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Iraq Report: August 31, 2001


31 August 2001, Volume 4, Number 27

IRAQ SAID TRAINING AGENTS FOR 'TERRORIST' OPERATIONS IN KUWAIT. The Paris-based newspaper "Al-Watan Al-Arabi" on 24 August reported that "high-level Arab political sources in London have received information that Saddam Husseyn's regime is preparing to send military units of different Arab nationalities to Kuwait to stage bombings in several locations."

According to the information cited by the paper, the Arabs have received intensive training on how to use weapons and assemble and time explosives. On the completion of training, the individuals are making contacts with Kuwaiti friends or relatives in Kuwait in order to visit them or search for employment. The first explosion supposedly will take place after vacations are over and children have returned to school. The first such event will cause no casualties, but it will be set off near a school and inspire fear and terror, the paper said.

"Al-Watan Al-Arabi" also reported that the ruling family in Kuwait, after holding several meetings on the possible terrorist attacks, has decided to tone down talk about the Kuwaiti POWs held by Iraq and gradually direct talk toward Iraqi guarantees not to launch any aggression on Kuwait. This decision was taken "in light of information Kuwait received that President Saddam Husseyn swore in front of confidants that Kuwait will pay the price of the siege imposed on Iraq even if it took a thousand years or meant the reoccupation of Kuwait." (David Nissman)

'BABIL' SAYS KUWAIT, SAUDI ARABIA IN LEAGUE WITH U.S., BRITAIN. The Baghdad newspaper "Babil," which is published by Uday Saddam Husseyn, Saddam's eldest son, carried an article on 27 August accusing Kuwait and Saudi Arabia of being "servile and spineless as they do the bidding of the whims of the devils in the United States and United Kingdom. The result is that they are all in the same camp advancing the agenda of World Zionism, which is out to wipe out the identity of the Arabs and twist their arms." (David Nissman)

IRAQI SECURITY FORCES RAID TOWN IN SOUTHERN IRAQ. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) has reported that on 27 August Iraqi security forces attacked a region in the neighborhood of Mashkuriya in the Qal'ah Salih districts of the Al-Amarah Governorate in southern Iraq, according to a report from the "Iranian Student News Agency" of 27 August. SCIRI said that the attack took place under the command of Talib Suhayl, the head of the Misan branch of the Ba'th Party. Some villagers were arrested and taken, along with those injured in the attack, to an undisclosed location. (David Nissman)

IRAQI FOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR ARAB SUMMIT. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Al-Hadithi, after taking part in the extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo, said that the Arab countries should convene a summit in the near future to consider how to react to possible Israeli moves, MENA reported on 24 August. (David Nissman)

SYRIAN PRESIDENT TO VISIT IRAQ? According to London's "Al-Quds Al-Arabi" of 24 August, Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad will visit Iraq in September. The visit will be the first by an Arab head of state since the 1991 Gulf War. Reportedly, Syrian Prime Minister Mustafa Miru made the arrangements for Al-Asad's visit to Iraq at the beginning of this month. But the paper failed to get confirmation of this from Baghdad. Meanwhile, a Gulf newspaper, "Al-Watan" of Doha, on 24 August also reported that "informed Syrian sources have ruled out a visit by Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad to Iraq in September." The sources voiced their opinion to the effect that a visit by Al-Asad to Iraq would need further rapprochement steps and greater cooperation between Syria and Iraq, and also a new "atmosphere of trust." (David Nissman)

JORDANIAN DELEGATION VISITS BAGHDAD. A Jordanian economic and trade delegation under Jordanian Minister of Industry and Trade Wasif Azar has arrived in Baghdad for a visit of several days, according to the Petra-based JNA of 24 August. The delegation also includes several ministers as well as businessmen and industrialists. Other businessmen and industrialist joined the delegation on 26 August. The Jordanians were greeted at the airport by Iraq's Minister of Trade Muhammad Mahdi Salih as well as several other ministers, industrialists, and businessmen. A journalist asked Azar about the Jordanian-Iraqi pipeline, about which nothing has been heard for several months. Azar said that studies were almost through, and a tender will be put out in one or two months. On 26 August, Salih and Azar signed an accord calling for economic and trade cooperation. And they also agreed to cooperate in agricultural development. (David Nissman)

IRAQ, YEMEN TO ESTABLISH REGULAR AIR LINK. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan said on 22 August that regular air service with Yemen will begin "in the next few days," AFP reported on 22 August. Ramadan, who returned from Yemen early last week announced that Iraq and Yemen also had signed an agreement to set up a free-trade zone as part of a wider effort to create an Arab common market. Iraq has signed similar free-trade-zone agreements with Syria, Egypt, and Tunisia and is considering similar agreements with Jordan and Morocco.

