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Iraq Report: September 27, 2002

27 September 2002, Volume 5, Number 31

HANS BLIX: 'WE CANNOT FIND EVERYTHING IN SUCH A LARGE COUNTRY.' The Rotterdam-based newspaper "Handelsblat" on 21-22 September published a lengthy interview with Hans Blix, chief of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC). The reporter who conducted the interview, Robert van der Roer, questioned Blix as to the accuracy of some of President George W. Bush's claims about Iraq's nuclear and chemical capabilities in his UN address. However, Blix noted that these comments may be based on intelligence information that was not passed on to him.

Blix said he is particularly worried about biological and chemical weapons in Iraq and that his teams "cannot find everything in such a large country." He commented: "Some people are saying that inspections alone will not be sufficient and will never provide sufficient information regarding Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. In their opinion, the only solution would be an armed action against Iraq and a change of regime. There are others who want the resumption of the arms inspections; their position is included in UN Resolution 1284. This is our program; that is what we have been tasked with. We are not involved in politics, we are an instrument of the United Nations."

At any rate, Iraqi Ambassador to Russia Dr. Abbas Khalaf told ITAR-TASS on 24 September that international disarmament inspectors can start working in Iraq on 15 October and noted, "Iraq plans fruitful cooperation with international inspectors." (David Nissman)

IRAQ NOT READY FOR INVASION. A report on Iraq's efforts to defend itself militarily in the face of U.S. threats to invade by Philip Sherwell in London's "The Daily Telegraph" of 23 September shows that there is a lack of both morale and equipment. In a visit to the southern no-fly zone last week, talks with the country's military led Sherwell to conclude that it "believes it stands a very little chance against a U.S.-led invasion."

Some preparations for war have been taken. Gun batteries have been erected on the edge of Baghdad. Reservists have been called up, and even professional associations were being given military training last week.

The basic Iraqi plan is to turn cities such as Baghdad, Basra, and Tikrit into "Saddamgrads" where the elite forces would defend Saddam and his regime.

A senior Baghdad diplomat expressed surprise because "it seems they know they would have no chance if it came to an invasion, whatever their dispositions and tactics." (David Nissman)

IRAQI OIL EXPORTS INCREASE. According to UN data from 24 September, oil exports from Iraq have increased significantly for the week of 14-20 September. During this week, Iraq was exporting some 1.9 million barrels a day, totaling 13.3 million barrels for the week in question. This is the highest volume of export since the beginning of the current phase 12 of the oil-for-food program (from 30 May).

Since the oil-for-food program began on 30 December 1996, Iraq has shipped out 3.1 billion barrels of oil, worth $18.3 billion. At the present time, the humanitarian program receives 72 percent of the income. (David Nissman)

IRANIAN TRADE MINISTER TO VISIT BAGHDAD. Iraqi Minister of Foreign Affairs Naji Sabri al-Hadithi said Iranian Trade Minister Mohammad Shariatmadari is to visit Baghdad in two weeks, IRNA reported on 19 September. Sabri also said: "Our efforts are aimed at strengthening bonds of satisfactory coexistence between the two neighboring countries based on refraining from interference in each other's internal affairs."

According to an Arab diplomat, Sabri is due to visit Tehran on 29 September to exchange political viewpoints with Iranian officials about U.S. military threats aimed at toppling Saddam Husseyn's regime.

The IRNA report adds that INA has reported that Iran "welcomed Iraq's acceptance of the UN arms inspectors' return but has meanwhile asked Iraq to abide by all UN resolutions, as well." (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD NEWSPAPER ANALYZES AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY. The Baghdad newspaper "Babil," edited by Saddam Husseyn's son, Uday Saddam Husseyn, carried an item on the war on terrorism, in which he makes reference to an article written a month ago by former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, whom he calls "the well-known Zionist, Henry Kissenger." Uday claims that Kissinger proposed the cancellation of the Westphalia Treaty, which was signed in 1684 establishing the principle of inviolability of states. In the article, Kissinger writes that "terrorism neither recognizes no borders, nor does it have a homeland. All the world states are its homeland. And for the United States to be able to fight terrorism internationally it must cross international geographical borders, and in fact, discount them in its war against terrorism."

Uday claims that since the U.S. assessment of other sides' intentions is paramount -- namely, it assesses whether intentions are hostile or not -- it must carry out military attacks against any part of the world in order to preempt or abort potential aggression. "First and foremost, it must depend on the non-recognition of other states' borders, sovereignty, territorial waters, and air space, because the United States gives itself the right to overlook that under the slogan of combating terrorism, which has neither borders nor homeland," Uday writes.

