An Israeli reader reported that at the Likud Central Committee meeting on the Wye accord, some members criticized the Gov’t for relying on the US to enforce Palestinian compliance with the provisions on fighting terrorism, citing the US failure to support weapons inspections in Iraq. Itzhak Mordechai, the defense minister, responded by saying, “America led the attack against Iraq.” The reader suggested that “Mordechai is not the brightest.”
Indeed, The Jerusalem Post, Oct 20, reported that David Ivry, a senior adviser to the Israel Defense Minister, warned in an Oct 19 BIPAC [Britain Israeli Public Affairs Center] conference that “While attention and resources [of the West] are focused on economic and social issues, there has been a general decline in budgetary commitments to defense and security issues…. Democratic states are attempting to compensate for their reduced deterrence with international treaties…. ‘Such thinking ignores the failure of the treaties and focuses on what is seen as accomplishments.’… Ivry also warned that while the US ‘is not reacting like it did in the past,’ ballistic missiles are proliferating among non-democratic states, coupled with a race to acquire weapons of mass destruction, particularly chemical and biological weapons. ‘Ignoring this,’ he said, ‘could prove costly,’ adding that ‘we face especially serious consequences’ as a result of the failure of the UNSCOM inspections in Iraq.”
The Washington Times, Oct 28, in a squib entitled “Saddam’s Demise”, reported, “Longtime Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein isn’t long for this world, says one of this nation’s top spies. John Gannon, chairman of the CIA’s National Intelligence Council, told a St. Louis audience earlier this month, ‘We expect Iraq’s Saddam to be gone by 2010.’ Mindful that earlier predictions on this score have failed to materialize, Mr. Gannon conceded that his assessment is ‘based as much on pure speculation on our past as informed analysis.'”
The Iraqi statement suspending UNSCOM monitoring, issued Sat by the RCC/Ba’th Party leadership, said, “Iraq has decided to stop all forms of cooperation with UNSCOM and its chairman and to stop all its activities inside Iraq, including monitoring, as from today.” But a few hours later, it was reported that Iraq would allow UNSCOM cameras and sensors to continue functioning. However, late that evening, Iraq’s UN ambassador, Nizar Hamdoon, said that inspectors would have no access to cameras or monitoring installations.
On Sunday, November 1, the BBC reported that Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan confirmed Iraq’s position with “three noes.” Ramadan said, “There will be no co-operation, no inspections, and no monitoring by the US-Zionist spy commission until Iraq’s demands are met.” The BBC said “the international community now effectively has no eyes or ears in Iraq.”
ABC Evening News, yesterday, characterized the Clinton administration’s response, “It’s an old script.” On Sat, UPI, Oct 31, reported that NSC Adviser Sandy Berger, Sec State Madeleine Albright, CIA Director George Tenet, and other top officials met for two hours over Iraq.
Clinton was in Virginia golfing and Berger briefed him afterwards. NSC spokesman, David Leavy, said, “We are reviewing all options with the president and all options remain on the table… This is an affront to the UN and the international community.”
Also, on Sat, Sec Def William Cohen and the JCS chairman, who were about to begin a week-long Asian tour, turned around during a refueling stop on Wake Island and returned to Wash DC. On Sun, Cohen joined the national security team in another two hour meeting. AP, Nov 1, in a story entitled “Immediate Action Vs. Iraq Unlikely,” reported that “the Clinton administration appeared ready to let the Security Council take the lead, and there seemed little chance of an immediate military response…. No additional US forces were being moved to the Persian Gulf region, and US forces had not been placed on alert, said Pentagon spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Anthony Cooper.”
AP also reported that on Sun, November 1,Clinton, out campaigning for Tuesday’s elections, gave an interview to American Urban Radio Network, in which he said, “I personally am very pleased that the UN Security Council, including some people I thought had been a little tolerant with [Saddam] in the past, strongly condemned what he did.”
