The Bomb and Iraq
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The Bomb and Iraq

January 28, 2001


As war clouds gather in the Middle East public opinion is being prepared for a possible regional war that could likely include a combined Western/Israeli effort to take out the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

There are some credible analysts who believe the plot might be even thicker, including some kind of secret plan not only to finally topple Saddam but to use the moment of Middle East restructing to forceably "resettle" large numbers of Palestinian refugees in Iraq -- as fanciful as this idea seems to many others.

The Telegraph in London is one of the newspapers leading the charge.

Over the weekend the newspaper headlined a story that Iraq now has two functional nuclear bombs with more on the way. With the right-wing nationalists already in power in the U.S., and Sharon and the racists coming to power in Israel, the year just begun may be one for the military history books as were '48, '56, '67, '73, and '82 in the past.

These three articles from The Telegraph in the week past.

By Jessica Berry

The Telegraph, UK -28 January: SADDAM HUSSEIN has two fully operational nuclear bombs and is working to construct others, an Iraqi defector has told The Telegraph.

The defector, a military engineer who fled Iraq a year after United Nations arms inspectors left the country, says that he helped to oversee the completion of the weapons programme. He is currently in hiding in Europe. International nuclear officials are investigating his evidence, which contradicts recent reports that the Iraqi dictator's plans were still at a preparatory stage.

Saddam's efforts to build atomic weapons were delayed by the UN Special Commission (Unscom) inspectors who were forced to leave in November 1998, but scientists resumed the work immediately after their departure.

According to the defector, who cannot be named for security reasons, bombs are being built in Hemrin in north-eastern Iraq, near the Iranian border. Last week, the defector said: "There are at least two nuclear bombs which are ready for use. Before the UN inspectors came, there were 47 factories involved in the project. Now there are 64." The information has alarmed security experts, who were aware only that the area around Hemrin was well-guarded.

The defector said: "The area is restricted to the Special Security Organisation. Some of it is under the control of the military industrialisation ministry which is in charge of building up Saddam's weapons arsenal, but one area is entirely under the control of the nuclear energy organisation. They are digging shelters there."

The nuclear programme is shrouded in secrecy. The chain of command leads directly to the presidential palace and Saddam's closest aide, Abed Hmoud, a Baath Party stalwart who runs the Iraqi dictator's private office. According to the defector, General Raad Ismail, the head of the Committee for the Use of Nuclear Weapons, answers directly to a Dr Khaled, the director-general of the al-Athir factory, who oversees the final stages of construction of weapons.

The factory was attacked in air raids by Britain and the United States in 1998, but has since been rebuilt. Also involved is Awad al-Benck, who is responsible for procurement in the presidential office. Involvement of such senior men means that the programme is top secret. The defector says that apart from the scientists, only four or five people know what is happening. One security expert said: "This is vital information. The fact that General Ismail is involved can only mean that the programme is complete."

Melissa Fleming, a spokeswoman for the UN-founded International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, said that the IAEA was unable to confirm that the Iraqi dictator was complying with Unscom resolutions. Mrs Fleming said: "I will bring this to the attention of the members of the agency immediately. We want to investigate this as soon as possible."

The fresh evidence comes only a week after President George W Bush took office. In his inaugural address, he promised to confront weapons of mass destruction, without mentioning Iraq. Under Anglo-US policy, any attempt by Saddam to build nuclear or biological weapons could lead to military action.

Colin Powell, the US Secretary of State and a Gulf war veteran, and Vice-President Dick Cheney are both known to favour a radical approach in dealing with Iraq. General Powell said of Saddam last week: "His only tool, the only thing he can scare us with are those weapons of mass destruction, and we have to hold him to account."

The new White House spokesman, Ari Fleischer, said: "The President expects Saddam Hussein to live up to the agreements he's made with the UN, especially regarding the elimination of weapons of mass destruction."

By Anton La Guardia in Baghdad and Ben Fenton in Washington

The Telegraph, UK - 24 Jan: THE Foreign Office said yesterday that it shared American fears that Saddam Hussein has rebuilt factories capable of producing chemical weapons.

