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There are 8 messages totalling 865 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

1. SPORT: Iranians Cheer U.S. at Wrestle Meet
2. US flag flies in Iran, first sport match since '79
3. Mssadeq never elected !!
4. Release of Lethal Agents will Affect Iraq's Neighbours, says professor
5. I wish I had hugged her
6. Quote of the Day
7. First cracks in Anglo-US anti-Iraq alliance
8. Must do war, Let me look at my diary


SPORT: Iranians Cheer U.S. at Wrestle Meet

Iranians Cheer U.S. at Wrestle Meet

By BRYAN BRUMLEY .c The Associated Press

TEHRAN, <A HREF="aol://4344:30.GR_Iran.5269052.541962000">Iran</A> (AP)
- An Iranian crowd burst into cheers Tuesday when U.S. wrestlers carried
the Stars and Stripes into an international meet - marking the first
time in 18 years the American flag was displayed with honor rather than
hatred in Tehran.

The U.S. flag, burned and trampled again and again here since the
Islamic Revolution of 1979, received more applause than any of the other
16 national banners, save that of the host nation.

Wrestlers on the five-member U.S. team carrying the flag waved back

``I never know what to expect wherever I go, but more so here because
other countries don't call us `Great Satan,''' said wrestler Melvin
Douglas, a 1993 world champion. ``But ... I'm not a Satan. I'm a

The cheers, said coach Joe Seay, ``felt very good.''

``But what was very special is that they had our flag. We had brought
our own flag, but we had no need for it, because they had one already
for us,'' Seay said. ``That showed caring.''

The Americans, and the Iranian organizers, have stressed the athletics -
rather than the diplomacy - involved in the landmark visit.

The possibility that ties might be restored between Iran and the United
States, however, has been raised by the presence of the Yankee
wrestlers, the most closely watched Americans in Tehran since militant
students released U.S. Embassy hostages in 1981 after 444 days in

The U.S. team's arrival came a month after Iranian President Mohammad
Khatami spoke to CNN about opening the door to cultural and sports
exchanges between the two estranged nations. Even the moderate Khatami,
however, has said he sees no need for diplomatic ties.

Iran's hard-line spiritual leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday
again called the United States the ``Great Satan.'' Khamenei said that
the U.S. military build-up in the Persian Gulf threatened the Islamic
world, though not Iran in particular.

At the opening of the tournament, the representative of the
international wrestling federation, FILA, said that the transcendence of
sports over politics ``is shown by the presence here of the team from
the U.S.A., after an absence of many years.''

Iranian state television, reporting the start of the event, did not show
the American flag or mention the presence of the U.S. team.

Also taking part are: Afghanistan, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bulgaria,
Turkmenistan, Greece, Hungary, Japan, Kyrgyzstan, India, Russia, Turkey,
Tajikistan and Mongolia. Iraq's flag was hanging from the ceiling of the
hall, but the team did not show up.

Some Iranians in the Azadi Arena said it was the first time they had
seen a U.S. flag.

``In the field of sport, I think there's no problem if we have an
American team and an American flag here,'' said Parviz Moulavi, 28, who
was among those clapping as the U.S. team stepped onto the platform.

Another who applauded, Kambiz Mahdavi, a 17-year-old student, said ``the
message of sports is to be friendly with everybody.''

The American and other teams are in Iran in part to prepare for the
world championship, to be held in the same arena in September, said U.S.
team spokesman Mitch Hull.

Other members of the U.S. delegation were wrestlers Shawn Charles, John
Giura and Kevin Jackson, a 1992 Olympic gold medalist; USA Wrestling
president Larry Sciacchetano; and federation officials Jim McCord and
Bruce Reider.

