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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Dec 1998 to 18 Dec 1998

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Subject: DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Dec 1998 to 18 Dec 1998
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There are 2 messages totalling 295 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. NEWS98 - Anglo-US Claim to Protect Iraq's Neighbors 'Zbeili'
2. NEWS98 - Final Bankruptcy of Anglo-US Iraq Policy


Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 17:56:09 GMT
Subject: NEWS98 - Anglo-US Claim to Protect Iraq's Neighbors 'Zbeili'

The Independent
18 December 1998

Songs and smiles turn to fury and flag-burning

By ROBERT FISK in Beirut

I CALLED up a Saudi journalist friend yesterday and told
him Downing Street was claiming the attack on Iraq
was intended to protect the Arab Gulf. "Zbeili," he
shouted down the phone. Zbeili is Arabic for garbage.
"Why do you want to kill more of those poor people?"

The spin-doctors are trying to present the
Anglo-American assault on Iraq in all its old 1991 Gulf
War purity. Iraq's neighbours are under threat and must
be safeguarded from his weapons. But with the
exception of Kuwait, the Arab Gulf states wanted none
of the West's protection yesterday.

Even in the West Bank, where President Bill Clinton's
visit this week had produced the largest American
banners ever seen in the Arab world, they were back to
burning the US flag and shouting "death to Clinton".

Mr Clinton had sung with a Palestinian choir in
Bethlehem three days ago; yesterday, crowds near
Manger Square were throwing stones at Israeli troops.

"We thought he (Clinton) carried a message of peace,"
a disgruntled Palestinian girl said. "But now it is clear he
is a murderer."

It is difficult to underestimate the degree of cynicism
and distrust that is now felt in the Arab world towards
the United States, and the only ally to support
Washington in the attack on Iraq. Why, the Saudis
were asking privately yesterday, did America and Britain
continue to pretend that the Saudis supported the
bombardment when as long ago as last February, Saudi
Arabia had refused permission for the US to use its air
bases for raids on Iraq?

It transpires that when the US Defense Secretary,
William Cohen, sought Saudi help during November's
crisis with Iraq, Crown Prince Abdullah not only refused
assistance but also suggested that the US might soon
be asked to remove its aircraft from Saudi air bases

The painful truth is that most of the Arab dictatorships
are more fearful of their own people than they are of
Saddam Hussein - especially when ordinary Arabs are
angry with their governments because of their support
for Washington.

An example of this came in Cairo where 3,000
studentsprotested at the American attack. Egyptian
state security police patrolled the university district.

Even Iraq's traditional enemies expressed revulsion at
the bombardment. In the Iranian capital, Tehran, a
Foreign Ministry official said the attacks "will lead to
even more pain and misery for the people of that
country and will bring about insecurity in the region".
The pro-Iranian Hizbollah guerrilla movement in Lebanon
condemned what it called "American-British aggression"
which, it feared, would be used by Saddam Hussein's
regime "as an excuse for further atrocious massacres
against the Iraqi people".

The word "aggression" - iitidak in Arabic - was used
too, by Esmat Abdel-Meguid, secretary-general of the
Arab League, and by Selim el-Hoss, the Lebanese Prime
Minister. "While we condemn this attack on Iraq," Mr
el-Hoss said, "we are astonished by the fact that Israel
alone among the regional states is free from the
constraints and controls of possessing mass destruction

Indeed, hypocrisy was what came across in many Arab
newspaper headlines. "Desert Fox operation postpones
Clinton's impeachment," the Lebanese daily As Safir

When President Clinton launched air strikes against
Afghanistan and Sudan at the height of the Monica
Lewinsky scandal, Arabs refused to believe it was
coincidence. Now he has attacked Iraq at the moment
of impeachment hearings, there is probably not a soul in
the Arab world who does not believe Iraqis are dying to
save the Clinton presidency. And America's failure to
ensure that Israel honours the Oslo and Wye
agreements is contrasted with his bellicose attitude
towards Iraq.

Contrary to many news reports, American fixed-wing
aircraft - as well as cruise missiles - were flying over
Baghdad on Wednesday night. "We heard the planes
very clearly," one Westerner told me from Baghdad.The
aircraft may well have flown from the one Arab Gulf
state which wants to help any American strike at Iraq:


Date: Fri, 18 Dec 1998 17:58:02 GMT
Subject: NEWS98 - Final Bankruptcy of Anglo-US Iraq Policy

The Independent
18 December 1998

By Robert Fisk

Deadly cost of a degrading act

WE ARE now in the endgame, the final bankruptcy of
Western policy towards Iraq, the very last throw of the
dice. We fire 200 cruise missiles into Iraq and what do
we expect? Is a chastened Saddam Hussein going to
emerge from his bunker to explain to us how sorry he
is? Will he tell us how much he wants those nice UN
inspectors to return to Baghdad to find his "weapons of
mass destruction"? Is that what we think? Is that what
the Anglo-American bombardment is all about? And if
so, what happens afterwards? What happens when the
missile attacks end - just before the Muslim holy month
of Ramadan, because, of course, we really are very
sensitive about Iraqi religious feelings - and Saddam
Hussein tells us that the UN inspectors will never be
allowed to return?

As the cruise missiles were launched, President Clinton
announced that Saddam had "disarmed the [UN]
inspectors", and Tony Blair - agonising about the lives
of the "British forces" involved (all 14 pilots) - told us
that "we act because we must". In so infantile a
manner did we go to war on Wednesday night. No
policies. No perspective. Not the slightest hint as to
what happens after the bombardment ends. With no UN
inspectors back in Iraq, what are we going to do?
Declare eternal war against Iraq?

