- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Insider Notes from United Press International for Jan. 28 …

First it was the Israelis studying British military handling of the troubles in Ireland, now it's U.S. Army officers learning from the Israelis. The Americans want to get a taste of how to conduct urban street fighting in case a section of the Iraqi civilian population doesn't put out the welcome mat. A couple of months ago, British army specialists held seminars for a group of senior Israeli officers, including Israel's new chief of staff Gen. Moshe Yaalon, mainly on Britain's Northern Ireland experience. Some U.S. officers were present for those discussions. Since then, others have toured the "Ziv Line," pride and joy of Brig. Yisrael Ziv, commander of troops in the Gaza Strip. This sequence of imposing checkpoints, strongholds and outposts chops this hostile, explosive area into manageable, bite-size morsels. U.S. officers are not the only ones who are impressed: Ziv is being promoted to the General Staff as commander of operations.

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Here comes a trenchant critique of the Bush administration's Iraq policy by an insider — the State Department's director of Policy Planning, Richard Haass: "The risks and costs of unilateralism must be understood. A strategy against Saddam and Iraq…can only succeed if others in the region and in Europe support it. This means the United States must engage in far more frequent and senior consultations with other countries. The sort of unilateralism demonstrated recently….is not so much the exercise of leadership as its abandonment". The catch is the Haass's essay was written in October 1997 as a Brookings Institution paper titled "The U.S. and Iraq; a strategy for the long haul."

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At first the North Korean trade delegation on an official shopping expedition to Omsk, Siberia, placed orders for the items compatible with its Socialist status — 100 tractors for work on rice fields, with an option for a further 500, several crop- dusting aircraft, a shipment of diesel fuel, and a large amount of fertilizer. But when they were asked the ritual question, "Will there be anything else?" the North Koreans consulted their shopping list and surprised their Russian hosts by answering: Blue mink pelts. They intended to use the top-of-the-line pelts for military uniforms for military uniforms for the top brass. As he placed a record order for between 5,000 and 7,000 pelts worth $300,000, Jin Chol Ho, from the North Korean embassy in Moscow, said "We have money," as if he could hardly believe it himself.

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A leading Moscow real estate agency says they are getting inquiries from around the world about the plush apartment of former Soviet spymaster — and later Russian leader — Yuri Andropov, which went on the market last week. The agency has turned down opening bids in the $1 million area for the 155 sq. m. apartment in a prime location on Kutuzovsky Prospekt, in central Moscow. One property dealer expected the final price tag to reach as much as $10 million. Perhaps wishful thinking, but it's not every day that one gets to bid for the residence of the head of the KGB. Among the unusual features of the property is a passage that leads to a special subway line built for the members of the Politburo to commute to the Kremlin and KGB headquarters at Lubyanka. Access to the unused line is now blocked by a mountain of discarded, broken furniture. However, those seeking a spy thrill will be pleased to know that the apartment's original wallpaper is still in place. "Potential owners can find out for themselves if there are any hidden surprises" such as microphones or concealed closets, one realtor said.

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Apart from its nervousness about the Kurds, Turkey has many good reasons for thinking hard before supporting its American ally over Iraq. One is the opinion polls, showing 83 percent opposition to war. Another is the potential cost, after the estimated $40 billions Turkey lost by enforcing sanctions against Iraq and closing Iraq's oil pipelines back in the first Gulf War. Now here comes another reason. The tanker Settebello has just been topped up in Turkey's Ceyhan harbor with 2 million barrels of Iraqi crude. Three more tankers are awaiting loading in the port with a million barrels apiece.

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