AP-NY-02-17-98 1538EST

Copyright 1998 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP
news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise
distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.
All active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

US flag flies in Iran, first sport match since '79

US flag flies in Iran, first sport match since '79

By Steven Swindells

TEHRAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - The Stars and Stripes was among 22 flags
raised at a sports hall in Tehran on Tuesday as a U.S. sports team
prepared to compete in Iran for the first time since the 1979 Islamic

Iranian officials are playing down the political symbolism of the trip,
although comparisons with the visit and Washington's ``ping-pong
diplomacy'' with China in the 1970s have proved irresistible.

The large U.S. flag was hanging from the ceiling at the end of a row of
other national colours in the 12,000-seat Azadi (Freedom) sports hall
where a wrestling competition was officially opened on Tuesday.

Five American wrestlers, led by former Olympic and world champion Kevin
Jackson, were greeted by cheers from the Iranian crowd when they entered
the arena during an official opening ceremony which included a reading
from the Koran followed by the playing of the Iranian national anthem.

Smiling U.S. team members repeatedly waved back to the crowd.

The all-male crowd, which looked down on the wrestling mats surrounded
by Persian rugs, was also entertained by an army brass band before the
official opening.

``I'm very happy to be here. I'm very excited about wrestling in Iran. I
came here for the sport which I hope can help relations between our two
countries,'' Zeke Jones, a 1992 Olympic silver medallist from Chandler,
Arizona, earlier told reporters on arrival at Tehran airport.

``We respect the Iranian wrestlers greatly because we have wrestled with
them before in international competition and we know how good they are.
We've been waiting to compete here for a long time,'' said Mitch Hull,
U.S. national team coach.

Team members said they were not concerned about their personal safety in
Tehran, where anti-American rallies are regularly staged and
demonstrators often burn the U.S. flag.

``Everyone is very excited right now. Certainly there's a bigger picture
than wrestling but our focus is to get ready for the world championship
match in Tehran in September,'' said Hull.

The U.S. team is to take part in the Takhti Cup, a freestyle and
Greco-Roman international wrestling competition held each year in
February as part of events marking the revolution.

Jackson, Jones and team members Melvin Douglas, Shawn Charles and John
Giura are among the most high-profile American visitors to the strict
Islamic state since militant Iranian students seized the U.S. embassy in
Tehran in 1979 and held 52 Americans hostage for 444 days.

Some Iranian hardliners opposed to any thaw with the United States, the
Islamic Republic's arch-foe, have opposed the U.S. team's presence at
the competition.

``The team is here primarily to wrestle but they are also interested in
the idea that they could be very helpful in U.S.-Iran relations,'' John
Marks, president of Search for Common Ground, a Washington-based
non-governmental organisation, told Reuters in Tehran.

The visit comes just weeks after Iran's new President Mohammad Khatami,
a moderate Shi'ite cleric, in a television interview with CNN, urged a
dialogue between Americans and Iranians to bring about a ``crack in the
wall of mistrust'' between the two countries.

``The idea of ping-pong diplomacy has occurred to everyone. But one
should not have exaggerated expectations. This is primarily a sports
event,'' Marks said.

Wrestling is Iran's traditional sport and holds the same prestige in the
country as table tennis in China. Iranian athletes have won most of
their Olympic and World Championship medals in the sport.

The head coach of Iran's wrestling team, Amir Reza Khadem, told Reuters
on Monday that the tournament would give his squad of the country's top
100 wrestlers a chance to watch, compete and gain experience from the
quality U.S. team.

``Since the Americans are bringing their best wrestlers, it is very
important for our wrestlers in terms of experience,'' Khadem said at the
team's exclusive training camp just beneath the snow-capped Alborz
Mountains in northern Tehran.

The American team will compete in the freestyle event of the Takhti Cup
on Thursday and Friday. ^REUTERS@

18:25 02-17-98

Mssadeq never elected !!

