South News Iraq updates Dec 26 -Jan12

Iraq bans troublermaker spy
 South News Jan 12

Baghdad: Iraq has decided to stop as of tomorrow, Tuesday 13th January, the Unscom inspection team, which had arrived yesterday, led by the American Scott Ritter, from carrying out its work and not to allow it to conduct any activity inside Iraq until it is recomposed in a manner that would ensure balance through a balanced participation by permanent member states in the Security Council.

Iraqi Foreign Minister Tariq Aziz calls Ritter ``a troublemaker,'' and the country's official news agency has accused him and his team of ``falsifying facts, inventing lies, deliberately prolonging the process and sending false reports to the Security Council.''

Scott Ritter, 36, worked in military intelligence and served for several months during the Gulf War with Central Command headquarters in Saudi Arabia, according to the Marine Corps. He  was known to argumentative behavior with his commanding oficer Gen. H. Norman Schwarzkopf during and after the war.

In a statement to INA this afternoon, an Iraqi official spokesman said this team, which constitutes nine Americans, five Britons, a Russian and an Australian,shows striking evidence of the imbalance in the composition of Unscom and in its methods of action.

The spokesman added that Iraq has raised as a major question that of lack of balance in the composition of Unscom, stressing that American and British domination on Unscom is behind prolonging sanctions against Iraq and obstructing the implementation of article 22 of Resolution 687 because the Americans who dominate Unscom headquarters and its activities inside Iraq have been falsifying facts, inventing lies, deliberately prolonging the process and sending false reports to the Security Council about what has been met in terms of Security Council Resolution 687 requirements.

The spokesman added that the continuation of this situation is unacceptable, adding that Iraq was hoping that a reasonable balance would be effected in Unscom composition and in its procedure in Iraq after the recent crisis but those who dominate Unscom headquarters in New York insist on their former position and their biased policy.

Ritter, a U.N. weapons inspector dealing with Iraq since he left the Marines in 1991, has been leading the concealment investigation for 18 months. Ritter has taken part in more than 30 inspection missions, 12 of them as lead inspector.

Iraqi criticism of Ritter accelerated with a procative inspection last month at Lake Habaniya. Unlike routine searches, in which inspectors announce their inspections and then take convoys out of their Baghdad headquarters followed by Iraqis, the inspection at a lakeside resort sometimes visited by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was conducted like a commando raid.

Some of Ritter's team drove to the Habaniya air base, used solely by the United Nations, to meet a new batch of inspectors flying in from Bahrain. Immediately, they all sped to the nearby resort, ignoring Iraqi protests, according to Iraqi officials.

In another high-profile incident, Ritter was turned away in September when he tried to enter the presidential compound on the west bank of the Tigris River in Baghdad.

Is the US preparing a Ramadan strike on Iraq?
South News commentary Jan 4

Was Marine General Zinni post Christmas tour of US forces in the gulf more than a PR exercise? Was he setting in place the necessary detail for a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, which the US has not ruled out?

What is the real meaning behind Zinni last Sunday’s (Dec 28) comments that Iraq might use Ramadan to hide weapons of mass destruction? Was he delivering an opening verbal gambit from military headquarters in Tampa, Florida on his four-day inspection tour of US deployment against Iraq? Zinni heads the US Central Command, the position held by, Schwarzkopf during the 1991 Gulf War.

 "If they are hiding things and moving things, (Ramadan) could give them the time and the cover to do it," Zinni said at the Saudi Arabia’s prince Sultan air base."The longer we go without inspections in places that UNSCOM really, truly expects something might be hidden, the better the chance is that something could be hidden to the point where we could get a cold trail and lose it."

One would have to wonder why the US is sending the 210th Rescue Squadron's from Alaska to Turkey’s Incirlik Air Force base to provide support for fighter aircraft enforcing no-fly zone over northern Iraq during January. If a fighter plane goes down, the rescue squadron uses Blackhawk helicopters and their own HC-130s for rescue work. Is there a sudden expectation of mechanical failures or are the surveillance flights now expecting combat?

An advance detachment of Alaska Air Guard troops left Eielson Air Force Base for the air force base in Turkey in late November. And while the rescue squadron is providing support to troops on Iraq's northern border over the next two months, 19th Fighter Squadron from Elmendorf Air Force Base left last week to fly combat air patrols over southern Iraq.

Zinni’s tour also examined the combat readiness of the first strike stealth aircraft in Kuwait. At the Ahmed Al Jaber Air Base, 60 miles from the Iraqi border, stealth fighter pilots, explained to accompanying press contingent last Monday that the F-117's sole mission is to deliver bombs and missiles to targets.  "We are totally offensive. We don't have any defensive capability," Col. Woltering said. "Our jets are full-up combat ready. Our guys are full-up combat ready."
Zinni also met with Lt. Gen. Khalifa Bin Ahmad Al-Khalifa, Bahrain's defense minister, to discuss the sensitive issues of consent for US forces' activities in Arab countries.

But US strike aircraft also fly from international waters from two U.S. aircraft carriers directly over Iraq. "We don't have to ask anybody's permission to move," Rear Adm. Michael Mullen, commander of the USS George Washington task force arrogantly said last week, "This is 4.5 acres of sovereign US territory".

Along with the forces aboard the carrier USS Nimitz and the cruisers, destroyers and submarines escorting them as well as Marines stationed on amphibious ships near Kuwait; forces afloat represent more than half the total US force in the Gulf.

Next week's US-Israeli-Turkish war games in the Mediterranean named ``Reliant Mermaid,'' held during the month of Ramadan are clearly directed against the Arab states. It opens a potential second front and diversion designed to silence Egypt, Libya and most importantly Syria from support of Iraq if the US strike comes about.

