The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .
I. AMB. BUTLER MAY TEST IRAQ ON INSPECTIONS, NYT AUG 23 II. RCC CONDEMNS US STRIKES ON SUDAN, AFGHANISTAN, AUG 21 III. IRAQI CLERICS CONDEMN US STRIKES, IRAQ RADIO, AUG 21 IV. AZIZ CONDEMNS US "INTERNATIONAL CRIME," AFP, AUG 22 V. JORDANIAN ENGINEER: FACTORY COULDN'T MAKE CW, JORDAN TIMES, AUG 23 VI. WORLD ISLAMIC FRONT, STATEMENT, AL QUDS AL ARABI, FEB 23 VII. POPULAR ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OPENS IN BAGHDAD, INA, FEB 10 This is the 19th day without weapons inspections in Iraq. To be precise, that means that UNSCOM can and does monitor declared or designated sites and can and does send teams to those sites. But if there are no inspections, then UNSCOM cannot send teams to sites that have not been declared or designated. Yesterday's NYT reported that Amb. Butler might soon test Iraq's position by sending out an inspection team. As Butler explained, "If the Iraqis block us, then obviously we can't do the inspection . . . but I simply don't know what the Security Council would do then." Today, Kofi Annan's envoy, Prakash Shah, who spent a fruitless week in Baghdad trying to get the Iraqis to renew weapons inspections, will report to the UNSC. One major Israeli paper twice over the past week excused/downplayed Clinton's domestic political problems stemming from his relations with Monica Lewinsky. That, despite strong criticism within the US, including most recently, former senator Sam Nunn, in yesterday's Wash Post, who sought to articulate a path for the conduct of US affairs in difficult days ahead, even while cautioning that that may require Clinton's resignation. An Israeli reader, in academics, kindly explained the gooey-eyed Israeli attitude towards Clinton, "Because he shed tears for Rabin, hosted the Oslo signing ceremony, and came here after the terrorist bombings with the right words. He was a good actor, when it mattered." Still, this is for real and it may affect the conduct of US foreign policy, including in the Middle East. Yesterday, Reuters reported that Newsweek, in its current issue, says that Ken Starr's report on the Lewinsky-Clinton relationship "includes details that will make people 'want to throw up.'" On Aug 21, Iraq's Revolution Command Council issued a statement condemning the US attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan, "The Muslims, mankind in general, and the Arabs in particular are dutybound to carry out [words indistinct] in an effective manner in this direction, making the United States face the facts that will force it to respect the people and the sovereignty of countries, and not flout or scorn the rights of the Arabs, Muslims, and the rest of mankind," according to INA. Also, on Aug 21, Iraq's clerics condemned the US strikes. As Iraq Radio reported, "The imams and preachers of mosques in Baghdad and the governorates denounced the blatant, barbaric US air aggression against Sudan and Afghanistan . . . They stressed that through its reckless behavior, the United States expressed its inherent hatred of Arabism and Islam. . . . They prayed that God will preserve leader, God-supported President Saddam Husayn, crown his jihad with full victory over the forces of evil and aggression, and achieve through him the victory of the Arabs and Islam over the covetous enemies." Sudan's Foreign Minister has been visiting Baghdad, where he met Saddam, Iraq's Foreign Minister, and Tariq Aziz. During their talks, Aug 22, Aziz denounced "the cowardly American aggression against our Sudanese brothers and other attacks against Iraq and Libya that have shown the United States is an international criminal that practices terrorism in a flagrant and immoral fashion," according to AFP. Also, Sudan claims the facility hit by the US did not make chemical weapons, but pharmaceuticals. Reuters, Aug 22, from Baghdad, reported that al-Jumhuriyah published documents showing Iraq had bought medicine from the plant. And The Jordan Times, yesterday, reported that Jordanians had been involved in constructing it. At a press conference, a Jordanian engineer said, "There is no chance this factory could be used to produce chemical weapons, it was designed to produce medicine for people and animals." He also said that "the factory was financed by the Sudanese businessman Bashir Hassan, who later sold it to another businessman named Salah Idris following financial difficulties. 'During the construction of the plant, over a period of four years, we have never seen or met with Ben Laden and he had nothing to do with the factory.'" The Wash Post, today, reported the Sudanese claim with skepticism. Perhaps. But Sudan has filed a complaint against the US with the UNSC. Probably, there will be an inquiry to settle the dispute. But it does invite the question whether the Clinton administration has Osama Bin Laden too exclusively on the brain. As Jim Hoagland wrote yesterday, Iraq has "significant ties to bin Laden through its large intelligence presence in Sudan." Indeed, Bill Gertz, already in The Wash Times, Oct 24, 1996, citing unnamed officials, reported that "Mr. Bin Ladin was in contact with Iraqi intelligence agents while based near Khartoum, Sudan." In fact, Sudan, in particular, Hassan Turabi, head of Sudan's National Salvation Front, has long-standing ties to Iraq, which, like Sudan is a Sunni Muslim, Arabic speaking country. In 1986, Turabi helped lure to Sudan the most intellectually formidable of Saddam's Shi'a clerical opponents, Mehdi al-Hakim, and Iraqi assassins gunned him down in Khartoum. Sudan supported Iraq during the Gulf war. And following the war, Baghdad established Khartoum as a major center for Iraqi intelligence. The Iraqi ambassador, who just left Khartoum a few months ago, Abd al Samad al-Ta'ish, was a long-time intelligence agent, who held the rank of General Director in Iraqi intelligence. He arrived in Khartoum in July, 1991, with some thirty-five intelligence officers to establish it as a major base for Iraqi