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THE IRAQ FRONT
IRAQ ATTACK IN THE MAKING?
Numerous international press reports indicate that Iraq may be the next target of massive US military strikes. George Bush and UK Prime Minister Tony Blair are planning an April summit to finalize details of military action to overthrow Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, reported the UK Observer Feb. 24, calling the meeting "a clear signal that Downing Street fully backs Bush’s plans to launch a war against Iraq if Saddam does not agree to deadlines to destroy his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction."
On Feb. 17, the Israeli daily Haaretz cited a report in the Lebanese paper Al-Mustaqbal that CIA Director George Tenet told Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during their meeting the previous day that the US has already decided to attack Iraq, and asked that Egypt not publicly express opposition. The New York Post reported Feb. 13 that while White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said "no military action is imminent," administration officials "confirmed there’s a general consensus among the president and his top advisers that the Butcher of Baghdad must go" and that "planning for a move against Saddam is now in high gear at the CIA and the Pentagon." The Post claimed Iraqi opposition leaders "have been holding numerous meetings with Pentagon, White House, CIA and State Department officials during the last month." On Feb. 13, the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted a "senior Bush administration official" saying, "This is not an argument about whether to get rid of Saddam Hussein. That debate is over. This is how you do it." The newspaper said the White House is determined to act even if US allies do not help.
USA Today reported Feb. 28 that "US officials" say Bush has approved a CIA plan to bring about a "regime change" in Iraq. The paper claims the White House is convening a meeting of several hundred Iraqi military defectors in Europe next month, and that US diplomats and CIA officers have traveled to northern Iraq in recent weeks to meet with rebel Kurdish leaders. Said Mohammad Sabir, US representative of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan: "Our assessment is that this administration is much more serious than before."
TURKEY PREPARES FOR WAR IN IRAQ
US Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, US Chief of Staff Richard Myers and VP Dick Cheney will all visit Turkey this month, and lining up Ankara’s support for US intervention against Saddam Hussein is at the top of the agenda. Cheney will also visit Arab and Israeli leaders. But some suspect that the Turkish leadership may have its own designs on Iraqi territory–particularly the northern region controlled by the Kurdish ethnic minority. In the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat, Kurdish commentator Abdelghani Ali Yahya warns of "Turkish threats to annex [Iraq’s northern province of] Mosul." Turkey and Iraq have both fought brutal counter-insurgency wars against Kurdish rebels in recent years. (Mideast Mirror, Feb. 13)
DID US PLOT TO POISON IRAQ’S WATER?
Writing on The Progressive magazine’s Web page, Thomas J. Nagy quotes extensively from recently declassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) documents, "proving beyond a doubt that, contrary to the Geneva Convention, the US government intentionally used sanctions against Iraq to degrade the country’s water supply after the Gulf War."
One document, "Iraq Water Treatment Vulnerabilities," dated Jan. 22, 1991, spells out how sanctions will prevent Iraq from supplying clean water to its citizens: "Iraq depends on importing specialized equipment and some chemicals to purify its water supply, most of which is heavily mineralized and frequently brackish to saline. With no domestic sources of both water treatment replacement parts and some essential chemicals, Iraq will continue attempts to circumvent United Nations sanctions to import these vital commodities. Failing to secure supplies will result in a shortage of pure drinking water for much of the population. This could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics, of disease."
Iraq’s rivers "contain biological materials, pollutants, and are laden with bacteria. Unless the water is purified, cholera, hepatitis, and typhoid epidemics could occur." Noting that importation of chlorine "has been embargoed" by sanctions, the document states, "Recent reports indicate the chlorine supply is critically low." The document predicts: "Iraq will suffer increasing shortages of purified water because of the lack of required chemicals and desalination membranes. Incidences of disease, including possible epidemics, will become probable unless the population were careful to boil water."
Another DIA document of the same day, "Effects of Bombing on Disease Occurrence in Baghdad," states: "Increased incidence of diseases will be attributable to degradation of normal preventive medicine, waste disposal, water purification/distribution, electricity, and decreased ability to control disease outbreaks. Any urban area in Iraq that has received infrastructure damage will have similar problems." The document itemizes likely outbreaks. It mentions "acute diarrhea" brought on by E. coli, shigella, salmonella or giardia–which will affect "particularly children." The document warns that Iraq’s government may "blame the United States for public health problems created by the military conflict."
Nagy states that the Geneva Convention is absolutely clear on the illegality of targeting civilian water supplies. A 1979 protocol on "protection of victims of international armed conflicts," Article 54, states: "It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works…whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive." (www.progressive.org)
ANTARTIC ICE SHELF DISINTEGRATES
The University of Colorado announced a 1,250 square mile area of the Larsen B shelf collapsed in a 35 day period beginning at the end of January of this year. The shattered ice has formed thousands of icebergs in the Weddell Sea and marks the largest event in the Peninsula in the last 30 years. Scientists believe the shelf was at least 400 years old and may have been around as long as the last glaciation 12,000 years ago. Over the last 5 years the shelf has lost 2,200 square miles of area and 5,200 square miles have been lost since 1974. Global warming is higher than average in the region with temperature increasing 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit since the 1940's.
David Vaughan, a glaciologist at the British Antarctic Survey told the Associated Press, "In 1998, BAS (British Antartic Survey) predicted the demise of more ice shelves around the Antarctic peninsula. Since then, warming on the peninsula has continued and we watched as piece-by-piece Larsen B has retreated. We knew what was left would collapse eventually, but the speed of it is staggering. Hard to believe that 500 million billion tons of ice sheet has disintegrated in less than a month." - sciencedaily.com / Associated Press/ MODIS image courtesy of NASA’s Terra satellite, supplied by Ted Scambos, National Snow and Ice Data Center, University of Colorado, Boulder.
Gordon-Michael Scallion adds, "The Earth’s core has shifted its position relative to the outer layers, three times since the 30s, most recently in 1998. This has set in motion thermal pressure at the poles so that in places where the mantel is thinner, heat rises more quickly, thus creating a melt-off. Heat also rises in other regions and are carried by air currents aiding in the melt-off process. Of course, adding to this is the misuse of fossil fuels and chemicals that become part of the atmosphere and currents, both air and water."