South News Sept 19 
U.S. desperate to keep Iraq on sanctions 

US intelligence operating under UNSCOM cover tried to stage incidents in Iraq to keep sanctions on that country this week. On Saturday and on Monday sudden inspections at sensitive military sites were staged.In both incidents the UN inspectors were allowed to enter but had to wait for high level permission. 

In the UN Security Council US ambassador Richardson tried once again to rekindle the drama last June when the Security Council threatened further measures against Iraq if it barred inspectors from sensitive sites in their quest for dangerous arms and related materials and documents.The US has the presidency of the UN Security Council this month and is desperate for a new pretext. The provocation comes just before the Security Council reconsiders the status of the sanctions against Iraq. 

Baghdad argued then that it could not allow probes in sites dealing with national security after the United Nations complained that its inspections were blocked and that Iraq interfered with a helicopter surveillance flight in mid-air. Such staged incidents have become regular covert occurrences in overcoming opposition in the United Nations and the international community to sanctions against the people of Iraq. 

According to Walter Pincus writing in the Washington Post September 14 on CIA major covert actions in the post-Cold War period , "In the past five to seven years, the sophistication of the new tools of covert action have helped bring about a sea change in operations from the old days," according to a senior intelligence official. He added: "These operations are easier to do and provide incremental successes. A shipment is stopped, another is sabotaged" 

"CIA tools involve spiking exports and imports to and from rogue countries such as Iraq and Libya with extraneous matter -- such as putting water in oil -- to create dissatisfaction with consumers", Pincus elaborated. In other cases"computer hacker technology has been used to disrupt international money transfers and other financial activities of Arab businessmen." 

US intelligence have been sharply criticized for its operations against Iraq leader Saddam Hussein by Iraqi exiles and former agency operatives disappointed in how things eventually turned out. These activites involved placing propaganda in local newspapers or a country's television network, leafleting and beaming in radio broadcasts from secret mobile transmitters and supporting exiles. 



Cairo attack may have been directed at Arab League Summit 

Gunmen dressed in business suits opened fire on a tour bus Thursday and set it ablaze with firebombs outside Cairo's popular Egyptian Museum, killing seven Germans and two other tourists. Egyptian security sources said all that died were inside the bus parked near the Egyptian Museum at Tahrir Square, one of Cairo's busiest areas. 

The explosions occurred near the Arab League, which is preparing for important meetings, fueling speculation that the attack was somehow related to the meetings, which are expected bring important decisions. The bomb may have been meant to appear as a local attack but Arab League guards the joined the security forces immediately after the attack. 

The permanent envoys to the Arab League were holding a preparatory meeting to discuss the subjects that will be discussed by the Arab foreign ministers September 20. The envoys will discuss the agenda of the 108th session of the Arab foreign ministers which will tackle 40 points dealing with all the issues of Arab joint work and the Arab-Israeli struggle. 

An Arabnews reporter on the scene believes that two Egyptians and seven foreigners were killed in addition while others were wounded and hospitalized immediately. The Egyptian Minister of Interior Hassan Al Alfy, the head of the Cairo Police Directorate, was on the scene along with many high-ranking security forces. 

"It was like 'Gunfight at the OK Corral'," said Australian tourist Fabian Muir. "Totally out of control. It went on for like 20 minutes. It seemed to go on forever." 

The Egyptian Museum which contains important archeological pieces was closed four hours after the attack as the security forces surrounded the whole area which includes Nile Hilton Hotel and the Arab League, which will witness the meetings of the Arab ministers of interiors next Saturday. 

The Egyptian Museum has been reopened to visitors in a move from the security forces to prove that the situation is under control. This incident comes at a time when the Egyptian tourism sector was flourishing, especially in the month of August which witnessed a record number of tourists visiting Egypt from all over the world, and also at the beginning of the winter season during which Egyptian tourist traffic from Europe and the US increases. The attack could also have been intended to damage the tourism industry. 

Witnesses at the scene indicated that they saw a man who appeared to be foreign running away with the tourists. The man disappeared into the crowd and managed to escape, according to the witnesses. 

The 108th session of the Arab foreign ministers agenda will also include 

  • developments in the Palestinian problem and ways of facing the colonial settlement in the occupied Arab lands, 
  •  the deteriorated conditions of the UN Relief and Works Agency of refugees in the Near East, 
  •  the situation in the Golan Heights, 
  • the Israeli project of building Al Yarmouk Dam in the Syrian lands. 
The council will also discuss boosting the joint Arab works and the issues referred by the Arab summit headed by the Egyptian President Mubarak, which was held in Cairo last June. These issues include 
  • four projects of the Arab Court of Justice, 
  • Security and Cooperation Honorary Charter, 
  • mechanism for preventing wars, 
  • Arab Union Project submitted by Libya. 
The council will discuss the new suggestions regarding means of solving the Lockerbie crisis between Libya and the three foreign countries: France, UK, and US. 