The author calls on all international bodies, such as the UN, the UN Security Council, the European Union, the Nonaligned Movement, the Islamic Conference Organization, and the ASEAN countries to adopt a strong stand against this behavior. (David Nissman)

GREAT BRITAIN ON IRAQ'S WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION. In the foreword of the study on "Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction" published on the basis of work done by the British Joint Intelligence Committee on 23 September, British Prime Minister Tony Blair makes the point that "the case I make is that the UN Resolutions demanding he [Saddam Husseyn] stops [sic] his WMD programme are being flouted; that since the inspectors left four years ago he has continued with this programme; that the inspectors must be allowed back in to do their job properly; and that if he refuses, or he makes it impossible for them to do their job, as he has done in the past, the international community will have to act."

The content of the paper highlights developments in Iraq of chemical, biological, and nuclear weaponry as well as the history of weapons inspections and the history of Saddam Husseyn. Among its conclusions, the paper notes, "Iraq is preparing plans to conceal evidence of these weapons, including incriminating documents, from renewed inspections. And it confirms that despite sanctions and the policy of containment, Saddam has continued to make progress with his illicit weapons programs."

"Jane's Intelligence Digest" of 27 September finds that very little is new; it either comes from open sources or " was well known to those with a knowledge of the Iraqi regime." It finds that there was no material linking Saddam Husseyn's regime "or any indication that Baghdad has sought to supply weaponry to terrorist groups."

The "Dossier" has already drawn a response from Iraq. Minister of Culture Hamid Yusif Hammadi, in an interview broadcast over Al-Jazeera Satellite Channel on 24 September, dismissed the information contained within the British report as "baseless" and said his party and the Iraqi parliament will refute the allegations contained in the document.

At the same time, Interfax noted on 24 September that the British ambassador to Moscow, Sir Roderick Lyne, is expected to acquaint the Russian Foreign Ministry with the "Dossier." (David Nissman)

FRENCH VIEWS ON POSSIBLE U.S. ATTACK ON IRAQ. A French parliamentarian who recently visited Baghdad, Thierry Mariani, told the London-based Arabic newspaper "Al-Hayat" on 21 September that the Iraqis accepted the return of UN weapons inspectors because they had no other choice but war. He said the Iraqis hope that the inspectors are "real inspectors." He added that the Iraqis' long experience with the inspectors made them say that the activity of the inspectors is "closer to spying and far removed from arms control."

Mariani said he believes that "Iraq is sincere in its decision to allow the return of the inspectors. This means that there is no justification for the military action that Washington wishes to launch. Washington's position is based on other considerations that go beyond respect for international resolutions. If Baghdad rejects those resolutions, then there is justification for military action."

The day before, French Foreign Ministry spokesman Francois Rivasseau issued a statement on Iraq's obligations to the Security Council. He said, "What is important is that the international community, working through the Security Council, should get Iraq to meet its obligations."

The question to be resolved concerns Iraq's agreement in principle to allow "unconditional" inspections. This requires some clarification, which will presumably occur during the meeting in Vienna on 30 September, at which point the agenda will focus primarily on the practical arrangements for the return of the inspectors.

France said that a "new resolution is not indispensable since Iraq's obligations, including those pertaining to the inspection regime, were clearly defined by the Security Council's resolutions, especially Resolution 1284." Yet he quotes a recent statement by French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin in which the latter stresses the importance of a resolution that would firmly remind Iraq of its obligations in the sphere of disarmament and non-rearmament, adding that keeping up the pressure of the "united" international community on the authorities in Baghdad could be useful. (David Nissman)

ECEVIT WANTS IRAQ SOLUTION WITHOUT WAR. Bulent Ecevit, the prime minister of Turkey, discussed the possibility of a U.S. strike on Iraq on CNN-Turk and noted: "Iraq is a close neighbor of Turkey, so it is beneficial for Turkey and the region to assure a good relation with Iraq. We are sensitive to this issue and have had continued good relations to Iraq from the past until today," "Turkish Daily News" reported on 20 September.

He pointed out that Turkey is a NATO ally, permits U.S. and British warplanes to use one of its bases to support a no-fly zone in Iraq, and has often urged Washington to avoid military action. Turkey fears that a war on its borders could fuel Kurdish unrest in its own southeast and damage its fragile economy.

