided by the council. "This broad interpretation of Resolutions 678 and 687 is absolutely incorrect," said Jules Lobel, a law professor at the University of Pittsburgh who is a leading scholar of U.N. jurisprudence. ... "If the United States invades and it's over in a week, this would be just another violation of the U.N. Charter, the Security Council would be powerless to do anything about it, and few people would pay any more attention," said Sobel of the University of Pittsburgh. "But if U.S. troops get mired in combat in Baghdad, it would be very serious if they're doing it in contravention of the charter and Security Council wishes."


Saddam Frees All Prisoners

AP: The Iraqi government announced an amnesty Sunday for all Iraqi prisoners in an apparent attempt to rally domestic and international support in the face of U.S. determination to topple it. The government called the amnesty, which includes political prisoners, a way of thanking the nation for re-electing President Saddam Hussein last week in a referendum. ... Those convicted of murder, the statement said, would only be released if the victims' families agreed and those convicted of theft would have to work out a way to repay their victims before being released. ... ``We are shifting the responsibility of reforming them to their families and society after we have provided them with this opportunity,'' the statement said. ``We ask God that we will not regret this decision.''

UPI exclusive: Czechs retract terror link

Martin Walker, UPI Chief International Correspondent: "Quite simply, we think the source for this story may have invented the meeting that he reported. We can find no corroborative evidence for the meeting and the source has real credibility problems " a high-ranking source close to Czech intelligence told UPI Sunday. ... But other influential figures in Washington, including former CIA Director James Woolsey and former Assistant Secretary of Defense Richard Perle pursued their own inquiries using their own sources, and have now also been told by high-ranking Czech sources that they no longer stand by the initial report. Perle, in Prague this weekend for a meeting of the Trilateral Commission, was told in person Sunday that the BIS now doubts that any such meeting between Atta and al-Ani in fact took place.

Iraq War 'Unjustifiable', says Bush's Church Head

Ed Vulliamy, Observer: President George Bush's own Methodist church has launched a scathing attack on his preparations for war against Iraq, saying they are 'without any justification according to the teachings of Christ'. Jim Winkler, head of social policy for United Methodists, added that all attempts at a 'dialogue' between the President and his own church over the war had fallen on deaf ears at the White House. BBC: Iraq begins to return Kuwaiti archive.


Citing country's support for U.S. action, Spain's top diplomat in Iraq resigns

AP: Spain's Foreign Ministry said Friday it would take disciplinary action against its former top diplomat in Iraq, who resigned claiming he could not support his government's pro-U.S. stance in the crisis with Baghdad.

France Holds Key to Deal in UN Debate on Iraq

Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: Nation after nation in an open debate on Iraq on Thursday and Friday told council members to avoid a war and give the U.N inspectors a chance to do their work first.

U.S. Would Send Troops To Hit Scuds: Pledge Given Sharon to Keep Israel Out of War

Vernon Loeb and Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post: The administration's pledge, which was conveyed during this week's visit to Washington by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, follows an undisclosed reconnaissance mission in western Iraq this summer by Israeli special forces, according to a former U.S. defense official ... Cordesman, who recently published a book on Iraqi military capabilities, said Baghdad is believed to have only 12 to 25 Scuds in its arsenal.

Iraq war 'would bring bloody street fighting'

Financial Times, Mark Odell and Peter Spiegel: A US-led invasion of Iraq could lead to extensive street fighting, with the attendant likelihood of heavy casualties among allied troops and Iraqi civilians, the International Institute for Strategies Studies (IISS) warned yesterday. ... The structure of the Iraqi army means soldiers will be defending their own communities. This was not so in the Gulf war or the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s...

Kurdish leader wants Turkish troops out of Iraq

Reuters: An Iraqi Kurdish leader said on Friday he wanted Turkey to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq, underscoring the tense relations between two potentially crucial players in any U.S. attack on Baghdad. ... This was the first time that Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani has said he wanted to see an end to Turkey's military presence.


ABC News: The head of the Anglican Church in Australia has blamed the Bali bombings on Australia's outspoken support for the United States in planning military action against Iraq.


Iraq States Its Case

MOHAMMED ALDOURI, NYT: After so many years of fear from war, the threat of war and suffering, the people of Iraq and their government in Baghdad are eager for peace. We have no intention of attacking anyone, now or in the future, with weapons of any kind. If we are attacked, we will surely defend ourselves with all means possible. But bear in mind that we have no nuclear or biological or chemical weapons, and we have no intention of acquiring them. ... At the same time, the last three American presidents have stated that these sanctions could not be lifted as long as our president, Saddam Hussein, remains the nation's leader.

US Offers Compromises on UN Resolution Against Iraq

Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: Facing opposition from most countries in the world, the Bush administration has offered new compromise proposals that would involve U.N. Security Council consultations before any attack against Iraq, diplomats said on Thursday. But the envoys said France, which is leading the resistance to the original U.S. draft resolution, has not agreed yet. ... "It's a matter of whether the French can swallow this or whether they keep pushing until the U.S. goes over the brink and decides to walk away" A diplomat close to the talks said. WASHINGTON TIMES, "Report says Saddam's troops weak Paul Martin: Half of Iraq's military equipment lacks spare parts, and its armed forces are operating at only 50 percent effectiveness, the International Institute for Strategic Studies estimates in its annual survey of world armed forces. ... However, the Institute's Washington director, Terry Taylor, expressed confidence in an interview that many of Iraq's armed forces would wilt or put up minimal resistance under a U.S.-led assault.

What has Saddam got?

London Review of Books, Norman Dombey: [explores Hamza's claims. Well researched.] he describes the problems caused for him and his family in Baghdad by a bogus story in the Sunday Times on 2 April 1995 announcing that he had been kidnapped in Greece and probably assassinated. He was actually in Libya at the time. The story reported that Hamza had confirmed a secret Iraqi weapon programme, and referred to documents confirming this. Until then the authorities in Baghdad hadn't been concerned about his absence from Iraq, but this changed everything. He eventually discovered that the CIA had planted the story and documents in order to smoke him out. ... A week later, Madeline Albright quoted the CIA-forged documents at the UN Security Council in order to prevent any relaxation of the regime of sanctions on Iraq.

Pearson says northern Iraq can't be left to Kurds alone

Turkish Daily News: "No single group can determine without regard for others the future of its own role in Iraq nor that of the other elements in Iraq. The United States has not requested or endorsed any document professing to be a constitution for any group in Iraq. And neither we nor any other country has the authority to do such a thing," said the Ambassador Mark Pearson at a conference hosted by the Ankara-based Center for Eurasian Strategic Studies.


Pavel Felgenhauer, Moscow Times: Obviously the UN arms sanctions are a sham. A Moscow banker, former military officer and professional arms trader who worked for the state arms export agency in the Middle East told me in 1997 (when I was investigating sanctions-busting) that spare parts for Russian made Iraqi weaponry have been shipped into Iraq with the help of Bulgarian and Turkish intermediaries, mostly via Jordan. ... In 1997, I discovered solid evidence that in 1996 Iraq illegally acquired some 20 Mi-24 armored helicopter gunships. A Bulgarian company apparently masterminded the deal, the choppers were shipped from Ukraine or Russia, but it was Russian technicians, an official source told me, that traveled to Baghdad in 1996 to get them into working order. ... in the UN secretariat in New York and, apparently, in Washington these facts are well known, but they are hushed up.


Chief Weapons Inspector Urges Iraq to Accept New Rules

NYT, JULIA PRESTON: Since the inspectors are waiting for the Council to act, he added, they will not arrive in Baghdad on Oct. 19, the date Iraq had offered to receive the advance teams. ... But there was no discernible progress on any front, and diplomats throughout the United Nations grew increasingly impatient. ... The comments were some of the most extensive yet by China ... that has been watching quietly while the United States and France, traditional allies, tussle over how to proceed if Iraq refuses to disarm. Beijing appears to be supporting France

Iraq seeks chemical for arms

Bill Gertz, WASHINGTON TIMES: A Chinese state-run company is talking with Iraq about selling a chemical used in making missile fuel, although no transfer has been spotted, according to U.S. intelligence officials. ... The intelligence on the talks shows that arms-related transfers by China have continued despite the announced new controls, U.S. officials said. "Chinese arms proliferation activities to the Mideast have continued unabated," one official said.


Next Round of U.N. Inspections Would Build on Previous Efforts

Walter Pincus, Washington Post: Blix has told colleagues that it would be weeks or months before he could reliably report to the Security Council on Iraq's level of cooperation. ... Overall, Blix has said, he would need a year or two before it could be determined whether Baghdad was in compliance with U.N. resolutions. The inspectors will be permitted immediate access to sensitive sites without notice, Blix and Iraqi officials agreed in Vienna earlier this month. ... U.N. and U.S. officials expect that Iraq will eventually permit unrestricted and unannounced inspections at the eight presidential sites that were given special status under a 1998 agreement negotiated by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan. ... The CIA report noted that although Iraq occasionally obstructed access to sensors and manipulated cameras, on the whole Baghdad "generally accommodated U.N. monitors at declared sites." ... He proposed keeping government officials out of such interviews but did not put forward the U.S. position. The Iraqi response was that its government wanted an observer, a note-taker and a video of such meetings, and the matter was left open for future discussion. [good update] AFP, "Lindsey maintains 100-200 billion dollars estimate of Iraq war cost": Senior White House economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey said Tuesday he had not revised his estimates that a possible US-led war against Iraq could cost as much as 100 billion to 200 billion dollars.

Iraqi Kurds meet to discuss crumbling cash problem

Reuters: Iraqi Kurdish leaders have met to discuss a sharp rise in their currency against the U.S. dollar, a website said on Tuesday, worried about a growing sense of instability as the United States weighs strikes against Iraq. ... The Kurds use an older version of Iraqi dinar banknotes that were originally printed in Switzerland but are now worn out and crumbling. ... The website of the area's regional government said the Swiss dinar has risen to 11 to the dollar from 16-18 earlier this year.


Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: Chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix acknowledged on Tuesday that Iraq had not agreed to all ground rules for arms inspections but reiterated he would not go to Baghdad before a new U.N. resolution was adopted. ... it had not responded to conducting interviews with scientists and others without escorts ... Iraq had not replied to U.N. demands for using U-2 spy planes, flying helicopters over Baghdad and setting up cost-free regional offices in Mosul in the north and Basra in the south.


Palace Intrigue: U.N. access to Iraq's 'presidential sites.': Do these vast complexes hold the key?

Christopher Dickey, NEWSWEEK: "Embedded in the team was a British M.I.6 case officer, whose job was to recruit a senior Iraqi official," Ritter told NEWSWEEK. "We were trying to use the inspection team's access to achieve this recruitment. Also embedded in the team were CIA officers, whose job was to do a structural-intelligence analysis of Saddam Hussein's bunkers, and to pinpoint the residences and offices of every senior Iraqi government official." The recruitment failed, but when the United States and Britain launched four days of punitive attacks in December 1998, "every residence and every office occupied by senior Iraqi government officials was precisely targeted," Ritter claims. "The only way that information was gathered was through the process of inspector access to these facilities."

Waiting for War

Pete Norman, People: The government recently began distributing two months' worth of rations out of concern that the foodstuffs in their warehouses would be destroyed. Ordinary people, including the Nassars, are hoarding essentials - water, food, gas and candles - while hospitals have started stockpiling such supplies as blood, antibiotics, and anesthetics. With medicines already in short supply, the Nassars' biggest worry is that one of the children will get sick.

Toward a human disaster

Boston Globe, Kenneth H. Bacon, a former assistant secretary of defense, is the president of Refugees International. [not much new]


Jane Mayer, New Yorker: As for the Bush Administration's proposed preëmptive strike on Iraq, Kennan sees grave peril and little justification. "I could see justification only if the absence of it would involve a major and imminent danger to our own country, or, at worst, to our most intimate and traditional allies. Of this I see no evidence." If Iraq has cultivated weapons of mass destruction, Kennan argued, the greatest threat would probably be to its neighbors, particularly Israel, rather than to the United States, and so "it would be up to the government of that country to estimate the extent of the danger and to find the most fitting answer to it."

Kurdistan's fighting men feeling abandoned by their protector

Scotsman, Borzou Daragahi: But on the eve of the apparent US plans to topple Saddam Hussein, Kurdish military officials say they are woefully ill-prepared for any military confrontation. What's more, there has been no co-ordination or communication with the US, which patrols the no-fly zone above this autonomous section of northern Iraq. Even the Kurds' US-made uniforms were bought on the open market. "They haven't given us anything," says Babekir Zebari, commander of the army in the province of Dohuk. "And there has been no communication or any word."

Turkey to set up "security belt" in northern Iraq if US attacks

AFP: Turkey said Monday it would set up a "security belt" in northern Iraq if the United States hits Baghdad, and renewed a threat of military action to prevent the establishment of a Kurdish state in the region. Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said in an interview with NTV television that if a US operation against Iraq triggered a refugee exodus, Turkish troops would move into northern Iraq to stop the wave within Iraqi borders.

All current Iraq E&P Contracts to be Reviewed by Post-Saddam Government

MEES, Gerald Butt: INC/INA/SCIRI says contracts to be reviewed, oil to revenue to be handled in Baghdad; may take $20 - 25 bn to reach 6 mn b/d; will need to look at OPEC membership; won't be US client regime.

Politics and the CIA: Agency supposed to provide honest intel. Does Administration want to hear it?

DOUGLAS WALLER and MASSIMO CALABRESI, Time Magazine: For the President's war speech in Cincinnati last week, Bush aides badgered the CIA to declassify more intelligence on Saddam Hussein's ties to Osama bin Laden. As a result, Bush was able to disclose that "a very senior al-Qaeda leader received medical treatment in Baghdad this year" (intelligence sources tell TIME that it is a Jordanian operational commander named Abu Musab Zarqawi) and that "Iraq has trained al-Qaeda members in bombmaking and poisons and deadly gases." ... But when a recently released CIA report seemed to paint too dire a picture of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee pressured Tenet to declassify testimony by a top aide who rated the likelihood of Saddam's initiating a chemical or biological weapons attack against the U.S. as "low." ... Tenet fact-checked a footnoted version of Bush's Cincinnati speech before the President delivered it, correcting a few items and satisfying himself that it represented the agency's view. So perhaps it is not surprising that, according to a White House aide, Bush was miffed that testimony Tenet later declassified seemed to contradict part of his speech.


The Australian: AUSTRALIA was paying the price for its high profile in the campaign against Iraq with the Bali bombing, a former diplomat has said. South-East Asia specialist Bruce Haigh, who served as an Australian diplomat in several countries including Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Indonesia, said the root cause of such terrorist attacks, however, was the US backing of Israel in its conflict with the Palestinians.


Syed Rashid Husain, Dawn: Prince Sultan, the Saudi second deputy premier and minister of defence and aviation, was reported here as saying that any UN Security Council decision on Iraq will not be binding on the Kingdom ... This is in sharp contrast to what was said by the Saudi Foreign Minister Saud Al-Faisal earlier that Saudi Arabia would be obliged to abide by any UN resolutions on Iraq. He had hinted earlier that in case of any military assault on Iraq under the UN umbrella, Saudi Arabia would be obliged to offer its territory.


Foreseeing a Bloody Siege in Baghdad

New York Times, BARRY R. POSEN: According to intelligence reports, Iraq is stockpiling ammunition, fuel and food in key spots. The Iraqis can mix their six Republican Guard divisions and four special Republican Guard brigades with their 17 poorly equipped regular army divisions, thereby coercing troops of doubtful loyalty to remain in the fight, as the Soviets and the Nazis did in World War II.

Wars of Nerves

New York Times, THOMAS L. FRIEDMAN: Over there, Saddam terrorizes his people, but over here, my kids are now experts in the fine distinctions between Code Blue and Code Red. Code Blue means they're locked in their public school building because a potential shooter is in the area, and Code Red means they are locked in their classroom because there may be a gunman in the building. Frankly, I don't want to hear another word about Iraq right now. I want to hear that my president and my Congress are taking the real steps needed in this country - starting with sane gun control and sane economic policy - to stop this slide into over here becoming like over there.

Kurds Said Dragging Turkey Into War

SUZAN FRASER, AP: Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said apparent moves by Iraqi Kurds to form an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq was dragging Turkey into a war.


Ellen Knickmeyer, AP: Iraq reserves the right to end cooperation with U.N. weapons inspections if it deems Washington is manipulating them, the Iraqi inspections chief said, clouding prospects of the high-stakes U.N. missions before they even resume.


Will Bush's carve-up of Iraq include getting hands on its oil?

Independent, Robert Fisk: The problem for General Tommy Franks if he really does turn up in Baghdad to play the role of General Douglas MacArthur is that the one unifying, sovereign symbol that held Japan together amid the ashes of nuclear defeat in 1945 was the Emperor Hirohito, mysteriously absolved of all responsibility for Japan's atrocities in the Second World War. ... What if the mosques defy American occupation? What if the Shia in the south and Kurds in the north set up their own secret administrations? Will the US arrest all the imams who preach against America's hegemony? ... Immediately after the 1991 Gulf War, a large group of Iraqi opposition figures met in Beirut to plan for a "new Iraq'', fondly and vainly imagining Saddam would be gone within weeks. But within 24 hours the opposition including the most secular and liberal of Iraqi movements was announcing it would not allow foreign troops to contaminate what it called "the sacred banks of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers''. At this point, of course, the Americans lost all interest in this manifestation of Iraq's opposition to Saddam Hussein. ... And then it just might be that Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, whose ministers have spoken openly of "transferring'' the Palestinians out of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, will find the judicious moment to "encourage'' the same Palestinians to leave their land for the new Jordan. Has President Bush thought of this? Has it perhaps crossed the minds of Israel's friends within the US administration?


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT: An article in the Ankara edition of the Istanbul newspaper "Turkiye'de Aksam" of 3 October noted that the Turkish Armed Forces have installed a radiation early warning sensor (RESA) network along the Turkish-Iraqi border.


Matt Kelley, AP: The U.S. Navy on Friday declared Gulf War pilot Michael Scott Speicher was captured by Iraq, saying there's no evidence the officer is dead. Two senators suggested there is new, classified evidence indicating Speicher is alive inside Iraq.


Several hundred Turkish troops in northern Iraq: minister

AFP: Turkey is keeping "several hundred" soldiers in neighboring northern Iraq, a mainly Kurdish area outside the control of the central Iraqi government, to protect its regional security interests, Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel said in an interview with AFP Thursday.


Patrick Seale, Daily Star, Lebanon: The Bush administration has decided to overthrow the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein by force. Reliable sources in Washington and London confirm that a decision to go to war was taken months ago, and has now been confirmed in confidential exchanges between allied governments. Only the timing and tactics remain fluid and are the subject of intense debate inside the Pentagon, and between the US and its allies. Some Americans are said to be pressing for an attack as early as November-December, whereas British troops and armor - perhaps 10 percent of the attacking force - are unlikely to be ready until early 2003. The United States has already lined up a coalition comprising Britain, Australia, Spain, Italy and Turkey. ... As is now clear to most observers, US foreign policy is today driven by a group of right-wing neo-imperialists and hard-line Zionists - often the same people. ... hard-line American Zionists, in collusion with Sharon, see America's war against Iraq as a great opportunity to reshape Israel's immediate environment. Sharon will no doubt try to defeat the Palestinians comprehensively before imposing terms. Even forced population "transfer" out of the Occupied Territories cannot be excluded. His temptation will be to destroy Hizbullah, marginalize Syria, and bring Lebanon under Israel's umbrella, as once before he sought to do in his disastrous 1982 invasion.


David E. Sanger and Eric Schmitt, NYT: The White House is developing a detailed plan, modeled on the postwar occupation of Japan, to install an American-led military government in Iraq if the United States topples Saddam Hussein, senior administration officials said today.

Iraq seeks regional ally in Iran

Iran Press Service, Safa Haeri: Abdolrazzaq Hashemi [former French ambassador], a high-ranking Iraqi diplomat, said Thursday Baghdad is "very serious" about normalizing its relations with neighboring Iran and at the same time disclosed that Iraq had sent weapons to Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani fighting the Ansar al Eslam terrorists who had established bases in Iraqi Kurdistan. ... Iraq says it sent some 200 planes, both military and civilians to Iran to save them from allied attacks during the 1991 war, but Iran insists that it "received" only a few dozen, most of them destroyed on crash-landing.

Show us some money: Russia sets out its conditions for backing war with Iraq

[Australian] Daily Telegraph, Julius Strauss and George Trefgarne: Russia, which relies on oil for half of its external income, fears that if Saddam Hussein is deposed, the US may attempt to flood the market with cheap Iraqi oil to bolster its own economy. ... Economists say that for Russia, still battling with the huge costs of economic restructuring, a steep fall in the oil price could provoke financial disaster. The price of oil, presently about $US29 a barrel, is widely expected to fall if the US wages a successful war against Iraq. Mr Yastrzhembsky said Russia could cope with a fall in price to $US18 a barrel, but not any lower.


Rift Over Plan to Impose Rule on Iraq

New York Times, JAMES DAO and ERIC SCHMITT: The Bush administration is considering plans to create a provisional government for Iraq that could provide a base for opposition to President Saddam Hussein and form the core of a new government if Mr. Hussein is ousted, senior administration officials said. ... "The idea of a provisional central government is just a power grab [by exiles], as far as I can see," said a person involved in State Department planning for a post-Hussein government. ... The differences over a provisional government exemplify a rift on Iraq policy that has bedeviled the Bush administration for months and disrupted planning for reconstructing Iraq if Mr. Hussein is deposed, Iraq experts and exile leaders say. ... "Oil is key to holding the country together," said one person involved in planning for a post-Hussein Iraq. ... But many Iraqi opposition leaders deride the [Future of Iraq Project] effort as an academic exercise. ... the Pentagon has been developing its own plans for Iraq following an invasion. They include maintaining a large multinational army in Iraq for at least a year to track down and eliminate Iraq's clandestine weapons programs, ensure stability around the country and deal with potential problems in providing assistance to civilians. In northern Iraq, military forces would probably protect the oil fields around Kirkuk and Mosul to prevent rival groups from trying to seize them. ... "It was a mistake we made in Afghanistan," said Mr. Gingrich, who sits on the Defense Policy Board. "You shouldn't go into a country militarily without having thought through what it should look like afterward."

Medical consequences of attacking Iraq

San Francisco Chronicle, Helen Caldicott: focuses on DU.

Al-Qaida Message Focuses on Iraq

DAFNA LINZER, AP: After a summer of silence, al-Qaida leaders are back on the Mideast air waves, framing their latest anti-American message around a possible war with Iraq. ... "The campaign against Iraq has aims that go beyond Iraq into the Arab Islamic world," al-Zawahri is heard saying. "Its first aim is to destroy any effective military force in the proximity of Israel. Its second aim is to consolidate the supremacy of Israel."


Irish Times: British intelligence agencies are dismissing claims by the Bush administration that there are links between Iraq and the al-Qaeda terrorist network. ... Asked whether Mr Saddam had links with al-Qaeda, one well-placed source replied: "Quite the opposite." ... The clear message from British intelligence is that, far from allying himself with al-Qaeda terrorists, the Iraqi leader is distancing himself from them. British sources interpret the murder in Baghdad of the former Palestinian terrorist leader, Abu Nidal, in August as evidence of Mr Saddam's concern about accusations he is harbouring terrorists, especially one whose loyalty he could not rely on. ... They also dismiss claims that Ramzi Youssef, convicted of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Centre, was in fact an Iraqi agent who studied in Swansea, south Wales. ... Last October Mr Paul Wolfowitz, the hawkish US deputy defence secretary, sent Mr James Woolsey, a former CIA director, to Swansea in search of evidence to back up the theory. He returned empty-handed. ... They also say there is no evidence that al-Qaeda fighters who fled from Afghanistan and are now reported to be in north-eastern Iraq have links with Baghdad.

Iraqi Arabs leaving Kirkuk for fear of US offensive: paper

AFP: Iraqi Arabs resettled by the Baghdad government in Kurdish villages of oil-rich northern Kirkuk province have begun returning to their homes in southern and western Iraq in anticipation of a US offensive against Iraq, a [KDP] newspaper reported Thursday.

Subtle Shift On 'Regime Change'? For Bush, the heavily used phrase may have taken on shades of meaning beyond merely the ouster of Hussein

Howard LaFranchi, Christian Science Monitor: For months, whenever President Bush spoke of "regime change" in Iraq, the assumption was he meant Saddam Hussein had to go. Now, Mr. Bush is signaling he could accept a world where Mr. Hussein - though a fully disarmed Hussein - remains the man in charge in Iraq. ... The new stance, hinted at in a buried line in Bush's speech Monday, suggests a retreat from the ambitious - and for some critics worrisome - goals that the president had previously set out for Iraq ... Bush, after laying out the demanding steps that Iraq must take to disarm and to divorce itself from terrorism, added: "These steps would also change the nature of the Iraq regime itself. America hopes the regime will make that choice." ... "Bush's words, in that sense, weren't even so much about Saddam. They were about Bush and his desire to convince people that he is a reasonable man, that he doesn't want war," says Jon Wolfsthal, deputy director of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington. "What hasn't changed is his thinking on whether Saddam Hussein will do what he'd have to [do] to avoid a war." ... Carnegie's Mr. Wolfsthal says it isn't coincidence that the normally expansive Donald Rumsfeld, secretary of Defense, has been unusually quiet over recent days. "I think somebody looked at what the president wants to accomplish at this point and said, 'Don, take a vacation.' "

Are troops in right gear for chemical, biological war? U.S. preparing for the worst in possible battle with Iraq

Dallas Morning News, JIM LANDERS: The Pentagon has acquired 1.5 million lighter, more durable protective suits since the Gulf War, but still has 3 million of the older ones and cannot find 250,000 suits in its inventory that are considered defective. ... Mr. Pollack cites a CIA report that Iraq tried to launch a biological weapon airstrike against U.S. forces shortly after the war began. Three MIG-21 fighters were to test U.S. air defenses for the attack, but were shot down over the Persian Gulf. The follow-up attack with a low-flying jet equipped with the biological weapon sprayer and its escorts was canceled, according to the CIA report. The information was never confirmed. General Anthony Zinni's Speech to the Middle East Institute Annual Conference, October 10, 2002: Good; tough.

Seven Questions To Ponder, Johanna McGeary (Massimo Calabresi, John F. Dickerson, Douglas Waller, Scott MacLeod): Critics point to Washington's historical fickleness when it comes to nation building. "Is America going to sit in Baghdad for five years to rebuild institutions?" asks a gulf diplomat. "Washington won't have the stomach for it."


Xinhuanet: US warplanes on Thursday attacked the international airport in Basra, southern Iraq, for the third time in two weeks, causing damage to its radar system and the service building, a spokesman for the Ministry of Transport and Communications said.

Official: Israel to Get Iraq Notice

MARK LAVIE, AP: The United States will give Israel three days notice before attacking Iraq, a senior Israeli official said Thursday, giving the country time to prepare for a possible Iraqi strike.

Khatami gives Straw a grilling over Iraq's chemical weapons

AFP: Iran's President Mohammad Khatami has voiced his doubt over the threat posed by Saddam Hussein, and hit out at the West for supplying Iraq with chemical arms in the first place, IRNA reported Thursday. ... Straw visited four countries in a bid to rally their support for the British-backed US tough line on eliminating Iraq's alleged weapons of mass destruction by military force if necessary. ... Instead of any public endorsement, he ran into a wall of scepticism and vocal opposition to a war which would risk destabilising the whole Middle East, in the words of regional leaders.

Exiled Iraqi general calls for clear U.S. message to Iraqis

Kyodo News: Gen Nizar Al-Khazraji, 63, who headed Iraq's army when it invaded Kuwait in 1990, said a coup is possible but mixed messages from Washington are confusing and worrying many of Iraqis who might be prepared to lead a revolt against Saddam. ... He said Iraqis are hearing various scenarios on Iraq's future, ranging from massive air attacks and occupation of the country by foreign forces, to the emergence of "unacceptable" names as possible future leaders of Iraq. ... Al-Khazraji said in order to bring about a change of regime, U.S. President George W. Bush should make a clear appeal to the Iraqi people stressing the economic benefits of regime change and that the U.S. would support the creation of a democratic Iraq.