US anti-Castro group  behind Cuba bombings 

A Salvadoran man arrested by Cuban police on charges of planting at least six bombs targeting tourist sites calmly confessed to the attacks, one of them fatal, during a Cuban television broadcast on Tuesday. 

Cuban officials said the man, who identified himself as Raul Ernesto Cruz Leon from El Salvador, spoke of his own free will Monday night, Cruz Leon admitted he planted the bombs that exploded at two Havana hotels on July 12 and three other hotels and a restaurant on September 4. An Italian businessman died in one of the September blasts. 

"There in El Salvador, I was given the mission to come (to Cuba) and plant explosive artifacts in a certain number of tourist sites -- they gave me a list -- generally hotels, to create panic among tourists," Cruz Leon said. 

Dark-haired and casually dressed in black jeans and a gray-green shirt, Cruz Leon appeared to be in his 20s or early 30s. Speaking clearly, he showed no signs of nervousness or fear. Cruz Leon did not reveal exactly who had sent him on his bombing missions. That information was provided by Cuban counterintelligence officer Col. Adalberto Rabeiro, whose testimony took up most of the one-hour TV program. 

Rabeiro said the Salvadoran was part of a "network of drug traffickers and terrorists" in El Salvador, which was "organized, supplied and paid by the (Cuban American National) Foundation" to carry out the bomb attacks in Cuba.The Miami-based Cuban American National Foundation (CANF) is a leading Cuban exile group that fiercely opposes Cuban President Fidel Castro. 

Cuban authorities  possess incriminating taped telephone conversations between the Salvadoran, who was posing as a tourist, and people who allegedly trained and supplied him in El Salvador. "They sent me with sufficient modern methods to guarantee my security so I didn't have to contact anyone in Cuba," he told the interviewer. 

Rabeiro also said Cruz Leon had smuggled C-4 plastic explosives into Cuba. The explosives were hidden in the soles of his shoes, and also wrapped in insulating material and concealed inside a TV set.According to Rabeiro's lengthy explanation, Cruz Leon had used a sophisticated electronic device hidden inside a small calculator to set the timing of the detonators used in the explosions.The detonators were smuggled into the country inside false marker pensand a clock radio, the intelligence officer said. 

Cuban TV showed pictures of the equipment. Cruz Leon was shown unscrewing the back of a TV set to point out where the explosives were hidden. Rabeiro said Cruz Leon had displayed intensive training to place the bombs, often checking out the sites the day before. 



North Korea faces Huge Grain problem  

North Korea, hit by drought, tidal waves and floods, faces a shortage of 1.9 million tons of grain over the next year, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation said on Thursday. ``We have estimated the deficit in grains at 1.9 million tons,'' Jacques Diouf, director-general of the FAO, told a news conference after his return from a three-day fact-finding mission ``The situation is very difficult. We expect that 700 (thousand tons) should be provided through commercial means, but there would still be a deficit of 1.2 million tons of grains, which would require international assistance, '' he said, referring to needs over the next 12 months. 

Diouf  said drought has devastated crops throughout the country. Typhoon Winnie caused extensive damage last month to rice in coastal areas in the west where tidal waves destroyed dikes and seawater invaded cropland. 

The U.S. aid group World Vision said on Tuesday that between 500,000 and  two million people have died from starvation, though other North Korea experts doubt the figure is that high. Andrew Natsios, a World Vision vice-president, said the charity based its estimate on surveys taken in July on the Chinese side of the North Korean Border. 
 

In August, a tidal wave destroyed a 494,000 acre swathe of rice paddy fields and demolished newly rebuilt homes.``We have seen areas of the west coast which have been devastated by tidalwaves. There are fields of rice that have been completely destroyed by saltywater. We have also visited other parts that have been affected by drought,'' said Diouf. 

Maize and rice crops had been affected by disease following the harsh conditions. Food productivity had fallen to around 30 percent of previous levels in some areas, he said.The North Korean administration had a ``great awareness'' of the critical food shortages, said Diouf. 

Pyongyang had sent out an appeal to the international community for seed,fertiliser, pesticides and heavy earth-moving equipment through the FAO, said Diouf. 