Highly Contested, Never Elected Monday, February 16, 1998; Page A26

Suzan Wertime's Feb. 4 letter, a response to Bruce Laingen's earlier
letter comparing the 1953 coup against Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad
Mossadeq to the Iranian seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran, requires

Ms. Wertime comments on the "overthrow of a popularity elected and
supported Iranian government." This is not the case, but this
misinformation has been repeated often. Mohammad Mossadeq was never
elected prime minister. His only elected post was parliamentary deputy
from Tehran. He was appointed by the shah, who had the constitutional
right to dismiss him. By mid-August 1953, he had lost the support of
most of those who headed the various groups that made up the National
Front coalition. Several of those who had backed him in his drive to
nationalize the oil industry, including Mozaffar Baghai and the
Ayatollah Kashani, abandoned him.

Mr. Mossadeq campaigned furiously to win the right to rule by decree.
His moves were blocked in parliament. When he failed to win a
parliamentary majority, he ordered those who still supported him to
resign. This prevented a quorum and in effect dissolved parliament. At
the same time, he held a referendum to try to show popular approval for
his attempt to circumvent parliament and hold new elections. It is this
referendum that has been mistaken for an election.

The referendum was a farce. If one was for Mr. Mossadeq, one voted at
one place near the bazaar; if one voted against him, one went to another
location some distance away. The anti-Mossadeq site was surrounded by
pro-Mossadeq gangs, mostly hired for the occasion. Understandably, most
anti-Mossadeqists were reluctant to risk being beaten up.

At the pro-Mossadeq site, many people voted more than once. One local
employee of the U.S. Embassy reported that he had voted under a
fictitious name and never was asked for his identity card. He said he
saw one man voting six times and others showing up clutching handfuls of
ballots that they stuffed into the ballot boxes. Those who were
illiterate were helped to vote the right way by the poll supervisors.

Voting in the provinces showed the same patterns. In Meshed, four men
cast 600 votes, and the governor general of Azerbaijan told the U.S.
Consul that he had been ordered to deliver 50,000 votes but probably
would fall short. In all, approximately 10 percent of those eligible

The events that followed and led up to the coup against Mohammad
Mossadeq cannot be detailed here, but suffice it to say that he never
was elected and, I might add, he was his own worst enemy.



The writer is a former policy analyst for the CIA.

Release of Lethal Agents will Affect Iraq's Neighbours, says professor

The Independent
February 14, 1998

Labour MP warns of 'genocidal' strike

By Fran Abrams, Political Correspondent

BOMBING Saddam Hussein's biological and chemical weapons
sites would have a "genocidal" effect on the Iraqi people
and on neighbouring countries, a Labour MP said yesterday.

Tam Dalyell, member for Linlithgow and one of a group of
MPs opposing the threatened military strike, said in a
Commons debate that "by a sort of dreadful collusion with
Saddam that the US and British governments will be directly
contributing to genocide."

He quoted from a letter to the Secretary of State for
Defence, George Robertson, and to Robin Cook, the Foreign
Secretary, from an Open University professor, Stephen Rose,
which warned that the danger to people in neighbouring
states would be "incalculable". The letter said: "If the
bombing is effective we are faced with the inevitable,
uncontrolled release of large quantities of lethal agents,
including presumably nerve and mustard gas as well as
anthrax and radioactive materials.

"These agents will drift over significant areas of Iraq
resulting in further illness and death amongst its already
impoverished citizens and will not stop at Iraq's borders."

Mr Dalyell also claimed that Mr Cook's Livingston
constituents, whom he used to represent, were not impressed
by his stance. "I don't think they want their present MP,
the Foreign Secretary, prancing around the Middle East
trying to drum up support for allowing the British use of
bases from which in these circumstances to launch weapons
of awesome destruction," he said.

Replying, the Foreign Office minister Derek Fatchett said
that only the threat of military action could bring hope of
Iraq complying with UN Security Council resolutions.

