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Iraq Report: January 19, 2001

19 January 2001, Volume 4, Number 3

'UDAY WANTS KUWAIT OFF THE MAP. 'Uday Husseyn, the oldest son of Saddam, has asked that the country's national assembly change the map on its shield to include the territory of Kuwait, "Babil," a paper he controls, reported on 30 December. He justified his suggestion by saying that "the Iraq map which represents the symbol of the National Assembly, does not include the full borders of Iraq as they are known to the various groups, strata, and nationalities of Iraq." On 16 January a Kuwaiti MP Muhammad Al-Saqir responded to 'Uday's suggestions, pointing out that the Iraqi regime has been executing chaotic policies "resulting in many disasters that hit the Iraqi people and the whole region," KUNA reported. (David Nissman)

ARE CAIRO AND BAGHDAD ABOUT TO EXCHANGE ENVOYS? Cairo's "Al-Ahram Al-'Arabi" reported on13 January that a secret deal has been concluded between Egypt and Iraq to upgrade their bilateral diplomatic relations to the ambassadorial level. The paper added that "within the context of Cairo's keenness on maintaining distinguished relations with Arab Gulf states, the Egyptian government will make intensive consultations with the leaders of those states, especially Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, before resuming full-fledged diplomatic relations with Iraq." Despite the likelihood of U.S. criticism of the move, Cairo is following Turkey, Jordan and Russia in taking this step.

Giving credence to this report, President Mubarak recently instructed the Egyptian government to prepare a comprehensive study on how to consolidate Arab economic cooperation and to establish an Arab common market. Such efforts would appear to mesh with statements by Baghdad officials, including Iraq's Minister of Trade Muhammad Mahdi Salih, who said recently that the Iraq-Egypt Free Trade Agreement essentially makes the two countries into one market. On 15 January, he said on Baghdad television that he would welcome any other Araba country into such an arrangement. (David Nissman)

TURKISH FOREIGN MINISTER ON TIES WITH IRAQ. Turkish Foreign Minister Ismail Cem told Istanbul's "Milliyet" of 14 January that it was entirely natural for Ankara to promote expanded ties with Iraq, especially since the Gulf War was now a decade in the past. (David Nissman)

IRAN SAYS IRAQ VIOLATING 1988 CEASEFIRE. Iran has sent a letter to UN Secretary General Kofi Annan citing 29 Iraqi violations of the ceasefire accord between Iran and Iraq ending the Iran-Iraq War in 1988, IRNA reported on 16 January. Among the violations listed were illegal border crosses, firing across the border, and efforts to infiltrate troops into border areas, the Iranians said. (David Nissman)

INDIA READY TO HELP IN RECONSTRUCTION OF IRAQ. Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has writen to President Saddam Husseyn of Iraq conveying India's interest in promoting the reconstruction of Iraq. According to the "Hindustan Times" of 15 January, Minister of State for External Affairs Ajit Kumar Panja personally delivered such a letter to the Iraqi leader last year. In the past, Saddam Husseyn has sought to expand his dialogue with India, and now the Indian paper says that Delhi hopes to gain some major contracts under the oil-for-food program. Bilateral trade is expected to reach $1 billion in the first six months of 2001. (David Nissman)

ALGERIA PLEDGES SOLIDARITY WITH IRAQ. Algerian Prime Minister Ali Benflis pledged his country's solidarity with Iraq during talks with Sa'dun Hammadi, Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly. Radio Algiers of 14 January said that Algeria would spare no effort to help the "fraternal Iraqi people to overcome the ordeal from which it has been suffering." (David Nissman)

IRAQI VP RECEIVES TATARSTAN PRIME MINISTER. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan received a letter from Tatarstan's President Shaymiyev during a meeting with visiting Tatarstan Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov, Baghdad Radio reported on 15 January. Shaymiyev stressed Tatarstan's desire to develop bilateral ties in various fields. Minnikhanov added that Kazan opposes what he called the unjust embargo against Iraq and praised the achievements of the Iraqi people in the face of adversity. (David Nissman)

MOSCOW INVITES RAMADAN TO RUSSIA. Moscow has invited Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan to visit Moscow, Baghdad television reported on 14 January. The invitation, signed by Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, was delivered by the Russian ambassador in Baghdad. (David Nissman)

IRAQ OPENS FIFTH INTERNET CENTER. The Public Corporation for Internet Services, an affiliate of the Ministry of Transport and Communications, has inaugurated a new Internet center in the city of Basrah, according to a report in the Baghdad Ba'th Party newspaper "Al-Thawrah" of 11 January. Its is Basrah's first such center. There are already four such centers in Baghdad. (David Nissman)