The claim came amid signs that the new US administration is considering a tougher policy towards Baghdad. With Baghdad scoring almost daily successes against its international isolation, President Bush is coming under pressure to deal with Saddam's weapons of mass destruction and fulfil his campaign promise to "take 'em out".

Mr Bush has been presented with intelligence evidence that Saddam has rebuilt factories which could already be producing chemical and biological weapons. Richard Perle, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and assistant secretary of state for defence under Ronald Reagan, said yesterday that he believed the Bush administration would seek to support Iraqi opposition groups.

He said: "We are simply losing this now. If you saw the parade marking the anniversary of the end of the Gulf war, Saddam had a thousand tanks going through Baghdad. When the war ended, he had 300. Sanctions have collapsed and are a failed policy. We need to get the Iraqi opposition back into northern Iraq, where they can be effective in providing an alternative to Saddam."

A diplomatic source in Washington agreed that the Bush administration, which in Vice-President Dick Cheney and Colin Powell, the Secretary of State, has two of the men who defeated Saddam in 1991, would look for a radical approach in dealing with Iraq.

American intelligence reports, confirmed by Britain, say Iraq has repaired "dual-use" factories bombed by the US air force and the RAF in 1998 after United Nations inspectors pulled out of Iraq. But they stopped short of saying that Saddam has acquired new weapons of mass destruction.

Baghdad has so far ignored the American claims, preferring to rebuild its political and economic ties in the region and erode the 10-year-old international sanctions. Vice-President Taha Yassin Ramadan is expected to visit Damascus this week to conclude a free-trade agreement similar to one reached with Egypt recently.

Egypt and Syria were key members of the US-led alliance against Iraq, providing vital Arab political cover to the American-led campaign to evict Iraqi forces from Kuwait. But Arab countries are drawing closer to Baghdad, pushed by a popular feeling that sanctions have gone on long enough and attracted by Iraq's growing economic power as a result of high oil prices.

Iraq has become one of Egypt's biggest export markets, while Syria stands to make good profits by importing cheap Iraqi oil through a 552-mile pipeline that is being refurbished.

Last week Turkey, a close American ally long involved in smuggling goods to Iraq, upgraded its relations with Baghdad by appointing an ambassador despite protests from Washington. Several Western countries, especially France, have re-appointed diplomats to head high-powered "interests sections" in Baghdad.

By Anton La Guardia

The Telegraph, UK - 16 Jan: IRAQ is back on the warpath, despite suffering two debilitating wars and a decade of sanctions. That, at least, is the impression that Saddam Hussein wants to give.

Television pictures of military parades, soldiers marching in serried ranks, and Saddam firing his gun in the air are interspersed with pictures of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem and set to the tune of a song that proclaims "The anger is coming, coming, coming!"

The message is clear: Iraq's armies will liberate Palestine. To redouble the point, the propaganda includes film of Iraqi Scud missiles striking Israeli cities 10 years ago. In the official Iraqi view, the 1991 Gulf war was not an unparalleled disaster for Iraq but the prelude to the momentous battle for Jerusalem.

As Iraq prepared to mark the tenth anniversary of the war tonight, the main headline in Al-Thwara declared: "By the leadership of President Saddam Hussein, Iraq has crushed the biggest imperialist aggressive campaign."

A cartoon in the daily Al-Joumhouriyya yesterday depicted soldiers proudly raising the Iraqi flag over the Dome of the Rock.

On the streets of Baghdad, normally sensible people profess that they are ready to die fighting alongside the Palestinians. One Iraqi, who in past years would whisper his loathing for the devastation that Saddam had brought to the country, said: "You have to die some time in your life. Jerusalem is very important," Foreign Office diplomats scoff at the empty rhetoric. One said recently: "It's easy for those who are far away from Israel to threaten war. Iraq does not even have a common border with Israel. It would first have to invade Jordan or Syria."

