19 November 2004, Volume
NOTE TO READERS:
"RFE/RL Iraq Report" will next appear on 3 December.
ALLAWI PROMISES TO REBUILD AFTER AL-FALLUJAH FIGHTING.
Interim Iraq Prime Minister Iyad Allawi told Al-Jazeera television in a 15 November interview that major operations in the volatile city of Al-Fallujah had ended. "The greater part of the effort has actually come to an end. I can say with all confidence that Al-Fallujah is no longer a shelter for terrorists," he said. Allawi added that "mopping operations" would continue for a few days, "but the prime objective of Operation Al-Fajr [Dawn] has been achieved."
The U.S. military said on the same day that it had full control over the city but pockets of resistance remain, Reuters reported. A correspondent for the news agency in the city reported seeing demolished homes, ruined mosques, and bloated and decomposed bodies lying in the streets as he drove from the northern to the southern part of the city.
Aid convoys sent by the Iraqi Red Crescent Society remained positioned outside the city awaiting U.S. permission to enter, international media reported. The Red Crescent said that at least 150 families are trapped in the city. U.S. Marine Colonel Mike Shupp said he did not know of any Iraqis trapped in the city, saying: "There is no need to bring supplies in because we have supplies of our own for the people. Now that the bridge is open, I will bring out casualties and all aid work can be done here" at Al-Fallujah's hospital, Reuters quoted Shupp as saying. The U.S. military reported that 38 U.S. soldiers, six Iraqi soldiers, and more than 1,200 militants were killed in seven days of fighting.
Allawi said that his government would move quickly to rebuild the city of Al-Fallujah, Al-Arabiyah television reported.
Media reports in recent days indicate that large portions of the city have been destroyed, including power and telephone lines. "We are now planning to return the security forces and administrative teams to the city and embark on the program for the reconstruction of Al-Fallujah. We hope this will take place as soon as possible," Al-Arabiyah quoted the prime minister as saying.
The Human Rights Ministry announced on 18 November that it has earmarked $45 million in aid for the city, Al-Sharqiyah television reported. The money will go to providing displaced persons with emergency aid. Mahdi Abdullah, media director at the ministry, said that the ministry has already dispatched teams to distribute the relief and aid supplies to Al-Fallujans, many of whom ended up in the cities of Al-Habbaniyah and Al-Saqlawiyah.
Allawi said a "large percentage" of those arrested in Al-Fallujah were non-Iraqi Arabs and Muslims. He added that a number of the militants arrested in the city are members of Jaysh Muhammad (Muhammad's Army) led by Mu'ayyad Ahmad Yasin (aka Abu Ahmad). He accused that group of killing Iraqi citizens, Arabs, and foreigners in Iraq, including by decapitation. Allawi said members of a second group, which he did not identify, were also captured in Al-Fallujah. Jaysh Muhammad is among the groups that claimed responsibility for the 19 August 2003 bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad (see RFE/RL's "Survey Of Armed Groups In Iraq," http://www.rferl.org/specials/IraqCrisis/specials-armedgroups.asp). (Kathleen Ridolfo)VIOLENCE CONTINUES ACROSS IRAQ.
A car bomb detonated in the northern Iraqi town of Bayji on 18 November, killing four Iraqis, Reuters reported. Lieutenant Colonel Kifah Muhammad told the news agency that two women, a man, and child were killed in the incident. Three U.S. soldiers were injured in the blast, washingtonpost.com reported. Fifteen Iraqis were killed in the city on 17 November when a suicide bomber drove his car into a U.S. patrol, Reuters reported. Nine people were killed and 15 wounded in clashes in Al-Ramadi on 17 November, Al-Arabiyah television reported. U.S. forces closed entrances to the city, preventing anyone from entering or leaving, Al-Jazeera reported on 17 November. Shops remained closed in Al-Ramadi, which was reportedly without electricity for eight days. Gunmen shot and killed two Turkish truck drivers in Balad on 17 November, Anatolia news agency reported. Militants burned the bodies of the drivers after killing them, Anatolia reported. Gunmen also attacked a U.S. patrol in Samarra on 17 November, setting an armored personnel carrier and a Hummer on fire, Al-Sharqiyah television reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)MOSUL GOVERNOR'S OFFICE ATTACKED.