"Without that [military] option there would be no chance of
the diplomatic process being successful. And that is what
we have been seeking . and will continue to seek," he said.
"If we play the game in a way that appears to be
appeasement to dictatorship, the consequences that will
follow, we should know from the history of this century,
are considerably more horrific than standing up to

After Mr Dalyell said that Tony Blair should avoid making
the mistakes of his predecessor Anthony Eden, who was
forced to resign after Britain invaded Egypt during the
Suez Crisis in 1956, Mr Fatchett accused him of an
"unworthy" personal attack on both the Prime Minister and
the Foreign Secretary.

The exchanges came ahead of next Tuesday's full-day debates
in both Houses of Parliament.

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I wish I had hugged her

The Guardian
Tuesday February 17, 1998

Under the shadow of the bomb

Maggie O'Kane reports from Baghdad

On his table lies an old yellowing English book, The
Complete Guide to Letter Writing, the remains of last
night's dinner and an Iraqi mandolin that he is teaching
himself to play to pass the days.

Before the Gulf war, he was an accountant with the Iraqi
Oil Company, with five children, a smattering of English
and a large house near a bomb shelter.

Now, Abu Ziad lives behind drawn curtains in Dora, a grubby
suburb of Baghdad. His neighbours look after him, cook his
rice dinners and send glasses of orange juice for his
occasional guest. Sometimes, he washes and shaves, mostly
he does not, and once a month, for the last seven years, he
has injected himself with Modecate - an anti-depressant

He was a shy young man who married when he was aged 38.
Haifa was aged 23 and pretty. Their children came quickly:
Ziad, Zena, Fuad, Lena and Sadaad. During the Iran-Iraq
war, when nearly 1 million young men died on each side, he
remembers the sounds of women wailing in the night for
another lost son, husband or lover.

He remembers thanking God that he married late, and that
his children were too young to be sent to fight. Then,
three years after that war, President Saddam Hussein led
them into another.

At 2am on February 13, 1991, two bombs hit the Amiryia bomb
shelter near his home. The first was a drilling bomb that
pierced the roof, slicing into the central heating tank and
sending gallons of boiling water pouring over the women and
children below, who were playing dominoes, watching Tom and
Jerry videos dubbed into Arabic and eating kebabs.

The second bomb, 15 minutes later, exploded with such force
that he never had the chance to identify the bodies of his
wife and four of their five children: Zena, aged 14; Fuad,
aged 12; Lena aged seven; and Sadaad, aged six.

"I saw a body being brought out then I saw it was Zena's,
but they were piling them on top of each other and I
couldn't see if it was her. We weren't allowed to go

He remembers standing outside the shelter in the early
morning and noticing the ankles of the dead women and
children marked by the red hot mattress springs they had
fought to climb over to get out of the shelter before the
second bomb dropped. All the doors had been locked.

Abu Ziad does not know if war will come again, and does not
seem to care. "I do not want more victims to be added, or
for history to repeat itself," he says. "Personally, I
don't fear anything."

Seven months ago his first grandson was born to his only
surviving child, Ziad. He named the boy Fuad, after his
dead son. "It's only them I'm worried about," he says. "For
myself, whether I'm dead or alive, it's the same for me."

The sun is shining in Baghdad and there is calm. In the
Bilat el Shuhaddaa primary school, the headmaster, Abdul
al-Hussein, says he will not close the school if war breaks
out. He is fluent in Saddam-speak.

"The Arab Ba'ath Socialist Party in Iraq and its patriotic
leader, Saddam Hussein, will continue the struggle against
American colonialism and imperialism. We will rise
victorious against our aggressors. As our great leadership
has said, there are no chemical and biological weapons in
our country. The American president is part of a Zionist
plot to destroy Iraq." And so on and so forth...

In his school the first-year class - seven-year-olds born
in the year of the first Gulf war - scrape back their
chairs and rise to their feet with the words they greet all
visitors with: "Long live our great leader, Saddam

"Saddam will make Iraqi bombs go to America and we will
emerge victorious," says Mustapha, who was born a month
before the 1991 war began.

"And who won the last Gulf war?"

"We did," he says.

