Iraq slams US black ops

BAGHDAD: January 10 (South News) - Iraq Sunday slammed U.S. and British planes for dropping black  propaganda leaflets in the south of the country as cheap and warned Kuwait about participating in such activities.

Iraqi foreign minister Mohammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, during a press conference in Baghdad   showed the press a propaganda leaflet published in Kuwait, and thrown by the US Air force to Iraqi soldiers in the 4 day bombing offensive Desert Fox .

``I think this is very laughable for a Superpower to be so cheap to drop inside Iraq such poor things and they are printed in Kuwait,'' Sahhaf  said.

The use of "black operations", embodied in the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998,  authorised $97 million to train and equip Iraqi opposition groups. President Clinton signed that bill into law in October, and in November he promised to "intensify" U.S. cooperation with anti-Saddam organizations.

The leaflet written in Arabic said,  "All soldiers of Iraq: Protect yourselves. Don't resist the allied forces. Don't move from your positions. Don't head southwards. Our targets are the troops who support of the government of Baghdad."The warnings were printed over the seal of Iraq's Republican Guard, on the back of pictures depicting damaged vehicles abandoned by Iraqi troops during the 1991 Gulf War.

Another leaflet showed a picture of the Kuwait-to-Iraq road that became known as the Highway of Death after US forces decimated hundreds of Iraqi cars.The leaflets were authorised by the National Command Authority, which comprises President Clinton and Secretary of Defense William Cohen.

General Shelton, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Jan 8 that ``several key individuals'' from Republican Guard leadership in southern Iraq were killed in the Dec. 16-19 attacks. Shelton estimated 600 to 1,600 Republican Guards were killed.

But Sahhaf  accused the United States and Britain of abusing their role as permanent members of the Security Council  calling them "a law protector during the light '' but ``a thief and outlaw during the night"

``They (US and Britain) are pushing two states, the Saudi government and Kuwait government, to participate with them in this aggression,'' Foreign Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf told a press conference. ``This imposed a real danger for stability in the region.''

He urged Saudi Arabia to stop cooperating with Washington and London in imposing ``no-fly'' zones over Iraq.``Before they (Saudi Arabia) propose lifting sanctions, first they should stop...imposing the no-fly zone and prevent American and British forces who are on their land to commit crimes against Iraq,'' Sahhaf said.

On Dec 19, Riyadh denied a report from Iran's official news agency IRNA that US and British special forces had penetrated southern Iraq from the kingdom's territory. But Saudi Arabia and Kuwait allowed the United States and Britain to use their territory or airspace during the four days of missile strikes on Iraq last month, dubbed operation Desert Fox.

Sahhaf said that more than 490 cruise missiles and 213 sorties were launched against Iraq from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait during last month's four-day offensive. ``These figures are fully documented which show that the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments have participated effectively in the aggression,'' Sahhaf said.

Sahhaf said 492 cruise missiles were fired from or passed through Kuwaiti airspace during the campaign and that 77 air attacks had been launched from its territory. He added that 146 air attacks had been launched from Saudi Arabia during the campaign.

``These figures show that the two governments participated directly and effectively in the aggression,'' the foreign minister said.

He said Iraq had sent ``tens and tens'' of letters to the Arab League documenting those acts of aggression and had stated clearly Iraq's right to defend itself.

In response to a question about whether Iraq intended to retaliate directly against Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, the minister said: ``They bear full responsibility in paying reparations and other things.''

Iraqi law makers, meeting for an extraordinary session Saturday and Sunday, discussed withdrawing Iraq's recognition of  the UN-defined demarcation of the Kuwait border.

The border, covered by UN Resolution 833 adopted in May 1993, is monitored by the UN Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission (UNIKOM). Kuwait was part of Iraq under the Ottoman Empire, which collapsed at the end of World War I. The British, who then took control of the region, severed Kuwait from the province of Basra, triggering years of dispute over the line in the sand.

Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tareq Aziz on Sunday said his country was amputated by Britain in the creation of Kuwait in a bid to weaken Baghdad.

"Kuwait was an entity created by Britain to weaken Iraq and deprive it of its historic coasts," Aziz said writing in the ruling Baath party's Al-Thawra newspaper. "The Kuwaiti leadership was put in place by Britain and maintained by the United States, to besiege Iraq," he said.

Foreign ministers of Gulf states were meeting in Jeddah Sunday ahead of a foreign ministers' meeting of all Arab states in Cairo on January 24 to consider calling a proposed full summit on the Iraq issue.

Two Saudi-backed Arabic newspapers today reported that Saudi Arabia will propose at a Gulf Cooperation Council meeting that economic sanctions be lifted as long as the military embargo remains.  The proposal will attempt to "alleviate the sufferings of the Iraqi people," said the Asharq Al-Awsat paper, citing "well-informed sources."

It said the proposal will be put forward when the GCC convenes in Saudi Arabia on Sunday as well as at a planned meeting of Arab League foreign ministers in Cairo on January 24, adding that it was being made "on the order of King Fahd." An identical report appeared in another Saudi-owned, London-based newspaper, Al-Hayat.

``But we think that the reasonable minimum steps which can be taken by Arab League member states is to lift the sanctions unilaterally or a group of Arab countries,'' Sahhaf said.