Iraq is not much impressed. Asked by Qatar’s Al-Jazirah Space Channel, “Does Baghdad not fear that Washington will use this Iraqi stand as a pretext to make a move that will not be in the interest of Iraq?” Nizar Hamdoon replied, “I do not believe there is anything worse than our current situation and than the very negative impact of the continued economic sanctions on the Iraqi people. More than 6,000 children die each month as a result of the sanctions. And this is documented in UNICEF reports. What could be worse?” He was then asked, “It seems, however, that Washington is leaning toward escalation. The National Security Council described the Iraqi decision as very serious. What are the possibilities of the US dealing a military blow to Iraq?” Hamdoon replied, “This kind of statement is not new. We heard it in the past. Making statements is one thing and implementing them is another.
Finally, as the latest stage of the confrontation began, yesterday Iraq opened the biggest int’l trade fair it has held since the Gulf war’s end. As Reuters, Nov 1, reported, trade, industry, and economic ministers from Iran, Turkey, Tunisia, Jordan, and Syria attended the opening, while firms from Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia participated for the first time. AP reported that France shipped in the latest-model Peugeot sedans.
I. Taha Yassin Ramadan’s Three Noes
BBC, Nov 1, 1998
Iraq Says No, No, No; Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan: No Co-operation
Iraq has confirmed that it will not reverse its decision to stop co-operating with the UN disarmament team. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan said: “There will be no co-operation, no inspections and no monitoring [of Iraqi sites] by the US-Zionist spy commission until Iraq’s demands are met.”
He reiterated Iraq’s demands for a lifting of the embargo imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait.
“We will not reverse our decision but we will maintain it until the embargo is lifted,” Mr Ramadan said.
The BBC’s correspondent in Baghdad, Richard Downes says the sanctions, which have strangled the Iraqi economy, are a source of deep anger in Baghdad and it is the country’s number one priority to get rid of them. Iraq has also demanded the restructuring of the UN Special Commission for disarmament, and that its chairman, Richard Butler is sacked.
Baghdad has long been accusing Mr Butler of working on behalf of the United States to prolong the embargo.
The sanctions cannot be lifted until the Special Commission (Unscom) certifies that Iraq has eliminated its weapons of mass destruction.
Iraq insists it has done so, but the commission says Baghdad continues to hide information on weapons, especially those with biological and chemical agents.
The Security Council has unanimously condemned the decision and demanded that it be reversed “immediately and unconditionally”.
But on Sunday the Unscom team stayed in its compound. Our correspondent says that the international community now effectively has no eyes or ears in Iraq. Only a team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in charge of the nuclear folder in Iraq’s disarmament, has been allowed to carry on working.
But it is only being allowed to monitor previously inspected sites. The Iraqis have been refusing to allow either Unscom or the IAEA to carry out spot inspections in the country since early August.
Correspondents say the latest move is an escalation in the continuing dispute over inspections with Iraq believing there is no stomach in the international community for a major confrontation.
II. Nizar Hamdoon, the US Won’t Do Anything
Doha Qatar al-Jazirah Space Channel, Television in Arabic
0635 GMT 1 Nov 98
[Telephone interview with Nizar Hamdun, Iraq’s permanent representative at the United Nations, in New York “conducted a short while ago” by ‘Abd-al-Samad Nasir in the studio; recorded] [FBIS Translated Text] [Nasir] What are the motives behind Iraq’s decision to end cooperation with UN inspectors at this time in particular?
[Hamdun] Iraq’s decision was not taken in a hasty way. It took us several weeks since the idea of comprehensive revision emerged. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq ‘Aziz led a large delegation to New York to hold lengthy talks with the Security Council and the UN secretary general. After realizing that all these attempts failed to give Iraq guarantees that these revisions would be fair and just, Iraq took its recent decision not to deal with the UN Special Commission.
[Nasir] What does Iraq hope to achieve through this decision?
[Hamdun] We hope that the entire world will understand the causes behind this Iraqi decision. The decision was taken after long bitter years of unfair treatment by UNSCOM and the United States with its anti-Iraq policy behind it.
[Nasir] Does Baghdad not fear that Washington will use this Iraqi stand as a pretext to make a move that will not be in the interest of Iraq?
[Hamdun] I do not believe there is anything worse than our current situation and than the very negative impact of the continued economic sanctions on the Iraqi people. More than 6,000 children die each month as a result of the sanctions. And this is documented in UNICEF reports. What could be worse?