``There is the will to mobilize (local) people in the reconstruction of dams,dykes and canals,'' he said. Farmers had been seen rebuilding houses, ``using bricks and sometimes even mud,'' said Diouf. 

Another UN agency World Food Programme (WFP) , which has been providing emergency food aid to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since 1995, has appealed for donations of $144.1 million to provide the country with 333,200 tons of food during the period between April 1997 and March 1998. Contributions as of 1 September totalled 322,500 tons or 97 per cent of the appeal. 

The food is being distributed to 2.6 million children aged six or younger, some 250,000 farms and workers and their 850,000 dependants taking part in food rehabilitation projects and up to 1 million hospital patients. 

The United Nations agencies say the ability of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea to provide adequate food to its population continues to be hampered by two basic facts: the resources it has available to produce food domestically and the ability of the economy to provide inputs for agriculture and supplement the food supply with imports when there are production shortfalls. 



General Assembly gets page on UN website 

The United Nations website now features a new addition with the launching today of a special area dedicated to the General Assembly. The General Assembly page is located at http://www.un.org/ga. 

Created by the Department of Public Information is available in both English and French. The section on the fifty-second session provides information on the Assembly's agenda and programme of work, its President, its General Committee and Credentials Committee, elections and appointments, and a press kit by the Department of Public Information (DPI). 

The United Nations website is coordinated and maintained by the Department of Public Information with the technical support of the Information Technology Services Division. It receives nearly four million hits per month from as many as 114 countries around the world. 
UN General Assembly website 



Native title Aussie land grab slammed 

The Howard Government's native title legislation will "legalise the total dispossession of land from the Aboriginal people", a spokesperson for the National Indigenous Working Group on Native Title (NIWG) told the Australian communist newspaper The Guardian

Its 400-page package of amendments to the Native Title Act is longer than the original Act itself. The amendments are based on Howard's 10-Point Plan on native title and were introduced into Parliament on September 4. 

The legislation effectively: * extinguishes native title; * dismantles native title holders' rights to negotiate access to and use of land; * ignores the coexistence of pastoral leases and native title; * gives a blanket validation of past acts of governments ignoring native title rights; and * involves a massive transfer of ownership and control of public land to a handful of Australian and foreign companies and rich individuals. 
 

The legislation meets the demands of the most powerful pastoral, mining and tourist interests to extinguish the indigenous rights that were recognised by the High Court Wik decision. The Wik decision confirmed that native title was not extinguished by pastoral leases.Owners of pastoral leases do not own their land or have exclusive rights to the land. They only have exclusive rights to pasture. 

When the National Farmers' Federation demands "certainty", it is really demanding a change from a pastoral lease to free-hold title and extinguishment of native title. And that is what the Government is offering the pastoralists, effectively making them exclusive owners and giving them exclusive use of that land so that they can deny Aborigines any say over its management. 

If this occurs it will involve a massive transfer of publicly- owned land to private ownership -- up to 42 per cent of the continent. This would be a theft not only from the Aboriginal people but from the Australian people as a whole. In addition, taxpayers would foot a massive bill in compensation claims as native title is extinguished on that land. 

Environmental groups have pointed to the "environmentally reckless" nature of the legislation. Greens (WA) Senator Dee Margetts points out that it will wrest environmental control from the public sector, destroying public accountability, enhancing the rate of environmentally destructive land clearing, diminishing the public's right to information and hindering the ability for indigenous people to negotiate ecologically sustainable land uses with pastoral and mining lease holders. 

Public control over land use would be diminished. "Under freehold conditions, unsustainable land uses such as broad-scale land clearing, intensive irrigated agriculture, native forest logging and unregulated tourism can occur on an as- of-right basis", Senator Margetts points out. 

THE BENEFICIARIES OF THE LAND GRAB  
 

  • AMP-owned Stranbroke Pastoral Company, which last week increased its landholding by 25 per cent to 12.6 million hectares (ha), making it the largest Australian pastoralist; 
  • S Kidman & Co, a family fortune of $70 million, land totalling 11.7 million ha; 
  • Hugh MacLauchlan, cousin of Defence Minister, Australia's top private land holder, worth some $80 million, 4.7 million ha; 
  • Kerry Packer with 4.5 million ha; 
  • Don McDonald, Federal President of National Party, with 3.1 million ha; 
  • Janet Holmes a Court, 2.8 million ha; 
  • National Mutual (51 per cent French owned), with 6.5 million ha; 
 Source: The Guardian September 17, 1997