ROYAL DUTCH/SHELL IN TALKS WITH IRAQ. A Royal Dutch/Shell spokesperson said on 16 January the company has held "low-level" talks with Iraqi Oil Ministry officials regarding "potential opportunities" at the Ratawi oil field in southeastern Iraq, according to "Dow Jones" on 16 January. The Ratawi oil field is estimated to hold approximately one billion barrels of oil. Shell has been negotiatng for it since 1994. But the spokesperson said the negotiations were not commercial in nature, and Shell would not do business with Iraq until the sanctions were lifted. (David Nissman)

KURDS FORM PRO-BA'TH POLITICAL PARTY. According to Al-Sulaymaniyah's "Rayat Al-Hurriyah" of 1 January, Kurds living in Baghdad have requested from the Ministry of the Interior permission to form a new political party called the "Kurdish National Party". The new group will support the Ba'th ruling party. In response, the homes of founding members were raided by Iraqi security forces and the people involved arrested. Iraqi officials viewed the proposal as a ruse, the paper said. (David Nissman)

KDP CENTRAL COMMITTEE CONDEMNS ARABIZATION. At the Kurdistan Democratic Party meeting on 4-5 January, Mas'ud Barzani condemned Baghad's arabization policy and urged his followers to build closer ties with the Arab world, whose capitals he recently visited. At the same time, he said that Kurds could build their future within a unified but democratic Iraq. (David Nissman)

BARZANI NOT GOING TO ANKARA. The widely-rumored trip of Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Mas'ud Barzani to Ankara will not take place, according to the Ankara KDP representative Safin Diza'. Diza'i said that the fact that the PUK was fighting the PKK did not mean that the KDP had to fight also, "2000de Yeni Gundem" reported, citing the pro-PKK daily "Ozgur Politika" on 12 January.

Concerning PUK demands for an equal share with the KDP of the revenues from the Habur border gate, Diza'i said that "the revenues secured from the Habur border do not go to the KDP. They are collected at the Central Bank in Irbil, which is under the control of the Financial and Customs Ministry. The government presents projects to Parliament. The Parliament then uses this money to finance projects which they find appropriate." (David Nissman)

TALABANI MEETS WITH IRANIAN DELEGATION. The "Turkish Daily News" of 15 January reported that Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), had met with a high-raking Iranian delegation to be informed about Talabani's talks in Ankara and to get a clear picture about the situation in northern Iraq.

Meanwhile, the "Kurdish Observer" of 13 January added that "Eastern Kurdistan [Iranian Kurdistani] politicians and intellectuals have had harsh reactions to Talabani being partner to Ankara's liquidation plans against the PKK." Dr. Jalal Jalalizade, a member of the Iranian Parliament's Kurdish fraction, said it was necessary to condemn the Kurdish leaders who were cooperating with Turkey.

And the KNK (Kurdish National Congress) Administrative Council issued a statement which said: "Ankara is after Kurdish conspiracies. The Ankara, Paris, Dublin and Washington processes did not gain us anything. Let us give up on the processes of foreigners and begin a Kurdistani process."

Talabani-controlled parts of northern Iraq share a border with Iran, and the PUK depends economically on trade through the border gate with Iran. Complicating the issue geopolitically, the PKK has reportedly announced the formation of a local administration near the Raniya-Rawanduz region of Talabani-controlled Iraqi Kurdistan, along the Iranian border. (David Nissman)

TURKISH-U.S. DEAL TO CREATE 'TURKMEN REPUBLIC.' An article by the Kurdish writer Sores Resi in the pro-PKK journal "Ozgur Politika" of 10 January contends that there is an arrangement between the U.S. and Turkey to establish a Turkmen Republic in Iraq, which would include the vital, oil-rich cities of Kirkuk and Mosul. Supposedly, this is part of a package deal that included, or includes, the arrest of the PKK leader Ocalan and American support for Turkey's membership in the European Union.

Resi points out that "the unofficial representatives of the PUK worked hard at the last meeting of the KNK (Kurdish National Congress) to make the Turkmen Union Party a member of the congress..." At the same time, in the Kurdistan Democratic Party-controlled part of Kurdistan the Turkmens held a congress in Irbil "with the participation of people from Turkey." Meanwhile, Tansu Ciller, the civilian spokesperson of the Turkish Armed Forces, "was talking about the presence of three million Turkmens in the south."

Resi argues that the formation of such a new state unit would be benefit both Turkey and the U.S. by obstructing the establishment of a Kurdish state and by removing the oil resources around Kirkuk and Mosul from Baghdad's control (David Nissman)