White House 'exaggerating Iraqi threat': Bush's televised address attacked by US intelligence

Julian Borger, The Guardian: President Bush's case against Saddam Hussein, outlined in a televised address to the nation on Monday night, relied on a slanted and sometimes entirely false reading of the available US intelligence, government officials and analysts claimed yesterday. Officials in the CIA, FBI and energy department are being put under intense pressure to produce reports which back the administration's line, the Guardian has learned. In response, some are complying, some are resisting and some are choosing to remain silent. "Basically, cooked information is working its way into high-level pronouncements and there's a lot of unhappiness about it in intelligence, especially among analysts at the CIA," said Vincent Cannistraro, the CIA's former head of counter-intelligence. ... Mr Cannistraro said the flow of intelligence to the top levels of the administration had been deliberately skewed by hawks at the Pentagon. "CIA assessments are being put aside by the defence department in favour of intelligence they are getting from various Iraqi exiles," he said. "Machiavelli warned princes against listening to exiles. Well, that is what is happening now."

Turkey prepares border for war refugees

Reuters, Osman Senkul: Committees set up by the Turkish Red Crescent, the army and local governors have designated 11 settlement areas in Turkey's Hakkari and Sirnak regions and three at Zakho, in the northern Iraqi territory beyond Baghdad's control since 1991. Here Turkey maintains a constant presence, military and civilian. "We are determined to handle the entire inflow at Zakho, but we have finished all the necessary preparations on the Turkish side just in case," Baskaya said. Zakho could handle 80,000 immediately, but its capacity could quickly be built up to accommodate more. ... Turkish officials could reckon with 80,000 to 400,000 refugees in the event of war. The conflict of 1991 saw 300,000 registered, but up to 200,000 more Iraqis may have crossed into Turkey and not been registered.

Analysts Discount Attack By Iraq: Counterattack Is Called Possible

Dana Priest, WP: Unprovoked by a U.S. military campaign, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is unlikely to initiate a chemical or biological attack against the United States, intelligence agencies concluded in a classified report given to select senators last week. However, the report added, "should Saddam conclude that a US-led attack could no longer be deterred," he might launch a chemical-biological counterattack. ... The assessment was first made in a classified National Intelligence Estimate, which includes the analysis and opinions of all relevant U.S. intelligence agencies, that was given to the Senate intelligence committee last week. ... the CIA also declassified other elements of analysis that seem to back up the president's assertion that Iraq has active ties to al Qaeda -- a growing feature of the administration's case for considering military action. Among the intelligence assessments linking Iraq with al Qaeda is "credible reporting" that the group's "leaders sought contacts in Iraq who could help them acquire WMD capabilities," according to a letter to senators from CIA Director George J. Tenet. Tenet added: "Iraq's increasing support to extremist Palestinians, coupled with growing indications of a relationship" with al Qaeda, "suggest Baghdad's links to terrorists will increase, even absent U.S. military action."


BBC: Talk of war against Iraq has already marginalised efforts for Middle East peace, Iran's leaders have told UK Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Karrazzi also argued that American unilateral policies were causing "deep hatred" in the Islamic world.


Gareth Smyth, Financial Times: Lebanese exporters are gearing up for the 35th annual Baghdad International Trade Fair, which starts on November 1, even if many are hesitating over new contracts given US threats of war against Iraq.


Dana Milbank, IHT from WP: White House officials had grown concerned that public support for using force against Saddam has softened despite Bush's growing support in Congress. A Gallup poll released Monday found that a bare majority of Americans - 53 percent - favored a ground invasion of Iraq, down from 61 percent in June and 74 percent last November.

Germans Say Iraq Acquired Long-Range Cannon Gear

David Crawford and Ian Johnson, WSJ: Iraq's al-Fao cannon, a 209mm weapon capable of firing a 240-pound projectile 35 miles ... "Everyone talks about missiles, but missiles are very expensive," says Chris Foss, editor of Jane's Armor and Artillery. "Artillery like this is far cheaper and can be deployed much more quickly."

Bush's Speech Gets a Mixed Review Abroad: Some find comfort in toned-down rhetoric. But in Arab world, conspicuous lack of official response

TYLER MARSHALL, LA Times: "They were sitting, waiting until 4 o'clock, to see what the man was going to say, but he did not say anything new," said Mohammed Saleh Musfir, a political science professor at Qatar University. The speech, Musfir said, "will not persuade anybody to support his campaign against Iraq. I think this is a minus in his campaign, not a plus." [not carried on major US networks except Fox because White House didn't ask; thought targeted at Congress]

U.S. hesitant to plan post-Saddam Iraq: Exiles want strategy for aftermath of fall

Barbara Slavin, USA TODAY: ''It may be better to wait than do it now,'' Zalmay Khalilzad, the senior Middle East expert on the National Security Council, told a weekend conference of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The United States doesn't have ''a formula that defines'' the immediate aftermath of a war with Iraq, he said. ... His remarks suggest there is no U.S. plan, even though an invasion could come by year's end. ''The signs are inauspicious,'' says Rend Rahim Francke, an Iraqi exile who is executive director of the Iraq Foundation, a non-profit group promoting democracy and human rights in Iraq. ... ''It's not that people are not working the issues,'' says Danielle Pletka, vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute. ''It's that no one is vested at the top.'' ... U.S. officials hope the threat of military action will inspire Iraqis to overthrow Saddam. Naming a provisional government could be a disincentive to disgruntled officers in Iraq who anticipate gaining a share of power. * Washington does not want to be seen as imposing a puppet regime. * The opposition outside Iraq is divided into more than a half-dozen factions, and there is no consensus choice for a leader who could represent the country's major ethnic groups. The absence of a coherent political plan could increase the burden on the U.S. military. ''How long can Tommy Franks be the president of Iraq?'' asks Alina Romanowksi


Arab Leaders Glumly Brace for Inevitable War

New York Times, JANE PERLEZ: New government posters in the Jordanian capital, Amman, say "Jordan First," as a way of telling the people that the survival of their country comes before solidarity with the Iraqi people.

UK Support for Iraq action at new low of 32%

Alan Travis and Patrick Wintour, The Guardian: Support for military action against Iraq among British voters has fallen to 32%, the lowest level recorded during the five weeks that the Guardian/ICM weekly tracker survey has been running. The slight fall will prove a disappointment to Tony Blair who made his appeal for support a key part of his conference speech a week ago. [`don't know' winning; opposition to war down too]

Saddam cronies 'are plotting to save their skins'

The Times, Michael Evans: Senior US and British military commanders are also becoming increasingly confident that an attack on Iraq will trigger an uprising against Saddam by the Iraqi people. "There's a fair chance that there could be an internal uprising," the Whitehall source said. ... The British military is expecting to receive a political decision on whether to use force against Iraq "by the end of this month", according to the official. That would mean Britain's Armed Forces would not be ready to start fighting before late December or January.

Some administration officials expressing misgivings on Iraq

WARREN P. STROBEL and JONATHAN S. LANDAY, Knight-Ridder Tribune News: "Analysts at the working level in the intelligence community are feeling very strong pressure from the Pentagon to cook the intelligence books," said one official, speaking on condition of anonymity. A dozen other officials echoed his views in interviews. No one who was interviewed disagreed.

Russia Seeks to Delay Chemical Weapons Destruction

Environment News Service, Sergei Blagov: Russia wants to delay the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile for five years past an internationally committed deadline, a former prime minister who is now head of the state commission on chemical disarmament said Monday.


London Evening Standard: Foreign Secretary Jack Straw has failed to persuade Egypt to back a new United Nations resolution on Iraq. Following talks in Cairo, Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Maher said there was "no necessity" for the resolution, for which Britain and the US are trying to secure international backing and UN Security Council approval.

Lieberman Offers Postwar Plan: `Iraq Can't Become U.S. Client State'

Hartford Courant, DAVID LIGHTMAN: He wants to create a new "Marshall Plan for the Muslim world" - modeled after the aid package that helped revive Western Europe after World War II. Lieberman and Sen. Chuck Hagel, R-Neb., are working on legislation that would create such a program. The bill should be ready early next year. No dollar figure was attached.


WINEP, ZALMAY KHALILZAD: In the short term, we will reunify Iraq -- because it is not unified even today -- and maintain its territorial integrity. ... We will immediately implement a major reconstruction program and put Iraq on the path to economic prosperity. ... The costs will be significant. Yet, we believe that a significant portion of the international community is prepared to help.

An Iraqi Man of Letters

NYT, NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF: That's one reason to be skeptical that an American invasion will trigger a coup: Many of the people in a position to mount one are Tikritis or even family members (internal security is controlled by Qusay), and when Saddam is finished, so are they.

Russia May Quit Pact

AP: Russia may suspend its participation in an international convention banning chemical weapons [CWC] if Moscow's request to extend the deadline for destroying its chemical arsenals is rejected by the convention's signatories, the Interfax-Military News Agency reported Monday.


Al Qaeda's Man in Iraq?

Newsweek: brief bio of Ahmad Hikmat Shakir: Now law-enforcement officials are left to wonder how a suspected Qaeda operative went from a jail cell in Jordan to what may be safe haven in Iraq.... Some of the new information on Iraq's terror links, sources tell NEWSWEEK, has come from two high-level Qaeda detainees--Abu Zubaydah, bin Laden's former operations chief, and his onetime deputy Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, a fierce Libyan operative who was once the military commander of Al Qaeda's Khalden training camp in eastern Afghanistan. Under interrogation, both men have separately described efforts by Qaeda operatives to seek out Iraqi assistance in assembling chemical weapons. But how much help the Iraqis actually provided is "really very fuzzy," said one knowledgeable source.

Inspections that work

Newsweek. Q & A with Gallucci. I think our objective has to be clear and agreed upon. Iraq must believe--Saddam must believe--that if he does not accept an extraordinarily intrusive inspection regime that the alternative will be an invasion and regime change. But he also has to be convinced that if he does accept it, there will not be an invasion and regime change. If the administration is not serious, if their real intent is regime change, then I don't think inspections are a good idea. ... The first thing is no sanctuaries and no-notice inspections ... No-fly and no-drive zones should be established ... the goal is not to do this in a week, but to continue an inspection regime indefinitely, which will ensure sites already identified don't become reactivated. It will be extremely hard for Iraq to have programs of significance if we have in place a truly intrusive inspection regime.

Saddam's inner circle heading for cover

Anton La Guardia, TELEGRAPH: Members of Saddam Hussein's inner circle are defecting to the opposition or making discreet offers of peace in the hope of being spared retribution if the Baghdad dictator is toppled, according to Iraqi exiles. ... "Some have defected, while others have been asked to stay to help us from inside."

Turkmens' Plan To Form 'Federal State'

Aksam, Guler Komurcu: Kirkuk is the key word at the heart of the dossier about Iraq. Of course, Turkey says it will not permit any group to take control of Kirkuk while the Iraqi Kurds, who have convened their national parliament in what is considered as the first step towards independence after a six-year recess, designate Kirkuk the capital of the state they intend to found.


Ali Akbar Dareini, AP: Iran will not allow the United States to use its airspace to attack Iraq, and its armed forces will defend the country's territory, the Foreign Ministry said Monday.


Jean Eaglesham, Financial Times: Tony Blair, the UK prime minister, has been warned by his attorney-general that military action against Iraq to force a regime change would breach international law. The clear advice from Lord Goldsmith and Harriet Harman, the solicitor general, places the prime minister in a potentially "impossible position according to legal experts.


The Mercury (Australia): Oliver Stone, Robert Altman, Terry Gilliam, Jane Fonda, Danny Glover, Susan Sarandon, Tim Robbins, Jessica Lange. "Superstar Tom Cruise and movie magnate Steven Spielberg backed Bush's stance during a publicity tour to Italy last month. "If Bush, as I believe, has reliable information on the fact that Saddam Hussein is making weapons of mass destruction, I cannot not support the policies of his government," Spielberg said, adding that Bush's policies were "solid and rooted in reality." Cruise also came down on Washington's side, saying that he believed "Saddam has committed many crimes against humanity and against his own people"."

Rebuilding Iraq?

Paul Sullivan, MEES: overview highlighting difficulties of rebuilding Iraq and citing many figures about Iraq's current economic and social state.


Dictator gets his weapons easily

Sunday Times, Marie Colvin: A Middle Eastern businessman, one of a network of middlemen supplying the Baghdad dictator with anything he needs, has described how military equipment and items for his weapons of mass destruction programme are shipped into Iraq with impunity. ... He revealed that in just one year, 1996, he had successfully forged 145 UN permission letters for shipments that entered Iraq illegally. "And that's just me," he said. ... He has shown his dossier to the Iraqi National Congress (INC) ... "We don't investigate ourselves," Sevan said. "If we have the documents (indicating fraud) we bring it to the notice of the relevant country and they should investigate. But there are so many brokers, you find the one you are after is dealing with another broker, and by the time you get to them they have disappeared."

Attack May Spark Coup in Iraq, Say U.S. Analysts: Ouster of Hussein Tied To Onset of Military Action

Walter Pincus, Washington Post: Senior intelligence experts inside and outside government have reached a consensus that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein would likely be ousted in a coup led by members of his inner circle in the final days or hours before U.S. forces launch a major ground attack. ... in June that CIA Director George J. Tenet briefed Bush and senior Cabinet members that the newly authorized covert plan had only a small chance of working unless it was accompanied by outside military action, or at least by convincing the Iraqis that overwhelming military action was imminent.

Scramble to carve up Iraqi oil reserves lies behind US diplomacy: Manoeuvres shaped by horse trading between America, Russia and France over control of untapped oilfields

Ed Vulliamy, Paul Webster, and Nick Paton Walsh, The Observer: Oil is emerging as the key factor in US attempts to secure the support of Russia and France for military action against Iraq, according to an Observer investigation. ... The US National Energy Policy Report of 2001 - known as the 'Cheney Report' after its author Vice President Dick Cheney, formerly one of America's richest and most powerful oil industry magnates - demanded a priority on easing US access to Persian Gulf supplies.


James C. Helicke, Atlanta Journal, from AP: But Washington hopes that within three years, there will be a third protruding dock [at Ceyhan], the tail end of a 1,091-mile pipeline bringing Caspian crude to the West and reducing U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern oil. ... But experts caution the pipeline project could be undermined if Iraqi crude comes back on the world market --- a distinct possibility if there's a regime change in the neighboring country.


Tehran Times: The United States and Britain have refused to return to a simple pricing system for Iraqi oil through the United Nations despite Baghdad lifting a surcharge, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reports. ... "In essence Washington and London want to eliminate name-plate and small trading firms from buying Iraqi oil and re-selling it to third parties and oblige Baghdad to sell to U.S. and UK firms directly, something that Iraq has refused to do," the Cyprus-based Newsletter says.

How to achieve democracy in Iraq

Laith Kubba, Financial Times: Yet neither the US government, the international community nor the Iraqi opposition has agreed a plan for the "day after". None of the options that have been suggested so far is workable. ... Overseeing the entire transition process would be a three-member presidency with sovereign authority over the three temporary councils. ... Laith Kubba is a founding member of the Iraqi National Congress


Arms chief backs tough Iraq resolution

BBC: said he would welcome a tough new resolution to support his mission in Iraq, as the US produces what it says is more evidence against Saddam Hussein. ... Dr Hans Blix said there had been an "erosion" of the inspection regime and pressure needed to be put on Iraq to comply with the UN-mandated checks.


AP: Iraq could have a nuclear weapon by 2010 and meanwhile is bolstering its stockpile of chemical and biological weapons, U.S. intelligence agencies report. The report, issued Friday by CIA officials, said the most pressing threat appears to be from Iraq's expanding biological weapons program, which relies on hard-to-find mobile production facilities. Iraq's arsenal includes anthrax, it said. ... Iraq has been able to pay for these programs with money diverted from humanitarian aid programs and from oil smuggling, it said.


Arabic News: Al-Jalabi said "In my personal view, Russia has legitimate interests in Iraq including oil interests. To honor their interests, I recommend them to maintain a dialogue now with the Iraqi National Congress."


I Went to See . . .

Washington Post, Mike Thompson (D Calif): The first time I was criticized for going overseas, I was a 19-year-old Army airborne soldier returning from Vietnam. ... the name-calling has returned. "Baby killer" has been replaced by "traitor." This time it's from conservative radio talk show hosts questioning my fact-finding trip to Iraq last week. I didn't have to go. I could have been satisfied with the classified briefings I receive as a member of the House Armed Services Committee -- briefings that raise more questions than answers. ... I wanted to see what our 19-year-old soldiers could face. ... What I saw were the roots of terrorism that have been lost in the emotional and political drumbeats of war. Children are dying from curable diseases because they have no access to medicine. Raw sewage contaminates drinking water. It's appalling how a nation once so rich is now a wasteland of disease and despair. ... I expected the Iraqi government to try to take advantage of the trip to further its propaganda assault, and I remained on constant guard. During two live interviews with CNN, the satellite feed was cut as I was criticizing the human cost this dictator has inflicted on his people. Back home, however, I never expected conservative partisans to try to use my State Department-licensed trip to fuel their own propaganda machine.

Who Will Run Iraq After Saddam?

HARRY DUNPHY, AP: Rend Rahim Francke, executive director of the Iraqi Foundation, a human rights group, said the Bush administration appears hesitant to deal with Iraq after Saddam. ... Richard Perle, a consultant to Rumsfeld, said a "dangerous idea" making the rounds, particularly in the State Department, "is that in a post-Saddam Iraq power will flow to Iraqis already on the scene."

Kurdish parliament to endorse peace deal at landmark meeting

AFP: The Kurdish parliament is expected to ratify a US-brokered deal between the two main Kurdish groups sharing control of northern Iraq when it convenes Friday for the first time in six years, crowning peace moves amid US threats to oust the Baghdad regime. ... Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz, speaking in Ankara Wednesday, dismissed the two groups' proposal for a federal Iraq as "nonsense" and accused the United States of obstructing agreement between Baghdad and Iraqi Kurds. The reactivation of the Kurdish parliament was one of the main clauses of the Sept. 8 accord, which itself was designed to complete implementation of the 1998 deal.


Butler accuses US of nuclear hypocrisy

Sydney Morning Herald, Gerard Noonan: "Amongst my toughest moments in Baghdad were when the Iraqis demanded that I explain why they should be hounded for their weapons of mass destruction when, just down the road, Israel was not, even though it was known to possess some 200 nuclear weapons," he said. "I confess, too, that I flinch when I hear American, British and French fulminations against weapons of mass destruction, ignoring the fact that they are the proud owners of massive quantities of those weapons, unapologetically insisting that they are essential for their national security, and will remain so."

C.I.A. Rejects Request for Report on Preparations for War in Iraq

New York Times, JAMES RISEN: The Central Intelligence Agency has refused to provide Congress a comprehensive report on its role in a possible American campaign against Iraq, setting off a bitter dispute between the agency and leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Congressional leaders said today. ... Government officials said that the agency's response also strongly suggested that Mr. Bush had already made important decisions on how to use the C.I.A. in a potential war with Iraq. One senior government official said it appeared that the C.I.A. did not want to issue an assessment of the Bush strategy that might appear to be "second-guessing" of the president's plans. ... The C.I.A,'s rejection of the Congressional request, which some lawmakers contend was heavily influenced by the White House, comes as relations between the agency and Congress have badly deteriorated.

Britain backs French demands for two UN resolutions

Independent, Andrew Grice and David Usborne: Britain backed French plans for two separate new United Nations resolutions on Iraq yesterday, in an attempt to reach an agreement in the Security Council. ... The move came as Russia signalled for the first time some flexibility on British and American demands that a resolution be passed before Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector, can send his teams back into Iraq. ... Under the compromise plan, the UN Security Council would reach agreement on both resolutions but only the first one would be formally tabled. ... the second resolution would be tabled for adoption as soon as there was evidence that the inspectors could not carry out their work properly, paving the way for the use of force.

Bush Strikes Deal for House Backing on Action in Iraq

New York Times, ELISABETH BUMILLER and ALISON MITCHELL: Mr. Bush bent to Democratic wishes and vowed to report to Congress within 48 hours of launching any military action about why diplomatic means were no longer sufficient to protect the United States or enforce United Nations resolutions. He must also continue to report to Congress every 60 days that military action continues, and on planning for rebuilding and peace-keeping after military action. ... "I continue to believe," Mr. Daschle said, "that the final resolution should include greater emphasis on eliminating Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, a stronger statement that operations against Iraq will not undermine the ongoing international effort against Al Qaeda, and a clearer assessment of the administration's plans for the political and economic reconstruction of a post-Saddam Iraq." ... Another Defense Department official said today that a top Qaeda operative was in Baghdad about two months ago, causing United States officials to suspect that his presence was known to Mr. Hussein. Abu Musab Zarqawi, a Jordanian, is believed to have left Iraq, the official said. ... His activities and contacts in Iraq are not known, but his presence in Baghdad apparently was a factor in the Bush administration's recent volley of accusations with the Iraqi government.

U.S. Losing Iraq Battle at the U.N.

LA Times, MAGGIE FARLEY and ROBIN WRIGHT: "Right now, the U.S. and U.K. don't have enough votes in favor of their proposal," said Ginette de Matha, France's spokeswoman at the world body. "The automatic use of military force is not acceptable." ... "It's a problem," said Michael Stuermer, a respected political commentator for the German daily Die Welt and former head of a German government-financed political think tank. "There's no sense of clarity. In matters of life and death, I want a position I can defend clearly and logically, and that's not there."

Hawks and doves split over next UN move

Julian Borger, The Guardian: According to a European diplomat at the UN headquarters in New York: "It was clear that different people in Washington were backing different points. I've given up trying to interpret the different noises coming out of different places in the administration." ... Furthermore, security council members would have the right to direct and micro-manage Unmovic's work. That opens the door to the US first and foremost to attempt to take over its operations. But Russia and France could do the same. Hans Blix, Unmovic's chairman, would be taking orders from all over the world. It is a clearly unworkable plan, but that too may be deliberate.

US, British Warplanes Drop Leaflets, Bombs on Iraq

Reuters, Charles Aldinger: U.S. and British warplanes dropped thousands of warning leaflets on southern Iraq and bombed an air defense command center on Thursday after Iraq's military tried to shoot down planes that dropped the leaflets, the Pentagon said. ... "The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defense locations is a response to your continuing aggression toward planes of the coalition forces," said a sample leaflet made available by the Pentagon. ... "No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next," the message warned.

US: Al-Qaida Op Recently in Baghdad

JOHN J. LUMPKIN, AP: but he's the second al-Qaida operative who has been reported in Baghdad this year. The other, Ahmad Hikmat Shakir, is a native Iraqi, and may have simply gone home, officials said. It is unknown if he has had any contacts with the Iraqi government.

Lugar: Reps Block Disposal Of Chemical Weapons In Russia

Defense Week Daily Update, Nathan Hodge: An influential senator today complained that House lawmakers have "stymied" efforts to fund the destruction of a vast stockpile of Russian chemical weapons that terrorists might find an attractive target. Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.), a senior member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced an amendment to the fiscal 2003 defense-appropriations bill on July 31 that would pay for the disposal of more than 2 million ground-launched chemical weapons stored at a depot in Shchuchye, in Russia's Kurgan region.

Al-Talibani calls on the Arabs to evacuate Karkouk The chairman of the Kurdistani National Federation [PUK] Jalila al-Talibani has called on the Arabs who live in the Kurdish areas, which are still under the control of the Iraqi government, to evacuate these areas.

Iraq Arms Experts Probably Spied - Swede Inspector

Reuters: "There were episodes you could sense were strange. One team member made too many copies of documents. Then there were those who went to their embassies at night although they were not really allowed to do so," Ake Sellstrom told Swedish public service SVT television news. ... Sellstrom said information obtained by means of electronic surveillance of Iraqi security forces' communications had clearly fallen into wrong hands -- such as the U.S. and Israeli military -- during his time with UNSCOM.


Powell: Saddam can avert ouster

Barbara Slavin, USA Today: Powell said he was simply echoing statements by President Bush, his comments went a step further and marked the first time a high-ranking administration official has suggested Iraq's regime could change its ways and not its leader. "The issue is disarmament," Powell told USA TODAY's editorial board. "If you can get the (weapons) inspectors back in, that can make sure under a tightened, tough regime, with consequences for failure to perform, you can disarm this society. ... Then in effect you have a different kind of regime no matter who's in Baghdad." White House spokesman Ari Fleischer denied that Powell had shifted U.S. policy. "Do you honestly believe that all these conditions can be met by Saddam Hussein?" he said. ... "My instructions from the president were to work in a way to get compliance," he said.

Cleric opposes Saddam and U.S.

Borzou Daragahi, WASHINGTON TIMES: "SCIRI taps into Iraq's majority Shi'ite population in a way that other Iraqi opposition groups do not," said Colin Rowat, a Middle East lecturer at the University of Birmingham in England.


Reuters: Iraq has proposed Indonesia play a role in setting up a "companion team" to monitor U.N. weapons inspectors should they re-enter the country, Indonesia's foreign minister said Wednesday.


Evelyn Leopold, Reuters


Sharon to Putin: Too late for Iraq arms inspection

The Jerusalem Post, HERB KEINON: With Russia leading international efforts to get United Nations weapons inspectors back into Iraq, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon told Russian President Vladimir Putin yesterday that the time when these inspectors could have been effective has passed. ... Putin also stressed the importance of Israeli-Russian ties and noted that bilateral trade has risen to $1 billion a year NYT: "U.S. IS DISMISSING RUSSIA'S CRITICISM OF STRIKES IN IRAQ": Sir Jeremy assured members that "regime change," the stated goal of the Bush administration, would not be on the agenda unless Mr. Hussein refused to disarm, when the "human element" would have to be addressed, he said, referring to the Iraqi leader. ... Writing in the newspaper Le Monde, Mr. de Villepin said his government was in agreement that "Iraq constitutes a potential menace to regional and international security." But, he added, "an action whose stated goal from the outset is regime change would be against international law and open the way to all sorts of abuses."

Pentagon Shows Videos of Iraq Firings at Allied Jets

Eric Schmitt, NYT: "Here you have U.S. and British planes flying daily to enforce the U.N. resolutions, putting their lives at risk, these pilots and air crew, day after day after day for years, and the U.N. not enforcing its own resolutions," Rumsfeld said. "With each missile launched at our air crews, Iraq expresses its contempt for the U.N. resolutions -- a fact that must be kept in mind as their latest inspection offers are evaluated." The no-flight zones, however, were created independently by the United States and its coalition partners, contending that they were enforcing the general U.N. resolutions requiring Iraq to halt repression of its own people.

US issues warning on weapons talks

BBC: US Secretary of State Colin Powell has said negotiations between United Nations weapons inspectors and Iraq may have to be put on hold until Security Council deliberations on a new resolution are completed.

Iraq's Little Secret

NYT, NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF: The White House is right that Iraq is by far the most repressive country in the entire Middle East - but that's true only if you're a man. ... Indeed, if Iraq attacks us with smallpox, we'll have a woman to thank: Dr. Rihab Rashida Taha, the head of Iraq's biological warfare program, who is also known to weapons inspectors as Dr. Germ. ... "I look at women in Saudi Arabia, and I feel sorry for them," said Thuha Farook, a young woman doctor in Basra. "They can't learn. They can't improve themselves." ... So as we invade Iraq for its barbaric and repressive ways, our allies in the Muslim world should feel deeply embarrassed that a rogue state offers women more equality than they do.

The undoing of arms inspections in Iraq: Years have been lost, and it isn't all Saddam's fault

Barbara Crossette, International Herald Tribune: In the critical late 1990s, it was the United States, the preeminent power on the Security Council, that effectively stopped supporting the inspection system, rendering it a sham. ... After the early, vigorous efforts of Madeleine Albright as ambassador to the United Nations to hold Iraq to its disarmament obligations during the first four-year Clinton administration, the steam went out of U.S. policy after 1996, when Albright moved to Washington as secretary of state and the Clinton White House seemed indifferent to how the issue was handled in New York. ... Crippling sanctions could stay in place forever as far as Washington was concerned. Saddam was "in his box."