[Nasir] It seems, however, that Washington is leaning toward escalation. The National Security Council described the Iraqi decision as very serious. What are the possibilities of dealing a US military blow to Iraq?
[Hamdun] This kind of statement is not new. We heard it in the past. Making statements is one thing and implementing them is another thing. I do not believe that the use of military force against Iraq will benefit the United States. Also, the situation in the region will not allow the United States to go that far.
[Nasir] How do you assess the stands of China, Russia, and France, which supported the Security Council stand? Do you believe that Baghdad has lost some of its allies?
[Hamdun] I do not believe so. These countries are fully aware of the Iraqi concerns. They might have been forced, under certain balances, to agree with the United States on issuing the Security Council resolution. These international parties understand well the situation and the Iraqi stand vis-a-vis UNSCOM.
[Nasir] How do you view the future relationship between Baghdad and the United Nations?
[Hamdun] The relationship between Iraq and the United Nations is one thing and the relationship between Iraq and UNSCOM is something else. I do not believe that the relationship between Iraq and the UNSCOM will be as good as it was over the past seven and a half years. Iraq has reached a point where it cannot continue with the same dealings, which does not give Iraq any hope to lift the sanctions. If there will be no lifting of sanctions why should Iraq bear all these problems and concerns with UNSCOM?
[Nasir] What is Iraq’s other alternative then?
[Hamdun] I believe that the economic sanctions themselves will start to erode in terms of their impact. It seems that the United States is not willing to move toward taking any steps that would lead to a partial or complete lifting of the sanctions. This is what the US delegation announced at the Security Council yesterday and this, perhaps, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
[Description of source: Independent Television station financed by the Qatari Government]
III. Iraq Hosts Largest Trade Fair Since Gulf War
AP, 1st November, 1998
Baghdad, Iraq (AP) — France shipped in the latest-model Peugeot sedans.
The Palestinians brought handmade inlaid boxes from Bethlehem. Iranians came with refrigerators and pharmaceuticals.
They’re among 30 countries taking part in the Baghdad International Fair that opened Sunday, billed as the largest in Iraq since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
The turnout “shows the increasing desire of companies to establish relations with Iraq,” the fair’s director, Fawzi Hussein al-Dahur, told the official Iraqi News Agency.
The 10-day fair opened a day after Iraq took a new stand against U.N. weapons inspections, announcing it was halting the work of weapons monitors until the Security Council moves toward lifting 8-year-old trade sanctions against the country.
As the finishing touches were being put on the pavilions Saturday, participants acknowledged they saw only limited trade opportunities while the U.N. sanctions remain in place.
“Iraq is a good potential market for us,” said Servet Akkaynak, standing amid asphalt cutters and electrical generators from Turkey. “We had a long history of trade, and we’re high on re-establishing ourselves.”
One visitor receiving close attention was Iranian Commerce Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari, one of the highest-ranking Iranian officials to come to Iraq since the two countries fought a brutal, eight-year war in the 1980s.
After meeting Saturday with Iraqi Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh, Shariatmadari announced that the two countries would set up joint committees to discuss trade and commercial ventures, INA said. Egypt — with 58 companies constituting one of the largest delegations — showed everything from tractors and reapers to children’s clothes, fruit juice and corn oil.
“This is a good opportunity for Egyptian companies to make contacts for the future,” said Antoun Labib, director of the Egyptian international exhibitions office.
Still, many vendors won’t find buyers until the sanctions are lifted.
The sanctions, imposed after Iraq’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, ban most business dealings, except under the special, U.N.-approved oil-for-food program.
Saturday’s refusal to allow monitors from the United Nations to work — which strengthened an August ban on spot inspections — was meant to push for ending the sanctions. But the Security Council termed the action a “flagrant violation” of U.N. resolutions and urged Baghdad to reverse its decision.
At the Peugeot booth, Iraqi dealer Sadir Bazagan said the shiny burgundy, blue and olive green Peugeot 406s on display would be shipped out of Iraq after the show in compliance with the U.N. sanctions. He noted that Iraqi streets are crowded with Peugeots, but that most date to the early and mid-1980s.
“There was a big market here before the Gulf War,” he said. “We are all waiting anxiously for the future.”