Militants attacked the office of Mosul Governor Durayd Kashmula on 18 November, Reuters reported. One bodyguard was killed in the attack and four others were wounded, U.S. military officials said. Militants fired 10 mortar rounds at the building during the attack, setting a fuel tanker parked nearby on fire. Militants also fired six mortar rounds at a U.S. military base in the city. There were no reported injuries in that attack, an unnamed U.S. military spokeswoman said. Militants stormed a police station and set two police cars on fire in the northern Iraqi city on 17 November, Al-Arabiyah reported the same day. Al-Jazeera television reported on 16 November that the United States has deployed some 5,000 troops to Mosul to fight alongside an Iraqi National Guard brigade in the city. (Kathleen Ridolfo)CLASHES REPORTEDLY ERUPT IN AL-NAJAF.
The Al-Najaf News Network reported on 17 November that armed clashes took place between police and a group of Shi'ite men on 16 November after the men were discovered to have been coordinating with a group of Al-Fallujah militants to disrupt the calm in the holy city. Local residents alerted police to the situation, and police reportedly apprehended the suspected militants, the website reported. Shi'a Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani has been widely criticized by Sunnis in recent days for not taking a stand against the U.S.-led incursion on Al-Fallujah. (Kathleen Ridolfo)CONFUSION OVER BODY FOUND IN AL-FALLUJAH.
The mutilated body of a Caucasian woman found earlier this week in Al-Fallujah appears to be that of CARE International Director Margaret Hassan, AFP quoted Australian Prime Minister John Howard as saying on 18 November.
"The body found in Fallujah appears to have been Margaret's and the video of the execution of a Western woman appears, on all available information, to have been genuine," Howard said. He appeared to recant his statement later in the day, however, telling reporters: "The body has not been returned by those who killed her," Al-Jazeera reported.
The satellite news channel reported on 16 November that it had obtained video footage depicting Hassan's apparent killing; the British government said on 17 November that the tape appeared to be authentic. According to AFP, the body was that of a blonde-haired woman. Her legs and arms were severed and throat slit. It was discovered on 14 November. Al-Jazeera reported that the woman killed on the videotape was shot in the back of the head. Hassan's husband has appealed to her abductors to return her body. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
NEWS CHANNEL REPORTS 46 POLITICAL PARTIES WILL BOYCOTT ELECTION.
Al-Jazeera television reported on 18 November that it has obtained a statement signed by representatives of 46 Iraqi political parties that says the groups will boycott national elections in January.
The news channel named the Muslim Scholars Association, the Pan-Arab Current Movement, the Iraqi Turkoman Front, and the Democratic Christian Party as signatories to the document. Al-Jazeera interviewed Muslim Scholars Association member Ahmad Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarra'i about the statement. He said the parties "consider elections under the U.S. occupation false and believe that they do not express the Iraqi people's ambitions." He said the groups were motivated to boycott the elections "because of the barbaric measures, including genocide and the police of scorched earth that were taken against the people of Al-Fallujah." (For background on Iraqi political groups, see http://www.rferl.org/specials/iraqcrisis/). (Kathleen Ridolfo)BA'QUBAH REMAINS TROUBLE SPOT.
The Iraqi city of Ba'qubah, located some 60 kilometers northeast of Baghdad, remains a trouble spot for U.S. and Iraqi forces in their fight against the insurgency. Three former Iraqi army commanders were arrested in the city last week for organizing attacks there that included the 11 November killing of a national guardsman and the wounding of three others (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 15 November 2004).
