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Iraq Paid British MP $10 Million - Philip Smucker (Christian Science Monitor)
Documents uncovered in Baghdad detail payments to an outspoken British member of parliament, George Galloway, totaling more than $10 million.
The three most recent payment authorizations, beginning on April 4, 2000, and ending on January 14, 2003, are for $3 million each.
Saddam's Cash and the Journalists and Politicians He Bought With It - Stephen F. Hayes (Weekly Standard)
One "top Egyptian editor" told the Wall Street Journal in 1991 about a conversation he had with Saddam: "I remember his saying, 'Compared to tanks, journalists are cheap - and you get more for your money.'"
One of Saddam's friends in the U.S. is Shakir al-Khafaji, an Iraqi-American businessman from Detroit, who since 1992 has served as president of the regime-backed Expatriate Conferences, held in Baghdad every other year.
Al-Khafaji first came to public notice after revelations that he gave former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter $400,000 to produce a film that criticized the U.S. for its role in the inspection process.
Al-Khafaji, listed as a "senior executive producer" of the film, arranged meetings for Ritter with high-level officials in Saddam's government.
Pearl Lured to Pakistan by London-Born Sheikh - Douglas Davis
American journalist Daniel Pearl was kidnapped and murdered in Pakistan a year ago after finding a link between British shoe-bomber Richard Reid and Pakistan's secret service, according to French philosopher and author Bernard-Henri Levy.
In his book Who Killed Daniel Pearl? Levy traces the final investigation of the Wall Street Journal correspondent after he was lured to Pakistan by London-born Omar Saeed Sheikh, who has since been sentenced to death in Pakistan for overseeing the murder.
Pakistan is the key to all Islamic international terrorism, Levy wrote, charging that the U.S. had solved only one percent of the problem by toppling Saddam Hussein.
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U.S. Said to Find Iraq Nerve Agent Traces
U.S. troops found a dozen 55-gallon drums near Baiji in northern Iraq at a suspicious site protected by surface-to-air missiles. Lt. Col. Ted Martin of the 10th Cavalry Regiment said Sunday that one of the drums tested positive for cyclosarin, a nerve agent, and a blister agent which could have been mustard gas. Soldiers also found two mobile laboratories that contained equipment for mixing chemicals. (AP/ABC News)
U.S. Presses Mideast and Europe to Reduce Ties to Arafat
The Bush administration, seeking to bolster a newly emerging team of Palestinian leaders, is pressing Arab and European nations to cut back diplomatic contacts with Yasser Arafat and divert the financing of Palestinian activities away from his control, officials in Washington said Friday. Mr. Powell's objective is to persuade Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries to get the newly designated Palestinian prime minister, Mahmoud Abbas, to push Mr. Arafat aside and disarm Hamas and other militant groups in order to help a process that could lead to the creation of a Palestinian state. The U.S. has already told Israel it must ease the crackdown on Palestinian areas once Mr. Abbas takes office. Administration officials said Powell's Mideast trip could yet be put off or split into two trips, because of new concerns that Mr. Arafat was still trying to grab hold of power.
(New York Times)
U.S. Moving Air Operations HQ from Saudi Arabia to Qatar
The U.S. is shifting its major air operations center for the Middle East from Saudi Arabia to Qatar, the first step in what is likely to be a significant reduction of American forces in Saudi Arabia and a realignment of American military presence in the region, senior military officials said Sunday. U.S. commanders have long chafed at restrictions the Saudis have placed on the American-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. (New York Times)
Saddam's Family "Safe in Syria"
The first wife of Saddam Hussein, their three daughters, and their grandchildren fled Iraq for Syria as American troops advanced towards Baghdad, according to the ousted dictator's son-in-law. Jamal Mustafa, who surrendered last week, is Saddam's last remaining son-in-law - he had the other two killed. By the end of last week American forces in Iraq had captured 12 of the 55 most wanted, but in Baghdad the rumors are that Saddam and his supporters are planning a spectacular guerrilla attack for April 28, his 66th birthday. In a palace owned by Uday Hussein, the American military found $650m in $100 bills, all in steel boxes. (London Times)
News Resources - Israel, the Mideast, and Asia:
Sharon Offers Goodwill Gesture to Abbas - Herb Keinon
In a gesture to PA prime minister-designate Mahmoud Abbas, Israel will allow nine Gaza Palestinian Legislative Council members - barred for the past year from traveling to the West Bank because they have "blood on their hands" and pose a security risk - to make the trip to Ramallah to vote on the new PA cabinet. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz will head the team that will decide when the new Palestinian government has taken steps warranting reciprocal Israeli action. Based on past experience, Mofaz said, "We will be meticulous in standing by the security requirements."