The problem for London and Washington is not whether a militarily weakened Iraq may go to war with Israel. The challenge is that Saddam's sabre-rattling against the Jews has strengthened him both at home and in the wider Arab world.

His building of sumptuous palaces signifies to many Arabs defiant reconstruction, his nasty brutality is seen as strength and toughness of character, and his attempts to build weapons of mass destruction would be, if successful, a huge military asset for the Arab cause.

Just a few years ago, a few brave Iraqis would complain in whispers that both the Americans and Saddam were to blame for their misery. The man who presides over what one exiled critic calls "the Republic of Fear" had, after all, bloodily put down all opposition, whether real or imagined, and led his country into two devastating military adventures.

The fear remains everywhere, but it is mixed with new respect for Saddam. Today it is the Americans who are usually blamed, even in private conversations. One former critic of Saddam said: "Ten years of sanctions is too much. The Americans don't understand that they are pointless."

Iraq has erased the physical damage of the war in Baghdad. The bridges and buildings have been rebuilt by home-grown engineering skills. Construction includes a new double-deck bridge over the Tigris, the Saddam Tower with its revolving restaurant, and a string of new palaces, sorry, "guest houses". There are ever more statues of Saddam.

Abdel-Razek Hashimi, a former ambassador to France and now president of the Organisation of Friendship, Peace and Solidarity which nurtures links with foreign sympathisers, said: "Iraq is not a refugee camp where people just eat. Iraq is a society. It needs schools, medical facilities, electricity and, yes, guest houses for foreign dignitaries."

The sanctions economy has created two faces to Baghdad. One is the beggars and the parlous state of the hospitals, where doctors say there are shortages and erratic supplies of everything from spare parts for equipment to modern drugs. Infant mortality rates have more than doubled in the past decade as a result of war and sanctions. Academics abandon the country by the week, and those who stay have to sell their books.

Yesterday Peter Hain, the Foreign Office minister, said critics of sanctions were playing into Saddam's hands and reiterated Britain's support for the measures while Iraq continues to refuse to co-operate with United Nations arms inspectors.

He said: "This anniversary should be a reminder to us all of why it is as necessary to contain the Iraqi threat now as it was 10 years ago." Yet in the past year there has been an explosion of visible wealth in Baghdad. The streets are rich with goods, from piles of fruit on stalls to stores packed with consumer goods, jewellery and clothes. One Iraqi said: "If you have money there are no sanctions."

Privatisation, usually encouraged as the means to attract western finance, has been adopted in Iraq in the name of foiling western sanctions. Private merchants have been given carte blanche to import a range of goods and get around the UN by means fair or foul. The liberalisation has, in turn, allowed the "war millionaire" oil smugglers and other beneficiaries of the regime to recycle their money on luxuries at home.

The sharp rise in oil prices, which at one point tripled in two years, has brought a flood of new money into Iraq, and this purchasing power has given it new leverage with its neighbours. Jordanians, Turks, Iranians and even the oppressed Kurds take their cut of Iraq's oil wealth.

Sajjad Al-Khasaki, the owner of a sweet shop, said: "According to Saddam Hussein, we should live and we should break the sanctions. We have to make our own happiness. It is not going to come from abroad."

For years, when sugar was strictly rationed, sweet shops were forced to close. Now they are richly stocked with syrupy sweets like baklava, cookies, cakes and a white-powdered bun called "Gifts from Heaven". For rich Iraqis, life has indeed become sweet.

January 2001


Leila Khalid - refugee from Haifa, fighter for Palestine
(January 31, 2001)
When Palestinian liberation fighter Leila Khaled hijacked her first plane in 1969, she became the international pin-up of armed struggle. Then she underwent cosmetic surgery so she could do it again. Thirty years on, she talks to Katharine Viner about being a woman at war.

The end of Israel?
(January 30, 2001)
At a time with rampant current events breaking daily, often hourly, there is much need to remember the importance of sometimes taking time for reflection, of sometimes stepping back to contemplate both the past and the future.