Militants clashed with U.S. and Iraqi forces on 15 November, Al-Jazeera television reported the same day. A journalist in the city told Al-Jazeera that militants had gained control over most of the city. He said fighting broke out in the early morning hours when militants attacked a police station and the governor's offices in the city. Five vehicles belonging to the National Guard and police were completely burned out. The headquarters for U.S. forces also came under mortar attack in the center of town. Militants reportedly took control of the Islamic Party offices that the journalist described as being in a tall building in the city center. Reuters quoted U.S. military spokesman Captain Bill Coppernoll as saying that about 20 militants were killed in gun battles and air strikes in the city. Four U.S. soldiers were wounded, he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)JAPANESE FORCES MOVE NORTH TO BAGHDAD.
Some 650 Japanese police have moved from their southern base in Muthanna north to Baghdad, Kyodo World Service reported on 16 November, citing local police sources. The "quick-response police team" will help control the deteriorating security situation in central and northern Iraq, as well as in the capital, Kyodo reported. The team was formed last month and is staffed by some 2,000 officers. (Kathleen Ridolfo)NEW AUDIOTAPE ATTRIBUTED TO AL-ZARQAWI SURFACES.
An audiotape purportedly recorded by fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and posted to a number of Islamic-forum websites on 15 November -- including alezah.com -- called on mujahedin in Iraq to attack multinational forces.
The message was addressed to the "heroes in Baghdad, and Al-Anbar, and to the lions in Mosul and the north, and the lions in Diyala, Samarra, and Salah Al-Din." It warned that multinational forces will move toward other cities after Al-Fallujah operations are complete. "Do not allow [the multinational forces'] plan to succeed. The enemy is weak and unable to expand the battle," the message says.
It advises militants to cut off multinational forces' main and secondary supply lines "and ambush it on those roads, for this will be easy loot and an open target. Ensure that you are in control of the battle." The message also calls on militants to "extend the length of the battle," adding, "The enemy is betting on time to reduce the intensity of the battle." The speaker calls for patience, telling militants: "God is with you. He will not let your deeds go unrewarded." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQI ELECTORAL SPOKESMAN DISCUSSES EXPATRIATE, MILITARY VOTING.
Farid Ayyar, spokesman for the Iraqi Election Commission, told Al-Sharqiyah television in a 15 November interview that it appears that expatriate voting may take place in as many as 14 countries in January's national elections.
Ayyar said the International Migration Organization, which will help prepare for voting abroad, has identified the 14 countries as having the largest populations of Iraqi expatriates. Asked what arrangements have been made for members of the Iraqi Army and security services to vote, Ayyar said that the answer is unclear, adding that they might not be allowed to vote at all. He said there are two opinions on the matter. "The one says that the army and the National Guard should not get involved in the elections because it is a political matter: The army, police, and the National Guard should keep away from politics. Another opinion says that these people are citizens who have the right to cast their votes and practice their election right. We have not yet reached any conclusion in the matter."
Ayyar said the Election Commission is examining how foreign states deal with the issue before it makes a decision. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. NETWORK SAYS MARINE SHOT DEAD WOUNDED IRAQI PRISONER.
A journalist embedded with U.S. Marines during the Al-Fallujah offensive videotaped a Marine apparently shooting and killing a wounded Iraqi prisoner in a mosque in Al-Fallujah, Reuters cited NBC television network, the journalist's employer, as reporting on 15 November.
The Iraqi was one of five prisoners wounded a day earlier in fighting with U.S. Marines. The Marines left the prisoners for others to pick up. A second group of Marines found the Iraqis the next day but were reportedly unaware that the Iraqis, severely injured, had been disarmed and taken prisoner. Footage taken inside the mosque records remarks made by one Marine when he noticed one of the prisoners was still breathing and presumed he was faking death. The Marine then raised his rifle and shot the Iraqi in the head, NBC correspondent Kevin Sites said in a pool report.
Sites noted that the Marine had just returned to duty after being shot in the face a day earlier. He was subsequently removed from the field for questioning by U.S. military officials. Sites reported that the shot prisoner "did not appear to be armed or threatening in any way," Reuters reported. The U.S. military is reportedly investigating the incident. (Kathleen Ridolfo)CAPTORS RELEASE TWO RELATIVES OF PRIME MINISTER, STILL HOLDING A THIRD.