His mother, Montaha Ali, teaches in the school. "We believe
in God and what will happen to us has already been written.
But we are afraid for our children because maybe they are
going to drop a nuclear bomb on us," she says.

In the grey concrete block that houses the ministry of
information, a six-man crew from China state television has
just set up shop, amid the hundreds of satellite dishes
from international television crews crowding the forecourt.

The Iraqis watching them, who have suffered two air-strikes
since the Gulf war, seem weary and blase, with a
combination of defiance, righteousness and indifference.

"We have no chemical weapons. This is a plot run by the
Israelis and the Jews in America," says Abdel al-Sumariya,
an electrician. "Monica Lewinsky is Jewish and they are
blackmailing Clinton with a new scandal to make him hit us.

"It's not only her - defence secretary [William] Cohen is
Jewish and [secretary of state] Madeleine Albright has
Jewish relatives."

"The Jewish lobby in the United States controls Clinton,"
adds Faris Hamdoon, a university lecturer, aged 52.

In the hotel lift, a Syrian businessman now living in
Brussels, thumps the breast pocket of his expensive dark
blue suit. "This is striking at the honour of all Arabs.
They didn't do this in Bosnia and they won't do this
against Israel. They are driving us back to fundamentalism.
We hate the Americans and we hate your Mr Blair."

In the early morning, the Iraqi defences gear up. Three
pick-up trucks drive southwards, each carrying a 20ft
missile, its nose striped with red. The only other sign of
the force that is to "emerge victorious" are two gunners on
the back of a Jeep, with an old machine gun pointing
towards the sky.

Out in his suburb Abu Ziad, is left with his mandolin; his
Complete Guide to Letter Writing and the photographs of his
children that he keeps in an album covered with red and
green lilies.

"I kept their schoolbooks - that's all. Sometimes when I'm
here on my own, I talk to them still and I add the last
seven years since they died and imagine them all grown up.
I don't wish I'd done anything different. We were a happy
family. Except I have a picture of Zena, just before she
died. In it I'm standing beside her and when I look at it,
I wish I had hugged her."

Copyright Guardian Media Group plc 1998

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Quote of the Day

"If one bomb lands on one stockpile of one kind of biological or
chemical weapons it will send them up into the atmosphere to
choke the very Iraqi people we are told we have no quarrel with, to
choke them with poison gas. And if the wind changes, all the
kings and sheikhs of Arabi had better be on the next plane to
London or Paris, because they will be choked too."

George Galloway, British Labour MP

Reported in The Guardian, Wednesday February 18, 1998

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First cracks in Anglo-US anti-Iraq alliance

The Independent
18 February 1998

A question of war: does the UN hold the key?

The Foreign Office is playing it all by the
book, Anthony Bevins is told

THE following is a transcript of a
question-and-answer session between The
Independent and a Foreign Office
spokesman yesterday:

The spokesman was asked whether it was
still the government position, as stated by
Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, in the
House of Commons last week, that a
United Nations Security Council Resolution
would be sought by the United Kingdom for
a clear, unambiguous endorsement of
military action before such action was

Spokesman: "The position on legal
justification is as follows: The first point to
make is that any military action which might
involve UK forces will be firmly based on
international law. The Charter of the UN
allows for the use of force under the
authority of the Security Council."

[He then put his answer into its known
historical context, saying:] "The Security
Council resolution adopted before the Gulf
conflict authorised the use of force in order
to restore international peace and security
in the region.

"Iraq is in clear breach - UN Security
Council members are agreed upon this - in
clear breach of Resolution 687, which laid
down the conditions for the ceasefire at the
end of the conflict, and those conditions
included a requirement on Iraq to eliminate
its weapons of mass destruction under
international supervision."

[After that historical parenthesis the
spokesman then returned to the central
question - the need for a new resolution,
authorising the use of force now, saying:]
"As for what we're seeking at the Security
Council, we're looking for the adoption in
the Security Council of a resolution at an
appropriate time.