Sharon - the REAL legacy of Clinton and Barak
(January 30, 2001)
As the Barak era fades from view -- more short-lived than anyone predicted just a long year and a half ago -- his epitaph is already being written and Ariel Sharon's government and policies are already being debated.

Looming civil war in Palestine
(January 29, 2001)
Fears are growing in the international community that Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority (PA) is heading for collapse.

Arafat blasts, Peres maneuvers, Barak sinks
(January 29, 2001)
For all practical purposes Ehud Barak is gone and Yasser Arafat is now desperately trying to save his own skin.

Barak's 3 no's, and Bush's 7 minute call
(January 28, 2001)
The Americans leaked it, a 7-minute Saturday call from the new U.S. Pres to the sinking Israeli PM -- leaked its brevity that is.

The Bomb and Iraq
(January 28, 2001)
As war clouds gather in the Middle East public opinion is being prepared for a possible regional war that could likely include a combined Western/Israeli effort to take out the weapons of mass destruction in Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The "nuts" in the next room
(January 27, 2001)
In recent years Israel's most important and serious newspaper, Ha'aretz, has taken to not only reporting Palestinian affairs much more deeply but to interviewing major Palestinian personalities abroad.

Get ready for Prime Minister Sharon
(January 27, 2001)
The new Ma'ariv-Gallop poll questioned a particularly large sample of 1,100 people, putting special emphasis on the Arab population and new immigrants.

Panic in the Barak camp
(January 27, 2001)
All the tricks and lies of the Israeli Labor Party have now come back to haunt it. Barak, never a politician, bears the brunt of popular blame for all the political deceptions and tricks that have for so long accumulated.

War alert in Europe and Middle East
(January 27, 2001)
We've noted the "war fever" growing in the region for some months now. There's considerable anxiety about who may now strike first.

Israeli and Jewish soul-searching
(January 26, 2001)
The Intifada, coupled with Israeli brutality and recognition that the term "Apartheid Peace" is in fact applicable after all, are having an effect on at least some Israelis and some Jews; even while Ariel Sharon marches to the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem (and maybe because of this).

"Disastrous" American intervention
(January 26, 2001)
ou've got to wonder about these Palestinian "negotiators". What others saw decades ago those who have been most involved are apparently beginning to see only now.

Sharon marches on, Barak stumbles on
(January 25, 2001)
The 554,000 Arabs eligible to vote represent 12.3 percent of the electorate. The Arab turnout in 1999 was 76%, and 95% voted for Barak.

An alliance of the outcasts? Iran, Iraq and Syria
(January 24, 2001)
So the Israelis are going to elect war-criminal tough-guy General Ariel Sharon to be Prime Minister. This after the most top-heavy military-intelligence government in peacetime history for Israel -- that of General Ehud Barak.

General Powell says no to sanctions on behalf of Corporate America
(January 23, 2001)
Hamas has struck again and the "negotiations" are "suspended" again. Two Israelis were assassinated by masked men while eating at a restaurant in Tulkarm. Though this time it was Israelis who were killed it was another warning to Yasser Arafat. Last week similarly masked men in Gaza killed a close Arafat friend, the head of Palestinian TV in Gaza, just as it was rumored Arafat was about to sign some kind of new deal with the Israelis.

EyeWitness Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa
(January 23, 2001)
The depressing element of this entire struggle is that the Arafat regime survives and...will be the one to ultimately determine the fate of the Palestinian people.

War Fever - Israel and Syria
(January 23, 2001)
Tensions continue to grow in the Middle East region, armies continue to prepare, public opinion continues to be manipulated. Though Ehud Barak too is a militarist -- a former commando, General, and Chief of Staff of the Army -- Ariel Sharon brings with him historical baggage and war-criminal image which could easily contribute to a clash of armies sooner rather than later, even if not fully intended by either side.

EyeWitness Gaza
(January 22, 2001)
A year or so ago, I visited the Mouwasi area in Gaza. It was a green paradise, on top, and in the midst, of white sand dunes. I particularly remember this Guava grove, where the guavas hanging from the trees were the size of large oranges; I hadn't seen anything like that ever before.