A senior diplomatic official said there would be no Israeli moves until the new Palestinian government takes genuine action to end terror and incitement, collects illegal weapons, and dismantles the terrorist infrastructure. "We will know real action when we see it," the official said. Mofaz told Sunday's cabinet meeting that in the last week there were 63 warnings of terror attacks inside Israel, and when that number declines significantly, Israel will know real Palestinian action is being taken.
The road map was discussed in the cabinet on Sunday, with Sharon's bureau chief Dov Weisglass briefing the ministers on his recent trip to Washington, where he presented the U.S. administration with 15 Israeli reservations to the plan.
Weisglass said that when the U.S. does release the road map, expected immediately after Abbas and his government are sworn into office, it will only be a draft, and both Israel and the Palestinians will be able to make comments on it. (Jerusalem Post)
Palestinian Survey: 2/3 Support Military Operations Against Israeli Targets
Results of a survey of Palestinian opinion conducted in the West Bank and Gaza Strip between 5 and 9 April 2003:
Do you strongly support or oppose the continuation of the al-Aqsa intifada? Support 76%. Oppose 22%.
Do you support or reject military operations against Israeli targets? Support 65%. Reject 25%.
Do you support or oppose suicide bombing operations against Israeli civilians? Support 60%. Oppose 30%.
Which Palestinian personality do you trust the most? Yasser Arafat 21%. Ahmed Yassin 10%. Marwan Barghouti 4%.
Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) 2%. No one/no answer 44%.
Which Palestinian political or religious faction do you trust most? Fatah 23%. Hamas 22%. Islamic Jihad 6%.
(Jerusalem Media & Communication Center)
IDF Nabs Palestinian Youth Planning Settlement Attack after Father's Tip-Off - Amos Harel
IDF troops on Saturday apprehended an 18-year-old Palestinian near Itamar, armed with a knife, who planned to carry out a terror attack in the settlement.
The soldiers were tipped off by the youth's father, who arrived at an IDF checkpost near Nablus and requested that the soldiers prevent the attack.
The IDF said that by notifying the troops, the father had saved his son's life.
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis
(Best of U.S., UK, and Israel):
Syrian Power Play - Charles Krauthammer
Syria's harboring of high officials from Saddam Hussein's government is not an act of Baath Party brotherhood. It's a continuation of Syria's prewar opposition to America's aim to democratize Iraq. Syria is a potential source of fighters, weapons, and logistics for a guerrilla-terrorist campaign to drive America out of Iraq.
Syria did precisely that to the U.S. 20 years ago when Syrian-supported Hizballah terrorists blew up the Marine barracks in Beirut, killing 241 and driving America out of Lebanon. (Washington Post)
The Meaning of a Skull - Thomas L. Friedman
Friday's Times carried a front-page picture of a skull of a political prisoner from Saddam Hussein's regime.
We do not need to find any weapons of mass destruction to justify this war. That skull, and the thousands more that will be unearthed, are enough for me. Mr. Bush doesn't owe the world any explanation for missing chemical weapons. It is clear that in ending Saddam's tyranny, a huge human engine for mass destruction has been broken. Whether you were for or against this war, you have to feel good that right has triumphed over wrong. America did the right thing here. It toppled one of the most evil regimes on the face of the earth, and I don't think we know even a fraction of how deep that evil went. (New York Times)
See also As Hussein Faded, Prisoners Were Executed - Ian Fisher (New York Times)
Mideast Roadmap Leads to Dead End - Robert Satloff (Baltimore Sun)
- A U.S. diplomatic campaign to implement an Israeli-Palestinian "roadmap" toward peace risks sapping the political gains of victory in Iraq to advance a plan that has stunningly little chance of success.
- Given that Israelis and Palestinians had virtually no hand in its drafting, the roadmap represents the demise of the generation-old U.S. policy of opposing an imposed settlement (Europe's favorite solution).
- The most important lesson learned from the 1993 Oslo peace accords is the need to jettison deadlines and insist on full implementation of obligations before moving from one phase of peacemaking to another.
The roadmap claims to be "performance-based," but it actually advocates a series of time-limited phases in which real implementation cannot possibly occur.
- The administration can take advantage of its postwar prestige to place the roadmap in the proper political context. The key is to shift responsibility for early success to those Arab capitals that clamor for the "peace process" - Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Let their heads of state welcome Mr. Abbas, ensure that all Arab assistance money gets directed to the coffers of the PA's reformist finance minister, and put flesh on their commitment to Israel that peace with the Palestinians means peace with all Arabs. That requires immediate steps to end anti-Semitic incitement in state-run Arab media, restore pre-intifada trade and consular links, and begin direct, public engagement with Israelis, in Israel.
- As the Bush administration pursues vital Middle East interests in rebuilding Iraq, fighting terrorism, confronting Iranian nuclear advances, and promoting democratization, less direct U.S. activism now on behalf of the roadmap would actually make real peace more possible later.
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