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Iraq Criticizes Arab Leaders for Lack of Support - 2003-03-25

Senior Iraqi officials criticized Arab leaders in other countries Tuesday for what they said was a lack of serious support in their war against coalition forces.

The vice president of Iraq, Taha Yassin Ramadan, criticized Arab states for not taking a stronger stand against the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. He called on Arab countries to expel U.S. and British diplomats.

Speaking to reporters in Baghdad, Mr. Ramadan also wondered why Arab oil-producing countries were not cutting off oil exports to what he called the countries of aggression.

Without naming Saudi Arabia, the vice president appeared to criticize the Saudi government for increasing its oil output to make up for any shortfall in oil production.

Mr. Ramadan also accused some Arab states of providing intelligence information to coalition forces, which he said enabled them to hit specific targets in Iraq.

Mr. Ramadan disputed claims by British officials that the southern port city of Umm Qasr was now under full control of coalition forces.

Meanwhile, Iraq's minister of information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, has denied U.S. claims that Iraq has received high-tech electronic jamming equipment from Russia, along with night vision goggles and anti-tank missiles.

"We inform you, frankly, that this is completely baseless," he said. "We don't have Russian experts in Iraq. We didn't ask and we received nothing because we didn't ask any country, and in particular Russia, to supply us with anything, whether it is weapons or technology."

Monday U.S. President George W. Bush complained to Moscow that Russian companies had sold banned hardware to Iraq.

Iraq's oil minister Amir Muhammed Rasheed Monday said Iraq was still able to refine enough oil to meet its domestic needs despite heavy bombardments throughout the country. And he vehemently denied allegations that Iraqi troops had set fire to oilfields.