intelligence. And, in that, lies the basis of a considerable scam, carried out by Iraq, which aimed at taking revenge for the war, while weakening the Gulf war coalition. The principle victim has been Egypt. "Iraq News" has explained this to a number of Arabs/ Muslims. They include Abbas Kelidar, known to some readers, particularly from his days at SOAS, when he advised many of Eli Kedourie's students. Though no friend of Saddam, quite the opposite, even Kelidar smiled, when the scam was explained to him. What a trick! ! Yet it is difficult for "Iraq News" to explain the scam to Americans/ Israelis. There is a US/Israeli tendency to see Militant Muslim Fundamentalists behind every bomb and every major act of terrorism in the Middle East. And there is, along with that, a very strong hatred of Militant Muslim Fundamentalists. The hatred is so strong, that Americans/Israelis miss the hints that Saddam drops as to the real authorship of the terror, even as his victims pick them up. Thus, there exists an American/Israeli self-deception, which Saddam exploits, in order to achieve a strategic objective. The origin of this error, at least in the US, goes back some years, essentially to the Feb 93 bombing of NYC's World Trade Center [WTC], masterminded by Ramzi Yousef. It was followed by a second conspiracy, actually an FBI undercover operation, which produced the plot to bomb the United Nations, New York's Federal Building, and two tunnels. "Iraq News" knows a great deal about those bombing conspiracies, as well as Yousef's second, aborted plot to bomb 11 US airplanes flying Pacific routes. In fact, "Iraq News" wrote a book about them, based primarily on the meticulous examination of the evidence from the first WTC trial—- Mohammad Salameh and three other fundamentalists. The book argued that the bomb was a false flag operation, the mastermind an Iraqi intelligence agent, which is what NY FBI believed. But NYC publishers said that while the book was well-written and made the case against Iraq, there was "no market" for it. There was "no market" for a book on Iraq, because it was "not news," while there was "no market" for a book on the WTC bombing because "only" six people died, although Yousef meant to topple the tower. Indeed, Yousef told authorities he meant to kill 250,000 people, so it took a long time to understand the NYC publishers. They meant that while an Iraqi intelligence agent may have blown up the building, he did not manage to kill many people and that operation did not change the fact that the US had handily beat Iraq in the 100-hour miracle in the desert that we all saw on CNN some years ago. Thus, the bombing was really a fluke. Saddam was in his box, in his cage, and otherwise, "not news." Still, in Oct 94, the editors of a major NYC intellectual journal, who had read the manuscript, directed the Israeli adviser on terrorism for Steve Emerson, producer of "Jihad in America," to me. And we went through the material--the relevant evidence from the trial of Mohammad Salameh et. al, culled through an excruciatingly tedious analysis of the thousands of pages of raw data that constitute that evidence. As we did, the stunned adviser kept interrupting, "Stop! I have a headache. Please give me some water. Go on." And it so it went on. The adviser, who has since parted with Emerson, explained, as Emerson also did, that they were not saying in "Jihad in America" that the WTC bombing did NOT have state sponsorship. They were just using it as "a hook" to show how dangerous the fundamentalists were. I replied, "Fine, I don't like the fundamentalists either, but you should say that clearly, or otherwise people will think you're saying the bomb did not have state sponsorship." The show was to air in a month and that was not done. And by ignoring state sponsorship in the WTC bomb, "Jihad in America," reinforced and compounded the original mistake of the Clinton administration, which in June 1993 had dealt slyly with the national security question of state sponsorship, while it dealt very publicly, through trials, with the criminal question of the guilt or innocence of individual perpetrators. A reader, a significant US national security figure, drew to the attention of "Iraq News" the first pronouncement issued Feb 23 by the "World Islamic Front" --Osamah bin Ladin, Saudi; Ayman al-Zawahiri, head of the "Jihad Group," Egypt; Abu Yasir Taha, head of the "Islamic Group," Egypt; Mir Hamzah, head of the Clerical Group of Pakistan; and Fazlul Rahman, Head of the "Jihad Movement," Bangladesh. The statement began by stating "three facts known to everyone:" "First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples. . . . The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post. . . . "Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the large number of those killed, which has exceeded 1 million . . . despite all this, the Americans are once again trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation. So here they come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their Muslim neighbors. "Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest neighboring Arab state . . . ." As the reader noted, that is Saddam's agenda. It is indeed. And that observation also invites the question who got Osama Bin Laden, the two Egyptians, a Pakistani, and a Bengladeshi all together? Baghdad regularly hosts something that it calls the "World People's Islamic Conference." [It also regularly hosts an "Arab Popular Forces Conference," which was held in early May, around the time of Iraq's May 1 letter to the UNSC.] The evident purpose of the conferences is to coordinate Arab/Islamic support for Iraq, which can prudently be presumed to include terrorism. On Feb 10, some two weeks before the statement of Bin Laden et. al. was issued, the eighth World People's Islamic conference opened in Baghdad, as INA reported. It was attended by 120 Islamic dignitaries, from 50 Islamic countries, as well as Muslims who live as minorities in non-Muslim countries.