Bush Administration Takes Tough Stance on Iraq

Reuters, Steve Holland: A senior State Department official said the United States would go into "thwart mode" if chief U.N. inspector Hans Blix prepares to go back to Iraq without fresh instructions.

Iraq's children suffer as war looms

BBC, Caroline Hawley: However, [Unicef] and other aid agencies are now warning that war could wipe out recent gains and cause massive new suffering.


Iraq War Could Cost Up to $9 Billion a Month-Report

Reuters: Fighting a war with Iraq could cost the United States between $6 billion and $9 billion a month, with preparing for a conflict and winding down after it adding another $14 billion to $20 billion to the total, congressional budget analysts said on Monday. ... Top Bush economic advisor Lawrence Lindsey recently estimated a war with Iraq could cost $100 billion to $200 billion, but White House budget director Mitch Daniels later stepped in to label that figure as "likely very, very high." And House of Representatives Democrats last week pegged the likely cost of a one-to-two-month war with Iraq at $31 billion to $60 billion, while warning follow-up costs and the possible economic repercussions could push the total far higher.

Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda Are Not Allies

New York Times, DANIEL BENJAMIN: Daniel Benjamin served on the National Security Council from 1994 to 1999. He is the co-author of ``The Age of Sacred Terror.''

U.S. Plans Appeal To Iraqi Officers: Stopping Biological Weapons Is Goal

Washington Post, Walter Pincus: Richard Russell, a CIA area analyst who specialized in Iraq and is now at the National Defense University, said the effort to deter individual commanders "makes sense as an attempt." But he noted that Iraqi operational security was very good in the Gulf War and "you have to assume it is much better now."

Report: Seized Material Not Uranium

AP: Atomic Energy Institute chief Guler Koksal said the material was harmless, containing zinc, iron, zirconium and manganese.

A New Look at U.S. Goal

New York Times, DAVID E. SANGER: At the United Nations, the United States says it simply wants to enforce the disarmament of Saddam Hussein, while in Washington and out on the hustings, Mr. Bush talks incessantly about overthrowing "the Iraqi dictator." ... "He's doing exactly what we predicted," a senior administration official said today. "He's proving that you can't have a real inspection while Saddam remains in power." ... When asked, senior administration officials have argued that removing Mr. Hussein was not Mr. Bush's idea, it was Congress's - in a resolution that was passed overwhelmingly in 1998 ... Representative Jim McDermott, a Democrat from Washington State ... "It's wrong to create war as the only way to deal with this." ... "The problem with this plan," a senior diplomat from a major Pacific ally said here over the weekend, "is that it leaves Saddam no graceful way out. If he defies the U.N. or if he complies with it - however unlikely - the Americans are intent on knocking him off. He has no means to maneuver, and we have little room for diplomacy."

Fear and Loathing in Kuwait: Emirate expects reprisal for U.S. strike. Still, there is desire to topple 'evil cancer,' Hussein

TONY PERRY, LA Times: The Ministry of Health announced last week that it has imported specially designed tents to withstand chemical or biological warfare by providing pressured air. The move was made in "the face of expected 'events' in the region." Half a million gas masks are in storage. ... gas masks are also selling briskly, some Kuwaitis are planning to leave the country if war is declared, and the Kuwait Stock Exchange is plunging. ... In returning from the United Nations last week, the foreign minister noted with approval that the resolution being sought by the U.S. and Britain cites the Kuwaiti POW issue as one of the reasons for a possible strike against Iraq.


US struggles to rally a fractured opposition

Dilip Hiro, The Observer: But barely a month later - to their disgust - Talabani and Barzani discovered that application forms for volunteering for the Pentagon's latest scheme had started arriving in their respective territories from the INC office in London, while they had been kept in the dark about it. This heightened their already acute loathing of Chalabi, who has been a persona non grata in Iraqi Kurdistan since his disastrous attempt to oust Saddam in March 1995 from a base in Kurdistan. (Chalabi is most welcome in Israel, which he has visited a few times.)

Oil firms wait as Iraq crisis unfolds

Robert Collier, San Francisco Chronicle: Ahmed Chalabi, the INC leader, has gone even further, proposing the creation of consortium of American companies to develop Iraq's oil fields.

Ansar al-Islam Denies Links to Al-Qaeda or Iraqi Government

Al-Sharq al-Awsat: The statement which was posted on the "Ayyubi" Internet website said: "Some quarters in the US Administration have accused the Ansar al-Islam group in Kurdistan of having links to the Iraqi regime, and of hiding chemical substances belonging to the regime in the areas under its control..." The statement added: "The group has never had any links, relations, dialogue, or any direct, indirect, open, or secret correspondence with the Iraqi regime, and nor is it ready to make way for such relations in the future." Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "The president's real goal in Iraq JAY BOOKMAN: This war, should it come, is intended to mark the official emergence of the United States as a full-fledged global empire ... why does the administration seem unconcerned about an exit strategy from Iraq once Saddam is toppled? Because we won't be leaving. Having conquered Iraq, the United States will create permanent military bases in that country from which to dominate the Middle East, including neighboring Iran. [presents 2000, 1992 predecessors to NSS, claiming that they were less diplomatic] ... Kagan is more blunt. "People worry a lot about how the Arab street is going to react," he notes. "Well, I see that the Arab street has gotten very, very quiet since we started blowing things up."


U.S Plan Requires Inspection Access to All Sites

MICHAEL R. GORDON, NYT: "If we find anything in what they give us that is not true, that is the trigger," an American official said. "If they delay, obstruct or lie about anything they disclosed, then this will trigger action." ... Significantly, the resolution specifically overrides provisions of Resolution 1154, which Mr. Annan worked out in 1998 to resolve a dispute with Iraq over access to presidential sites. Resolution 1154 required the inspectors to notify Iraq before inspecting presidential sites and to conduct the inspections in the company of diplomats. ... One European diplomat, who is critical of the American approach, asserted that it had been designed to fail. "The Americans are not really interested in having the inspectors go back in. This is not a resolution for inspections. It is a declaration of war." ... An American official said that Washington hoped that the new resolution would essentially replace all prior resolutions on Iraq since 1991. "Don't think in terms of other resolutions," the official said. "This one will stand alone and have everything Iraq has to give us."



NYT: "There are some assets that are in short supply," General Myers told the Senate Armed Services Committee. "But our conclusion is that we have the assets to do whatever it is the president asks us to do." (Prominent Hammer II)


NYT: "If someone tries to threaten us, we know how to respond," said a farmer named Hakim al-Khal in the bazaar of Karbala, and then he reached under his shirt and brandished a handgun. ... some tribes are armed with mortars and large-caliber machine guns


NEWSDAY, Knut Royce: Much of the new information, according to one intelligence source, is coming from Abu Zubaydah, a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden now in U.S. custody. Zubaydah has provided some valid intelligence, this source said, but often has lied or provided deliberately misleading information.


NATIONAL POST: "They are pursuing the no-fly zones as if there is going to be a seamless transition to war," said James Lindsay, a military analyst with the Brookings Institution. ... "They are going to take these targets out any way and they feel they might as well take them out now,"

U.S. aim in Iraq: 'Lightning' action

Dave Moniz, USA TODAY: "Look for innovative, agile lightning tactics and look for it to be immediately overwhelming," says Steve Baker, a retired rear admiral who is a military analyst at the Center for Defense Information. Baker and others say a Desert Storm-like buildup and a massive ground invasion are not likely. ... The war will almost certainly be preceded by a lengthy disinformation campaign designed to keep Saddam guessing about U.S. intentions. That effort, some say, has already begun with the disclosure of plans to move a key military headquarters to the tiny Persian Gulf nation of Qatar and the continued leaking of "war plans," including military training for Iraqi dissidents, to U.S. media. ... This psychological operations, or "psyops," campaign is designed to topple Saddam and leave the Iraqi people unharmed. ... The Pentagon has explained the expanded strikes as acts of self-defense after Iraqi batteries targeted American warplanes. Privately, military officials say the United States is taking the opportunity to dismantle Saddam's air defenses. Letter to the Editor: Mr. Gore and the Iraq Debate, Washington Post, Peter Galbraith: In 1988, Sen. Al Gore was one of the original sponsors of the Prevention of Genocide Act, which would have imposed comprehensive sanctions on Iraq for gassing its Kurdish population. The bill passed the Senate but died in the House in the face of Reagan administration opposition. National security adviser Colin L. Powell opposed punishing Iraq, and prominent Republican Rep. Richard B. Cheney did nothing to help the legislation. As a Senate staffer, I was in rebel-held northern Iraq in March 1991 as Saddam Hussein initiated his brutal campaign to crush the Kurdish uprising. The State Department spokesman sought to discredit my report by suggesting that my trip violated U.S. law. Al Gore not only stood up for me, but also focused attention on the real issue: U.S. inaction in the face of the systematic destruction of the Kurdish people.

France casts doubt on Iraqi weapon threat

Victor Mallet and Christopher Adams, New York Times: France on Friday expressed scepticism about US efforts to prove to its allies that Iraq had accelerated the development of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and appeared to rebuff US efforts to build support for a United Nation resolution threatening the use of force against Baghdad. French President Jacques Chirac told George W. Bush in a telephone conversation that Paris remained "more than ever" in favour of the UN adopting two separate resolutions in dealing with Iraq.

Unwanted Debate on Iraq-Al Qaeda Links Revived

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: "There's a lot of head-scratching going on," said one dismayed official. "We were all on message, and to kind of throw this out there might be perceived as an act of desperation" at precisely the time they were starting to gain traction on Capitol Hill and U.N. headquarters in New York.

A Simple Yes to Monitors Is Baghdad's Top Defense

LA Times, TYLER MARSHALL: "If Saddam can stretch this out through March, he's probably bought himself another eight months," summed up a senior Bush administration official who requested anonymity.


Gulf News: The UN has approved a plan by a Bahraini firm to operate direct flights to Iraq, making the Kingdom the first GCC country to establish air links with the sanctions-ridden country since the invasion of Kuwait in 1990, a Bahraini businessman said yesterday.



NYT: Senator Trent Lott, the minority leader, confided this morning that he and a half-dozen colleagues had debated whether to replace one "and" in the text. While President Bush had asked for authority to attack Iraq "and restore international peace and security in the region," some senators said "and" gave him carte blanche to widen the war. The word "to" might do, or they might delete the clause altogether.


Newsday: "We clearly know that there were in the past and have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of al-Qaida going back for actually quite a long time," Rice said. "We know, too, that several of the al-Qaida) detainees ...have said that Iraq provided some training to al-Qaida in chemical weapons development. ...And there are some al-Qaida personnel who found refuge in Baghdad."


IHT: Daschle, referring to Bush's comment Monday that the Democratic-controlled Senate was "not interested in the security of the American people," said in a quavering voice: "That is outrageous - outrageous.


AFP: US planes bombed a mobile air defense radar system in a raid on the international airport in Basra, southern Iraq, a Pentagon spokesman said Thursday.


AFP: Ukraine will ask the United Nations to send experts to Kiev to investigate allegations that it illegally supplied arms to Iraq, Foreign Minister Anatoly Zlenko said Thursday.


AFP: India on Thursday objected to a British government dossier's allegation that an Indian firm helped Iraq develop its missile programme.

U.S. and Britain Drafting Resolution for Iraq Deadline

PATRICK E. TYLER, NYT: The United States, with Britain's help, is drafting a United Nations resolution that would give Saddam Hussein about two months to demonstrate his willingness to cooperate fully with weapons inspectors and to make new efforts to comply with the resolutions that ended the Persian Gulf war, administration officials and United Nations diplomats said today. ... President Jacques Chirac said on Tuesday that France would not oppose discussions on a new resolution, but would not agree to including a threat of force. ... a senior administration official familiar with the drafting process said ... "Once Congress acts, that's the final - that's all that has to happen in our system," the official said. ... Ms. Rice said "there have been contacts between senior Iraqi officials and members of Al Qaeda going back for actually quite a long time." ... Her office gave no further details.

We Might Get More Bang With Our Bucks

LA Times, ERWIN CHEMERINSKY: Is there any price at which Saddam Hussein could be bribed to leave, for example? ... Could a huge bounty on Hussein's head, say $1 billion or even $10 billion, end his rule without an American invasion ... Could the scientific talent in Iraq, those who have the capacity to build weapons of mass destruction, be bribed to leave? ... Imagine sending 10,000 weapons inspectors, an absurdly large number and enough to turn over every imaginable stone in Iraq. If each was paid $100,000 a year, the cost would be $1 billion.

Uniting Jordan and Iraq Might Be Prime Post-War Strategy

Stratfor: Hashemite capital in 'Amman

Taking Sides Against Saddam

The Nation, CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: I used to know Naji [Sabri] and I know that two of his brothers, Mohammed and Shukri, were imprisoned and tortured by Saddam Hussein--in Mohammed's case, tortured to death. The son of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz was sentenced to twenty-two years of imprisonment last year; he has since been released and rearrested and released again, partly no doubt to show who is in charge. ... Saddam Hussein likes to use as envoys the men he has morally destroyed; men who are sick with fear and humiliation, and whose families are hostages. ... It will perhaps surprise nobody that despite Kurdish offers of cooperation, our intrepid CIA has shown no interest in questioning these [Ansar al-Islam] prisoners. ... I don't find the saner, Richard Falk-ish view of yet more consultation to be very persuasive, either.

Turkish regime and Turkuman Front organise meeting to undermine foundation of democratic Iraq "This meeting is a conspiracy by the Turkish MIT and their military arm in the Kurdistan de facto state, Turkuman Front, to undermine the Federal Iraq and the constitution that has been proposed by the Kurdistan Regional Government," highly informed source within the Iraqi opposition told ... "No regime in the area want to see a democratic Iraq. The foundation of a democratic regime in the region where people enjoy a Western-style democracy would severely undermine the neighbouring totalitarian regimes of Turkey, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. A democratic Iraq would not tolerate 'Turkish Republic of Generals'," the source added.


Saddam resists a push into exile

John Diamond, USA TODAY: The United States and some of its Arab allies have begun a quiet effort to defuse the Iraq crisis by persuading Saddam Hussein to yield power and go into exile. ... It is unclear whether the United States or Arab states initiated the Qatari overture. Administration officials made clear this week that they could accept such an outcome as an alternative to war, but the administration does not want to appear to be the originator of the idea, for fear that it would kill any chance Saddam would accept. ... Floating the exile idea is attractive to Washington because it might reduce Saddam's sense of desperation, a concern among Pentagon officials worried that he would unleash a chemical or biological attack if he believed his regime faced imminent destruction by U.S. forces. It could also avoid a bloody and politically costly war. Arab allies are drawn to the exile scenario because it is a way for them to avoid supporting U.S. war efforts against another Muslim country.

Debating the dossier: Blair moderates his rhetoric - for now

The Guardian: Tony Blair insists he has not changed his goals on Iraq or the means that he favours to achieve them. ... It has happened because Mr Blair's loyalty to a frighteningly unclear United States policy was causing him to lose too much domestic political support to ignore. ... There was little of the simplistic second-hand rhetoric that Mr Blair sometimes adopts to pretend he is on George Bush's linguistic wavelength.

It's Too Soon to Give Bush War Power in Iraq

Newsday, Ivo H. Daalder and James M. Lindsay: Too many questions remain unanswered, both about why a war would be fought and about its consequences for the region.

This is not a dossier but an act of desperation

The Times, Simon Jenkins: But yesterday's dossier is not serious. ... The task of leadership is not to write tabloid front pages but to judge how far a threat to the nation's interest is real and, if so, how the nation should respond proportionately. Neither Mr Blair nor George Bush has yet explained what has suddenly led them to abandon containment of Iraq and to demand Saddam's head on a plate. ... The dossier's attempt to present Saddam as an incipient nuclear power is worse than half-hearted. He has no factory to treat enriched uranium even if he found it "somewhere in Africa". Had he such a factory, it could be bombed. ... Yesterday Britain's Ambassador to the UN claimed that America had dropped "regime change" as a demand, since the UN cannot enforce it and Saddam can hardly accept it. The US has since denied this.

Iraq Kurds Say Qaeda-Linked Group Near Collapse

Reuters, Joseph Logan: A militant Islamist group in Kurdish-held northern Iraq accused of having links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group is near collapse after the recent arrest of its leader, an Iraqi Kurdish [KDP] faction said Wednesday.

Sifting the old claims from new and suspicions from assertions of fact: Expert Views

Nicholas Watt and David Pallister, The Guardian: David Kay, UN chief weapons inspector between 1991 and 1992. "The aluminium tubes aresignificant - that is the first time we have seen that number of tubes. That is a genuinely industrial scale production. But it all has to go together be cause the tubes are nothing on their own. They have to be spun at incredible speed." ... Mr Kay was also struck by Iraq's alleged attempt to procure an entire magnet production line. There is no other use for them, he said, than in the uranium enrichment process. ... Mr Kay was impressed by the dossier and believed that the government had struck the right balance of providing strong evidence without compromising its intelligence sources. "It is a very useful dossier. I have not found anything pulled together in this way before. "

Suspect plants open their doors: Iraqis arrange tour of factories named in report

Ewen MacAskill in the al-Qa'qa weapons site, Iraq, The Guardian: The site was one of two visited by British journalists within hours of Mr Blair's dossier being published.

African gangs offer route to uranium: Suspicion falls on Congo and South Africa

James Astill and Rory Carroll, The Guardian: Iraqi agents have been negotiating with criminal gangs in the Democratic Republic of Congo to trade Iraqi military weapons and training for high-grade minerals, possibly including uranium, according to evidence obtained by the Guardian. ... security analysts said the Congo was the likeliest, followed by South Africa. ... A delegation of five Iraqis was arrested in Nairobi by the Kenyan secret service last November while travelling to eastern Congo on fake Indian passports, a western intelligence officer said. ... Since US obtained uranium for its first atom bombs from a mine in the Kivu region, foreign governments have vied for the Congo's uranium. ... Citing sources in Brussels, French radio reported last year that Mobutu loyalists had moved 10kg (22lbs) of uranium bars to Libya, en route to a "rogue state" believed to be Iraq. Some analysts were sceptical. "That uranium mine is an old story but as far as I know it has been closed for some time. I don't know of any rumours or information regarding the Iraqis being involved," Jakkie Cilliers, head of the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria, said.

Powell: Regime Change the Best Way to Disarm Iraq

Reuters: Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that "regime change" in Baghdad was the best way to ensure that Iraq disarmed. ... "The U.S. continues to believe that the best way to disarm Iraq is through a regime change," Powell said

White House to Seek Approval for Training the Iraqi Opposition

LA Times, ROBIN WRIGHT: Reversing a long-standing policy, the Bush administration is expected to seek congressional approval soon to provide military training for up to 10,000 members of the Iraqi opposition, according to administration officials and Iraqi opposition sources. ... "We have graduated to the next step of regime change," said a well-placed administration source who requested anonymity. ... To pay for the training, the White House now intends to notify Congress that it wants to use the $92 million yet to be allocated from the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act.

Byrd attacks cost of possible Iraq war

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Ann McFeatters: With estimates of the potential costs of a war with Iraq ranging from $30 billion to $200 billion, and the federal deficit rising past $200 billion, Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., is waging a war of his own -- against the administration. ... The administration, Byrd declared, was treating that sum as if it were "pocket change," while White House budget chief Mitch Daniels was treating the $9 billion that Democrats want to spend for more social programs as "a bone in the throat," the senator said. On Monday, the House Budget Committee's Democratic staffers estimated that an attack on Iraq could cost between $30 billion and $60 billion - much less than Lindsey's figure -- based on the $80 billion cost of the 1991 Persian Gulf war, adjusted for inflation, and the fact that the commitment of U.S. forces this time would amount to about 250,000 troops, compared with 500,000 in 1991. But the committee staff prediction did not consider the cost of remaining in Iraq for peacekeeping and stability after such a war.

Ukraine Denies Selling to Iraq: Leader Moves Against Opposition; Belarus Also Rejects Charge

Peter Baker, Washington Post: Both Ukraine and Belarus today denied providing weapons systems or sensitive technology to Iraq in violation of U.N. sanctions, despite reports identifying them as suppliers of President Saddam Hussein's government.


Roundtable on the Iraq Dossier

NEWS HOUR WITH JIM LEHRER PBS TV, 6:00 PM: RAY SUAREZ - Today the Canadian government said that after looking over the dossier, they were more convinced that sending the inspectors back in was the right thing to do.

Iraq inspections face high hurdles: The US and Britain are crafting a UN Security Council resolution against Iraq to be presented as soon as Wednesday

Peter Ford, Christian Science Monitor: The gravest obstacle is that neither of the principal antagonists appears keen that the inspections - whose success is all that could forestall war - should work. ... In Washington's eyes "inspections were a tool for containment," says Charles Duelfer, former deputy chief of the UN Special Commission (UNSCOM) that ran inspections in Iraq between 1991 and 1998. "Now they are a tool for replacement of the regime."

Gore Calls Bush's Policy a Failure on Several Fronts

New York Times, DEAN E. MURPHY: "That has been squandered in a year's time and replaced with great anxiety all around the world, not primarily about what the terrorist networks are going to do, but about what we're going to do."

U.S. Suspects Ukraine of Selling Radar to Iraq

New York Times, MICHAEL WINES: The United States, relying on an analysis of clandestine tape recordings, has concluded that President Leonid D. Kuchma of Ukraine personally approved a plan in July 2000 to sell Iraq an advanced radar system that can detect approaching aircraft without their pilots' knowledge. ... The radar, nicknamed Kolchuga after the Russian word for chain-mail armor, is a passive radar system, differing from conventional radar that bounces its own signal off an object.

Congressman who led the charge in '91 hangs back for now

Kathy Kiely, USA TODAY: Fewer than one-third of members of Congress are veterans; the percentage was more than double that when Murtha arrived on Capitol Hill 30 years ago. He says that makes a difference. ... ''I don't know whether it was intentional or not, but he has put the country in such a box,'' Murtha says. ''He can say, 'You'll undercut me if you don't vote for this resolution.' ''

Though squarely in line of fire, Israel backs war

Barbara Slavin, USA Today: If war breaks out, Israel and the United States would share information about hostile missile launchings, and Israeli pilots already have U.S. codes that identify other aircraft as friend or foe, says Martin Indyk, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.


Brian Whitaker, The Guardian: Despite Tony Blair's efforts to persuade the public that Iraq is an imminent threat, British moves to indict leading members of the Baghdad regime for crimes against humanity have floundered amid Whitehall buck-passing. [Details how Clwyd's complaint against Aziz has been held up for 2 years]


Karen Dabrowska, "Despite plumes of smoke rising from torched villages, clearly visible to American and British pilots as they patrolled the no-fly zone, no international action was taken to stop Baghdad doing exactly as it liked in the south."


Ex-Marine Wages Loud Fight Against War: Ritter accused of contradicting self on Iraq weaponry

Frank James, Chicago Tribune: "Either he lied to you then or he's lying now. It's your choice," Kay told lawmakers. "He's gone completely the other way. I cannot explain it on the basis of the known facts."

U.S. sent Iraq germs in mid-'80s

Buffalo News, DOUGLAS TURNER: American research companies, with the approval of two previous presidential administrations, provided Iraq biological cultures that could be used for biological weapons, according to testimony to a U.S. Senate committee eight years ago.

Plan aimed at Iraqi commanders raises doubts 'Psyops' seek to prevent chemical, biological strikes

John Diamond, USA TODAY: Defense and intelligence officials are raising doubts about a classified Pentagon plan to persuade Iraqi commanders to hold back their most lethal weapons in the event of war with the United States. ... But the official said the men in charge of Iraqi chemical or biological weapons and missile forces are likely Saddam's most loyal soldiers, motivated by fanaticism or fear, or both.

Iraqi defector warns against invasion

BBC: Khazraji: The army is best placed to lead a revolt One of Iraq's most senior defectors has told the BBC that an American-led invasion would spell a "very dark future for all". ... General Khazraji said the international community should focus on "moral and diplomatic" support for ordinary Iraqis, rather than military help.

After invasion of Iraq, then what?: Cost, demands, hazards of post-Hussein patrols concern military

Tom Bowman, Baltimore Sun: a study conducted for the Army based on 16 U.S. military occupations in the 20th century - dating to the Philippines in 1902 - estimates that about 100,000 occupation troops would be required to patrol a post-Hussein Iraq. ... The Army has embarked on a study, due in December, that will determine whether its 480,000-soldier force is adequate to carry out current worldwide obligations ... Cordesman, the CSIS analyst, said there has been a "deafening silence" from the administration about how Iraq will be run after Hussein. ... Baghdad "would be like Jenin," said retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark


Tom Newton Dunn, Daily Record: Major General Patrick Cordingley led the British 7 Armoured Brigade - the famous Desert Rats - when they helped liberate Kuwait in 1991. In a passionate outburst yesterday, the recently retired general, 57, said: "I am absolutely opposed to war. I feel very strongly it is wrong. There is no justification for sending British troops to Iraq. The case for war has not been made. "I don't think they have much, frankly."


War Plans Target Hussein Power Base: Scenarios Feature A Smaller Force, Narrower Strikes

Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post: neither Iraq's infrastructure nor its military rank-and-file would be targeted. Instead, the U.S. military is thinking about how to execute a sharply focused attack on Hussein and the people and institutions that keep him in power. ... "Our interest is to get there very quickly, decapitate the regime, and open the place up, demonstrating that we're there to liberate, not to occupy," one military planner said. ... There are three ways to address this "assembly problem," as it is known inside the Pentagon, but none of them is particularly satisfactory, according to the people considering them. ... The decision that targeteers appear to be favoring is to strike the means of delivery -- missiles and drone aircraft -- but to leave most of the actual weapons to be dealt with later. ... The major exception to that hands-off conclusion, said the Pentagon consultant, will be deeply buried bunkers of weapons of mass destruction that can be reached by deep-penetrating incendiary bombs.

Revealed: Iraq's quest to build nuclear bomb: New evidence proves that Saddam Hussein has continued his efforts to assemble an arsenal of weapons of mass destruction

Observer, Peter Beaumont and Nick Paton Walsh: documents attempts to obtain nuclear inputs in 1990s, especially from Belarus: "smuggling them into Iraq via the Jordanian free port of Aqaba, and trying to hide the equipment once it reached Iraq."

US will rebuild Iraq as democracy, says Rice

Financial Times, James Harding, Richard Wolffe and James Blitz: The US will be "completely devoted" to the reconstruction of Iraq as a unified, democratic state in the event of a military strike that topples Saddam Hussein, said Condoleezza Rice, US national security adviser. 'We didn't raise our sons to fight. But we know it will happen', Independent, Kim Sengupta: "I always feared that, by the time the day was out, something could have happened to one of us. It is silly, but it felt like a form of insurance kissing them goodbye," she says. "I haven't started doing that yet, partly because they're older now, and the boys get embarrassed ... But also because it will make them realise how afraid I am becoming." ... At the Al-Mansour hospital, director Dr Luay Qasha talks about stocking up with blood supplies, fluids, antibiotics ... Rahima looks out of the window at the gathering dark. "We have all tried hard to make sure our children get a good education. We didn't want our sons to grow up knowing how to fight. But now we are afraid that is what is going to happen."


The Legality of Using Force


US studies 'Iraqi chemical war plan'

The [London] Times, Shyam Bhatia: A top secret document signed by the head of the Iraqi navy has US experts worried that Iraq President Saddam Hussein has ready-to-use chemical weapons and will deploy them without hesitation in the event of war. ... Although the document does not refer to specific chemical weapons in Iraq's arsenal, it mentions 'preparations' that must be made for a forthcoming 'chemical battle' between Iraqi and American forces and also the Iranians. ... Shyam Bhatia is a co-author of Brighter Than The Baghdad Sun [document produced by SCIRI, INC]

Bush Has Received Pentagon Options on Attacking Iraq

New York Times, ERIC SCHMITT and DAVID E. SANGER: The Pentagon has completed and delivered to President Bush a highly detailed set of military options for attacking Iraq, Pentagon and White House officials said today.