Two female relatives of Prime Minister Allawi were released from captivity on 14 November, Arab media reported. The women were kidnapped on 9 November (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 10 November 2004). One male relative, Ghazi Allawi, the cousin of the prime minister, remains in captivity. Members of his daughter-in-law's family pleaded for her release on 11 November, saying she was nine months pregnant, international media reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI POLICE AIDED MILITANTS IN MOSUL INSURGENCY.
The growing insurgency in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul took a turn in recent days as many police in the city reportedly deserted their positions and took up arms alongside militants. Sources told RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) that multinational forces arrested General Muhammad Khayri al-Birhawi, the director-general of Mosul police, accusing him of cooperating with terrorists in the city, RFI reported on 15 November.
Two days earlier, Deputy Governor Khisro Goran accused police of colluding with insurgents: "We are convinced, because we have evidence...that many policemen in Mosul are loyal to the former regime and sympathetic to the terrorists. Their loyalty is not for the new Iraqi regime," Kurdistan Satellite Television reported on 13 November. Goran added that the police directorate in the city was advised several months ago to purge the police organization of Saddam Hussein loyalists, but the directorate failed to do so.
Reuters reported on 15 November that scores of police defected in last week's fighting and joined insurgents. According to Goran, "The terrorists were not able to occupy the offices of the national parties, centers of the National Guard or the Installations Protection Force. They were only able to seize police stations, which is a clear indication that there is collusion between the police [and militants] and that many policemen are sympathetic to the former regime, which is why they handed over the stations very easily." He added that, "In many of the [police] stations, there was no shooting or fighting, they were just handed over to the terrorists."
Reports indicate that fighting remains sporadic but U.S., Kurdish, and Iraqi National Guard personnel have secured at least half of the city, which is divided by the Tigris River. Al-Jazeera reported on 12 November that gunmen could be seen in the city urging residents to return to their jobs without fear. A statement was also issued by the "Higher Commission of the Mujahedin Brigades" calling on residents to return to work, adding that the mujahedin would protect state institutions and banks in the city, and that there was no reason for citizens to close their shops. The Kurdish daily "Khabat" reported on 11 November that Kurdish homes were repeatedly attacked in the city. The daily said that "Arab democrats" were also being targeted. The Kurdish parliament claimed in a 6 November statement condemning the violence in Mosul that Kurds wearing traditional dress were being targeted in a number of northern Iraqi towns. "These malicious and criminal [acts] aim at planting the seeds of sedition and contention between the Kurds and Arabs," the statement said.
RFI reported on 15 November that peshmerga forces had taken up positions in the city in recent days. They launched operations in the Kurdish-populated Al-Jihad neighborhood of the city. Peshmerga forces also defended the Kurdistan Democratic Party office against an attack on 15 November, killing four insurgents. Two militants were also killed outside the Ibn Sina Hospital after peshmerga forces caught them trying to plant explosives on a parked car belonging to a peshmerga. Gunfire can still be heard in some areas of the city as multinational forces work to secure the area, RFI reported. Eyewitnesses said that many terrorists were killed but many others escaped to villages south of the city.
An RFI correspondent in Baghdad interviewed interim National Assembly member Yonadam Kanna about the situation in Mosul on 15 November. Kanna pointed out that the city has historically been a multiethnic one (Sunnis, Assyrians, Kurds, and Turkomans) and has not faced ethnic or religious divisions. "It is not logical that a very secure town like Mosul of more than 2 million people can be victimized by gangs of not more than 1,000 people," he said. Kanna said the Interior Ministry and Iraqi security forces should take the responsibility to solve this "abnormal problem." He contended that gangs in the city want to cause ethnic divisions. He said gangs were also becoming a problem in villages south of Mosul.