Reaping what they have sown
(January 22, 2001)
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak abruptly cut short a radio interview on Sunday after being asked about his poor showing in opinion polls, prompting speculation he was buckling under pressure of a February 6 election.

Israel's president departs
(January 21, 2001)
There has never been, and there probably never will be, a president who had such fantastic relations with the State of Israel. It's unbelievable.

Ross officially join Israeli lobby
(January 19, 2001)
During the Lebanon War of 1982 -- some think of it as Sharon's war -- the Israelis and their American Jewish friends felt they had a difficult time when it came to public relations. And when the American Marines pulled out, symbolizing the failure of the Israelis to force Lebanon into the American-Israeli orbit and out of the Syrian-Arab one, the Israelis realized that they had much power in Washington on Capitol Hill, but not enough power with the media, intellectuals, and think-tanks.

War preparations in Israel
(January 19, 2001)
It's always called "The Peace Process" but more behind-the-scenes the whole Middle East region continues to be an arms bazaar with more weapons being sold to the countries in the area than ever before, most by American arms merchants and allies.

Palestinian TV Head killed
(January 17, 2001)
It may have been a warning to Arafat not to dare sign any new agreements, as has been rumored in the past few days he was planning to do tomorrow in fact. It may have been another Israeli assassination - though usually they don't take such risks and use such methods, strongly preferring instead to use high-technology and long-distance means.

Iraq, Saddam and the Gulf War
(January 17, 2001)
It was 10 years ago yesterday that the U.S. unleashed the power of the Empire against the country of Iraq after created the regional conditions that lead to the Iraq-Iran and then the Iraq-Kuwait-Saudi wars. In that period of time somewhere in the number of 1.5 million Iraqis have been killed, the history of the Middle East altered, the future of the region more uncertain and dangerous than ever.

Last night in Gaza ghetto
(January 16, 2001)
It's quite a game of international political brinkmanship. At the same time that Yasser Arafat is being tremendously pressured, and quite possibly further tricked, to sign some kind of "framework agreement" with Clinton and Barak before it is too late -- his regime is also being threatened with extinction both from within and without.

Generals Sharon and Barak as politicians
(January 16, 2001)
With Jan 20 (Clinton leaves office) and Feb 6 (Barak likely to be defeated by Sharon) fast approaching, desperation and near panic are evident in the traditional power centers, including various Arab capitals.

"Unilateral separation" one way or another
(January 15, 2001)
The separation plan would go into the event of one of the following three scenarios: as a response to a unilateral declaration of statehood on the part of the Palestinians; under a severe security threat; or as part of an agreement with the Palestinian Authority

Up in arms against Apartheid
(January 13, 2001)
At the end of the second millennium, three million Palestinians are imprisoned in ghettoes by the very man whom the Palestinian leadership hailed as the saviour of peace. Netanyahu had driven the peace ship off course. Barak scuttled it.

Locking in Oslo
(January 12, 2001)
The Americans and the Israelis continue to try to twist the screws. Their minimum goal now is to "lock in" the "Oslo Peace Process" approach to the conflict. It may be an "Apartheid Peace", and it may have resulted in considerable bloodshed, but even so it is leading to a form of "Palestinian Statehood" and "separation" that the Israelis strongly desire as the best alternative for themselves.

Sharon charges on
(January 12, 2001)
he long-serving (now recalled to Cairo) Egyptian Ambassador to Israel was quoted saying last week that if an Israeli-Palestinian agreement isn't reached in the next two weeks there won't be an agreement for the next two decades.

"Sharon leads to peace"
(January 11, 2001)
The last time the Israeli "Arab vote" was pushed toward Shimon Peres for Prime Minister -- back in 1996 -- there was much resistance. Then Peres was acting Prime Minister after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, the Israeli Army had just committed the Qana massacre in Southern Lebanon, and Peres was busy trying to cover it up.