America will try Saddam for war crimes

The Times, Richard Beeston: THE Bush Administration vowed yesterday that President Saddam Hussein and members of his regime would one day be prosecuted for war crimes and held accountable for 100,000 Iraqi deaths.


A Big Threat: A former weapons inspector supervisor says now is the time to act

Greg Goldin, LA Weekly: good interview with Terry Taylor. Calls Ritter's BW/CW statements incredible. "I think we just can't let the situation drift any more. It's becoming increasingly hard to keep support for sanctions. I think we've got six months to deal with this, or whatever unity there is -- it's pretty sort of thin already -- will totally fall apart, and we'll end up with a regime in Baghdad with nuclear weapons in two years' time."

Bush administration's Iraq campaign includes behind-scenes bartering

TOM RAUM, Associated Press: The Bush administration's drive to persuade Congress and the United Nations to authorize military action against Iraq is just the public face of its campaign. Behind the scenes, it's more like "let's make a deal." ... "I don't see that there are really any quid pro quos to be had, whether with Russia or others," Undersecretary of State John Bolton said when asked if the United States had offered to look away if Russian President Vladimir Putin follows through on a threat to pursue Chechen rebels into the sovereign republic of Georgia.



George Jahn, Boston Globe, from Associated Press: "Aluminum tubes come in all shapes and forms, from crutches to centrifuge" parts, Dillon said from London. "Nobody has enough information to decide what was the objective of this piping."


Times of India, AFP: "Now, if Saddam Hussein and his family decided that the game was up and we'll go live in some foreign country like other leaders have done," Rumsfeld said in an interview with PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer" program when asked what, if anything, could satisfy the administration of President George W. Bush short of military action against Baghdad. ... He did not finish the sentence. "There have been any number of leaders who have departed recognizing that the game was up, that it was over, that they had run their term. So that could happen," said the defense secretary


Reuters: Kurdish rebels from Turkey declared "defense zones" in regions of Kurdish northern Iraq on Thursday and warned Turkey they would defend them against any attack during possible turmoil in Iraq. In a statement certain to anger close U.S. ally Turkey, the Kurdish rebels said they had made the declaration in anticipation of potential U.S.-led strikes on neighboring Iraq.


Matthew McAllester, Newsday: Despite deep opposition in the Arab world to U.S. plans for a war on Iraq, Jordan and the United States are secretly negotiating a deal to let U.S. forces use this country to defend Israel from Iraqi missiles, according to Western diplomats and Jordanian officials. ... the United States will guarantee the replacement of cheap oil supplies that Jordan now gets from Iraq, the sources said. ... If the United States does attack Iraq, "the reaction will be more like al-Qaida's actions," said Labib Kamhawi, a Jordanian businessman with good relations with some influential Iraqis. "Small groups taking action against American interests. America will be inviting a new era of terrorism. Basically American targets, maybe regime targets. We have strong reasons to believe that the outcome of such an attack will invite the formation of underground militant groups. ... There might be some, dormant ones."



Bayan Rahman, Financial Times



Rolf Ekéus, The Washington Post: If we believe that Iraq would be much less of a threat without such weapons, the obvious thing is to focus on getting rid of the weapons. Doing that through an inspection team is not only the most effective way, but would cost less in lives and destruction than an invasion. ... many people underestimate the sophistication of inspections and the experts who devoted themselves to this challenge. ... Take Iraq's biological weapons program, often cited as evidence of Baghdad's ability to deceive weapons inspectors. In his speech to the UN General Assembly on Thursday, U.S. President George W. Bush attributed the successful uncovering of the bioweapons program to the fortuitous defection of a senior Iraqi weapons official in 1995. In this case, the president does not appear to have been well briefed. In fact, in April 1995, four months before the Iraqi official defected, UN inspectors disclosed to the Security Council that Iraq had a major biological weapons program, including a sizable production facility. In later reports in June and July, the inspection team, known as the UN Special Commission on Iraq, or UNSCOM, added details about Iraq's research into weapons that could spread anthrax, botulism, aflatoxin and gas gangrene. The defection of the Iraqi weapons official, a son-in law of Saddam, in August provided some additional confirmation and prompted the Iraqi regime to make some more admissions, but the inspectors learned few new details. ... In 1995, we found out about missile guidance systems Iraq had smuggled in from Russia the same year, even as inspections were going on. With inspectors in hot pursuit, Iraqi officials tried to avoid detection by throwing the equipment into the River Tigris, but UNSCOM divers were able to fish it out. ... little can be proven. ... A strong case can be made that Iraq, with access to considerable financial resources from oil sales since 1998, is making extensive efforts to rebuild its capabilities in weapons of mass destruction. ... The inspectors should be backed up by an inspection implementation force positioned in neighboring countries and possibly in some parts of Iraq. ... Any obstruction by Iraq should be met with immediate reaction.


Washington Post: U.S. pilots patrolling the skies over Iraq are taking a new approach to defending themselves against Iraqi gunners by striking at the command and communications links in Iraq's air defense system rather than its guns and radar, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said yesterday. ... Rumsfeld said in 2001 that Chinese experts were helping Iraq upgrade its air defenses with fiber-optic cables, but said yesterday he did not know if such aid was still being given.


Benjamin Grove, Las Vegas Sun: group of executives making rounds on Capitol Hill huddled in a private meeting with Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., last week. They told him: "If there is a war in Iraq, we'll all go broke," Reid said today ... Reid quoted the Wall Street Journal, which reported that Bush's chief economic adviser Lawrence Lindsey estimated a war in Iraq could cost $200 billion.



Arabic News: A Kuwaiti paper said on Sunday a "smuggled" official Iraqi document admitted that there are four Kuwaiti prisoners held by Baghdad since the Gulf war in 1991. The document, a memorandum, the Kuwaiti daily al-Seyash got from members in the Iraqi opposition.



Interview by Nermin Al-Mufti with Scott Ritter, Al-Ahram Weekly: if the inspectors are allowed back, within six months you will start seeing the positive results. Before a year the economic sanctions will be lifted. ... in 1991, the UN proposed to have armed soldiers escorting the inspectors but that proposal was turned down. Inspectors must be provided with all the facilities and must enjoy the cooperation of the Iraqi government. If the Iraqi government chooses not to cooperate, the inspectors should be withdrawn and the Security Council should come up with other solutions, including military force.


Eric Convey, Boston Herald: [general secretary of the United Methodist Church General Board of Church and Society] Winkler said, the course upon which the White House has embarked is "contrary to the teachings of Jesus Christ." ... If Bush seems undeterred, it might be in part because the Evangelical Protestants to whom he turned for support in the 2000 election have had little to say negatively on the Iraq question.


Neil Mackay, Sunday Herald: A SECRET blueprint for US global domination reveals that President Bush and his cabinet were planning a premeditated attack on Iraq to secure 'regime change' even before he took power in January 2001. [for Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Jeb, Lewis Libby by PNAC] ... The PNAC document supports a 'blueprint for maintaining global US pre-eminence, precluding the rise of a great power rival, and shaping the international security order in line with American principles and interests'.


Xinhuanet: The administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has backtracked and withdrawn its offer to the United States to use Philippine air space for its planned attack on Iraq.



AFP: Amnesty International on Friday criticized US President George Bush for "selective use" of its reports of human rights violations in Iraq over recent years , adding the human rights of the Iraqi people were being ignored in the buildup to military action.


Iraq Lacks Material for Nuclear Bomb, Study Says. Report Cites Biological Capabilities, Fails to Endorse Military Action

Glenn Frankel, Washington Post: Over the past year, Western intelligence officials have reported several foiled attempts by Iraqi agents to purchase specialized steel and aluminum tubes used in gas centrifuges that enrich uranium for bombs. ... Experts familiar with the history of Iraq's weapons program note that similar tubes are also used in making conventional artillery rockets. ... "This is actually a weak indicator for suggesting centrifuges -- it just doesn't build a case," said David Albright, a former U.N. weapons inspector and director of the Institute for Science and International Security. "I don't yet see evidence that says Iraq is close."

Iranian official outlines plans for Iraqi refugees in the event of war

IRNA: no Iraqi refugees will be allowed into the country ... the necessary facilities have been prepared for sheltering a 50,000-strong group of possible refugees.

International Humanitarian Aid Few Iraqis Ever See --- U.N. Bureaucracy, U.S. Security Fears Hinder Effort to Supply Ordinary Consumer Goods

Steve Stecklow and Alix M. Freedman, WSJ: private sector sales authorized by UN, and problems with them.


Ex-Arms Inspector Says Attack on Iraq 'Not Justified'

Sameer N. Yacoub, AP: Ritter in Baghdad. [IISS releases report on Iraq non-conventional weapons - Nukes within months if can buy fissile material.]


Inspectors certain Iraq will use its deadly weapons

Sunday Telegraph, David Wastell, Philip Sherwell and Julian Coman: Terry Taylor, an arms inspector from 1993 to 1997, said inspectors could never be sure of what they had found and what they had not found. "It is spurious to say, as has been said in the past, that 95 per cent disarmament has taken place. How do we know what 100 per cent is? [David Kay] "During the second inspection I led they staged firing squads - which may or may not have been genuine - outside our hotel between 3am and 4am. They were trying to unsettle us. ... Eventually we said that since we were awake anyway, we might as well begin inspections at that time. They didn't like that, so there were no more firing squads."

U.S. Says Hussein Intensifies Quest for A-Bomb Parts

MICHAEL R. GORDON and JUDITH MILLER, NYT: In the last 14 months, Iraq has sought to buy thousands of specially designed aluminum tubes, which American officials believe were intended as components of centrifuges to enrich uranium ... Officials say the aluminum tubes were intended as casing for rotors in centrifuges, which are one means of producing highly enriched uranium

US pours arms into Gulf region: Equipment and troops move in on a scale not seen since Desert Storm as planes strike Iraqi base

Dan Plesch, Peter Beaumont and Paul Beaver, Observer: ... There have also been persistent reports that US and British Special Forces have established an operating base near Incerlik in Turkey, from which they have begun mounting liaison missions into northern Iraq in recent weeks.


ANDY GELLER, New York Post: calls her Parisoula Lampsos


100 jets join attack on Iraq

Michael Smith, Daily Telegraph: About 100 American and British aircraft took part in an attack on Iraq's major western air defence installation yesterday in the biggest single operation over the country for four years. ... Until yesterday, all strikes had been against air defence sites in the south, around Basra, Amara, Nassairya and Baghdad.


Times of India: The attack by the American and British aircraft on military installations in Iraq is not a prelude to a possible special forces ground operations, said an official spokesperson of the Iraq Embassy.

ATOMIC ANXIETY: U.N. Spy Photos Show New Building at Iraqi Nuclear Sites

JULIA PRESTON, The New York Times: not known what's under roofs.


Uncertain Ability to Deliver a Blow Iraq Cobbles Together Weapons Systems With Mixed Results, Analysts Say

Joby Warrick, Washington Post: review of L-29 drone, 'drop tank' and ballistic missiles

Carter says Iraq poses 'no current danger' to U.S.

Reuters: Former President Jimmy Carter, warning against a unilateral U.S. war against Iraq, said on Thursday that Baghdad poses "no current danger to the United States," and also criticized America's drift away from its historical role as a global champion of human rights. ... Some of the positions "seem to be developing from a core group of conservatives who are trying to realize long pent-up ambitions under the cover of the proclaimed war against terrorism," Carter said.

Arab League: Iraq Strike Would 'Open Gates of Hell'

(Reuters) - Arab League chief Amr Moussa said Thursday a strike against Iraq would "open the gates of hell" in the Middle East, and urged Baghdad to readmit weapons inspectors in coordination with the United Nations.


James Drummond and Michael Mann, Financial Times: at Cairo Arab League meeting "yesterday"


Anton La Guardia, Daily Telegraph: "Saddam doesn't get it. He seems to think there will be a great Arab shield to defend him, that the Arabs will rise up in opposition and stop America," one Qatari official said.


Plans For Iraq Attack Began On 9/11

[important] CBS: barely five hours after American Airlines Flight 77 plowed into the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld was telling his aides to come up with plans for striking Iraq ... according to notes taken by aides who were with Rumsfeld in the National Military Command Center on Sept. 11. ... With the intelligence all pointing toward bin Laden, Rumsfeld ordered the military to begin working on strike plans. And at 2:40 p.m., the notes quote Rumsfeld as saying he wanted "best info fast. Judge whether good enough hit S.H. ... at same time. Not only UBL" ... "Go massive," the notes quote him as saying. "Sweep it all up. Things related and not."

Blair's Iraq Dossier Promises Few Surprises

Kate Kelland, Reuters: British Prime Minister Tony Blair has promised a dossier of evidence against Iraq but government comments Wednesday suggested it would offer few, if any, revelations. ... It is likely to be similar in style to a dossier on Osama bin Laden produced to justify Britain's backing for the U.S.-led military campaign in Afghanistan last year. ... That 21-page document set out the government's case for a strike, but was derided by lawyers as containing little of the kind of firm evidence that would stand up in a court. ... "(Blair) risks exactly the disappointment that greeted his "dossier" on Osama bin Laden last year," Bronwen Maddox, foreign editor of The Times newspaper, said in a commentary.

Heading for Trouble: Do we really want to occupy Iraq for the next 30 years?

Washington Post, James Webb (assistant secretary of defense and secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration): The greatest military victory of our time -- bringing an expansionist Soviet Union in from the cold while averting a nuclear holocaust -- was accomplished not by an invasion but through decades of intense maneuvering and continuous operations. With respect to the situation in Iraq, they are conscious of two realities that seem to have been lost in the narrow debate about Saddam Hussein himself. The first reality is that wars often have unintended consequences -- ask the Germans, who in World War I were convinced that they would defeat the French in exactly 42 days. The second is that a long-term occupation of Iraq would beyond doubt require an adjustment of force levels elsewhere, and could eventually diminish American influence in other parts of the world. ... The connotations of "a MacArthurian regency in Baghdad" show how inapt the comparison is. Our occupation forces never set foot inside Japan until the emperor had formally surrendered and prepared Japanese citizens for our arrival. Nor did MacArthur destroy the Japanese government when he took over as proconsul after World War II. Instead, he was careful to work his changes through it, and took pains to preserve the integrity of Japan's imperial family. Nor is Japanese culture in any way similar to Iraq's. The Japanese are a homogeneous people who place a high premium on respect, and they fully cooperated with MacArthur's forces after having been ordered to do so by the emperor. The Iraqis are a multiethnic people filled with competing factions who in many cases would view a U.S. occupation as infidels invading the cradle of Islam.


Arabic News: "An official in Saudi Arabia's foreign ministry has stressed that Riyadh did not send any official delegation to Iraq , and that the Saudi businessmen who will be visiting Iraq have no diplomatic traits or are not delegated from the Kingdom"


Arabic News: Hurriyet said on Tuesday that Turkey has found a new formula to open a second border gate, in collaboration with Syria and this was following the US rejection of Turkish plans to open a border gate in northern Iraq area. ... where the borders of the three countries Syria, Iraq and Turkey meets. This will enable having access to the Turkman area directly and not through the only border gate currently existing that links between Turkey and Iraq and is controlled by the Kurdistani Democratic party led by Masoud al-Barazani.


Tim Vickery, AP: "I say to you officially that there are four Ukrainian Kolchuha installations on Iraqi territory and the U.S. carried out a bombing mission on them last week," [opposition politician] Omelchenko said.


Paul McGeough, Sydney Morning Herald: tour of Akashat [Glen Rangwala CASI posting later says location different]


The Men From JINSA and CSP

Jason Vest, The Nation. [Describes personalities driving US Middle East policy, their ties to defence contractors.] Beginning in October, hard-line American Enterprise Institute scholar Michael Rubin (to Rubin, outgoing UN human rights chief Mary Robinson is an abettor of terrorism) arrives at the Pentagon to take over the Defense Department's Iran-Iraq account. [Mentions possible split between Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz, latter less hawkish.]

Iraq & al-Qaeda: Is There a Link?

Newsweek, ROMESH RATNESAR: But, says a senior intelligence official, "Iraq is not replacing Afghanistan as the sanctuary for al-Qaeda." Many of the newcomers are Kurdish jihadists returning to their native habitat or Afghan Arabs who have slipped into the Kurdish north ... "The al-Qaeda people are not official guests of the Iraqi government," says a senior spook. "There's no indication of that." ... Kurdish officials say the group has swollen to around 700, but U.S. intelligence puts the number at a little over 100. ... A U.S. official who studies Iraq says al-Qarea is probably a ragtag collection of men Uday dressed up as militants to impress his father. [good review of various allegations]

White House in disarray over Cheney speech

Julian Borger, The Guardian: George Bush has moved to distance himself from his vice-president after it was revealed that a sabre-rattling speech on Iraq by Dick Cheney was made without clearing key points with the White House. ... A European diplomat said: "As far as we can tell, the Cheney speech was a freelance job which had not been cleared with other agencies." The diplomat believed that included Mr Bush's national security adviser, Condoleezza Rice. ... The report also quoted administration sources as saying that Mr Cheney had failed to check the facts behind his allegations against Iraq with the CIA and that the state department never saw the final text of the speech.

TALABANI: KIRKUK IS NOT A SOLELY KURDISH CITY Kirkuk is not Solely Kurdish city; Kurds, Turkomans, Arabs, Assyrians, Christians, and others live in it. Mr Talabani has made this statement to the TV channels CNN-Turk and TV8 and reported in Anba Kurdistan, the PUK news bulletin.

RAMADAN'S REMARKS DAMAGING TO MUSLIM WORLD: [Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad] SADR

Tehran Times: Unfortunately, is spite of our supportive stance toward the Palestinian people, the Iraqi regime has chosen to accuse Iran, and it weren't for its 1980 aggression against Iran, the Palestinians may have been in a different situation today.


Officers: Iraq Could Drain Terror War - Diversion of Afghan Forces To Gulf Raises Concerns

Bradley Graham, Washington Post: "I'd prefer later than sooner," said a senior officer involved in the Pentagon's deliberations. "Can you imagine how it would look if we go to war against Iraq and there's another terrorist attack in the United States at the same time? People will wonder what we're doing." ... no attack on Iraq is likely until January at the earliest. ... Worry in the armed services about widening the war effort was reflected in a question last week from a Marine sergeant at Camp Pendleton in California, who asked visiting Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld whether the United States has the resources and manpower to sustain conflicts on two fronts.

Dissent Stalls Plan for Iraqi Government-in-Exile

Daniel Williams, WP: Not only is there no invitation list for a planning conference, tentatively scheduled for the end of September, that would establish the government-in-exile, but even the makeup of the preparatory committee for issuing the invitations is a subject of controversy.

Debate Over Attacking Iraq Heats Up

NYT, DAVID E. SANGER: "People out here think this sense that time is running out is manufactured," said Stephen Cohen, a Middle East expert at the Israel Policy Forum, at the end of a tour of the region. "There is a sense that the U.S. built up an energy in the war on terrorism, it kind of bogged down, and this is the way to put energy back in it."

Army Chief Acknowledges Turkish Presence in Northern Iraq

Tehran Times: The new chief of Turkey's powerful military has acknowledged that the country has a military presence in neighboring Kurdish-held northern Iraq, but refused to elaborate on the force. ... "We have some military elements in northern Iraq to serve a specific purpose, but it would not be right for me to explain the reason for their presence," General Hilmi Ozkok told reporters at a reception late Friday, the Anatolia news agency reported. ... "In the area around Bamerni, there are around two dozen Turkish tanks, troops and helicopters that are from time to time making sorties," Barzani said.

Iraq's Cross-Border Oil Trade Down to a Trickle: MEES

Tehran Times: Iraq's cross-border oil trade with Turkey and the Persian Gulf has been reduced to a trickle, the Middle East Economic Survey (MEES) reports in its latest edition. ... "The Turkish military authorities have enforced the shutdown to stop any extra financing of the militant Kurdish opposition group, the PKK (Kurdistan Workers' Party), as well as to reduce funds reaching Iraq's KDP (Kurdistan Democratic Party), headed by Massud Barzani, who is challenging Turkish interests and influence in northern Iraq."


Times of India


(AFP) - Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan has fired off a violent tirade at Iran, accusing Persians of always allying themselves with Zionists against the Arab world.




The Inevitable Failure of Inspections in Iraq

Charles Duelfer, Arms Control Today: Iraq’s obligations were clear; the incentives for cooperation were sizable; and the job of the inspectors in the process was simple—on paper. ... Inherent in the design of Resolution 687 was the assumption that Iraq would value the ability to export oil and engage in normal commerce more than it valued weapons of mass destruction capability—an assumption that turned out to be dead wrong. Discussions with senior Iraqi officials eventually revealed the enormous importance the regime attached to these weapons. For the regime, possession of weapons of mass destruction was an existential issue. Deputy Prime Minster Tariq Aziz, among others, pointed out that, during the Iran-Iraq war, hitting cities deep in Iran with long-range missiles and countering of human wave attacks (particularly in the battle for al Fao) with massive use of chemical weapons saved Iraq. Moreover, Baghdad believes that its possession of biological and chemical weapons during the 1991 Gulf War helped deter the United States from marching on Baghdad. Thus, the regime has two experiences in which it feels its very survival was linked to possession of weapons of mass destruction. ... It is obvious but worth remembering that Iraq had the resources of a relatively wealthy nation-state to deploy in its efforts to obstruct inspections and that there was no higher priority for the government of Iraq, with the exception of protecting the president.


German unit will pull out if U.S. attacks

NYT, Steven Erlanger: German defence minister promises to withdraw specialised NBC unit from Kuwait; Stoiber responds with same promise in event of unilateral, but only after consulting allies.

Urban War, the Right Way. Baghdad Needn't Be Another Mogadishu. American Troops Are Up to the Task--but Is the Public?

LA Times, MARK BOWDEN (author of "Black Hawk Down": The Russians are estimated to have lost 200 tanks assaulting Grozny in Chechnya in 1994, a battle that left an estimated 100,000 dead.


Peter Baker, Washington Post: U.N. officials maintain that Iraq has been charging a premium of 20 cents to 50 cents per barrel, most of which they deem an illegal kickback to Hussein's government. ... One firm that has been singled out lately is Emercom ... According to U.N. officials, Iraq was charging a premium of 20 cents per barrel at the time of the Emercom deal. Western diplomats consider a 5-cent premium legitimate and anything else an illegal surcharge for Hussein.


Arab states condemn US Iraq plan

BBC: Unnamed US officials have also been quoted in news agency reports as saying the Bush administration will seek to oust Saddam Hussein regardless of whether he allows back the inspectors.

Russian diplomat meets INC Representative in Washington

Reuters, Johnathan Wright: "A Russian diplomat initiated contacts with the Iraqi opposition in exile on Thursday, saying he came to learn rather than to offer support, a source in the opposition Iraqi National Congress said."

German Bioterrorism Expert: Iraq Has Know-How, Potential, Threat Is 'Very Real'

Berlin Die Welt (Internet Version-WWW) in German 30 Aug 02: interview with Gabriele Kraatz-Wadsack: [Muehlmann] Does Iraq have something to hide?, [Kraatz-Wadsack] In my assessment, it does. Otherwise there would be no reason not to allow the weapons inspectors into the country.

U.S. Says Iraq Bolstering Defenses

JOHN J. LUMPKIN, Associated Press: "It's the largest defensive preparation since Desert Storm," said a Bush administration official. "The rhetoric they are hearing coming from the United States they're taking it very, very seriously." ... Defending Baghdad proper is half of the Iraqi Republican Guard three armored divisions that ring the city's outer reaches, officials said.

Clinton: U.S. attack on Iraq would give Saddam incentive to use weapons of mass destruction



Iraq Takes Reporters on Plant Tour

SAMEER N. YACOUB, AP: Falluja tour. Zanders, said much of the equipment for producing chemical and biological weapons can have legitimate purposes. But to find out what is really going on requires "particularly intrusive inspections, not just to sites designated by the Iraqi authorities."

Improvised War Etiquette

Washington Post, George F. Will: "Polish regular officers fired on our territory. Since 5:45 a.m. we have been returning the fire." -- Adolf Hitler, Sept. 1, 1939 ... Without guidance from any precedent in this republic's history, the administration is improvising diplomatic and constitutional etiquette for launching preventive war without what has normally been recognized as a casus belli.

Bush wrong to use pretext as excuse to invade Iraq

USA TODAY, James Bamford: But senior U.S. intelligence officials have discounted the meeting. ''We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on,'' said FBI Director Robert Mueller. The records revealed that Atta was in Virginia Beach during the time he supposedly met the Iraqi in Prague.

Secret files on Baghdad's weapons plans

The Times, Michael Evans: Tony Blair is getting no inside information from President Bush about his plans for dealing with Saddam's weapons of mass destruction programme, according to a former senior American diplomat. Richard Holbrooke who was United States Ambassador to the United Nations under President Clinton, revealed in The Washington Post that a "senior adviser" to Mr Blair had told him "bitterly" that Mr Bush "was giving Blair nothing" in return for his unstinting support on Iraq. ... Three years ago Iraq was reported to have ordered half a dozen "lithotripters", machines that use shock waves to get rid of kidney stones, but UN experts said they also had a practical use for triggering atomic devices.

11 years after Gulf War, Cheney shifts objective on Iraq

Susan Milligan, Boston Globe: Former Marine Corps Lieutenant General Bernard Trainor recalled how Cheney made a bet at the time with a military colleague that Hussein would be gone within six months.

In Baghdad streets, they're not quaking in their boots

Sydney Morning Herald, Paul McGeough: There was no panic - no queuing for petrol, produce or money. The hotels are empty, but staff insisted it is the 50-degree heat of summer, not the threat of war, that is keeping the foreigners away. Faris El-Hadi ... millionaire, as Iraq's sole agent for Samsung and a string of other consumer goods, ... was a passionate advocate not so much for Saddam as for Iraq: "You will find people here who don't agree with what the Iraqi government is doing, but you will not find people who will co-operate with invaders. Most of my friends and relatives are professional or in business and they disagree with some of the decisions of our government and its handling of many things. But they are Iraqis and they love their country, so they are not about to betray it. ... I don't know what the Americans are expecting. Do they really expect that the Iraqi people will welcome them? It is ridiculous. ... The Americans do not care about me. They care about our oil and our mineral resources, so it will be very difficult for them to find people here who will co-operate with them or accept this way of dealing with the Iraqi issue." ... Dr Saad Jawad, a professor of politics at Baghdad University and a foreign affairs adviser to Saddam: "We don't mind your weapons inspectors. All we are saying is that there must be a timetable and that the inspectors should not be spies for America. And there is nothing left to inspect - the US attacks in 1998 destroyed all the factories and the inspection cameras that had been placed in them."

Ankara stakes its claims in post-Saddam Iraq

Daily Star (Beirut), Mohammad Noureddine: Twice in the space of a single week, Turkish Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu made controversial comments about northern Iraq that caused much alarm in the Arab world. He characterized the Mosul and Kirkuk districts of Iraq as parts of Turkey that were forcibly taken away from it after World War I, and northern Iraq in its entirety as a "trust" under Turkey's "safekeeping," which it will do its utmost to retain. [Mosul wilayet]

On Invading Iraq: Less Talk, More Unity

Washington Post, Alexander M. Haig Jr.: "Recently President Bush has been deluged with advice about Iraq, much of it coming from those with a record of 100 percent terror on the subject."


Hugh Williamson, Financial Times: Edmund Stoiber, Germany's conservative candidate for chancellor, yesterday attacked the US on its threat of military action against Iraq, in an unexpected policy reversal.


Jane Wardell, AP: Asked if a war in Iraq would swell the numbers of Osama bin Laden supporters in his own country, Musharraf said, "Maybe, yes."