"Obviously, the timing is going to depend
very much on what happens with Kofi
Annan's [the UN Secretary-General] visit to
Baghdad, if indeed it goes ahead, which is
the assumption.

"And we feel that it's desirable from every
point of view [our itals] that the Security
Council should give a firm and united signal
[our itals] to Saddam of the unacceptability
of Iraq's conduct, its obstructionism, and
that a Security Council Resolution would be
a good way of doing that.

"So the Government's going to continue to
act in accordance with international law,
including the Charter of the UN.

"But if military action is needed against
Iraq, then the precise justification will
depend on the circumstances of the time.

"At the moment, the main game in town, the
focus of the next few days is going to be
Kofi Annan's visit to Baghdad. That is as full
an answer as I can give, I think."

Question: But it doesn't quite answer the
question that Mr Cook answered in the
House [on 10 February, Hansard, col 149].
Tam Dalyell asked: Does the House have
the clear, unambiguous undertaking that,
before military action is taken, we will return
to the Security Council of the United
Nations for its clear, unambiguous
endorsement of that military action?

To which Mr Cook replied: A large number
of diplomats in the Foreign Office have
been working towards precisely that
objective [our itals] for several days. We
hope to table that [our itals] resolution in
New York this week and I hope that the
resolution will gain the support of the
Security Council, so certainly I give [Mr
Dalyell] that assurance [our itals].

Spokesman: "Well, far be it from me to
unsay anything Mr Cook has said. I have
given you as clear an explanation as I can,
as I understand it, from the legal point of

Question: But are you saying we have legal
backing for the use of force without a new

Spokesman: "What I am saying is that Iraq
is in breach. It is desirable to have a further
Security Council resolution, which is why
we're working towards that end."

Question: Desirable, but not necessary?

Spokesman: "I choose my words."

Question: Can I take it, therefore, that you
are choosing your words from a script?

Spokesman: "I think you can take that."

Question: Can I ask who I need to speak to,
to understand why the Foreign Office is not
going as far as the Foreign Secretary?

Spokesman: "Of course we should go as
far as the Foreign Secretary. We very often
cite chapter and verse of what the Foreign
Secretary has said."

Question: But not on this occasion?

Spokesman: "Well, I have just said I am not
going to unsay anything the Foreign
Secretary has said."

Question: All right, but would you go so far
as to say, to repeat the words the Foreign
Secretary used?

Spokesman: "Yes. I am giving you a gloss,
an explanation of the Security Council

Question: Does that mean we could not
take action without a further resolution of
the Security Council?

Spokesman: "I have told you as much as I
am going to tell you."


The Independent
18 February 1998

First cracks in anti-Iraq alliance

By Anthony Bevins and Fran Abrams

A RIFT between Robin Cook and the
Foreign Office over Iraq yesterday exposed
deep problems between Britain and the
United States over the authority for air

Mr Cook told the Commons that military
action would require United Nations
approval. But that clashed directly with the
line from Washington, Downing Street and
even his own department - all of which were
more gung-ho.

Because Saddam Hussein is already in
breach of the UN Gulf War ceasefire
resolution, requiring the dismantling of his
weapons of mass destruction, the
Washington view is that no further UN
blessing is needed for military strikes.

Opening the first Commons debate on the
crisis, Mr Cook told Tony Benn - a leading
Labour opponent of military action - that it
would be "prudent" to get a further UN
resolution. The Foreign Secretary then told
Michael Colvin, a Conservative MP, that
existing UN resolutions "give rise to a
logical interpretation" that force was
already authorised.

"Having said that," Mr Cook added, "our
own view is very strong, that there should
be a further Security Council resolution to
demonstrate to Saddam and to the rest of
the world that any action that is taken by the
United States and the United Kingdom is
action that has the support of an
international consensus." While the Foreign
Secretary was saying a resolution of the UN
Security Council was required - a legal view
backed by Lord Mayhew, Tory Attorney-
General during the 1991 conflict, in a
parallel Lords debate - an official Foreign
Office spokesman told The Independent
yesterday that a resolution would be
"desirable". He repeatedly refused to take
the opportunity to back the Foreign
Secretary's line - saying he would not
"unsay" what Mr Cook had told the House.