Al-Sharqiyah television cited U.S. Brigadier General Carter Ham as saying on 14 November that militants in the city are not believed to be those who fled Al-Fallujah recently. RFI reported on 28 October that at least a dozen militant groups are present in the city (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 5 November 2004). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQ TO ESTABLISH 24 POLICE STATIONS ALONG IRANIAN BORDER.
The Iraqi border forces announced this week that they will build 24 police stations along the 130-kilometer border with Iran, Al-Sharqiyah television reported on 14 November.
An unnamed source at the border police said that the Border Guard Directorate would be reestablished in the Diyala Governorate with modern communications systems. The source said that Iraqi border forces in the Diyala, Wasit, and Maysan governorates arrested 180 foreigners who had illegally entered Iraq via Iran in the past two weeks. The arrested were carrying weapons and unspecified banned materials. (Kathleen Ridolfo)AL-ZARQAWI'S NEPHEW REPORTEDLY ARRESTED.
Jordanian authorities reportedly arrested the nephew of fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, Abu Dhabi television reported on 17 November. According to the report, Muhammad al-Harahishah was arrested as he attempted to cross the Jordanian-Syrian border en route to Iraq to fight with his uncle. Abu Dhabi television said the arrest was made more than a month ago.
Meanwhile, AP reported on 17 November that al-Harahishah was arrested on the Jordanian-Iraqi border. A relative and clergyman close to the family both told AP that the family has tried to keep the arrest quiet in order to not jeopardize the man's release. They claimed that Jordanian officials told the family that al-Harahishah will soon be set free. The Jordanian government has been trying for several months to prevent would-be militants from crossing its border into Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSIONER EXPRESSES CONCERN OVER AL-FALLUJAH.
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour expressed strong concern over the fate of civilians caught up in the recent fighting in Al-Fallujah, the UN News Center reported on 16 November (http://www.un.org/news).
In a statement issued through her spokesman, Jose Diaz, Arbour called for "all violations of international humanitarian law and human rights law...be investigated and those responsible for breaches" brought to justice. The agency is concerned over possible breaches such as the deliberate targeting of civilians, indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the killing of injured persons, and the use of human shields. The high commissioner is also concerned about poor access to humanitarian aid in the city. U.S. military officials have said they are providing aid to the city's residents.
Both the World Food Program and the UN Assistance Mission to Iraq said this week that they were closely monitoring the situation in Al-Fallujah and pledged to provide humanitarian aid to the city in cooperation with Iraqi ministries and nongovernmental organizations. UN spokesman Fred Eckard said that the World Health Organization provided medical supplies to the interim government, including about 50,000 blood bags, while the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) was supplying water to displaced Iraqis, the UN News Center reported on 15 November. The UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration have provided tents and other supplies to Al-Fallujans. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SENATE PROBE DETERMINES IRAQ GAINED $21 BILLION ILLEGALLY.
A seven-month investigation by a U.S. Senate subcommittee concluded on 15 November that the Hussein regime illicitly earned $21.3 billion in revenues during 12 years of UN sanctions, international media reported on 16 November.
The figure is double the amount estimated by the U.S. government's General Accounting Office, which had said Hussein earned $10.1 billion illicitly, Reuters reported. The head of the Iraq Survey Group and a special adviser to the director of Central Intelligence on Iraq's weapons-of-mass-destruction projects, Charles Duelfer, estimated this year that Iraq gained some $2 billion through corruption within the now defunct UN oil-for-food program, and another $8 billion through smuggling over land and sea or through direct illegal agreements with other states.
Iraq earned most of the money through its illegal export of oil. But other money was earned through contracting for first-rate goods and accepting delivery of poorer-quality and less expensive items. The supplier would then receive a percentage of the difference, and the Hussein regime would pocket the rest, washingtonpost.com reported. Investigators cited one case in which the Oil Ministry asked a contractor to inflate prices for oil-related equipment and then deposit the difference in a Swiss bank account, the website reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)FRENCH PRESIDENT DOUBTS ASSERTION THAT HUSSEIN'S REMOVAL HAS MADE WORLD SAFER.