U.S. Divided on Iraq Inspections

AP: ``A return of inspectors would provide no assurance whatsoever of his compliance with U.N. resolutions,'' Cheney said. ``On the contrary, there is a great danger that it would provide false comfort that Saddam was somehow 'back in his box.''' ... Within hours, Secretary of State Colin Powell's spokesman, Richard Boucher, was offering a decidedly different view. ... ``We're doing our utmost ... to get U.N. inspectors back to Iraq,'' Boucher told reporters.

Powell Aide Disputes Views on Iraq

Washington Post, Dana Milbank: The Bush administration's argument that an attack on Iraq would make it easier to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict received a challenge from an unlikely source: retired Marine Corps Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, a senior adviser to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. ... Zinni said war against Iraq would alienate U.S. allies in the region. "We need to quit making enemies that we don't need to make enemies out of," ... "It's pretty interesting that all the generals see it the same way," Zinni said, "and all the others who have never fired a shot and are hot to go to war see it another way,".

Saddam's State of Terror

Wall Street Journal, KEN ADELMAN: "Saddam, like bin Laden, is clearly an international terrorist. He was involved in the unsuccessful plan to knock over the World Trade Center in 1993. He ordered his goons to assassinate the first President Bush later that year. ... Ringleader Mohamed Atta made the 7,000-mile round trip to Prague a few months before Sept. 11. There, he met a top officer of Iraqi intelligence, Ahmad Khalil Ibrahim Samir al Ani."

Leading Senate Republican calls for hearings on administration plans on Iraq

ROBERT BURNS, AP: Sen. John Warner R-Va., said in a letter to the panel's chairman, Carl Levin, D-Mich., that "there appears to be a `gap' in the facts possessed by the executive branch and the facts possessed by the legislative branch." ... Warner said his reference to the "gap in facts" wasn't meant to criticize the administration, but to acknowledge that administration officials are constantly gathering intelligence, making assessments and conferring with foreign leaders.

European ally Turkey joins long list of skeptics on attacking Iraq

BARRY SCHWEID, AP: Instead of military force, Ugur Ziyal, undersecretary in the Turkish ministry of foreign affairs, suggested the United States apply what he called "therapy" to Iraq. He suggested trying to tighten trade sanctions designed to force Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to abandon weapons programs.


US presses case for attacking Iraq

BBC website: Qatar's Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad Bin Jassem Al-Thani said his country wanted a diplomatic solution to the dispute over the return of United Nations weapons inspectors to Iraq. Qatar joins Saudi Arabia and Bahrain in denying use of their bases for any strike against Iraq. Some US newspapers have even reported that the US military is preparing to transfer to the emirate equipment and some of the 6,000 US troops currently stationed in Saudi Arabia to avert Saudi objections. Sheikh Al-Thani said the US had not asked permission to use the Al-Odaydia base. But he revealed what the answer would be if it did. "We are trying to save the region from new tragedies," he said. "Qatar is doing its best to calm the situation because the region cannot tolerate any new jolts. ... We are of course opposed to any military operation (against Iraq) and have always said that (disarmament) must be settled through diplomacy within the framework of the United Nations."

Iraq says arms experts return futile if US attacks

Reuters: Iraq's vice-president was quoted on Tuesday as saying the return of U.N. weapons inspectors was futile if the United States planned to attack his country. ... "The problem is not whether we allow the inspectors to come back or not, rather that the American Administration wants to attack because it is against the Iraqi overnment," Ramadan was quoted as saying. "So what is the purpose of allowing them to come back?," he demanded.

US signals Afghan policy shift

Telegraph: Paul Wolfowitz tells Ahmed Rashid of America's new initiative to take the lead in rebuilding Afghan society. [Wolfowitz now really concerned about nation building, expanding ISAF, aid money not arriving]

Take It to the Security Council

Washington Post, Richard C. Holbrooke: The road to Baghdad runs through the United Nations Security Council. This simple truth must be recognized by the Bush administration if it wants the international support that is essential for success in Iraq.

Key Iraqi Site Reportedly Bombed

SALAH NASRAWI, AP: A U.S.-British air raid in southern Iraq this weekend destroyed a major military surveillance site that monitors American troops in the Persian Gulf, witnesses said Tuesday. ... U.S. officials said they had no information about a surveillance unit at the site. ... The witnesses, Iraqis who said they were at the scene and were reached by telephone in neighboring Jordan on Tuesday, said one of the installations hit in Sunday's raids was the main headquarters of the army intelligence in southern Iraq that held a huge military surveillance unit.


Iraq plans list of firms exempt from oil surcharge

Reuters: "Nobody is paying this surcharge now," said the industry source close to Iraqi policy. "But people are still reluctant to buy oil even without the fee - and it's all down to the U.N. price policy. Customers do not want to risk loading their oil without knowing the price." ... U.S. and British diplomats say they must see concrete evidence that the illicit fee is abolished before they tackle pricing issues. ... Major oil firms such as Repsol , Cepsa , TotalFinaElf , OMV and ENI dropped their direct contracts with Iraq in late 2000 when Baghdad sought an an initial surcharge of 25 to 30 cents per barrel.

Iraq Said to Plan Tangling the U.S. in Street Fighting


Bush Aides Say Iraq War Needs No Hill Vote: Some See Such Support As Politically Helpful

Mike Allen and Juliet Eilperin, Washington Post.

Barzani did not want to go to Washington

Turkish Daily News, Ilnur Cevik: Kurdistan Democracy Party (KDP) leader Massoud Barzani did not go to Washington to avoid falling into a trap of having to commit himself to a possible United States military attack against Iraq, diplomatic sources and analysts said over the weekend.

Israel Army Head Speaks Out on Iraq

Yoav Appel, AP: Israel's army chief of staff says the danger posed by Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq "does not keep me awake at night" but said he does worry about Iran's nuclear ambitions.


The Right Way to Change a Regime

The New York Times, JAMES A. BAKER III: And thus regime change in Iraq is the policy of the current administration, just as it was the policy of its predecessor. [Fails to address tension between being committed to regime change and demanding tough inspections]

U.S. to Ask Iraqi Exiles to Step Up: US to train dissidents to speak out against Hussein

ROBIN WRIGHT, LA Times: Ilham Sarraf, a Los Angeles psychotherapist, said Saturday that Iraqis are being repressed by "two evils"--Saddam Hussein's political dictatorship and U.S. and U.N. economic sanctions.

Hussein's Victims Live Under A New Cloud

LA Times, Rauf Naqishbendi: Halabja native tells of his fear that SH will lash out at Kurdistan, and his parents: "The demise of Saddam Hussein and his regime has become the preoccupation of George W. Bush, and rightly so. ... As the talk of war grows, so does my fear. My mother and my father now live in Sulaymaniyah. Where do I tell them to hide?"


Top US general attacks hawks' strategy on Iraq

David Rennie and Anton La Guardia, Telegraph: One of America's most senior generals has condemned as "foolish" plans backed by leading Washington hawks to topple Saddam Hussein by using special forces in a repetition of the tactics that succeeded in Afghanistan. Gen James L Jones, the four-star commander of the Marine Corps who will be taking over as Nato's supreme allied commander, was clearly addressing high-ranking conservatives in and around the Pentagon. ... But despite Foreign Office assurances that there is no split with Washington, Mr Straw's comments were at odds with America's public commitment to topple Saddam whether UN inspectors return or not.

What about the people of Iraq?

Ha'aretz, Zvi Bar'el: compassionate and well-researched.

Al-Qaida running new terror camp, say Kurds

Michael Howard, Julian Borger, Guardian: "But Guardian interviews with captured Ansar members appear to confirm the al-Qaida presence and a limited, indirect connection to Baghdad. Iraqi agents have also been seen in Ansar villages. ... Rohan Gunaratna, a terrorism expert and author of Inside al-Qaida, described Ansar as a "very important group", but said: "It has received limited support from Iraq, and I stress limited.""

Militant Kurds training al-Qaida fighters

Michael Howard, Guardian: provides some history of Ansar al-Islam: "So far, the extent of Baghdad's involvement with Ansar is largely circumstantial. Barham Salih, the prime minister of the PUK regional government in Sulaymaniyah, said: "This is a matter of speculation. I can't give you hard truth one way or the other. But I can ask in whose interests it is to damage the Kurds at this time."

Finding Saddam, 'chem-bio' arms slows U.S.: Cloudy intelligence complicates planning of potential war on Iraq

John Diamond and Dave Moniz, USA TODAY: Gaps in U.S. intelligence about Iraq's chemical and biological weapons are complicating planning for potential military action to oust Saddam Hussein ... Pentagon planners are particularly concerned that airstrikes that target weapons facilities, or inadvertently hit caches of chemical or biological weapons, could spread a deadly plume through urban areas and cause thousands of Iraqi civilian casualties.

Iraq economy shrinking, despite oil

CNN, Geoff Hiscock: the country's economy is going backwards in 2002, ... has left Iraq's oil-producing infrastructure in poor shape, according to U.S. government estimates. ... Measured by gross domestic product, Iraq's economy shrank 6 percent last year and probably will contract again this year, according to the latest forecast by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

U.N. weapons chief waits for Iraq's next move: Blix discusses stalled talks

Linda Fasulo, NBC NEWS: Blix: "I know the Iraqis say what is in it for them - why succumb to inspections if there is a big American threat of possible military attack? ... The first answer is that they are obliged under Security Council resolutions since 1991 to do so, and they are in fact in noncompliance with the binding resolutions. In the second place, Resolution 1284 declares if they cooperate in all respects, then sanctions can be suspended. We have said that if they cooperate this could happen within a year's time."


Daily Telegraph, Australia: FORMER United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq Richard Butler has lashed out at the Australian Government's handling of the threat of war with Iraq. ... "It's the same in respect of the Iraq war just as Robert Menzies did 40 years ago when he lied to the Australian parliament about us being invited to join in the Vietnam war," Mr Butler said.


AP: "It is an area which had been forcibly separated," Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said Tuesday. "Northern Iraq is under our safekeeping." ... Diesel imports from the Kurdish region ended in February and Turkish officials announced last week that the trade will not be restarted. ... The Kurdish enclave depends on the smuggling of diesel to Turkey for a large part of its income. Sources say that the KDP has only been able to pay half the salaries of officials due to the cutoff in trade.


UK says inspectors, not regime change, key in Iraq

Reuters: Jack Straw comments

UN chief arms inspector - Iraq must apply Mubarak's initiative on scrapping WMDs

Text of report in English by Egyptian news agency MENA web site: "UN chief arms inspector Hans Blix said Iraq must scrap its weapons of mass destruction as a first step towards the application of President Husni Mubarak's initiative to render the Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. ... he said Iraq must do this first in the short term, and in the long term, the UN Security Council resolutions must apply to Israel as well." [oil hitting $30/bbl, crude at highest since May 2001] [unconfirmed Washington Post article on US Marines exercise in urban combat: today or yesterday? "Suddenly, Lt. Paul Gillikin, Lima Company's second in command, stormed into the small house where Cpl. Jennings and his men had taken cover. Lt. Gillikin actually had been "killed" several hours earlier. But he couldn't stand to see Cpl. Jennings and his fellow Marines give up. He grabbed a machine gun left behind by a dead Marine and set it up."]

War of words between Turkey and IKDP

Turkish Daily News: "The tensions between Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) reached a new peak Wednesday when the Kurds reacted strongly to statements by Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu that northern Iraq as well as Kirkuk and Mousul belong to Turks. ... "Turkey considered northern Iraq to be under its direct care and Ankara would not tolerate the region being subjugated due to the aspirations of others," Cakmakoglu had stated on Tuesday." [ultranationalist?]

Iraq opposition tries to limit damage after Berlin

Reuters, Khaled Yacoub Oweis: "An amateurish hostage taking at Iraq's embassy in Berlin has embarrassed Saddam Hussein's main opponents just as they were beginning to win U.S. support for their blueprint for a new regime in Baghdad. ... The hostage takers in Berlin said their choice of target was partly motivated by Germany's opposition to an attack on Iraq. ... German intelligence officials said they had never heard of the group calling itself the Democratic Iraqi Opposition of Germany."

U.S. presses Iraq on missing F-18 pilot: UN panel enlisted in 11-year-old case

Evelyn Leopold, Reuters: through trilateral + ICRC

Ansar al-Islam Says Talabani Spreads Rumors About Cooperation with Al-Qaeda

Al-Hayat, Ismail Zayir: has denied that the group carried out experiments in a chemical laboratory on using the poisonous substance "Ricin" ... he nevertheless admitted that there are Iraqi Arabs from various parts of the country who took refuge in the group's areas "as Muslims who were subjected to harassment by the central government" in Baghdad.

Support slips for bid to oust Saddam

Richard Benedetto, USA TODAY: "A slight majority of Americans still supports sending ground troops to Iraq to oust Saddam Hussein, but the size of that majority has dwindled to pre-Sept. 11 levels, a USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll finds. ... At the same time, President Bush's job approval has fallen to 65%, still healthy but its lowest level since before Sept. 11. ... Americans place more trust in congressional Republicans than congressional Democrats, 41%-30%, to make the right decisions regarding Iraq. ... 50% of registered voters said they would vote for a Democrat and 42% said a Republican"

Iraq Opposition Officers Connect with a Hashemite Prince to Replace Saddam

MEMRI, Nimrod Raphaeli


Turks plan Kurdish buffer zone

Daily Telegraph, Amberin Zaman. On Turkey's preparation for refugees: "There are plans to establish five camps across the border which could handle up to 2,000 large families of refugees. ... But an Iraqi Kurdish official said: "This is a Turkish ploy to put further troops on the ground.""

Americans 'change the rules' to avoid losing war game

Times, Katty Kay: A HUGE American war game designed to test US forces against a Middle Eastern enemy has been criticised by one of the participant generals, who claims it was rigged. The retired US general, who commanded the "enemy", said he had been prevented from using certain weapons and tactics in a game that had been "scripted" to ensure an American win. [US fleet 'refloated' at one point; unclear whether 'enemy' is Iran or Iraq. Millennium Challenge was exercise's name; cost $250 million.]


Tehran Times

Pentagon Leaders Defend War Game

AP: Pentagon leaders defended a $250 million war game designed to test new tactics and equipment in battles with terrorist states, saying it was not rigged to produce a victory by friendly forces. ... But retired Marine Lt. Gen. Paul Van Riper said the exercise was entirely scripted and that's why he stepped aside as commander of the "Red" or opposition force in Millennium Challenge 2002 after four days. Van Riper said guidance he gave to the Red force chief of staff was countermanded before it could reach officers and troops in the field. In one case, his forces were ordered to shut down their air defenses so there would be no challenge to a landing by "Blue" Marines, he said. ... Pace said tensions between Red team commanders and exercise organizers are common in war games. ... "If what the opposition force commander wanted to do at a particular time in the experiment was going to change the experiment to the point where the data being collected was no longer going to be valid as an experiment, then he was asked not to do that," Pace said. "I have talked with Gen. Van Riper. He did not resign. He stayed through the end of the exercise."

US 'takes for granted' Blair's support for Baghdad assault

Independent, Andrew Grice: Wesley Clark says "even the 'hawks' in the US government acknowledged privately that President Saddam was no threat to America. 'There are some in the administration who have always felt that military power should be used to eliminate Saddam Hussein,' he said. 'Those who favour this attack now will tell you candidly, and privately, that it is probably true that Saddam Hussein is no threat to the United States. But they are afraid at some point he might decide, if he had a nuclear weapon, to use it against Israel.'"

UK support on Iraq 'is assumed'

BBC: "The Gulf War cost the UK £2.5bn, although it was able to recoup about £2bn from other countries who did not contribute troops - something which might not happen again."

Don't trust Bush or Blair on Iraq: The Scott inquiry revealed the cynicism of politicians' approach

Guardian, Richard Norton-Taylor, One of the most damning revelations to come out of the Scott inquiry into the arms-to-Iraq affair was the British government's secret decision to supply Saddam with even more weapons-related equipment after he shelled the Kurdish town of Halabja ... "It could look very cynical if so soon after expressing outrage about the treatment of the Kurds, we adopt a more flexible approach to arms sales," one of his officials told the Scott inquiry. The government's decision to change its policy, but keep MPs and the public in the dark, was even more cynical, replied Lord Scott. ... Soon after the attack, Washington approved the export to Iraq of virus cultures and a $1bn contract to design and build a petrochemical plant the Iraqis planned to use to produce mustard gas."

Al Qaeda Presence In Iraq Reported: Baghdad Knows, Rumsfeld Says

Bradley Graham, Washington Post: But Rumsfeld scoffed at the notion that al Qaeda members are hiding in Iraq without the full knowledge of the government or its protection. ... "In a vicious, repressive dictatorship that exercises near-total control over its population, it's very hard to imagine that the government is not aware of what's taking place in the country," the Pentagon leader said. ... "Tariq Aziz, Iraq's deputy prime minister, said in an interview with CBS News yesterday that members of al Qaeda are operating in Iraq, but in the northern part of the country under the control of Kurdish opposition leader Jallal Tallabani, "an ally of Mr. Rumsfeld."

The Iraqi Dilemma: Seizure of Iraqi Embassy in Berlin Complicates White House Plans

ABC News, Terry Moran: Texas Though the takeover of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin on Tuesday may have looked like an amateurish and desperate stunt, it drove home a significant point: The White House is losing control of the debate over attacking Iraq. ... "Actions like this takeover are unacceptable," said White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer on Tuesday. "They undermine legitimate efforts by Iraqis both inside and outside Iraq to bring regime change to Iraq. ... In pursuit of America's policy within international law to have regime change, it is not acceptable to have takeovers of other nations' embassies."

Iraq Kurd chief wants US date for post-Saddam poll

Reuters: Iraqi Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) wants a U.S. timetable for elections after any ousting of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein ... The PUK official said Talabani also urged Washington to establish an election committee "to set the stage within six months for democratic elections in Iraq," ... [There is a group calling itself Ansar Al-Islam, which includes three factions: first, 130-150 Afghan Arabs who have been infiltrated from Afghanistan. The other factions are two small terrorist groups called Hamas and Al Tawheed. These Afghan--Arabs have joined forces with a number of armed Kurds, who had split from the Islamic Movement of Iraqi Kurdistan, to form Ansar Al-Islam. Some members belong to Al Qaeda; others don't. Asharq Al-Awsat August 18, 2002]


Russia 'giving illegal millions to Saddam for trade deals'

Nick Paton Walsh, Guardian: "western" diplomat accuses Russia of kickbacks.

U.S. Companies Slash Imports Of Iraqi Oil

Colum Lynch, Washington Post: "If you think that within the next eight months this significant source of crude oil may suddenly be out of reach, you will want to develop alternative sources," said James Placke, a former U.S. diplomat and specialist on the Iraqi oil industry. ... Tellings said Iraq's Asian customers have also begun to search for alternative sources of oil, citing concerns that Iraq is becoming an increasingly unreliable long-term source of crude. ... a senior U.S. official said today that Baghdad makes more than $1.8 billion a year on illicit oil sales. ... John Felmy, the chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, said companies have been unable to predict oil prices in a market that has been plagued by dramatic fluctuations. "How can you do business if you don't know what the price is?" he said. "That seems to be what's driving it right now." ... Cunningham rejected the proposal, saying that "the surcharge needs to be eliminated as a first step to dealing with this problem. Then we are willing to consider ways others have advanced to maximize exports."

Berlin hostage crisis over

BBC: "The occupation of the Iraqi embassy in Berlin has ended peacefully and hostages held by Iraqi dissidents for several hours have been released unharmed." INC doesn't condone.

Turkey Sees 'Buffer Zone' for Iraq Refugees

Reuters: "Turkey is ready to set up refugee camps inside northern Iraq to shelter and feed thousands who may flee any U.S. military strike against neighboring Iraq, a Turkish Red Crescent official said."

Iraq orders banks to be opened in Kurdistan

AFP: "The Iraqi cabinet has ordered the central bank to grant licenses for banks to be opened in parts of Kurdistan which Baghdad lost control of during the 1991 Gulf War, the official INA news agency said Tuesday."

Bush's Summer Reading List Hints at Iraq

Washington Post, Dana Milbank: "With Scowcroft's establishment wing of Republican foreign policy in open revolt, the Iraq policy has become a proxy war for the 30-year feud between Republican hardliners and moderates on foreign policy." Democrats not yet committed.

Cook wins Cabinet debate over Iraq

Daily Mail

Credibility on Line over Iraq Rhetoric

Reuters, Jonathan Wright: "Edward Walker, a former assistant secretary of state and president of the Middle East Institute, said Bush advisers who favor war had tried to impose their agenda by speaking so openly about the possibility of a military campaign. ... "They have been trying to tilt the playing field, trying to win in the internal debate by establishing a set of premises in the public's mind that makes it very hard for the president to walk away from it," he told Reuters.

Iraq opens warehouse to press to refute US biological weapons charges

Iraqi satellite TV: guides journalists around al Taji site. Surprise - baby milk powder!

Iraq Shows Baby Milk Store at Reported Weapons Site

Reuters, Huda Majeed Saleh: Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh "We started to move food from this warehouse to supply stores in provinces early this month, and more specifically on August 4 as we started to distribute food rations every two months ... We have transported 2,500 tons of powdered milk in 187 trucks and not 60 trucks as the Americans said and we will continue (to do so)". [on rations, see 7 Aug.]

Annan to Iraq: Account for Missing

AP: "Iraq could help partly restore its credibility by accounting for people missing since the 1991 Gulf War, Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Tuesday."

EYEWITNESS: I SAW AL-KHAZRAJI KICKING A KURDISH CHILD TO DEATH Mudir Ali, a 65-year-old eyewitness, on a videotape, says that on 4th May 1988, during Anfal, he has seen Al-Khazraji with his own eyes kicking a little Kurdish child to death. The videotape was recorded by the campaign to bring Nizar Al-Khazraji to international justice.


Qaeda Videos Seem to Show Chemical Tests

NYT, JUDITH MILLER: Several experts said they were surprised by the presence in the Qaeda archives of a documentary that was highly critical of Saddam Hussein. Mr. Bergen said that in his interview, Mr. bin Laden called Saddam a "bad Muslim." [plus, if testing CW, then suggests have not received GoI help, on that at least] ... Asked why the C.I.A. failed to obtain the archive before CNN, Bill Harlow, the agency's spokesman, replied, "There are more of them in Afghanistan than there are of us, and they are paid better."

Patrick Seale

BBC News on Abu Nidal's death: "It's generally supposed that his death was a joint Palestinian - Iraqi operation. I think they felt that they'd better get rid of him now", but for their own reasons. GoI wants to cut terrorist connection with US threats. [GoI can war on terror]

Blow for Bush as Russia agrees £27bn Iraq deal

David Rennie and Ben Aris, Telegraph: "Russia has dealt a potentially serious blow to American attempts to isolate Iraq after it announced a £27 billion trade agreement with Saddam Hussein."

General tells Bush: Don't go it alone

Tim Reid and Clem Cecil: Norman Schwarzkopf, the US general who commanded allied forces during the Gulf War, joined a growing number of senior US military and political figures yesterday who are opposed to a unilateral invasion of Iraq and said President Bush "should not go it alone". ... also Wesley Clark, who writes in The Washington Monthly: "The early successes (in Afghanistan) seem to have reinforced the conviction of some within the US Government that the continuing war on terrorism is best waged outside the structures of international institutions. This is a fundamental misjudgment. The longer the war goes on . . . the more our success will depend on the willing co-operation and active participation of our allies."

Right and wrong ways to wage war

Zbigniew Brzezinski, Washington Post: war is too serious a business and too unpredictable in its dynamic consequences - especially in a highly flammable region - to be undertaken because of a personal peeve, demagogically articulated fears or vague factual assertions. ... there is also a wrong way for America to initiate a war ... should not be decided in camera by the president alone with just a few of his own appointees ... Public support should not be generated by fear-mongering or demagogy ... Ultimately what is at stake is something far greater than Iraq. It is the character of the international system and the role in it of the most powerful state.

Looking for a Link

Newsweek: "Wolfowitz wanted the FBI to endorse the Czech account to show ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. But when FBI counterterrorism chief Pat D'Amuro and a case agent expressed skepticism, Wolfowitz vigorously challenged them, says one source. The sole evidence for the alleged meeting is the uncorroborated claim of a Czech informant."

Bush Calls Off Operation to Take Out Al Qaeda Poison Gas Laboratory in N. Iraq

ABC News, John McWethy: "The CIA and the Pentagon began planning a covert operation into Northern Iraq to destroy what appeared to be a budding chemical weapons laboratory several years ago, but late last week, the president called it off, sources told ABCNEWS. ... Officials say there is no evidence Saddam Hussein's government had any knowledge of their activities. ... As U.S. surveillance intensified, officials concluded the operation was so small and crude that in the final analysis, it was not worth risking American lives to go after it and also not worth the outcry that might follow any U.S. operation inside Iraq."

Washington Retreating on Iraq The Bush administration in the past few days has begun backing down from its single-minded commitment to attacking Iraq. This was forced in part by broad opposition in the Middle East and Europe to such a plan and dissension at home. ... A reversal of policy on Iraq was necessary in terms of both long-term U.S. anti-terrorism goals and short-term preparedness for new al Qaeda attacks. However, the retreat is a strategic psychological defeat for the administration, particularly in the Middle East. Washington inadvertently stumbled into exactly the trap al Qaeda hoped to set for it. ... the European Union reportedly is pressuring Turkey -- a critical ally in any attack plan -- to help thwart Washington's goals. ... And while the United States may have the firepower to defeat the Iraqi army, it needs intelligence as much as rifles to defeat al Qaeda. That intelligence comes from allies in the Middle East, and the United States cannot afford for it to dry up. ... as Al Qaeda cannot afford the perception that it was crushed by the United States, Washington cannot afford to be expending all its political capital on a war with Iraq, only to be blindsided by an al Qaeda attack in the United States. ... CNN's broadcast over the weekend of al Qaeda's video library -- showing chemical gas experiments and explosives-making -- is perfectly timed to help begin refocusing the American public. NPR Talk of the Nation, "Iraq After Saddam Hussein": Kate Seelye says GoI buying loyalty: "Somebody told me their brother, who's a general in the army, his salary was increased from $25 a month to $35 a month."


Officers Say U.S. Aided Iraq in War Despite Use of Gas

NYT, PATRICK E. TYLER: "The covert program was carried out at a time when President Reagan's top aides, including Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Defense Secretary Frank C. Carlucci and Gen. Colin L. Powell, then the national security adviser, were publicly condemning Iraq for its use of poison gas, especially after Iraq attacked Kurds in Halabja in March 1988. ... It has long been known that the United States provided intelligence assistance to Iraq in the form of satellite photography to help the Iraqis understand how Iranian forces were deployed against them. But the full nature of the program, as described by former Defense Intelligence Agency officers, was not previously disclosed." Full nature involved "critical battle planning assistance ... according to senior military officers with direct knowledge of the program". Denied by Powell, DIA, Armitage. "more than 60 officers of the Defense Intelligence Agency were secretly providing detailed information on Iranian deployments, tactical planning for battles, plans for airstrikes and bomb-damage assessments for Iraq". GoI didn't 'admit' CW use. CIA provided satellite photography. US not involved in Kurdish attacks: overwhelming concern to keep Iranian troops out of Kuwait, Saudi. "The effort on behalf of Iraq 'was heavily compartmented,' a former D.I.A. official said. ... The Pentagon "wasn't so horrified by Iraq's use of gas," said one veteran of the program. 'It was just another way of killing people - whether with a bullet or phosgene, it didn't make any difference,' he said."

Legal review of Iraq attack 'ordered'

BBC: Chief of the defence staff Admiral Sir Michael Boyce is thought to have questioned defence minister Geoff Hoon about the legality of an attack and the potentially high numbers of British casualties, The Sunday Times reports.


BBC Breakfast with Frost: "I would think that if the Iraqis conclude that an invasion by someone is the inevitable then they might conclude that it's not very meaningful to have inspections. But my conviction is that the worry - the concern - that they may retain weapons of mass destruction is a very important element, both in Washington and anywhere else. And if inspectors are allowed in and if they are given really unfettered access with no delays etc., they I think this might play an important role and we would be eager to do that and to help towards a non-belligerent solution."

But what's the legal case for pre-emption?