We are "punishing" Saddam - or so Mr Blair would have
us believe. And all the old cliches are being trundled
out. In 1985, just before he bombed them, Ronald
Reagan told the Libyans that the United States had "no
quarrel with the Libyan people". In 1991, just before he
bombed them, George Bush told the Iraqis that he had
"no quarrel with the Iraqi people". And now we have
Tony Blair - as he bombs them - telling Iraqis that, yes,
he has "no quarrel with the Iraqi people".

Is there a computer that churns out this stuff? Is there
a cliche department at Downing Street which also
provides Robin Cook with the tired phrase of the
American Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, about
how Saddam used gas "against his own people"?

For little did we care when he did use that gas against
the Kurds of Halabja - because, at the time, those
Kurds were allied to Iran and we, the West, were
supporting Saddam's invasion of Iran.

The lack of any sane long-term policy towards Iraq is
the giveaway. Our patience - according to Clinton and
Blair - is exhausted. Saddam cannot be trusted to keep
his word (they've just realised). And so Saddam's ability
to "threaten his neighbours" - neighbours who don't in
fact want us to bomb Iraq - has to be "degraded". That
word "degraded" is a military term, first used by General
Schwarzkopf and his boys in the 1991 Gulf war, and it is
now part of the vocabulary of the weak. Saddam's
weapons of mass destruction have to be "degraded".
Our own dear Mr Cook was at it again yesterday,
informing us of the need to "degrade" Saddam's military

How? The UN weapons inspectors - led for most of the
time by Scott Ritter (the man who has admitted he
kept flying to Israel to liaise with Israeli military
intelligence), could not find out where Saddam's
nuclear, biological and chemical weapons were hidden.
They had been harassed by Iraq's intelligence thugs,
and prevented from doing their work. Now we are
bombing the weapons facilities which the inspectors
could not find. Or are we? For there is a very serious
question that is not being asked: if the inspectors
couldn't find the weapons, how come we know where
to fire the cruise missiles?

And all the while, we continue to impose genocidal
sanctions on Iraq, sanctions that are killing innocent
Iraqis and - by the admission of Mr Cook and Mrs
Albright - not harming Saddam at all. Mrs Albright rages
at Saddam's ability to go on building palaces, and Mr
Cook is obsessed with a report of the regime's purchase
of liposuction equipment which, if true, merely proves
that sanctions are a total failure.

Mr Cook prattles on about how Iraq can sell more than
$10bn (6bn) of oil a year to pay for food, medicine and
other humanitarian goods. But since more than 30 per
cent of these oil revenues are diverted to the UN
compensation fund and UN expenses in Iraq, his
statement is totally untrue.

Dennis Halliday, the man who ran the UN oil-for-food
programme in Baghdad, until he realised that thousands
of Iraqi children were dying every month because of
sanctions, resigned his post with the declaration that
"we are in the process of destroying an entire society.
it is illegal and immoral." So either Mr Halliday is a
pathological liar - which I do not believe - or Mr Cook
has a serious problem with the truth - which I do

Now we are bombing the people who are suffering under
our sanctions. Not to mention the small matter of the
explosion of child cancer in southern Iraq, most
probably as a result of the Allied use of depleted
uranium shells during the 1991 war. Gulf war veterans
may be afflicted with the same sickness, although the
British Government refuses to contemplate the
possibility. And what, in this latest strike, are some of
our warheads made of? Depleted uranium, of course.

Maybe there really is a plan afoot for a coup d'etat,
though hopefully more ambitious than our call to the
Iraqi people to rise up against their dictator in 1991,
when they were abandoned by the Allies they thought
would speed to their rescue. Mr Clinton says he wants
a democracy in Iraq - as fanciful a suggestion as any
made recently. He is demanding an Iraqi government
that "represents its people" and "respects" its citizens.
Not a single Arab regime - especially not Washington's
friends in Saudi Arabia - offers such luxuries to its
people. We are supposed to believe, it seems, that
Washington and London are terribly keen to favour the
Iraqi people with a fully fledged democracy. In reality,
what we want in Iraq is another bullying dictator - but
one who will do as he is told, invade the countries we
wish to see invaded (Iran), and respect the integrity of
those countries we do not wish to see invaded

Yet no questions are being asked, no lies uncovered.
Ritter, the Marine Corps inspector who worked with
Israeli intelligence, claimed that Richard Butler - the
man whose report triggered this week's new war - was
aware of his visits to Israel. Is that true? Has anyone
asked Mr Butler? He may well have avoided such
contacts - but it would be nice to have an answer.

So what to do with Saddam? Well, first, we could
abandon the wicked sanctions regime against Iraq. We
have taken enough innocent lives. We have killed
enough children. Then we could back the real
supporters of democracy in Iraq - not the ghouls and
spooks who make up the so-called Iraqi National
Congress, but the genuine dissidents who gathered in
Beirut in 1991 to demand freedom for their country, but
were swiftly ignored by the Americans once it became
clear that they didn't want a pro-Western strongman to
lead them.

And we could stop believing in Washington.
Vice-President Al Gore told Americans yesterday that it
was a time for "national resolve and unity". You might
have thought that the Japanese had just bombed Pearl
Harbor, or that General MacArthur had just abandoned
Bataan. When President Clinton faced the worst of the
Monica Lewinsky scandal, he bombed Afghanistan and
Sudan. Faced with impeachment, he now bombs Iraq.
How far can a coincidence go?

This week, two Christian armies - America's and Britain's
- went to war with a Muslim nation, Iraq. With no goals,
but with an army of platitudes, they have abandoned
the UN's weapons control system, closed the door on
arms inspections, and opened the door to an unlimited
military offensive against Iraq. And nobody has asked
the obvious question: what happens next?


End of DNI-NEWS Digest - 17 Dec 1998 to 18 Dec 1998