The Independent has been told by a senior
government source that while Mr Cook
wants President Saddam to back down,
and he recognises the value of a military
reinforcement for diplomatic negotiation, he
is more reluctant than his own department,
the Prime Minister and President Clinton to
resort to air strikes - which are most unlikely
to win Security Council backing.

Agreeing that there was a difference
between Mr Cook's position and the view
from Washington, the Prime Minister's
spokesman said yesterday that while
Britain stood "shoulder-to-shoulder with the
United States ... there is a difference of
interpretation, possibly."

In his Commons speech, Mr Cook also
warned that in the remote event of an Iraqi
chemical or biological attack on Britain,
"there would be a proportionate response".
However, he told MPs only last week that
there was no question of a nuclear strike
against Iraq.

The Government faced repeated protests
from the Labour benches during last night's
debate. Fourteen Labour MPs put their
names to an amendment calling for
sanctions to be lifted and for no military
action without Security Council support.

The Labour rebels were led by Mr Benn, a
former Cabinet Minister, and Tam Dalyell,
MP for Linlithgow. Mr Benn said the
Government was asking MPs to share
responsibility for action which it knew would
be taken without the authority of the UN
Security Council.

He told Mr Cook that the Russians and
Chinese would not vote for the use of force.
"So why involve the House of Commons in
an act that would run contrary to what the
Security Council would do?"

It was now inevitable that there would be
another war in the Gulf, he added. "That
huge fleet is not in the Gulf waiting to be
withdrawn when Saddam gives a friendly
noise to Kofi Annan [the UN
Secretary-General] .... "

Backing the Government in a rare
Commons intervention, John Major, who
was Prime Minister at the time of the Gulf
War, asked: "What would this House say to
itself and say to history if we knew that now
we had an opportunity to take action and
we chose not to? I don't suggest this is an
easy option. The Government have no easy
option here, and they deserve our support
for the decisions they have to take."

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Must do war, Let me look at my diary

The Guardian
Wednesday February 18, 1998

Leading article

Must do war

Let me look at my diary

It is darned inconvenient making war these days when there is so
much already on the calendar. Last week Japan gave the
Americans a blank cheque to hit Iraq - just so long as it doesn't
interfere with the Winter Olympics. US officials admitted that the
Games were "a factor in their thinking." Now Washington is
worried about the hajj to Mecca. With Saudi Arabia and all the
other Arab nations except Kuwait already so lukewarm, it would
be best to get military operations over before late March when
pilgrims from every Muslim country begin to move. Nearer home,
war can hardly start on Mothering Sunday (March 22), and TV
images of destruction would not look too good later among the
Easter bunnies in April.

That leaves about a month in between. But the US press is now
scrutinising the presidential diary for other events which might
narrow the timing. Bill Clinton has to be in Washington to make
solemn speeches from the Oval Office to his fellow-Americans.
So even a trip out of town for "parents' weekend" at the end of
next week becomes relevant.

Perhaps it is time for the peace lobby to insert its own objections,
relying on the excellent Housmans Peace Diary which has been
produced in London for the last 45 years. We have just passed,
as it happens, yesterday's 40th anniversary of that famous
Central Hall meeting which launched CND. Other dates are more
to the point in a Middle East context. March 27 is an awkward
one: ten years ago Mordechai Vanunu was jailed for disclosing
the nuclear weapons programme of Israel - the country to whose
weapons of mass destruction no objection is made. March 16
would be even more embarrassing. That was the day in 1988
when Saddam Hussein massacred the Kurds with chemical
weapons at Halabja - and Western governments who were busy
selling him useful bits and bobs for his arms programme
pretended not to notice.

Copyright Guardian Media Group plc 1998

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