Bruce Ackerman, Washington Post: thoughtful; Ackerman is at Yale.

Strike plans against Iraq move ahead: Despite debate, US readies gulf military bases

Boston Globe, Anthony Shadid and Robert Schlesinger: ''I think we're very much sliding into confrontation,'' said Laith Kubba, an Iraq expert at the National Endowment for Democracy in Washington. ''We're all sliding into it. The clock is ticking very quickly toward a confrontation.'' ... John Pike, head of, a military policy organization, said the United States also has positioned equipment for two divisions in the Mediterranean, Persian Gulf, and South Pacific regions that can be moved with relatively little notice to Kuwait, which neighbors Iraq.

We became aware of Kirkuk 80 years after we lost Iraq

Hurriyet, Murat Bardakci: "Ankara for the first time reacted strongly with regard to Kirkuk more than 80 years after it lost Iraq. Ankara warned Democratic Party of Kurdistan (KDP) Leader Mesut Barzani, who declared Kirkuk as a Kurdish city, "that he would stand to suffer" because of this."


Iraq Offers New Invitation to U.N.

Washington Post, Colum Lynch: "Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri extended another invitation to the United Nations to restart discussions with Baghdad over the terms of renewed arms inspections, U.N. and Iraqi diplomats said today. But Sabri insisted that U.N. inspectors would have to specify what they are searching for before inspections can resume."

Kurds offered help against nerve gas

Eli J. Lake, UPI: "The U.S. government has offered body suits to Kurdish leaders in the event Saddam Hussein drops nerve gas in northern Iraq, according to U.S. and Kurdish officials." ... "They asked us originally for gas masks," one U.S. official told UPI. "But nerve agents, as opposed to mustard gas, is what [Saddam] is likely going to use this time. So gas masks won't cut it. They need biochemical body suits," he said.

Turkey in fuel threat to Kurds

Financial Times, Roula Khalaf, Leyla Boulton: "Turkey is threatening to ban unofficial cross-border diesel fuel imports from Iraq, in a move designed to put pressure on an Iraqi Kurdish faction that it accuses of supporting anti-Turkish militants."


Tehran Times: "The Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB) is planning to open a permanent office in Iraq's capital, Baghdad, an Iraqi daily said Wednesday."


Blair refuses ministers cabinet debate on Iraq: Requests for discussion of potential attack refused

Guardian, Michael White: "Tony Blair has blocked attempts by senior ministers to stage a full-scale cabinet debate on the threat of a British-backed invasion of Iraq to overthrow Saddam Hussein, it emerged last night."


Roula Khalaf, Leyla Boulton, Financial Times: "Turkey is threatening to ban unofficial cross-border diesel fuel imports from Iraq, in a move designed to put pressure on an Iraqi Kurdish faction [KDP] that it accuses of supporting anti Turkish militants. ... Political sources in Ankara said the move was a result of Turkish armed forces' discontent at the KDP's alleged support for anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) militants operating out of northern Iraq. But according to Kurdish officials, the ban reflects Turkish anxieties about a possible US attack on Iraq and suspicion of Kurdish intentions in a post Saddam Hussein era."

Jordan's king puts onus for peace on Baghdad

Roula Khalaf, Financial Times: "the decision in the end is that of the Iraqi leadership, they bear the responsibility in front of their people, nation and the world."

Backbenchers hit at US off to fund aid agencies

Christopher Adams, Financial Times: Xtn Aid's Nick Guttman: accepting terms would make necessary arms-length relationship very difficult.


Saddam's son shot, Iraqi exile group says

Daily Telegraph, Anton La Guardia: "But exiles, including those nominally linked to the congress, expressed caution about the claim."

NGOs wary of US aid for Iraq

Carola Hoyos, Financial Times: Even Kenneth Bacon, former spokesman for the Pentagon under President Bill Clinton and now president and chief executive of Refugees International, believes the timing amid the increased war rhetoric and the nature of the proposal is strange, according to Joel Charny, the organisation's vice-president for policy. ... On July 30, Mr Bacon wrote to Donald Rumsfeld, in a letter obtained by the FT, asking the Pentagon to "consider the humanitarian challenges that military action will generate, particularly if Saddam uses chemical or biological weapons."

US plans for post-war Iraq relief

Carola Hoyos, Financial Times: GoUS has $6.6 million tenders to NGOs to work in S/0C/KAR.

Anti-Baghdad Talks Shunned by Top Kurd

NY Times, PATRICK E. TYLER: Barzani's non-attendance; "the administration offered to send a private airplane to southeastern Turkey to pick him up ... The explanation given for Mr. Barzani's refusal to attend involved both logistical problems and a response to broken American promises. ... An administration official said, "Barzani really more so than anyone is the elder statesman of the Iraqi opposition and we did try to arrange for him to be here, and obviously we did not succeed." ... Mr. Barzani's decision to stay in Iraq indicates that a crisis may be looming with Turkey, administration officials said."

KDP denies reports of Turkey preventing Barzani for travelling

AFP. No explanation given for Barzani's absence.


NY Times: "The Navy is considering changing the status of a Persian Gulf war pilot shot down in 1991 from missing in action to M.I.A.-captured, a move some believe would put pressure on Iraq to provide more information about his fate."


NEWSDAY: "A representative from Iraq's Kurdish minority, Hoshyar Zebari [KDP], urged Cheney to be mindful that Hussein might retaliate against the Kurds, who want an airtight guarantee of U.S. protection. Cheney made no new promises, and Zebari would not commit his people to joining a U.S. move against Hussein. ... U.S. officials had scant knowledge of Hussein's chemical and biological arsenal during the Persian Gulf War, and two defense officials said they doubt U.S. intelligence on his capabilities is much better now. A former Iraq-based CIA agent offered this blunt assessment of U.S. knowledge of Hussein's chem-bio sites: "Close to zero." ... "There could be a bloody battle for Baghdad," said James Woolsey, a former CIA director who has argued for taking down Hussein. "It could be very ugly." ... Retired Gen. Barry McCaffrey, the former Clinton administration drug czar and Desert Storm infantry commander, estimates U.S. casualties could run as high as 5,000 if Hussein used chemical or biological weapons."




MIRROR: "Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott clearly signalled yesterday that Parliament will not be able to vote on a war with Iraq before our boys go in."

Don't Attack Saddam: It would undermine our antiterror efforts

BRENT SCOWCROFT, WSJ: "Indeed Saddam's goals have little in common with the terrorists who threaten us, and there is little incentive for him to make common cause with them. ... Worse, there is a virtual consensus in the world against an attack on Iraq at this time. ... we simply cannot win that war [on terrorism] without enthusiastic international cooperation, especially on intelligence. ... Conversely, the more progress we make in the war on terrorism, and the more we are seen to be committed to resolving the Israel-Palestinian issue, the greater will be the international support for going after Saddam." Warns of "Armageddon in the Middle East". [Scowcroft chairs the Presidential Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board (PFIAB) and has access to top-secret intelligence]

Iraq signals it may drop oil surcharge

Edith M. Lederer, AP: "Russia's deputy UN ambassador Gennady Gatilov said his government has called for a meeting tomorrow of the Security Council committee that monitors sanctions against Iraq at the ambassadorial level to discuss the pricing dispute and to draw attention to the 'very serious situation of the Iraqi humanitarian program because of the drop in Iraqi oil exports.'"

THE US MUST DEMOCRATISE TURKEY BEFORE IRAQ "Turkey has become an obstacle in the US-led formation of a democratic Iraq."


Last minute obstacles prevent Barzani from participating in the Washington meetings

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat: "Informed sources from the Iraqi opposition confirmed that KDP leader Masoud Barzani had decided to participate in the discussions between representatives of the Iraqi opposition and high level US government officials, but he was not able to leave the Iraqi Kurdish region for reasons beyond his control."

Iraqi Kurdish leader denies offering US use of territory for Saddam attack

AFP: Talabani claims to have been "misinterpreted": "I was asked about the position of the Kurdish people if US forces were deployed in Iraqi Kurdistan and I replied that the Kurdish people, to whom the United States has offered aerial protection, will favourably welcome the presence of US forces to protect them against foreign intervention and any chemical attack" by Baghdad, Talabani said. Talabani said that his PUK party, "like the rest of the Iraqi opposition, thinks that change (in Baghdad) is an Iraqi task that must be undertaken by Iraqi opposition forces with the goal of total democratic change. ... These forces are not opposed to getting international help, including American, to realise this goal," AL BAWABA NEWS FROM MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA, "REPORT: YOUNGER SON OF SADDAM INJURED DURING FAILED ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT": A U.S.-backed Iraqi opposition group said its members had shot and wounded the younger son of President Saddam Hussein during an ambush earlier this month, a London-based newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Iraqi germ plant active

Bill Gertz, Washington Times. US spy satellite photographs c. 60 trucks at al Taji.

Iraq to return Kuwaiti loot

BBC: "UN envoy Richard Foran, in Baghdad, said he expected the operation to begin within weeks."


Rick Wallace, The Advertiser, Australia: "Iraq is Australia's biggest wheat buyer, taking about 15 per cent of our $4 billion annual exports under UN-sanctioned oil for food arrangements set up after the 1990 Gulf War."




Reuters: "Jordan's Islamist-led opposition said on Wednesday they feared U.S. troops training with the country's armed forces in the kingdom's desert terrain were preparing for an attack on Iraq."


AFP: The leader of a Tehran-based Iraqi Shiite opposition group said in remarks published Tuesday he favours a "political solution" to the situation in Iraq and called on United States to avoid "any military action" against his country.


Kurdish Leader Offers Use of Bases Inside Iraq

WOLF BLITZER REPORTS CNN: JALAL TALABANI, PATRIOTIC UNION OF KURDISTAN: As I told once our friends, the American army will be very warmly welcome in Iraq and Kurdistan, in contrary to the rumors. ... Their speech and their promises is very serious and we think that the interest of the United States also is lying on supporting and not betraying us. Alan Elsner, National Correspondent, Reuters: "A small but well-placed group of neoconservative officials and commentators is primarily interested in eliminating what they regard as a threat to Israel," said Stephen Walt, a dean of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. ... "Absent their activities, the United States would be focusing on containing Iraq, which we have done successfully since the Gulf War, but we would not be trying to overthrow Saddam Hussein. We would also be pursuing a more evenhanded policy in the Middle East in general," he said.


John J. Lumpkin, AP: "Spare parts for Iraq's military are being smuggled from Eastern Europe and former Soviet republics, keeping Saddam Hussein's troops prepared for combat despite an international embargo on weapons trafficking, U.S. defense officials say. ... it's unclear who is getting the equipment into the country, and U.S. officials do not accuse any of the governments where the material originated. ... Sometimes U.S. officials learn that certain kinds of prohibited equipment have reached Baghdad only when they observe, say, previously grounded aircraft taking to the skies for pilot training." [GoI could be cannibalising to give sense of increased strength?]


World Oil: Iraq's U.N.-monitored crude oil exports in the week to August 9 nearly halved to 620,000 barrels per day, with the full month likely to run at a low 750,000 bpd. ... Lifters and end-users complained strongly over the July selling prices approved by the United Nations, saying they were 60-70 cents above market value and traders have warned that worries about future prices may begin to further cut into volumes.

Iraq to hand out more than four million school books to Iraqi Kurds

AFP: "The Iraqi education ministry has started handing out more than four million school books to pupils from Kurdish provinces of northern Iraq outside Baghdad's control, a newspaper said Tuesday."


Rumors of War: The road to Baghdad begins with a battle in Washington

John Barry and Roy Gutman, Newsweek: Future Of Iraq Project holding working session this week on "public finance" at State; first was on "transitional justice".

Iraq offers UN new deal: Saddam tells MP arms inspectors can return

Ewen MacAskill, Guardian: message to G. Galloway. Mr Galloway said: "Saddam said he would accept all the UN resolutions and these resolutions include unfettered access." Asked if Saddam had used the word unfettered, Mr Galloway said: "He did not explicitly say that, but by accepting the resolutions you are accepting these words."

Iraqi minister says U.N. weapons inspections over in Iraq

AP: Baghdad's information minister rejected the need for a resumption of U.N. weapons inspections in Iraq, saying Monday inspectors had finished their work four years ago when they left the country in advance of U.S. and British air strikes. Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf told the Arabic satellite television Al- Jazeera in an interview that the Bush administration was "confused" and was making inspections into an issue in an attempt to use them as a tool in the latest showdown between Washington and Baghdad.

Some question motives behind leaks about Iraq

USA TODAY, John Diamond: Duke University political scientist Peter Feaver says leaks have actually helped President Bush advance his Iraq agenda by getting Congress, allies and the public used to a controversial idea. ... "Bush administration officials understandably complain about the leaks, but on balance, the leaks have helped rather than hurt," says Feaver, who worked on President Clinton's National Security Council staff. "The leaks have shifted the debate from 'should we go?' to 'how should we go?' "


John Hooper, The Guardian: "The German chancellor, Gerhard Schröder, has come under attack from several quarters over his pledge to keep Germany out of any future war with Iraq. He has even faced fire from within his own party."


A man with a gift for making enemies

WILLIAM REES-MOGG, TIMES: Yesterday's Sunday Times reported a previously unpublished study by the Defence Department's Institute for Defence Analysis. It concludes that "unless the United States develops more effective approaches, its military forces will remain without advantage in urban environments and vulnerable to repeated challenges there". ... In ordinary circumstances, Rumsfeld's aggressive habit of making enemies, his angry response to the rest of the world, would lead to his dismissal. He has actually got himself into the position where he is a major obstacle to the policies with which he is most identified. It is not easy to take the United States to war, as President Roosevelt's manoeuvres from 1939 to 1941 demonstrate. It becomes more difficult for any President if his Secretary of Defence has lost the support of the generals, infuriated the State Department, alienated part of Congress and dismayed almost all the allies of the United States.

Iraqi Opposition Gets U.S. Pledge to Oust Hussein for a Democracy

New York Times, MICHAEL R. GORDON: Vice President Dick Cheney told Iraqi opposition leaders today that the Bush administration was determined to oust Saddam Hussein from power and replace him with a democratic government, Iraqi resistance leaders said today. In their second day of high-level talks in Washington, the opposition leaders conferred by video conference with Mr. Cheney, who is on vacation in Wyoming. Radio 4: Lawrence Eagleburger refers to Perle and Wolfowitz as "hairy chested tub thumpers" and claims that the "United States has as much experience in nation building - successful nation building - as my Aunt Tilly".


'No' to a Bay of Pigs in the Gulf

Samuel R. Berger The Washington Post: run 10/08/2 in IHT


Reuters, London: "Iraq slapped an illegal 25-30 cent fee on its oil sales in November 2000 in a bid to divert funds from UN supervision and recently cut its request to 10 cents in a bid to boost exports."


Arabic News: "The German foreign minister Joschka Fischer said that the current controversy on a likely American intervention in Iraq does not constitute a test for the solidarity of the "international alliance against terrorism.""


Blair begins to have doubts about the military option

By Rachel Sylvester, Telegraph: 'The question is," one of Tony Blair's senior foreign policy advisers said to me recently, when we were discussing the prospect of military action against Iraq, "can an oil state ever really be truly democratic?" If a government does not depend at all on taxation for its income, he argued, then it has little incentive to treat its people well. ... Sir David Manning, the Prime Minister's chief foreign policy adviser, has privately expressed his frustration to ministers about the lack of coherent military strategy coming out of America - almost certainly reflecting Mr Blair's own view. Cabinet ministers are exasperated by the fact that there is no "game plan" being offered by the Americans. They fear that Labour is wasting political capital by giving too clear a commitment to Washington when the Bush Administration itself is riven by disagreements about what to do.

Bush may not make decision on Iraq this year

Reuters: Rep. Dick Armey, a Texas Republican who is the majority leader of the House of Representatives, said on Thursday that the United States had no business making a preemptive attack against Iraq - disagreeing with Bush, a fellow Texas Republican. Asked if Iraq's refusal to allow in U.N. weapons inspectors was sufficient cause for an attack, Armey said it was not. "In my estimation, it is not enough reason to go in," Armey told reporters in Des Moines, Iowa. "Let me just ask you for a moment: what if the French decided they wanted to inspect our American military facilities? I am confident that we would not allow that ... He has a right to hold dominion within his own national boundaries, even if he's obnoxious as he is, or comical as he is. If he conducts acts of aggression against other people, he should understand that it will be responded to and appropriately and forcefully and definitively," Armey said. [lengthier version: "Iraq Is Defiant as G.O.P. Leader Opposes Attack", New York Times, ERIC SCHMITT]

Chief of Staff denied news about Turkish Troops at Northern Iraq Airport

Turkish Daily News: "The Chief of Staff denied news about Turkish troops invading an airport in Northern Iraq and that there are 5,000 troops in the region.". Chief of Staff quote: "The Bamami airport was destroyed during the Gulf war and it cannot serve as an airport."

Hussein foes seek US plans for Iraq future

Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe: "I don't think anybody fully realizes the size of the task involved," said Peter Sluglett, an Iraq expert at the University of Utah. ... Laith Kubba, an expert on Iraqi politics at the National Endowment for Democracy, said, "I don't see on the horizon the vision, the connection, the ideas that can fill the political vacuum and put the country back on track. And I think people are underestimating how serious this might be."

UK warns US against attacking Iraq

Agence France-Presse, Ben Perry: "The Daily Mirror, meanwhile, quoted a Labour Party insider saying that Blair's siding with Bush was the single-biggest reason why donations to the party were down a staggering 88 percent on the same period last year."


Reuters: "I don't think a military invasion would be at all desirable, I think it would cause great upheavals in the Middle East," Huntington told Reuters in Chile.


Masood Farivar, Dow Jones: "Valero Energy Corp (NYSE:VLO - News). (VLO) on Friday called on the U.S. government to stop its policy of retroactively pricing Iraq's U.N. monitored oil exports, saying the method has led to a sharp drop in Iraqi crude oil available to U.S. refiners and could hurt U.S. consumers."


Saudi bans use of its air bases to attack Iraq

Kim Sengupta and Andrew Buncombe, Independent: statement by Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister. "The confusion was echoed across the Atlantic, when Mike O'Brien, a Foreign Office minister, said war would be averted if Saddam Hussein readmitted arms inspectors. But that was at odds with Tony Blair who supports Mr Bush's policy of 'regime change' in Baghdad."

Hussein said to plan for urban battle vs. US

Greg Miller and John Hendren, LA Times: "Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has told regional government officials that he aims to thwart any US invasion by avoiding open desert fighting and massing his military in major cities where civilian and American casualties would be highest, current and former US intelligence officials said. ... Hussein has outlined a strategy that appears to center on drawing US forces into Baghdad ... Military targets in Baghdad are sprinkled among a population approaching 5 million. Hussein is said to have built an elaborate warren of underground bunkers and escape routes. US soldiers would probably have to slog through Baghdad's streets wearing chemical weapons suits and carrying extra equipment."

Ministers attack US war chaos: 'Unpopular Bush' poll puts pressure on Blair

Patrick Wintour and Michael White, Guardian: "Senior British ministers are privately admitting to growing exasperation across government at the lack of a clear and coherent US policy towards Iraq."

If Blair gets this wrong, he could be gone by Christmas

Martin Kettle, Guardian: poll results - "all senior Tory politicians are more unpopular than the euro. But ... Bush is even more unpopular than the Tories."

Why not put our offer to the test?

Mudhafar Amin, Guardian: "The UN resolutions clearly state that Iraq has rights and responsibilities. The Iraqi responsibility is to disarm. Iraq's rights are for the UN to lift economic sanctions. Ralph Ekaus and Scott Ritter of the former UNScom have provided substantial evidence that Iraq has disarmed. Yet there has been no sign that the UN intends to lift economic sanctions, for fear of a US veto. Instead, the UN general secretary is insisting on the return of inspectors, without UN agreement on the schedule of inspection or any undertaking to lift sanctions once the inspection is satisfactorily completed."

Former allies urge Bush to be cautious

Roland Watson, Times: "Brent Scowcroft, chairman of Mr Bush's foreign intelligence advisory board and the first President Bush's National Security Adviser during the Gulf War, also said that going to war now would be a mistake. Such warnings have rung alarm bells in the White House, where aides see opposition solidifying across the Atlantic before the US has begun to make its case. ... The White House has been given a taste of internal battles to come when senior Republicans emerged as the strongest sceptics about confronting Iraq during hearings of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Expert witnesses were divided, but some said that they did not believe that Saddam would pass on his chemical and biological weapons to terrorists, adding that the present US/UK policy of containing Baghdad should not be considered a failure."

A Relationship With Bite: After so many betrayals, Kurds will be cautious about deals with the U.S.

The LA Times, Kevin McKiernan: Had the United States not encouraged the Kurdish rebellion, the [1976 House Select Committee on Intelligence] report said, "The insurgents may have reached an accommodation with the central government, thus gaining at least a measure of autonomy while avoiding further bloodshed." ... The leader of the abortive 1975 uprising was Massoud Barzani's father, Mulla Mustafa Barzani. When the elder Barzani died in exile in a Washington hospital four years later, Massoud was at his side. I asked the younger Barzani what advice his father had given him at the time. "The biggest shock of his life," the younger Barzani said, "was betrayal by the U.S. He told me to be cautious."

Turkish Claw in North Iraq

Hurriyet, Metehan Demir and Ugur Ergan: Alarmed by the possibility of a chaos that could be caused by a military operation against Iraq and eventual establishment of a Kurdish state, Turkey has took control of strategic Bamerni airport in north Iraq ... This surprising development was revealed by remarks made by Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) Leader Jalal Talabani. "The Bamerni airport is under the control of Turkish troops," he said

Saddam already battling invasion Iraqi strategy tries to deter a U.S. attack

John Diamond, USA TODAY: Saddam has been working on diplomatic, military and political fronts to make an invasion less likely or, if it occurs, more costly. These efforts have contributed to reluctance among U.S. allies to support an attack and have raised concerns in the Pentagon about the kind of fighting U.S. forces may face, according to an internal Defense Intelligence Agency analysis. Improvements in Iraqi defenses plus the likely lack of allied troops raise the prospect that U.S. forces will be fighting alone in a nasty urban battle with Saddam's most fanatical backers, the analysis says. "The U.S. military has a genuine and well-founded reluctance to engage in urban warfare due to the high risk of significant U.S. casualties and 'collateral damage'". DIA quote: "The status quo suits nearly all of the Arab states pretty well, while the radical changes likely to result from another U.S.-Iraqi war terrify them -- regardless of whether or not the U.S. succeeds."

Cheney Doubts Weapons Inspectors Can End Baghdad's Threat


Iraq refuses to accept four shiploads of Australian wheat claiming contamination

Associated Press: punishment for PM Howard's commitment to support US in war on Iraq.

Annan: Speech By Iraqi Leadership Shows No Flexibility

Xinhua: "I think the president's statement, insisting on answers to the 19 questions, doesn't show any flexibility from their previous position," Annan said at the UN headquarters in New York.


One Iraqi obstacle you haven't heard of: city limits

The New Republic, Asla Aydintasbas: With reports that tensions between Kurds and Turkmen are escalating on the ground, U.S. policymakers need a creative solution soon. Otherwise a city [Kirkuk] you have never heard of might just undermine our entire plan for Iraq.

US general agrees to smaller strike force

By Toby Harnden, Telegraph: "fewer than 80,000 troops, backed by heavy air power, and would start with a strike on Baghdad."

Conflict could soon be nuclear


US revises plans as kingdom courts Iraq

MICHAEL EVANS, TIMES: "SAUDI ARABIA is in the process of concluding a special trade deal with Baghdad and is likely to deny the United States access to its military bases for any attack on Iraq, according to diplomatic sources."

War is talk of the town in Baghdad

Reuters: In Baghdad, traders and businessmen say sales of luxury goods - such as cars and electronics - have fallen in recent weeks, matched by a slow rise in sales of food and other essentials like petrol and gas. ... The government declared last week that as of August, food rations would be distributed every two months instead of every month.

Oil-for-Food Chief Worries for Iraq

EDITH M. LEDERER, AP: The head of the U.N. humanitarian program for Iraq warned Tuesday that a drop in Iraqi oil exports that fund the program could have serious consequences for the delivery of food, medicine and other aid.

Kurd denies U.S. build up in north Iraq

UPI, Seva Ulman: Iraqi opposition leader Jalal Talabani denied Wednesday there was a U.S. military build up in Northern Iraq.


U.N. and Congress Rebuff Iraq's Inspection Invitation

BARBARA CROSSETTE and ALISON MITCHELL: The United Nations Security Council and Secretary General Kofi Annan agreed yesterday that weapons inspectors would not go to Iraq to reopen talks after a break of almost four years unless Saddam Hussein's government agreed to abide by the organization's rules on how inspections must be conducted."

Weighing a Just War, or Settling an Old Score?: An attack would be wagging the dog

LA Times, Robert Scheer: Bereft of a credible Evil Empire, the administration will have to finally hunker down and deal with those forces at home, including some of the president's Cabinet and business cronies, who so far have done far more than Hussein to damage America.

Iran rules out admitting Iraqi refugees if US attacks

AFP: "In the event of a US strike, Iraqi refugees will be given assistance outside Iran's territory on Iraqi soil," the interior minister said

Long-Buried Land Mines Still Taking a Toll on Kurds: Groups working to clear war zones fear another invasion could reverse hard-won gains


President briefed on new Iraq strike proposal

RICHARD SALE, UPI Terrorism Correspondent: But Pentagon officials said they expect 'some degree of incessant chemical attacks' once the Iraqis find themselves under fire.

Republican Guard digs trenches along Tigris river

Iraq Press: claims that Abu Nuwas dug up with trenches, hotels taken over as barracks


Times of India (from Sunday Times), 6th August: CSFB study suggests that oil market has already priced in a war. A successful war would resolve the uncertainty positively.


Dawn: "Pakistan is willing to withdraw a $16 million compensation claim against Iraq with the United Nations special committee on compensations provided Baghdad agrees to settle the issue on a bilateral basis."


Rym Brahimi, CNN: "Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council, chaired by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, issued a series of sweeping pardons for inmates of Iraqi prisons. ... Among those having their sentences wiped away are people who have served two years in prison, providing they were not sentenced originally to more than 10 years."


BBC: "Iraq's central bank plans to issue a 10,000 dinar banknote for commercial transactions."


Iraq Invites U.S. Congress to Visit Baghdad

REUTERS: "Iraq invited the U.S. Congress on Monday to send a mission to Baghdad and said it would be given free access to any site alleged to be developing weapons of mass destruction." Suggests up to three week visit; allows experts to accompany.

Iraq may use bio-weapons soon

AFP: Opposition Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi on Sunday charged that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein soon would use weapons of mass destruction.


WSJ: Biden quotes

Iraq Strike Has Focus, But There's No Timetable

DAVID A. FULGHUM, Aviation Week & Space Technology: ... However, a key element is to leave enough top-level communications intact to prevent a blind retaliatory attack against Israel or other countries allied with the U.S. Senior Iraqi leaders have standing orders that in the event of Baghdad's fall or loss of communications with Saddam Hussein, they are to launch chemical and biological weapons, according to U.S. officials. ... The first would be to use expendable high-power microwave (HPM) weapons against chemical and biological storage, manufacturing and missile-launch facilities. Damaging their controls could eliminate the need for conventional weapon attacks that throw plumes of agents into the air. Those clouds could drift for many miles and injure civilians. HPM weapons produce short, intense spikes of energy that damage electronic components and scramble computer memories critical to running chemical/biological facilities or launching missiles.

Saddam wants Kurds neutral

John Diamond, USA TODAY: Saddam has signaled the Kurds that they will continue to be able to govern themselves, teach their children the Kurdish language, collect taxes on commerce passing through the region and get a share of Iraq's oil revenue only if they do not support U.S. efforts to remove him, two U.S. intelligence officials say. ... Since those signals, operatives of the Central Intelligence Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency in northern Iraq have reported that they are having increasing difficulty securing commitments from Kurdish leaders to support U.S. action, the officials say.