Ecevit noted, "If there is military action against Iraq, even if Turkey does not want to join that action, when it happens, Turkey is affected by that action." Hence, it would prefer that the United States solve its problem without military action. (David Nissman)

ASEM ADOPTS ANTITERROR DECLARATION. At the two-day summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting forum that opened on 23 September in Copenhagen, "Jiji Press" of Tokyo reported on 24 September that Asian and European leaders expressed their resolve to fight terrorism. Calling terrorism "new security challenges," they also discussed Iraq and agreed it "needs to observe all past UN resolutions." In view of the possibility of a U.S. military strike against Iraq, they called for "continued UN-led multilateral efforts in dealing with Iraq."

Taking part were leaders from 21 Asian and European countries in the 25-member ASEM summit. Four countries, including Britain and the Philippines sent deputies. (David Nissman)

TURKISH NEWSPAPER ON FEDERATION IN IRAQ. The Istanbul newspaper "Hurriyet" on 20 September carried an article by Sedat Ergin called "What is happening in Northern Iraq?" The basic question revolves around what the author sees as "a likely U.S. war against Iraq" and what would be the postwar situation in Iraq, specifically in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Ergin notes that among the demands Ankara has made on the United States is that Iraq should "not gain the identity of a federation made up of separate federal states." In other words, it should not go beyond the framework of the autonomy agreement reached between Baghdad and the Kurdish groups in 1974. The current direction taken over the last few months is a direction not acceptable to Ankara. He points out that Mas'ud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) are "slowly implementing a federalist strategy in Northern Iraq."

Barzani and Talabani have different ideas about the nature of the federation. Barzani has maintained that he wants a federation based on ethnicity, i.e., Arabic and Kurdish sectors; Talabani wants Iraq to be divided into regions, not on the basis of ethnicity.

The upcoming re-establishment of the Kurdistan National Parliament in October and the beginning of cooperation between Barzani and Talabani will significantly increase the powers of the two leaders in shaping Iraq's future.

The United States seems to be squeezed between Turkey and the Kurdish groups. Washington thus far has failed to make any statement on a federation in Iraq and has refrained from confronting Turkey, whose help it needs in any confrontation with Iraq.

At the same time this is occurring, the two dominant parties in Northern Iraq, the KDP and PUK, have drawn up draft constitutions (for the KDP draft constitution, see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 13 September 2002) and agreed on a final draft in meetings on 18 and 23 September, according to an AFP report of 24 September. The final version sees Iraq as one divided into two regions: an Arab region and a Kurdish region. An Anadolu Agency dispatch dated 23 September by the columnist Sukru Elekdag is headlined "Covert Goal Of A Kurdish State" and quotes another journalist, Tim Judah, writing in the current "The New York Review of Books," as saying that the Kurds "want to use a federal Kurdish state as a stepping stone towards an independent state under which they plan to unite the Kurdish populations in Turkey, Iran and Syria."

Elekdag, noting that if Barzani and Talabani can take full control of the oil-rich Mosul and Kirkuk regions and get the support of the United States, says they can form an independent state. He adds: "Nevertheless, this is impossible. Turkey will, in no way, let Turkmen-populated Mosul and Kirkuk go under the exclusive sway of the Kurds." (David Nissman)

MALA KREKAR'S HEARING DELAYED. The hearing of Mala Krekar, who is detained in the Netherlands on drug charges filed by Jordan and is alleged to be the "emir" of the Ansar al-Islam group that is thought by some to be linked to Al-Qaeda, was detained by the Dutch authorities. He is now in the high-security prison Vought in the south of the country, reported on 19 September.

It is believed that an American delegation has arrived to question Krekar about any links with Al-Qaeda. Krekar has retained two "very high-profile" lawyers to defend him. His lawyers have said that Krekar was not arrested for terrorism but on the 1988 drug-trafficking charge. Mala Krekar has said through his lawyer that he is willing to talk with U.S. authorities but wants these talks to be held in Norway, AP reported on 21 September. expressed the thought that the drug charge is actually a ruse to send Krekar to Jordan, and then to the United States, similar to the kidnapping of Ocalan and his subsequent delivery to Turkey.

Mala Krekar's arrest, however, does seem to have sown some panic in the area controlled by the Ansar al-Islam. An exclusive report in the Al-Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Kurdistan Nuwe" of 22 September, which noted that Krekar's arrest "spread fear and anxiety in the ranks of his groups, as most of their gunmen are thinking of surrendering." UPI also reported on 22 September that the Ansar al-Islam "has been thrown into consternation by a switch in Iranian policy that resulted in the arrest...of its military leader."

Informants said fears of an unexpected U.S. attack on the region have resulted in members of the Ansar al-Islam moving their families outside their area.

Ansar control within the area has already caused difficulties in the education system. Education is forbidden for girls over the age of 12, and teachers are banned from teaching students of the opposite sex. This means that girls from the Ansar-controlled area receive no education. (David Nissman)