The sight of helicopter gunships criss-crossing the eastern Mediterranean is ominous enough for Arab countries worried about the growing military ties between Israel and Turkey. The Israeli-Turkish alliance was launched with a 1996 agreement allowing each country's aircraft to train in the other's airspace. Israel uses the flights to spy on Syria, Iraq which all shares borders with Turkey.
Sadly the secular militarists in Turkey view the war games, as a way of gaining influence with Washington, Israel's closest ally and supplier of $3 billion a year in aid to the Jewish state. Defence officials travelling with Israeli Defence Minister Mordechai said during last month's visit that Ankara hoped the Jewish lobby in Washington would help Turkey offset Greek influence on Capitol Hill.

While U.S. arms sales to Turkey have been hampered by human rights abuses against their own Kurdish population, Israel has offered to supply Ankara tanks, missiles and aircraft upgrades. Israel Aircraft Industries is already upgrading two Turkish squadrons of F-4 fighter planes in a deal worth $630 million.

At this time Muslims, Christians and other peacemakers must be vigilant against a CIA manufactured incident, which can serve as a trigger.

Where is the baby milk?
South News Commentary Jan 1 1998

According to the UN Iraq sanction or 666-committee between September 21 and November 6, eleven contracts of milk powder were approved totaling 3,400 metric tonnes. The first contracts were due to begin arriving in December. They never arrived. Who is telling lies? Sudden shortages! Lack of supplies, cancellations! Strange tales of baby milk theft in America for a black market destination in Iraq. One would have to think some conspiracy is in the air.

``Not any shipment of baby milk has reached Iraq... and we defy the American administration to give the name of a ship that brings milk powder under the second phase (of the deal),'' Iraq's Trade Minister Mohammed Mehdi Saleh said on Tuesday.

Was it only by chance that during the gulf war the US administration bombed the Baghdad baby milk factory on the very flimsy CIA disinformation from disenchanted Iraqi opposition sources. They said the factory was really an anthrax bio weapons facility. CNN's Peter Arnett put an end to that lie by sampling the product in the ruin of the bombed out plant. Executives of the Swiss based company Nestle further backed up the real legitimacy of the infant formula plant.

But still the US wants to play games in the 666 committee. It is well known that the US deliberately delays contracts. Only under pressure will the US representative approve contracts from which it cannot directly benefit financially or play games with. This includes the recently revealed new strategy of the CIA in contaminate random batches of exports to the Arab world at the point of manufacture or on route.

Iraq announced last Sunday it was reducing rations of milk powder and other essentials in January, saying it had not received sufficient supplies under the oil-for-food deal.

The Iraqi news agency INA said the cut in milk powder was needed because of low stocks and the American representative at the UN sanctions committee refused to "register a contract with a Tunisian company to bring baby milk to Iraq."

"Thus the American administration on the occasion of the New Year presents a gift to Iraqi children by refusing to register a contract to buy milk through a Tunisian firm," INA said, quoting a Trade Ministry source.


Santa flies into Iraq
South News Dec 26

Baghdad:  A plane chartered by an Icelandic charity landed in Iraq on Friday bringing Santa Claus and Christmas gifts and medicine for thousands of Iraqi children hit by U.N. sanctions, the second humanitarian aid flight to arrive in two days.

``A special plane carrying gifts and medicine to Iraqi people donated by Peace 2000, an Icelandic charity, in cooperation with the Italian orgainsation Bridge to Baghdad, landed today in Habbiniya airport,'' INA said. Santa,stepped out of the plane with a sack of gifts told reporters  and Western television crews, ``Stop killing my children.'' as he disembarked from the Russian plane chartered by the Reykjavik-based charity

Santa Claus in his traditionaly red-and-white coat and white beard, an unusual sight in this mostly Muslim country, has no allegiance to any region and can spread a message of peace and goodwill  to moslems as well as christians.

Referring to the U.N. trade embargo against Iraq that has resulted in extensive malnutrition, the head of the Icelandic charity, Thor Magnusson, told reporters he also was calling on world leaders ``to stop harming the children, because children are not a political weapon.''

``We see Santa coming in  as a spokesman for the children to appeal for an end to the suffering,'' he said. Sweeping U.N. sanctions imposed in 1990 have caused the death of hundreds of thousands of children and a  recent U.N. report said they had inflicted widespread malnutrition.``What is happening to the Iraqi people is unjust. This is a criminal act. There is no political reason that can justify this genocide,'' Magnusson said.

Santa Peaceflights visited children suffering from the Chernobyl fallout in Belarus in 1994 and war-ravaged Sarajevo in 1995. Last year 100,000 gifts were distributed in Bosnia. Its founder, Magnusson -- a businessman and former presidential candidate in Iceland -- was given the Gandhi Humanitarian Award by  Gandhi Foundation in 1996.

The plane landed at al-Habbaniya air base,60 miles west of Baghdad. It originally was scheduled to arrive Thursday, but was delayed en route because of technical failures. However, even Santa's modern reindeer-drawn sleigh is not immune to tight controls on civilian flights into Iraq.  Both flights obtained U.N. clearance.

A Russian plane carrying 5 tons of medical supplies and 21 members of the Russian Duma arrived in Baghdad on Thursday.  Although the sanctions do not bar Iraq from importing food and medicine, all imports of humanitarian goods have to be approved by the world body's sanctions committee. The Russian plane was the first to land at the capital's international airport in almost seven years. The sanctions forced the airport to close. United Nations and humanitarian flights have used the al-Habbaniya base.

The last flight out of Iraq from Saddam International was on January 16, 1991. It carried Russians out of the country one day before the U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraqi forces from Kuwait began bombing Baghdad.