Lord Douglas Hurd, Evening Standard: intelligent article distinguishing legal and political


Iraq's invitation to chief weapons inspector puts U.N. in difficult position

EDITH M. LEDERER, AP: a difficult position made even more complicated by comments from Blix published Sunday that he wouldn't visit until Iraq approves the return of U.N. weapons inspectors. Blix wasn't responding to the invitation from Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri because it arrived after he was interviewed on Thursday by the New York correspondent of the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat."

Running dry: Sanctions hit Iraq's young the hardest

Greg Barrett, Gannett News Service. U.S. Air Force Col. John Warden, who devised the Desert Storm Air Campaign's pinpoint strategy in 1991 ... now retired and living in Georgia, believes another strike at Iraq would or should follow his Gulf War blueprint. "When we went to war, our objective was to reduce Iraq's capability to be strategic," he said. "In order to make that happen, the last thing you want to do is focus your efforts solely on the military that is where you get your least results. ... We shut down the electrical system within the first hours of war. ... We shut down the internal flow of oil by knocking out the refineries. We also knocked out the communications. In my view, it was extraordinarily successful. ... Wars are devastating on civilians. Always have been."

Split opens between Britain and US as White House targets dictator

Peter Beaumont, Gaby Hinsliff and Paul Beaver, The Observer: "In a further indication that America is readying itself for war, large numbers of US Army military trucks have undergone rapid servicing by the Oshkosh Truck Corporation and have been seen being delivered by rail back to their bases painted in tan desert camouflage." [contrast with US claims that GoI converting vehicles; apparently refused to answer UN requests for more info]

Amid the clouds of deception, US speeds along road to war

Peter Beaumont: The Observer: "With the economy in the middle of what now looks like a double-dip recession - and his room for manoeuvre on the economic front hobbled by his tax-cut commitments - Bush has been left with only two policies he can sell as a success: the war against terrorism and the war against Saddam."

This war would not be a just war

Richard Harries, Bishop of Oxford, The Observer

Saddam's game of bluff as Iraq lurches towards war

Lindsey Hilsum, Telegraph: A Western diplomat recounted a recent conversation with one of Saddam's ministers. "He asked whether I could guarantee that if Iraq allowed weapons inspectors back then there would be no attack. I said I couldn't. So we both shrugged."


Senators Want to Know the Unknowable on Iraq, and Time Is Running Out

JAMES DAO (NYT): "Our policy remains the same," Sean McCormack, a spokesman for the National Security Council, said today. "It has been the same since 1995, and that is: regime change."


NYT carries GoI invitation to Blix (Crossette)

The Saddam in Rumsfeld's Closet

Jeremy Scahill, Common Dreams: Discusses Rumsfeld's missions to Iraq in 1980s, starting as first senior US official in six years.

U.N. Skeptical of New Iraq Offer of Arms Talks

Reuters, Evelyn Leopold: "Secretary-General Kofi Annan planned to consult with the 15 U.N. Security Council members on Monday ... Both the United States and Britain were critical of the Iraqi move, but Russia and France welcomed it ... Annan welcomed the letter, but said "the procedure proposed is at variance with the one laid down by the Security Council in its resolution of 1999," on inspection of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction programs

Defense Dept. to Take Over Funding of Iraqi Opposition Group

Glenn Kessler and Walter Pincus, Washington Post: shifts some INC funding. "The State Department rarely paid much attention to the information obtained by the INC, believing it was unreliable. But defense officials have been more receptive to it, and the INC sometimes shopped it to the Pentagon first, leaving State Department officials wondering why they were paying for it." On the issues discussed at the Senate hearings: "This is a whole lot more . . . than I hear anybody in our administration talking about," said Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Ind.), the ranking Republican on the panel.

Post-Saddam Iraq will cost you, US warned

Julian Borger, The Guardian: "Scott Feil, a retired US colonel and co-director of a project studying post-conflict resolution, told the Senate that post-Saddam Iraq would need a security force of 75,000-costing an estimated $16.2bn (£10bn) a year."

Iraq Goes Quiet on Invasion Date

BAGHDAD (AP): "In a significant departure from previous years and under the threat of U.S. military action, Iraq did little Friday to mark the 12th anniversary of its invasion of Kuwait, an act that triggered the 1991 Gulf War."

Al-Hakim Calls For Four-Way Meeting In Tehran Before Opposition Leaders Visit Washington

Al-Hayat: Ismail Zayir


Experts Warn of High Risk for American Invasion of Iraq

JAMES DAO (NYT): "I suspect that Al Qaeda elements are in Iraq," Mr. Lott said. "The resolution we passed, we made it very clear the president has the authority to pursue the Al Qaeda wherever they may be found, in whatever country, which could very well include Iraq. ... But Senator Thomas A. Daschle, the majority leader, said he knew of no intelligence confirming Mr. Lott's assertion." Times letters: 3 from retired diplomat and two military figures. All support Bramall's concerns.


PA NEWS: Tony Blair has "tremendous concerns" about US plans to invade Iraq, King Abdullah of Jordan said today. He dismissed claims by some American officials that a democratic Iraq would boost the chances of peace between Israelis and Palestinians. "Our concern is exactly the opposite, that a miscalculation in Iraq would throw the whole area into turmoil." Anthrax suspect Hatfill had received Unmovic training; Reuters [?] confirmed via Ewen Buchanan. (DJ newswires in WSJ: "Hatfill attended a one-month U.N. training program in October of 2000, one of 230 people to participate.")

Iraq Asks U.N. Inspector For Meeting

AP: In a surprise move, Iraq invited the chief U.N. weapons inspector to Baghdad Thursday for talks ... The letter from Sabri to Annan, dated Thursday, for the first time mentions the return of inspectors. ... Sabri said the meeting would follow-up on Annan's suggestion in August 1998 "to conduct a comprehensive review ... and assess the degree of Iraq's implementation of its obligations."

Code Name B.020: 'Secret' Turkish Plan for Iraq Emphasizes Turkomen Rights

Hurriyet, by Ugur Ergan and Metehan Demir.

Strike on Iraq would redraw regional economic map

Reuters: OPEC members, and especially oil giant Saudi Arabia, where oil revenues provide 90-95 percent of total export earnings and around two-thirds of state revenues, have most to lose. U.S. oil companies eager to exploit Iraq's reserves have most to gain.



Arabic News: Iraq has prepared a new list including names of victims of blood polluted by the HIV, the AIDS causing virus, delivered by the Merieux French company to Iraq in 1986. [weird timing?]

In Assessing Iraq's Arsenal, The 'Reality Is Uncertainty': Details of Bioweapons Lab Emerge, but Not Proof

Joby Warrick, Washington Post: "the White House has not publicly offered evidence of a single factory or lab known to be actively producing them ... Congressional officials who receive classified briefings on Iraq say the case has not yet been made there, either -- in part because of what some officials perceive as a lack of reliable intelligence-gathering on the ground. ... "The central reality is uncertainty, and the defectors' stories only reinforce that," Sen. Bob Graham (D-Fla.) said in an interview after a recent tour of the Middle East, where he discussed Iraq with regional leaders. "None of the people we met claimed to have conclusive knowledge of the status of Iraq's weapons program," said Graham, chairman of the Select Committee on Intelligence. Senate hearings start. Cordesman: "Only fools bet the lives of other men's sons and daughters on their own arrogance. I see every reason for the reservation of the American military and joint chiefs. Efforts to dismiss the military capability of Iraq is irresponsible. ... There is, however, one thing of which we can be certain. There will be no true victory unless we make a firm national commitment to rebuild a moderate Iraq of the kind that Iraqis inside Iraq want, rather than simply defeat Saddam. ... Self-appointed opposition leaders, with no clear following inside Iraq, should not be imposed upon its people." Cordesman's remarks are published in 1/08/2 Washington Times; Butler's are on CFR website. Big Biden question: what next? Even if the Iraqi people have a happy outcome, I believe that most people in the region will see this as American imperialism," said Shibley Telhami of the University of Maryland.



The U.S. picks on Jordan

Ha'aretz, Zvi Bar'el: suggests that resumption of Red Sea interdiction patrols are a message to Jordan to stay onside re: Iraq.


Weapons inspections were 'manipulated'

Carola Hoyos, Nick George and Roula Khalaf: Ekéus interviews. [date right?]

US and UK commanders 'scratching their heads' to make sense of invasion

Richard Norton-Taylor and Julian Borger, The Guardian [version story carried by Washington Post 29/07/2?] [+ R. Adm. Baker in US, Wesley Clark on BBCWS 0200GMT 30/07/2 + Field Marshal Lord Bramall Times letter] Guardian letters: union leaders + Richard Harries (all 'anti-war') Donald Macintyre, Independent: If there was nothing to talk about at present on Iraq, Tony Blair and King Abdullah II of Jordan would not have discussed it yesterday. That simple fact is part of what fuels the entirely reasonable call for the issue to be debated widely now - a call best expressed by Baroness Williams of Crosby last week when she complained with incontestable logic that it was always too early to debate a war until it was too late. ... Colin Powell, whom King Abdullah was at pains this weekend to depict as the man in Washington who "gets it" about the Middle East.

Dangers in gamble of going for a city too far

Michael Evans, Times: The Americans could learn from Field Marshal Viscount Montgomery of Alamein, who dispatched 30,000 allied paratroops behind enemy lines in 1944 to capture Arnhem and seven bridges on the Dutch-German border. Monty gambled that a narrow, penetrating assault deep behind enemy lines would have greater impact than a classic advance along a broad front. ... But Arnhem proved "a bridge too far". Nearly 1,500 soldiers from the British Parachute Division lost their lives. Operation Market Garden failed. AFP: Kurdish parties agree on implementing 1998 Washington agreement. Parliament, elections scheduled.

Trouble In Mind For Iraq As U.S. Hawk Flies Into A Turkey In Crisis

Gulf States News Letter: has section on Turkish "micromanagement" of northern NFZ, including mention of continuous datalink to Turkey from US flights.


Reuters: "One thing is for sure, if Tupras is lifting Iraqi oil they are not paying the surcharge because they are not allowed (by Ankara)," said a European oil executive.

Profound Effect on U.S. Economy Seen in a War on Iraq



U.S. Exploring Baghdad Strike as Iraq Option

DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER, NYT: "inside-out" attack idea: small force goes direct to Baghdad.

The madness of war with Iraq

Evening Standard, General Sir Michael Rose: Merely crying "Havoc!" and letting slip the dogs of war is no substitute for clear thinking or the development of a well defined military strategy. ... Addressing the basic question of the Palestinian grievance would do far more to defeat terrorism than the use of the kinetic energy weapons so favoured by President Bush.

Blair warned: Iraq attack 'illegal': Government legal experts say UN mandate needed for action

Paul Waugh, The Independent

Balloons over Baghdad to "intercept U.S. missiles"

Iraq Press: reports barrage balloons (similar used in Iran war). Imported from where?

A General or a Prince? The Opposition Is Seeking a Leader

La Repubblica (Italy), Magdi Allam: claims Kensington meeting a disaster - nothing accomplished. Knowledgeable author.


AFP: figures now "killed 1,484 Iraqis and wounded 1,422"


Some Top Military Brass Favor Status Quo in Iraq: Containment Seen Less Risky Than Attack

Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post

U.S.-led naval coalition expands Iraqi interception net in Red Sea

ADNAN MALIK, Associated Press: After an eight-year break, a U.S.-led naval coalition is resuming inspection of vessels in the northern Red Sea because U.N. sanctions against Iraq are being broken in the area, a U.S. Navy spokesman said Sunday. Big Yukos oil shipment reaches Texas: [date correct?]



Middle East Newsline: so that C-130's can land.


Blair says Commons vote is unnecessary for attack on Iraq

By Paul Waugh, Independent: "Tony Blair ... yesterday ... made it clear that Britain could back an attack on Iraq without a fresh mandate from the UN or a vote in Parliament."


ThisIsLondon [Evening Standard?] "MI6 warns Blair to wait for UN mandate Anne McElvoy Reuters: GoI looking to Russia, Kazakhstan to replace Australian grain.


Iraq says 'flexible enough' on arms talks

Al-Hayat (via Reuters): "We have shown enough flexibility. We said in the Vienna round of talks that monitoring and return of inspectors should be part of a comprehensive solution," Foreign Miniser Naji Sabri. AP and RSF/IPEX: GoI bans al-Jazeera reporter for 10 days, al-Jazeera shuts down their office in protest, GoI relents, lifts ban: "The Iraqis also didn't like the way al-Umari was referring to Saddam, calling him "the Iraqi president" or just "Saddam Hussein," instead of using his long, official title."


Australian: Iraq/Iran exchange 1700 bodies But Iraqi TV carries confessions from pro-Iranian agents that afternoon.

Leave Iraqis to Own Affairs, Iran's Khatami Warns

Reuters: "Any interference into the domestic affairs of Iraq would be against the interest of the people of Iraq, the interest of the countries of the region and it would be against the peace and tranquility of the region and the world," Khatami told a news conference during a four-day visit to Malaysia. Al-Bawaba reports that Jordan may become 11th Arab country to sign free trade deal with Iraq.

Annan Rejects New Talks with Iraq Without Progress

Reuters: did not intend to hold further talks with Iraq until Baghdad showed some willingness to allow U.N. arms inspectors back into the country.

War preparations paralyze economy

Iraq Press


Iraq Plans To Raise Production Capacity To 3.5Mn B/D By End-2002


Rumors Of Impending Lifting Of Surcharge Further Weaken Iraqi Oil Sales



AL BAWABA NEWS: Qusai and an accompanying delegation expressed Baghdad's interest in buying military equipment from Iran "in cash and at very high prices." The delegation's military shopping list was topped by a request for an unspecified number of "Shihab I, II and III missiles, at exorbitant prices," the [al-Sharq al-Awsat] daily added. [Attempts rebuffed, reports UPI. Iran denies. GoI would "close the file" on Mujihadin-e Khalq.]




Da Silva arrives in Baghdad.


Jordan prince touted to succeed Saddam

Brian Whitaker, The Guardian: Prince Hassan is someone who has not been poisoned by the past 40 years of chaos in Iraq and is perhaps the only person who can transcend the ethnic and political complexities," said Michael Rubin of the Washington thinktank the American Enterprise Institute.

If Iraqis want a king, Hassan of Jordan could be their man

Michael Rubin; Daily Telegraph: As Hussein was, Hassan is known for his moderation, his genuine desire for peace, his humour and his learning. It is not surprising, then, that a common quip in teahouses and pool halls throughout Iraq is ... Most Iraqis today no longer remember their monarchy, but many nevertheless consider it to be the golden age of Iraq.

US Slaps China Firms, Indian for Iran-Iraq Arms

Reuters, Elaine Monaghan: The sanctions on the Chinese involved three cases of sales of advanced conventional arms and chemical and biological weapons components to Iran between September 2000 and October 2001, The Washington Times reported on Friday.


Congress raises questions on Iraq

James Dao, The New York Times: The lawmakers do not say they oppose the idea of military action against Iraq. In fact, nearly all of them support the idea, at least in concept. But they want to understand how it might be carried out, and they say their concerns have been raised by recent administration steps toward military action. Iraq Press reports from Zakho that GoI hoarding grain in anticipation of war with US.


Iraq lifts travel restriction on diplomats Poles can travel again. [?? 17/07/2 CNN reported that most had already left]

Turks Express Concern About Possible Invasion of Iraq

Karl Vick, Washington Post: "One of the unpredicted results of the Gulf War was the creating of a Kurdish - call it what you want - 'entity' in northern Iraq," said Sami Kohen, a senior columnist in Istanbul. He noted that visitors arriving by road in northern Iraq are greeted by a sign reading "Welcome to Kurdistan."

Tension mounts between Iraqi and Turkish Kurdish rebels

Iraq Press: ex-PKK, now KDK, and PUK in turf struggle Hurriyet says that "Upon the remarks by Wolfowitz, the Turkish side clearly listed the conditions it had already voiced earlier. Turkey conveyed the following conditions to the United States": no Kurdish state; economic compensation ( > $4 billion), new regime acceptable to Iraqis, Mosul/Kirkuk not left to Kurds.


Iraq cuts its illicit oil surcharge-trade

Reuters: down to 10 cents/barrel, and withdrawn entirely in some cases in an attempt to restore volumes.



MENL The Bush administration has assured Turkey that the United States will not support the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq. ... A separate Kurdish state in the north would be destabilizing to Turkey and would be unacceptable to the United States," Wolfowitz told a conference in Istanbul. "Fortunately, the Kurds of Northern Iraq increasingly seem to understand this fact and understand the importance of thinking of themselves as Iraqis who will participate fully in the political life of a future democratic Iraq." Jordan Times: US & Iraq continue as largest trade partners: 100m JD (Iraq), 80m JD (US) in first two months of 2002.

Iraq slams US denial of visas to Iraqi delegation to criminal court meetings

INA: apparently violates Headquarters Agreement and diplomatic privileges

Syria buys arms for Iraq in Eastern Europe

Ha'aretz, Ze'ev Schiff: argues that Syrian transhipment of E. Euro arms is a departure from Hafez al-Assad's position


British troops will stay in Iraq for five years after Saddam is ousted

Sean Rayment and Christina Lamb, Telegraph: The cost of keeping up to 15,000 British troops in Iraq for five years would be prohibitive, but it is hoped that friendly nations who will not commit troops to the ground war, such as Japan, will help foot the bill as they did 11 years ago in Operation Desert Storm. British officials have been at pains to emphasise to American diplomats the importance of nation-building, an area in which President Bush is known to have little interest.

War clouds gather as hawks lay their plans

Jason Burke in London and Ed Vulliamy, Observer: Critics of Bush point out that the battle plan was leaked just as the sleaze scandals reached a climax and began to implicate the President himself. ... But The Observer has been told that the leak did not come from the White House. Instead it came from within the Pentagon, from the office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the top professional soldiers and planners who drew it up in the first place. That opens up another possible angle entirely. ... Iraq's 40-year history of repression, it is highly likely that blood will fill the streets,' said Major-General Saad Obeidi, in charge of psychological warfare before defecting in 1986. 'We have to prevent this.'

Former Chief of Iraqi Military Intelligence Interviewed on US Plans, WMD Use, Iraqi Opposition

Al-Sharq al-Awsat. Al-Samarrai thinks that US attack fraught with danger and would face non-conventional: "Yes, Iraq has long-range missiles loaded with lethal "VX" substance, specifically biological weapons and anthrax. Iraq has also succeeded in fitting these elements to long-range missile heads. Iraq is capable of fitting these elements to medium-range--150 km-- missiles. Iraq has a large number of these missiles and is capable of handling such targets with its biological weapons. ... A military leadership would emerge from Iraq, and in such a case, the Iraq Army, not the Party would be in control of Iraq."


Chalabi Interview: Opposition Relations; Dispute with DOS; Relations with AIPAC

Al-Hayat, by Ja'far al-Ahmar: [Al-Ahmar] It is said that the main source of your support is the Zionist lobby in Washington. What is your reply? [Chalabi] AIPAC is the most famous Zionist support organization in the United States, and I assure you that we are not on good terms with it. We have very important relations with many US sides in the White House and the Defense Department. Our relations with the US Congress are very strong, and with the help of our US friends we were able to convince it to issue the law on liberating Iraq. The majority of the Congress members, as everybody knows, support Israel and its policies. Should we withdraw because of that?


Whitaker (Guardian) on 70 officers' meeting: "But Gen Khazraji said by telephone 'I don't attend such conferences,' and declined to discuss it further."

U.S. Demands Iraq Lift Travel Limits for Diplomats

Reuters: GoI has prohibited Polish diplomats in Baghdad to travel by land to Jordan since April. As US doesn't recognise the flights, this has largely trapped the diplomats.


Halima Abdallah, Financial Times (Hoover's, from AllAfrica Global Media( The [Ugandan] High Court has ordered government to repay a Shs 2.1bn loan, outstanding to the Iraq Development Fund. ... Iraq refused to waive part of the loan under HIPC on grounds that it does not subscribe to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund.


Planners raise bar for Iraqi invasion

John Diamond, USA Today: "A full-scale U.S. invasion of Iraq will require significant provocation by Saddam Hussein's regime - such as invading a neighbor, fielding a nuclear weapon or attacking its minority population, top Bush administration officials have concluded."

Britain Proposes New Iraq Oil Pricing

Edith M. Lederer Associated Press: The British proposal would change the current system of pricing Iraqi oil at the end of every month to allow select companies advance notice of prices... The British proposal, circulated Tuesday to the 15 members of sanctions committee, would create a dual system for pricing Iraqi oil: Traders on a "Green List" would be told the price of Iraqi crude before it was loaded while companies not on the list would continue to learn the price they would pay after they had already picked up the oil. Reuters (Richard Valdmanis, 646-223-6056): "The U.S. Department of Defense has ramped up its fuel buying for military bases in the Middle East and Asia as the Bush administration mulls an attack on Iraq in its effort to oust Saddam Hussein." PUK: UN national staff to pay Income Tax Sulemani-Kurdistan: ... This is not the first time the PUK impose this tax PUK authorities arrest three UN-Habitat Kurdish staff for not paying tax Sulemani-Kurdistan: Yesterday the PUK authorities in Sulemani arrested three UN-Habitat staff members. ... The arrest came less than 24 hours of the ... announcement to UN national Staff to pay income tax. PUK has arrested other UN workers before for the same reason.


U.S. Capable of Quick Iraq Strike

By SALLY BUZBEE, AP: The United States is capable of launching a rapid attack on Iraq by marshaling 50,000 troops at the Kuwaiti border in roughly a week, airlifting them in and bringing their tanks and heavy equipment on ships through the Strait of Hormuz.

Rebel groups reject CIA overtures down on the farm

Julian Borger in Washington, The Guardian: Deep in the bowels of the US state department, not far from the cafeteria, there is a small office identified only by a handwritten sign on the door reading: The Future of Iraq Project. Such is the ramshackle reality lying beneath the Bush administration's pronouncements on regime change in Baghdad. ... However, according to a Kurdish source, the meeting failed for a more fundamental reason: lack of trust. ... At one point, the Kurds reportedly asked whether the US officials at The Farm really represented the entire administration, and so Ryan Crocker, a state department official who had visited Kurdistan a few months earlier, was hastily called in from Washington. No senior Pentagon officials attended.

U.S. plans massive invasion of Iraq

Richard Sale, UPI Terrorism Correspondent: would require five ground force divisions numbering 200,000, two Marine Corps divisions, and 15 wings of U.S. fighters and bombers ... Kuwait would be the leading staging base of the huge operation ... the U.S. Army already has about a division's worth of armor and other heavy equipment pre-positioned in the Persian Gulf region ... Pentagon casualty estimates range as high as 2,000 deaths, but Lang pointed out that 5,000 deaths were predicted for Operation Desert Storm, which cost only 28 American lives.


Rym Brahimi, CNN


Iraq removes radio transmitters to safer locations

Iraq Press: Al- Sahhaf, according to information ministry officials, has given the engineers the green light to find out alternative locations for small but powerful transmitters imported recently to avoid detection by U.S. satellites and surveillance planes.

Controversy Dogs State Department's "Transitional Justice" Working Group

Reuters, By Jonathan Wright: But at least two leading figures stayed away from the two-day meeting, complaining bitterly the Bush administration refused to give a commitment to support democracy in any future government and charging the State Department with playing political games with rival Iraqi opposition factions. [Absentees include Kanan Makiya and Salem Chalabi, nephew of Ahmed.]


Arabic News: Zerbateyah border point to join al-Munzereyah and al-Shalamja.


Iraq says 35 bln bbls oil reserves postponed by sanctions

Reuters: "We will not allow any foreign investment under the sanctions regime," Khayat said [at CWC Geneva conference]

Iraq to open third border post with Iran: official

AFP: A third border post between Iraq and Iran is to open shortly, an Iraqi transport official told Ath-Thawra newspaper on Monday.


US 'to attack Iraq via Jordan'

, Observer: Americans reconnoitred Iraqi frontline positions and requested maps of minefields from demining agencies working in the area.

US shelves a study on Iraq abuses

By Anthony Shadid, Boston Globe: "US officials have shelved an authoritative report six months in the making that investigates the purported role of President Saddam Hussein of Iraq and other leaders in war crimes."


U.S. Faces a New Dynamic in Iraq//Mideast: Analysts see little to deter Hussein from using chemical and biological arms this time.

JOHN HENDREN, LA Times: "We've talked ourselves, in many ways, into a war with Iraq because [its] possession of weapons of mass destruction is unacceptable, when it's almost certain that that very war is going to lead to the use of weapons of mass destruction," said Ivo Daalder, a military analyst at the Brookings Institution. ... The primary objective would be removing Hussein from power, and therein lies the danger, said Loren Thompson, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute think tank in Arlington, Va. "The way we've gone about preparing for this operation has communicated very effectively to Saddam that he has nothing to lose by doing something crazy," he said. ... The Joint Chiefs of Staff, which is deeply skeptical about a major military operation against Iraq, and civilian hawks in the defense secretary's office, including Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz and Undersecretary for Policy Douglas Feith, who are considered pro-Israel and skeptical of Arab critics of a war with Iraq.


Sabri-Annan talks collapse; no joint photo, no future plans beyond technical level co-operation. INC UK announces "transition to the rule of law" programme.


Reuters: Iraq to return 90% of Kuwaiti archive (remainder expected to be documents relating to Kuwait's independent status). Yuri Vorontsov is involved. R. Beeston in London Times also carries (5/07/2): "IRAQ is expected to take one more step towards making peace with Kuwait today when plans are finalised for the return of the emirate's entire official archive."

Kurds want to know "alternative" before joining US action against Saddam

AFP: The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of two main groups controlling northern Iraq, will not take part in a US offensive to oust President Saddam Hussein "unless it is sure of the alternative," its leader said Thursday.


Opposition Figure Views Iraq Future, Kurdish Role

Al-Hayat, by Zuhayr Qusaybati in London: The leading Iraqi opposition figure spoke about four factors that dictate the implementation: "Arab leaders have told the US President that there is no objection to getting rid of Saddam on condition that the operation is quick. The second condition that it should come after the Middle East peace process has been put on the track again in order to avoid violent reactions in the Arab street." The second factor is "that an operation of this kind requires massive logistics preparations while the war in Afghanistan is still not over." The third factor is that Bush's advisers have the final word and are discussing whether Saddam's downfall will help Bush's reelection to a second term or get him entangled. The fourth factor is the Iraqi opposition's situation, which officials in Washington have compared to cats that are difficult to bring together.



Chicago Tribune: Al-Udeid base best in region says Arkin. Jane's Intelligence Review reports that GoI has mounted S-125 Neva SAMs on mobile bases, trucks. AFP: Iranian Foreign Minister: "Iran is firmly opposed to any attack against any country, particularly Iraq, aimed at changing governments or the regime in place," Asefi said. Al-Hayat: "The Islamic Da'wah Party and the Iraqi Islamic Forces Union have told Al-Hayat that they reject any dialogue or coordination between Washington and the Iraqi opposition." AFP: GoI accuses Unesco of political action by failing to add five Iraqi sites to World Heritage list; nine (non-Iraqi?) sites were added on Thursday. Iraq Press reports that the village of Uja, where Saddam was born, was been evacuated. Its inhabitants are felt to be living in tents outside.


Bangladeshi Independent: Washington is tracking Saddam's movements through satellite data and human intelligence, with the plan to order air strikes "to try to kill him" when they are sure "they have determined with accuracy the spot where he can be found," said former Iraqi intelligence chief Wafiq Sammarai.


WP reports Wayne Downing's resignation, possibly after being ignored over Iraq and 'homeland security'.

New Iraqi opposition coalition rejects 'foreign interference'

(text of report by London-based newspaper Al-Hayat on 27 June): The "Coalition of Iraqi National Forces-Britain" yesterday issued a statement at the conclusion of its meetings in London. The statement includes the reasons for establishing the coalition and its goals, as well as the "National Action Charter".


