Chronology: Iraq, January 16, 1998-April 15, 1998

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See also, Regoinal Affairs, Palestinian Affairs, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Turkey

1998

Jan. 16: American William Scott Ritter, Jr. and his 16-member UN Security Council Special Commission (UNSCOM) weapons inspection team left Baghdad, departing a day earlier than scheduled after having been barred from inspection sites earlier in the week. Iraq had accused Ritter of espionage. [1/17 NYT, FT]

Britain sent an aircraft carrier, the HMS Invincible, to the Persian Gulf. [1/17 WP] Jan. 17: In Baghdad, during a speech to commemorate the seventh anniversary of the start of the 1991 Gulf War, President Saddam Husayn threatened to expel all UNSCOM inspectors from Iraq within six months if sanctions were not lifted. [1/18 NYT]

Jan. 18: The Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported that Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan called for "a great jihad" (holy war) to lift the sanctions. [1/19 NYT, FT]

Jan. 19: UNSCOM chairman Richard Butler arrived in Baghdad to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Tariq `Aziz. [1/20NYT]

In Baghdad, the government held a funeral for 70 children it claimed had died from lack of food and medicine, due to the UN sanctions. [1/20 NYT]

In front of the UN inspectors' Baghdad headquarters, an estimated 5,000 people held a demonstration, burning US flags. Government-sponsored trade unions organized the protest. [1/20 WP]

Jan. 20: UNSCOM chairman Butler rejected Iraqi demands that American U-2 surveillance planes be replaced by Russian or French planes. [1/21 NYT]

After talks with Deputy Prime Minister `Aziz in Baghdad, UNSCOM chairman Butler agreed to include outside experts at technical talks to "dilute" the American and British presence. [1/21 FT]

Jan. 21: President Husayn called for a freeze until April on weapons inspections and on discussions with UNSCOM on access to the eight "sensitive" presidential sites. [1/22 NYT, WP]

During a Public Broadcasting System (PBS) interview, US president Bill Clinton announced that the United States might be prepared to take military action against Iraq with or without the support of the UN Security Council. [1/22 NYT]

Jan. 26: `Ismat `Abd al-Majid, secretary-general of the Arab League, stated that "the principle of using force [against Iraq] is downright rejected. Such a military strike would only add to the suffering of the Iraqi people." [1/29 NYT]

Feb. 1: The Russian envoy to Iraq, Deputy Foreign Minister Viktor Posuvalyuk, arrived in Baghdad to mediate a settlement between Iraq and the UN Securtiy Council. [2/2 NYT]

Feb. 2: UN secretary-general Kofi Annan proposed to the UN Security Council to double to $5.2 billion the amount Iraq may earn selling oil in order to buy food and medicine and other basic necessities, [2/3 NYT, FT]

The Russian government announced that Russian envoy to Iraq Posuvalyuk had reached an agreement with Iraq that would allow inspection teams to inspect the eight presidential sites that had previously been off-limits. The Iraqi government, however, announced that no such agreement had been made. [2/3 NYT, FT]

Feb. 5: In Baghdad, the Arab League secretarygeneral `Abd al-Majid met with President Husayn to try to find a diplomatic solution to the weapons inspections dispute. [2/6 NYT]

President Husayn ordered the release of all Arab prisoners imprisoned in Iraq. [2/6 NYT] Bertrand Dufouraq, secretary-general of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, visited Baghdad to find a diplomatic solution to the weapons inspection crisis. [2/6 FBIS]

Feb. 6: In a letter to the United Nations, Foreign Minister Muhammad Sa`id al-Sahhaf stated that the new proposed "oil-for-food" deal contained aspects that challenged Iraq's sovereignty, as the plan would determine what goods could be bought with the oil revenue and how those goods would be distributed. [2/7 WP]

Feb. 7: Baghdad and the United Nations reached an agreement allowing UN inspectors to excavate sites where they suspected weapons could be buried. …