French President Jacques Chirac suggested in a 17 November interview on BBC television that the world has become more dangerous as a result of the removal of Saddam Hussein from power, bbc.co.uk reported the same day.
Asked if he agreed with U.S. President George W. Bush's statements that the world is safer after Hussein's removal, Chirac said: "To a certain extent Saddam Hussein's departure was a positive thing. But it also provoked reactions, such as the mobilization in a number of countries, of men and women of Islam, which has made the world more dangerous." "There's no doubt that there has been an increase in terrorism and one of the origins of that has been the situation in Iraq," he added. "I'm not at all sure that one can say that the world is safer." (Kathleen Ridolfo)NATO STATES DIVIDED OVER IRAQ.
NATO's Supreme Allied Commander for Europe General James Jones said 10 member states were refusing to send troops to Iraq as part of the alliance's new training mission there, ft.com reported on 15 November. Jones said the move by the 10 states, which he refused to name publicly, could undermine the alliance itself and threaten the long-term viability of the operation.
The website reported that the U.S. government has already complained that France and Germany have ordered their staff seconded to NATO headquarters in Belgium and in Norfolk, Virginia, not to participate in Iraq missions. Both countries were opposed to the U.S.-led war in Iraq. Opponents to the NATO program have argued that a larger NATO presence in the country equates to putting the alliance into the battlefield through the back door, Reuters reported on 14 November.
Germany's ddp news agency reported that the German government has "consistently refused to send German soldiers directly to Iraq." However, according to a 15 November ddp report, 32 Bundeswehr instructors will be training Iraqi security forces to operate 5-ton trucks in the United Arab Emirates. Germany has also committed to training Iraqis at a NATO center in Oberammergau, Germany. Norway is training Iraqis at the Joint Warfare Center in Stavanger (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 22 October 2004).
NATO committed itself last month to sending 300 trainers to Baghdad and 1,000-1,500 soldiers to the capital to provide protection for its in-country program, which will train 1,000 Iraqi officers a year at a military academy currently being set up near Baghdad. The project received final approval on 17 November.
Jones's statements came just days after NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer met with U.S. President George W. Bush and addressed the UN Security Council in New York. De Hoop Scheffer supported the war in Iraq before becoming head of NATO in January. The secretary-general suggested to reporters after his 10 November meeting with Bush that the NATO alliance is strong, saying, "It is a very important sign that I was the first foreign visitor, indeed, to meet President Bush in the Oval Office" following Bush's reelection, international media reported. He told the UN Security Council the following day that NATO's decision to assist Iraq was based on the security interests of its member states, which are "affected by events" there.
He took a more critical view of European member states in the war on terror at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York on 12 November. "In Europe, we still have complicated discussions, be it in the European Union or be it national discussions, of how far governments could go in the relationship with their citizens in the fight against terrorism. I think Europe should catch up here," independent.co.uk quoted him as saying in a 13 November report.
De Hoop Scheffer went a bit further in a 14 November interview with Italy's "Corriere della Sera," saying that Europeans need to "wake up" to the terrorist threat. "The average U.S. citizen perceives terrorism as being by far the most serious threat. That is not the case in Europe. A large part of the population has to wake up to the fact that everything has changed," de Hoop Scheffer said. He added that Europeans "find it difficult to understand that something might happen in some far-off region of Asia which might place their own personal security in jeopardy." "This gap in perception compared to the United States gives me cause for concern," he said. De Hoop Scheffer said his goal is to turn NATO into an institution for political dialogue on security issues between the United States and European member states.
Of the 18 NATO member states that individually committed (outside of NATO) troops to Iraq, only about half remain committed to keeping troops there. Most Western European states have said they will pull out altogether in the coming months.
Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia have all opted to stay indefinitely. Hungary announced on 16 November that it may send military trainers to Iraq as part of the NATO contingent. Prospective NATO members Albania, Croatia, and Macedonia said on 13 November that they too are eager to support the NATO training mission in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)