AFP has reported at some point that Iran has closed its waters to Iraqi oil smuggling. Boston Globe reports US near appointing liaison with Iraqi opposition groups. James Dobbins? VoA: Annan hopes this round of Sabri talks will be "decisive". AP: al-Douri expect that "there won't be enough time to resolve all issues" at the Vienna talks. "At the first meeting, Sabri gave Annan a list of 19 questions Iraq wanted answered, some technical, some clearly political including U.S. threats and the "no-fly" zone. Chief weapons inspector Hans Blix said he answered the questions relating to inspections at the second round. ... "Annan sent the questions to the Security Council in March, asking for the council or any of its 15 members to comment, but none have chosen to do so - so he has no answers to give the Iraqis on the political issues."



AP: France has proposed that the U.N. Security Council replace its current policy for pricing Iraqi oil with stricter registration standards for the oil buyers, Western diplomats said Tuesday. ... Currently, more than 1,000 companies from at least 80 countries registered with the United Nations lift the oil. ... The vast majority of those companies are one-man operations. Britain has 106 companies registered, Russia 37 and France 20. Arkin (LA Times, then Moscow?) on US war planning: Operation Polo Step. Critical of policy vacuum.


Richard Beeston conjectures in the Times that SH may not run for election in the autumn, leaving Qusay to run. Sabri as Qusay's protégé.


Richard Kellaway's (Director-General of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission) letter to the Times: CWGC has reached agreement with GoI over graves maintenance.


Iraq Presses Firms to Forgo Billions in War Reparations

STEVE STECKLOW and ALIX M. FREEDMAN, WSJ: GoI conditioning OFF contracts on withdrawal/absence of UNCC claims.


Bill Gertz, THE WASHINGTON TIMES: "have not seen evidence".


Washington Post reports that "earlier this year" Bush authorised CIA to step up efforts to topple SH, including by use of "lethal force" in self-defence.


Iran vows to accept refugees if war breaks out in Pakistan, Iraq

AFP. TEHRAN: "Iran is worried by the threat of war breaking out in two bordering countries, Pakistan and Iraq, and is preparing to take in refugees if the situation deteriorates into armed conflict, a government official said Sunday."


Financial Times reports that GoI reduces oil surcharge to 15 cents/barrel (from 25 - 30); UK, US standing firm.


Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that SCIRI and Hakim are being worked around; new leaders looking more to GCC, West, less to Iran. New called Union of Iraqi Islamic Forces. Trying to gain backing in north? Muhammad al-Husayni a leader. Iran not serious about regime change.


Reuters (London): GoI may drop oil surcharge. Traders getting fed up with difficulty of trading in Iraqi oil; beginning to give up on it.


Leonard R. Spector writes in IHT that GoUS trying to decide whether to vaccinate v. smallpox before attacking Iraq. Neighbouring states might also wish to, slowing the prospects of an invasion. Saudi decides to allow Iraqi ambassador to OIC.


Araar border with Saudi re-opened for first time since August 1990.


Iraq Press: Under U.N. rules, Iraq is required to direct the largest amount of its oil exports via Turkey. But the world body overlooked its own regulations since the Turkish line's capacity was limited to about 1 million barrels per day.


Iraq focussing on improving Saudi ties.


What Saddam's Got

Josh Tyrangiel, Time: "Iraq's known nuclear scientists are gravitating to the country's five nuclear research sites," says Charles Duelfer, who was the second-ranking official on the U.N. Special Commission (UNSCOM) on Iraq until it was disbanded in 1999. "That doesn't appear to be coincidental."


Terry Taylor to BBC's HARDtalk on Iraqi weapons concealment:


AP reports Iraq flying more combat planes in non-NFZ. ("Officials: Iraq Increasing Flights JOHN J. LUMPKIN)


INC TV ceases broadcasting. Had failed to pay bills. INC blames State Department for not disbursing. VoA article: State Department cites concerns about accounting practices. GoI resuming discussions in New York; want to talk about wide range of issues. [e.g. AP]. Seem to have succeeded: 2/05/2 AP article LA Times reports that Prague Atta/GoI meeting now suspected by US investigators not to have happened.


U.S. Blueprint to Topple Hussein Envisions Big Invasion Next Year

New York Times, THOM SHANKER and DAVID E. SANGER: "One of the things we would want to do is say that any Iraqi officer or soldier who throws chemical or biological weapons at us will be held personally responsible," said Eliot A. Cohen, a professor at Johns Hopkins University who directed the Air Force's definitive study of the Persian Gulf war. "You say, `You guys operating the missile batteries: we will find you, and you will pay.' Saddam's people have no desire to go down in a blaze of glory with him."... [generally: reports of military re-organisation, preparations in Iraq]


U.S. Postpones Conference on Post-Saddam Iraq

Reuters; Jonathan Wright: Congress thwarts State's plans to host gathering through Middle East Institute. ... Supporters of the INC helped to scotch the State Department's plans by publicizing remarks critical of President Bush's policy by the president of the Middle East Institute, former assistant secretary of state Edward Walker, sources close to the Iraqi opposition said. ... After Bush said in January that Iran, Iraq and North Korea made up an 'axis of evil,' Walker said, 'We have complete apples and oranges here. To call them an axis is ridiculous.'


Brazil: Bustani Says His Removal From OPCW Constitutes 'Lynching'

[Sao Paulo O Estado de Sao Paulo; FBIS translated text] At the end of the vote, Bustani was applauded by the delegations when leaving the conference center, with the exception of the Washington diplomats." Last week US sacked widely respected IPCC head at Exxon's behest. Saddam's £14m gesture, The Guardian: estimates GoI payments to Palestinians for houses destroyed.


US successfully ousts Bustani. 48 in favour; 7 against [or 6?]; 43 abstentions; 2 absent. O Estado reports that US offers to pay contributions of African etc. debtor states' contributions, and accept a Brazilian replacement. US backed Bustani's renewed tenure last May; unanimously re-elected. Agreed that attempts to encourage Iraqi accession to CWC angered US; accession could make a US war harder by skirting Unmovic. US now plans to pay its dues. U.S. Ambassador Donald Mahley "declined to give details about Bustani's alleged wrongdoing, saying: 'Trying to get into specific details of that will only get us into a business of trivia and the past.'" AP story: "The United States was booed during an emergency meeting of the world's chemical weapons watchdog Monday for failing to provide proof of its mismanagement allegations against the head of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.... The U.S. official declined to give examples of what Washington calls Bustani's 'ill-conceived initiatives' and poor management style." [See Doug Scott's piece: constitution does not allow for this sort of vote. This is a reason given for Mexico's 'no' vote: illegal] NewScientist: "Apart from posting a list of complaints on a State Department website, however, the US has made no formal defence of its accusations. It has not answered Bustani's rebuttal, which attributes financial problems to a lack of payments from member states, and says the director cannot order inspections."


Iraq, Somalia, Sudan owe $595m to AMF, Nadim Kawach, Gulf News Abu Dhabi: The Arab League's main financial organisation has come under further pressure by a deteriorating arrears problem. Experts see no solution in the near future given the difficult financial conditions of three debtors.... Iraq is the main debtor to the fund, with around $365 million. ... Economists said the arrears problem, which emerged more than 10 years ago, is putting strong pressure on AMF coffers and obstructing its role in supporting economic and fiscal reform programmes in member states.




Iraq allows Iranian airplanes to use airspace, Iraq Press - civilian airliners


AP on Lynch story: "If it happened the way the article described, I think it would be an attempt at intimidating an international civil servant, and that, of course, would be unacceptable," Eckhard said.


Wolfowitz looked for dirt on Blix from his IAEA years. Lynch [Washington Post]: "A former State Department official familiar with the report said Wolfowitz 'hit the ceiling' because it failed to provide sufficient ammunition to undermine Blix and, by association, the new U.N. weapons inspection program" "But an administration official said Wolfowitz 'did not angrily respond' when he read the report because he ultimately concluded that the CIA had given only a 'lukewarm assessment.'" But Blix said he is obliged to honor a 1998 agreement between Annan and Iraq. It envisions a series of time-consuming procedures that would likely delay U.N. arms inspectors for about a week before they could gain access to more than 1,000 buildings contained in eight presidential sites. The procedures require that the inspectors provide Iraq with prior notification of an inspection, fly in a team of inspectors and senior diplomats and then hold a meeting with the foreign ministry. Blix said that if Iraq cooperates, he is confident that he could issue a report that would trigger a suspension of sanctions within a year after arriving in Baghdad.


GoI announces delay in second round in New York: allow world to focus on Isr-Pal. Interpretation: waiting to play 'UN card' Moscow Times: Russian oil firms losing interest in Iraq. Can't access while sanctions present; would have to compete with the majors. Claim to be disillusioned. Pentagon responds to GoI's offer to allow team in to look for remains of Lt. Cmdr. Michael Scott Speicher. GoI wanted Ritter to be on the team, and film team.


UK cites Iraq's support for MKO as proof of sponsoring terrorism

IRNA: al-Q link not there, but MKO is

Iraqi Kurds say diesel trade with Turkey halted

Reuters, Claudia Parsons: Turkish truckers told Reuters that strict limits and charges imposed by officials at the Turkish border post at Habur had made the trade impractical. "We can't even cover our costs any more. Profits are way down and we've decided not to go any more," said Ahmet, a truck driver from the border town ofSilopi, who did not want to give his surname... But a Turkish border official gave another explanation. "There is no diesel so we are not sending anybody," he said. ... Major fuel distributors in Turkey, including Shell and Petrol Ofisi , have been pressuring the government to halt the trade which they say amounts to unfair competition.


Tank battalions protect oil fields in Iraq

Iraq Press

OPEC not planning to make up for Iraqi oil shortfall; Iran moderates stance on embargo

BRUCE STANLEY, AP: OPEC concerned that reduction in Israel tensions will then cause drop Arabic News: Jordan stresses that Iraqi oil to it continues this month Al-Thawra (Iraq) apparently reports that Saddam encourages his nuclear scientists. [picked up by Ha'aretz?]


Guardian: Blair w/e speech w Bush silent on new UN resolutions: "Downing Street yesterday denied there was a need for a fresh UN mandate since Saddam was already in breach of nine existing UN resolutions." AP reports Russia holding oil production steady


U.S. Postpones Plans to Reveal Findings on Iraq: Mideast Crisis Delays Campaign at U.N. to Expose Alleged Efforts to Obtain Prohibited Weapons

Colum Lynch, Washington Post News Interactive: Australia won't be able to help US in Iraq war; defence budget already stretched by war on terror.


Assassination attempt against [PUK] Kurdish PM Barham Salih may have been ordered by Saddam [The Independent, "Kurdish leader survives Saddam assassination bid"]. SH worried about Kurdish support for US toppling. "One Iraqi analyst suggests that the Iraqi leader might have been angered by an interview given by Dr Salih in a US publication in which he suggested that Baghdad had links with al-Qa'ida. It is also possible that Kurdish Islamist groups, who dislike Dr Salih because of his secular outlook, might have been involved in the assassination attempt. ... The attempt to kill Dr Salih shows the political temperature in Iraq is rising steadily." [No direct evidence for SH claim]


State's Ryan Crocker in KAR


Block on Russia's Iraq contracts lifted

Financial Times, Hoyos: [US lifts $200 m Russian holds; expect almost $750 eventually] "The timing isn't totally coincidental," said one diplomat. Another was more blunt saying the decision marked the boldest move yet by the US to use the holds to buy political agreement. Last June, the US released more than $80m of Chinese contracts it had blocked in order to gain Beijing's support for an earlier resolution retooling UN sanctions.

BBC's HARDtalk

Sabri reiterates challenge to Blair: send Brits to inspect us. [payment to Palestinians higher if to suicide bombers]


PUK press release: attempt on PUK PM Salih's life kills bodyguards. says that everyone blames Ansar. Two assailants killed [, 4/04/2] Iraq Press (Erbil): "Prices of essential commodities have recently risen by up to 20 percent in Baghdad, travellers say."


Kuwaiti newspapers tone down anti-Baghdad rhetoric to test Iraqi intentions

Reuters Iraq News: Iraqi officials instructed to steer favourable OFF deals to Arab, Turkey GoI, Iran discuss oil weapon v. US/Israel. OIC, OPEC not interested MEES: Beirut Declaration: "Bland as that may sound, it was enough for the Kuwaiti Foreign Minister, Shaikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, to pronounce himself '100% satisfied' upon his return to Kuwait on 28 March. (Shaikh Sabah added: 'Who wrote these clauses? I wrote them.')"

Iraqi Oil After May: An Uncertain Future

MEES: expects market will continue to price in $3 - 4 premium until Washington's intentions become clearer.


Blair delays publishing evidence against Iraq

Brian Groom, Financial Times: Tony Blair has postponed publication of a dossier of evidence against Saddam Hussein for fear that the document will fuel a backlash by MPs, while failing to provide a strong enough case to support a military campaign against Iraq. ... Publication could also expose a disagreement between London and Washington about what evidence exists.

Washington confident of UN chemical weapons chief who defies US

Business Recorder: The United States said on Friday it was close to mustering enough support to convene a full conference of a global arms body in its bid to get rid of its Brazilian director, accused of mismanagement amid a diplomatic tussle linked to Iraqi weapons inspections. ... Bustani, who on Monday refused to resign and said he was defending the fundamental principle that his organisation should be free of political interference, is thought to have upset Washington by making overtures to Iraq. ... The United States accuses the Brazilian director-general of mismanagement and "allying himself with specific political views held only by a minority" - a reference [from the 6/03/2 US non-paper] to his attempt to bring Iraq into the OPCW and start inspections there. ... "We don't think, even under the best of circumstances, it would solve the Iraq chemical weapons program," [a senior US official] added. [the US non-paper, circulated on SIPRI, reads: "Volunteered OPCW inspectors for UNSCOM or UNMOVIC tasks in Iraq over objections member states. Continues to attempt to impose the OPCW, and CWC limitations, on what is a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) matter: the mandate for WMD inspections in Iraq that flows directly from a UNSC resolution. Thus, he would supplant the UN inspection regime in Iraq and undercut the Security Council."] [an OPCW non-paper, circulated on SIPRI, responds: "53. The Director-General provided OPCW assistance to the UN Secretary-General at the request of the UN Security Council to eliminate the health and safety risks resulting from toxic chemicals stored at the UNSCOM laboratory at the UN compound in Baghdad when UNSCOM inspectors were not allowed back by the Iraqi Government. The Director-General suggested that the members of the Security Council could consider, through accession by Iraq to the CWC, OPCW involvement as a means to unblock the impasse over inspections in Iraq. He did this keeping in mind the specific provision of Resolution 687 calling on Iraq to accede to the CWC and his mandate to promote the Convention's universality. He cannot impose anything on either the Security Council or Iraq, for that matter. But he can and should offer his advice on matters where the OPCW capabilities are relevant and were recognised as such by the Security Council itself. After all, the best expertise available in the chemical weapons area is undeniably with the OPCW. The Security Council is free to either accept or reject such advice."] Radio 4: Malcolm Rifkind: no one knows Blair's position, himself included; clear post-11/09/1 that Iraq not linked, swung when US took other approach. [Seems that dossier on Saddam not being circulated] Niblock on Radio 4: Cheney's trip came to nothing, but significant: (i) cautious states (e.g. Saudi) came out swinging; and (ii) the Arab states are now back in control of the agenda, not responding to the US. Joffe on Radio 4: US has lost control, by trying to pretend things that aren't believed. Trouble: Bush Administration's mindset puts it at odds with the Arab world (i. prioritise Iraq; ii. unlink Palestine from...), and Bush admin doesn't like being told that it's wrong. Nye on Radio 4: younger Arab leaders realise that festering Israel-Palestine situation ultimately threatens them. US attempts to concern them with Iraqi weapons don't resonate.


Iraq News: "Iraq arms loyal tribes" - militia role


Round III GRL: agreement will allow c. $750 million in Russian contracts to be freed (US bribing Russians with Iraqi money)


Arab League summit [compare statement to 'Amman's] - statement significant; see 29/03/2 al-Kadiri conversation - Iraqi - Kuwaiti handshake - direct Beirut Declaration between Iraq/Kuwait - Tariq Aziz kept away (had angered last time by calling "cowards 28/03/2 Iraq Press) - no fiery speech from Saddam read out - NYT 29/03/2: "I think the Saudis are basically sending a message to the Americans to solve the Palestinian question and things will fall into place," said George Hawatmeh, the editor of the Jordanian daily Al Rai. "Take care of the Palestinian problem, the mother of all problems, and we will solve the rest in our own way. We will take care of Iraq."


Europe snubs US request to host summit of Iraqi exiles

Ben Fenton and Toby Helm, Daily Telegraph


Times: Straw playing "weapons inspectors" to Hoon's "war" Le Soir (Belgium): US cigarette smuggling through Iraq enriches Uday AFP ("Saddam fuels Mideast unrest): "The $500,000 distributed on Monday was said to have brought to more than $10-million the total distributed by Saddam to grieving families since the new intifada began 18 months ago."


SYRIAN: THE IRAQI PIPELINE IS JUST FOR A TEST, TO BE CANCELED Arabic News, 16th March - "will work to cancel this line for using a new line to be used in the framework of the oil-for-food" [Talabani particularly clear: regime change is an internal affair. Why's he saying this? Iran connection? SCIRI opposition 19/03/2 because Iran doesn't want US solution?] [articles on Ansar al-Islam's oppressive and corrupt practices in/around Halabja. Iranian backing according to, 19/03/2 - Mitterand spelled Meteran; Tenet/Goldberg New Yorker sees Iraq/Al-Qaeda links (confirm)]


Invasion of Iraq is best US option

Daily Star (Beirut), Ghassan al-Atiyyah: In fact, there is no way the US administration can turn back on a military confrontation with Baghdad now without losing face ­ not to mention the loss of an opportunity for Bush to finish the job his father started in 1991... By declaring Iran to be a part of his 'axis of evil,' Bush has effectively excluded Tehran from playing any significant role in the process of change in Iraq. And to ensure Turkish support, the Americans have to reduce the role the Kurds will play in the process of change, as well as their influence in post-Saddam Iraq. ... To ensure that these objectives are met, the Americans have to take direct control of all military operations... Reuters: Sabri's questions to Kofi Annan: - are Washington's threats to get rid of President Saddam Hussein a breach of international law? - whether it was possible to normalize relations between the Security Council and Baghdad "when calls are made for invading Iraq and overthrowing its national government by force"? - will U.S. "spies" would be allowed in future U.N. inspection teams? - how long inspectors would stay? - what was achieved in seven years and seven months of Iraq's cooperation with arms inspectors - what remained to be clarified though inspections - if end of NFZ can be guaranteed? - if the government could be compensated for "destruction of its economic, educational and other infrastructure" caused by 11-year-old U.N. sanctions and violations of Iraqi sovereignty - whether one permanent Security Council member could interpret the council's resolutions so as to take "unilateral actions" regarding Iraq



Las Vegas Sun: AP: The United States does not want the Security Council to consider a list of questions from Iraq, including whether U.S. actions toward Saddam Hussein violate international law. ... "The Iraqi questions given to Secretary-General (Kofi) Annan earlier this month are an attempt by the Iraqis to distract U.N. attention away from Iraq's noncompliance with ... Security Council resolutions and to portray Iraq as a victim," said Robert Wood, spokesman for the U.S. mission at the United Nations.


Financial Times. GoI may allow weapons inspectors, but raising timetable conditions. Blix rejects. Guardian/ICM poll: 51% of Brits oppose US attack; 35% support. LibDems most opposed [Cheney mission - failed? n.b. did not visit Syria - cut out in spite of sharing intel with US post 11/09/01; now on list of nuclear targeted]


Should we go to war against Saddam?

Observer, Peter Beaumont, Kamal Ahmed and Edward Helmore,(,6903,668867,00.html): "While Ritter accepts that lorries have been converted for military use, he claims that US officials have used deliberately misleading langauge to suggest that the vehicles were converted to carry long-range missiles" ... 'What we are talking about,' he said last week, 'is the conversion of lorries to take rocket artillery systems, [which are] short-range and inaccurate." ... 'If Hamza has become a monster,' [Albright] told The Observer last week, 'I partly blame myself. He had good information on what he knew about, but where we fell out was that I was concerned he was telling me stuff he had read elsewhere, including stuff he could have read in Time magazine. He was not one of the technical experts on the programme, but I found he was a bright man who picked up things very quickly.'


Signatories to "deep unease" about attack on Iraq EDM up to 100; Alice Mahon organising them: "Briefings by ministers are pathetic - lightweight statements of belief with no facts."


Mo Mowlam in the Independent: says the response to the growing crisis in the Middle East should be to address the question of Iran and Iraq - but not to label them part of an "axis of evil" and to bomb them. "Such actions would only result in more deaths and increased support for violent action by more people - the exact reverse of the stated policy of those who would be carrying out the actions," she warns.


Iraq raises aid to Palestinian uprising victims

Reuters: GoI ups payment to families of Palestinians killed in intifada to $25,000 [n.b. not euros] in cash from $10,000. $1000 for wounded and $5,000 for house destroyed still. [oil prices jittery]


The Observer reports that US asks UK to commit 25,000 British troops to Iraq plan Reuters: "Talks between Iraq and the United Nations should put as much importance on lifting sanctions and ending no-fly zones as on sending back weapons inspectors, according to the Iraqi deputy prime minister."


Telegraph reports that US/UK have intelligence dossier linking GoI/al-Qaeda: "will claim that Saddam has given shelter to hundreds of al-Qa'eda and Taliban fighters in northern Iraq" [the same KAR where Saddam's writ does not run?] Pepe Escobar (Asia Times): most UN holds may involve Russian companies. Times: Naji Sabri presents list of 20 questions "on concerns ranging from US threats of 'changing the regime' in Baghdad to the risk that future UN inspections would again by used to spy on the country." Annan promised to try to respond. First high-level meetings in almost two years.


LA Times: US presents images to the Security Council showing about 1000 dump trucks imported to Iraq under OFF converted to military purposes, including as bases for 155mm howitzers. US official who briefed UNSC then briefed reporters anonymously. UN briefing didn't show mounted missiles. Syrian ambassador asked whether trucks were OFF or smuggled (US photos apparently show entering in Umm Qasr) This done day before Naji Sabri and Annan to meet. [dump trucks too small for 155mm? - or are the dump trucks being used as missile launchers] European diplomat anonymously suggests that more evidence needed [rumbling of backbench resistance to war idea: Donald Anderson most prominent - had been opposed for reappointment as Foreign Affairs Select Committee by 10 Downing; more outspoken now. Rumours of cabinet level resignations] Reuters: The United States has created a problem for itself by labelling Iraq an enemy, France's Defence Minister said ..." [talks: Blix' statements and key tasks] [when? - find Iraq inspection offer to Brits; no official response]


UAE asks for clear Arab stand on Iraq PUK's Talabani prefers democratic change to US military action. Barzani agrees [Voice of America news]


Former CIA man Robert Baer predicted that a US invasion of Iraq would be chaotic for the region: there's no thinking, he claims, about the successor government, and no possible candidate. He's worried about the country fragmenting. Baer was responsible, in 1995, for encouraging Kurdish and INC to overthrow Saddam. "[Saddam] could turn his army over to Arafat ... and say I'm going to liberate Jerusalem". Testable hypothesis: interim Afghan government won't last until June: snowmelt starts fighting again. Ireland's Bula Resources terminates Riad el-Taher's contract for Block 4 oilfield drilling. No reason given in Irish Times.


Iraq oil program faces disarray as tensions mount

Reuters: retroactive pricing has cut escrow account income by $750 while keeping $40 million from SH. re: oil market's complaints - " 'Go somewhere else for your oil then,' said a British official." [carried in ISM 419] Oil Daily: half of Iraqi OFF oil in 2001 sold to US; Iraq around fifth largest supplier of crude to US. " 'We are buying [Iraq's] oil. It is almost as if we take the oil, put it in our airplanes, and go out and take his targets,' [Sen. Frank Murkowski (R-Alaska)] told the Senate this week."


Reuters: US, set to topple Saddam, not as worried about Syrian oil smuggling from Iraq as is UK. Syria has won points from the US for intelligence sharing with them; further, it's just not a priority.


Reuters: oil exports way down (Sevan report) UN-Iraq talks announced for 7/03/2 Blair begins to support US Iraq attack; MPs warn him


German Forsa poll shows 71% opposed German soldiers in Iraq even if US presented evidence of Iraqi "involvement in international terrorism". Minnesota Star-Tribune: Abbas Mehdi, sociologist at St Cloud University, repeats suggestion that maybe $6-7 billion annually is sent to Iraq in remittances from abroad.


Die Welt poll shows that Germans reject Iraq war: 80% oppose German participation in overthrowing SH


Berlusconi opposes Iraq attack Bloomberg reports US motor fuel reserves above last year's, but refining profits 1/4 of previous. American Petroleum Institute to release figures. Xinhua reports Iraq to repatriate 3000 Iranian refugees; part of bilateral arrangement. GoI opens bids for (European) banks to share escrow account.

21/08/1 or 22/08/01

UK's Iraq Oil Price Review Plan Worries US

Dow Jones: "No one is proposing to lift sanctions on investment; what they're proposing is to allow it under U.N. sanctions," said Anthony Cordesman, a Middle East analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Maybe this is a semantic problem, but it's a fairly important one." [Bush Admin Still Forming Views On Iraq Sanctions, WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones); probably around 7 or 8 May 2001]


Boston Globe: Ahmed Chalabi says, "So long as you have no policy to remove the regime, sanctions are immoral and cannot be defended" in a speech at Tufts University. "The sanctions regime is skewed against the Iraqi people and in favor of Saddam," Chalabi said. "Sanctions have enhanced the ability of Saddam to oppress the Iraqi people." 24 Iraqi Kurds claim asylum in Indonesia. Iraqi Kurds have been travelling to Europe, but this is the first that I've heard of Indonesia. Two Swedish men were convicted of selling equipment (an ammonia pump, fans, water supply systems and eye spray) to Iraq through a Jordanian company in violation of the sanctions (Dagens Nyheter). Reuters reports that Glencore, which diverted oil sold for the US to Croatia, was fined and will now require approval by the full 661 Committee rather than just the oil overseers when making future purchases.


IRNA reports that a UN team is in Bushehr to assess environmental damage from Gulf War for compensation commission. Bloomberg reports that Bush has ``no intentions at this moment to take sanctions off Iraq and Libya ... after a As far as Iraq goes, it is too early at this time in our relationship'' in spite of the Cheney panel's energy report's crisis tone. The Financial Times writes that Bush's Iraq policy of smart sanctions is to face regional resistance.


Iran fires 56 - 66 Scud missiles at MKO bases in Iraq along Iranian border. By contrast, Iraq fired 93 Scuds over January - March 1991, according to Unscom (S/1999/94). On 19/04/1 Iraq warned that incidents like this contributed to the 1980s war. On 21/04/1 AFP carried the INA's report that the death toll had risen to six; the MKO claimed 10 dead. On 22/04/1 AFP reported that Baghdad would boycott a Tehran Palestine summit in retaliation. SH shuffles cabinet, especially Foreign and Information Ministries. The Foreign Ministry team to Amman is charged with having disobeyed instructions to focus exclusively on Palestine/Israel by mentioning the sanctions. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (21/04/1) reports that Al-Sahaf's mistake was his blustery attitude when Baghdad was trying to signal reconciliation. In particular, he seems to have made some very rude remarks about King Abdullah in private that were overheard, leaving parties at the conference with a very ill feeling. Al-Sharq Al-Awsat claims that his replacement by Aziz has been well received in Washington. Reuters reports (20/04/1) that Uday has helped to sack two information ministers in the past decade. CHR passes E/CN.4/2001/L.19 on Iraq, apparently unchanged from previous years. The Iraqi government condemned its lack of balance. Three countries (Algeria, Libya, Nigeria) voted against it, up from zero recently. The abstainers and nay sayers expressed similar concerns. No one voting in favour of the resolution spoke in its defense (Kuwait, not a CHR member, did speak).


Arabic News: Syria is reported to have rejected a US invitation to join a US "smart sanctions" arrangement. Syria argued that no new sanctions should be imposed on Iraq, whose citizens have borne the brunt of the existing arrangements, and when Israel, the lead violator of SCRs, goes unpunished.

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