Grandfather Sharon
(January 10, 2001)
If the polls remain as disastrous as they now are for Ehud Barak, expect him to be pushed out and Shimon Peres substituted. Barak has no chance; Peres has some, especially with the "Arab vote".

The Dangerous weeks, months ahead
(January 10, 2001)
Guys like Commando-General-Prime Minster Ehud Barak don't go easily from the scene. Barak's daring-do was lavishly praised just a few years ago; now it has even the military types fretting. No telling just what Barak and friends might try in the next few weeks.

Assissination, siege and war crimes
(January 9, 2001)
The Israeli government, both as a group and as individuals, bears full responsibility for the crimes that were committed. We will do everything possible, including declaring members of this government war criminals who are eligible for trial by the world tribunal." Palestinian Authority "Minister"

Soul-searching Israelis
(January 9, 2001)
The "liberals" among them, the most cosmopolitan and internationally-oriented of the Israelis, are now getting extra nervous. Not only is Ariel Sharon coming to power, not only is regional war possible, not only are the cold treaties with Egypt and Jordan in jeopardy, but even Israel's future has come into question

Israel acts while Arafat talks
(January 8, 2001)
srael continues to take major steps designed to shrink, isolate and control the Palestinian areas forever. The policy is termed "unilateral separation" and it is linked to bringing about a so-called "Palestinian State" that serves Israeli interests, making everything worse than ever for the Palestinian "natives".

Clinton's Israel speech
(January 8, 2001)
On his way out the Presidential door Bill Clinton went to New York City to speak to his American Jewish supporters and further grease his way toward his future. This is the Bill Clinton that turned the U.S. government over to the Israeli/Jewish lobby in his years in office; of course pretending otherwise.

Specter of an "ugly future"
(January 5, 2001)
Lofty, humanitarian goals like 'peace and democracy'? No, America's primary interest in the Middle East is effective control of the world's most important energy reserves, Noam Chomsky tells Ha'aretz

Prime Minister Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
Did President Hindenburg and the German intelligentsia feel this way in 1930s when they saw that Adolf Hitler, and his brownshirt thugs, were about to be elected to power?

Barak and Sharon
(January 5, 2001)
While the Labor "Doves" are busy running ads in Arab papers showing dismembered corpses in Palestinian Refugee Camps -- with the caption "Sharon" -- the reality is that Generals Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon are more two of a kind than anything else.

Arab nations add their voices to the chorus of despair
(January 4, 2001)
All chance of a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians in the near future is vanishing, destroyed by hardening opinions on both sides, continuing violence, the precarious position of the political leaders involved and disagreements over key issues.

Darling of American Jewry
(January 4, 2001)
Over the years, most of the strongest advocates of Israel have usually been people who are not Jewish....[I] look forward to working with him...

Barak publicly warns of regional war
(January 4, 2001)
Amid veiled threats from the Israelis to start targeting even more senior Arafat Regime persons, and even to bring the Arafat "Palestinian Authority" to an end, Ehud Barak has also started publicly talking about the possibility of regional war.

No deal for Arafat
(January 3, 2001)
In particular, the Palestinians are concerned that the proposed settlement would create Palestinian territorial islands separated from each other by Israeli territory and therefore not viable as a nation. They object to a proposed land swap that would allow some Israeli settlers to remain on the West Bank in exchange for land that the Palestinians claim is desert and a toxic waste dump.

Arafat rushes to Washington
(January 2, 2001)
Clinton and the Israelis have set the stage for the last act of their multi-year drama attempting to trap the Palestinians on controlled reservations and calling it "an end to the conflict". But like a modern-day computer game the users can interact and change the outcome to various scenarios.

Top Palestinian Leader in the Arafat Regime
(January 2, 2001)
The whole house of political quicksand built by Bill Clinton at the behest of the Israelis (and popularly known as the "Peace Process") is bubbling, steaming, and swallowing many of its key participants.

Arafat hangs up on threatening Clinton
(January 1, 2001)
The coming issue of TIME magazine reports that Arafat hung up the phone receiver on Clinton a few days ago, turning to an aide and saying: "He's threatening me!

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