The demonstrations - never spontaneous and always state-organized - quickly became tedious affairs, with the same posters, the same chants, the same stunts.
What's more, the UN Security Council more than doubled the amount of oil Iraq can sell over six months in order tobuy food, medicine and other goods for its people suffering from devastating sanctions imposed when Iraq invaded Kuwait in 1990. At that time to put pressure on Iraqi forces to withdraw, the United States and the UN voted to place an embargo on the purchase of Iraqi oil. The resulting drop in oil supplies quickly led to higher prices at gas stations all across the country.
The vote was unanimous in the 15-member body. The new program-which raises the permitted oil revenue from $2 billion to $5.256 billion-does not go into effect until Annan evaluates and approves an Iraqi plan for how the goods should be distributed.
Iraq has expressed irritation over the plan and delayed the previous versions of it, citing what it called infringements on its sovereignty. UN officials insist on the right to strictly monitor the aid given under the plan to make sure it reaches those who need it.
U.S. opinion polls show support for attacks on Iraq remains strong, hovering in the 60 percent range, but a disastrous "town hall" meeting in Ohio on Wednesday suggested it was equally fragile.
State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said families were not being ordered to leave Israel and Kuwait, but that they were being allowed to do so over concerns they may consider it prudent.
Iraqis have in the past threatened to attack both Israel and Kuwait in the event that Iraq is attacked. The United States this weekend is beefing up forces in Kuwait, and Israel has been urgently distributing gas masks.
"The probability of Iraq resorting to the use of chemical or biological weapons is remote, but it cannot be excluded," Rubin said.
U.S. officials acknowledge that any attack on Iraq could hit hard at civilians there.
As a result of UNICOM work the following data concerning Iraqi military arsenal were received.
Missiles UN verified as destroyed UN believes may exist.
Missiles 817 2
Warheads 30 45
Launchers and launch pads 75 0
Munitions (filled and empty) 38,537 31,658
Precursor chemicals 3,000 tons 4,000 tons
Equipment for production 516 459
Although the Al Hakam factory, capable of producing anthrax and botulinum toxin, was raised, these and other agents have not been accounted for.
The events that took place December 16, 1998 shocked the mankind. US and British forces launched a "strong, sustained" series of airstrikes against Iraq early Thursday, targeting military and security installations throughout the country. Pentagon sources said about 200 cruise missiles were fired from ships and manned fighter bombers in the first wave of what will be an "open-ended' attack, designed to degrade Iraq's ability to produce nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Clinton accused Hussein of failing to live up to his commitment to allow unrestricted access to UN weapons inspectors. This is how chief CNN International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour reported from a rooftop in downtown Baghdad: "An orange plume of smoke wafted over the city after one of the loudest bursts." Allied missiles struck more than 50 separate targets" during the first wave of bombing that began overnight on Wednesday.
The military strikes - which came at night - followed a roughly 14-month period during which Baghdad officials periodically said they would no longer cooperate with the weapons inspectors. During that time, Baghdad also repeatedly demanded that crippling international sanctions, imposed after Iraq's invasion of Kuwait prior to the Gulf War, be lifted. The most recent escalation in the ongoing weapons standoff came in early November. At that time, Western powers threatened military strikes against Iraq. The threat was removed on November 14, when Baghdad agreed to cooperate fully with the weapons inspectors. But, US and British officials warned Baghdad that future airstrikes could come without warning should Iraqi leadership again refuse to cooperate with UNSCOM. To back up their threat, Western powers left in place the military might they had positioned in the Persian Gulf, within striking distance of Iraq. It was that military weaponry that was used on Thursday to conduct the strikes against Iraq. A stray missile from the allied attack on Iraq crashed into a southwestern Iranian border city Khorramshahr causing no casualties but prompting a strong diplomatic protest from Tehran.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Henry Shelton said the sites hit during the first bombing wave included weapons of mass destruction and barracks belonging to the Iraqi Republican Guard. US and British officials have said they will continue bombing Baghdad until they have achieved their goal which is not to destabilize the regime but to decrease his capacity to threaten his neighbours.
World community's response was not unanimous. Many Russian politicians expressed their negative attitude to the bombing. Boris Yeltzin met with Evgeni Primakov, Russian Prime-minister, Nikolai Bordyuzha, Security Council secretary and Anatoly Kvashnin, General Staff commander where he claimed that Russia would demand conducting the UN Security Council summit to consider the situation in Iraq. Egor Stroyev, Federation Council chairman said that the US and British bombardment of Iraq is a strike not on Iraq but on public opinion and above all on UNO. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov expressed his point of view saying that military action ceasing would allow to renew the political process of Iraqi settlement. Moreover, he said that the report was made at the time when Iraqi leaders approved of their readiness to collaborate with UNSCOM. Russian Ambassador Yuli Vorontsov will return to Moscow for "consultations".
The only country that fully backed American and British bombing of Iraq was Japan. Keidzo Obutti, the Prime Minister of this country has already received acknowledgement from the US president. According to his opinion Iraq didn't fully cooperate with UN officials. Japan that is connected with the USA by economic and military union as well as strategic partnership always supports everything US does.
Tony Blair, the British prime minister is expected to be backed by the majority of deputies to the House of Commons. He said the attack, named Operation Desert Fox, was necessary because Hussein never intended to abide by his pledge to give unconditional access to UN inspectors trying to determine if Iraq has dismantled