Libya and Iraq also intend to start regular flights between Tripoli and Baghdad.. Abel Hamid Zentani, who is in charge of the Libyan Social Solidarity Fund, said that "the arrival in Iraq of a Libyan plane is the prelude to the setting up of a regular link between Baghdad and Tripoli, without waiting for anyone's green light," reported AFP on 23 August. Zentani told Iraqi Television that "we are in a single (Arab) house and when we move around the rooms in this house we generally do not get anyone's authorization." (David Nissman

PAKISTAN TO MEET ALL OF IRAQ'S WHEAT NEEDS. Baghdad will purchase all the wheat it needs to import -- some 3.5 million tons -- from Pakistan, Karachi's "Business Reporter" said on 25 August. This agreement was reached through the efforts of Minister of State and Chairman of the Export Promotion Bureau Tariq Ikram in the course of several visits to Iraq. As a result of these efforts, Pakistani exports to Iraq rose from $2 million to $65 million last year. The increased wheat exports to Iraq could push that figure to $100 million. (David Nissman)

UAE WELCOMES IRAQI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OFFICIAL. The Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SSCI) said on 26 August that it was ready to extend all possible facilities and services to Iraqi investors and traders in order to boost bilateral economic relations, according to the Abu Dhabi-based WAM news agency on 26 August. The SSCI also hailed efforts by the UAE private sector to strengthen economic and trade relations with its Iraqi counterparts. The UAE's non-oil foreign trade with Iraq via Sharjah has grown from 23.4 million dirhams ($6.4 million) in 1998 to 52.7 million dirhams ($14.4 million) in 2000. By year's end, it is expected to be in the neighborhood of 100 million dirhams ($27.2 million).The UAE was the first country to operate a regular sea freight to Iraq in spite of the air embargo imposed on Iraq. (David Nissman)

PUTIN, JORDANIAN KING DISCUSS IRAQ. Jordan's King Abdallah discussed Iraq with Russian President Vladimir Putin of Russia and the two agreed to push for an end to the international isolation of Iraq, "Moscow News" reported on 29 August. Putin said that only "political-diplomatic" efforts would resolve the longstanding international standoff with Iraq over sanctions. Interfax of 28 August also quoted Putin as saying, "the Arab countries can and should play a considerable positive role in resolving the situation with Iraq." He added that "this would promote stabilization in the entire world." (David Nissman)

PHILIPPINE SOLIDARITY DELEGATION ARRIVES IN BAGHDAD. A Philippine plane carrying more than a hundred politicians, media people, clergymen, and businessmen arrived at Saddam International Airport on 27 August, according to Baghdad Radio of 27 August. Faruq Husayn, an advisor to the Philippine president on Islamic affairs and leader of the delegation, told an INA correspondent that this visit expresses "the Philippine people's solidarity with the Iraq people while they confront aggression and siege." He added that during the delegation's stay in Baghdad, an exhibit of Philippine products will be organized within the framework of the Baghdad International Fair from 29 August until 3 September. (David Nissman)

NEW BAGHDAD RULES HINDER TRAVEL TO KURDISTAN. "Al-Hayat" reported on 24 August that Baghdad has set up new rules to limit Kurds and Arabs living in Iraqi-controlled areas from traveling to Iraqi Kurdistan. The new travel regulations ban all Iraqis, particularly Iraqi Arabs, from entering the Kurdish-controlled region via Iraqi checkpoints. Iraqi authorities at the checkpoints have been instructed to interrogate travelers prior to their return to Iraq. The new restrictions have prevented hundreds of Iraqi Arabs from reaching Kurdistan where they were engaged in business activities.

Some Kurds believe that the goal of the latest Iraqi regulations is to prevent Iraqi awareness of the relative peace and prosperity that prevails in Kurdistan, in comparison to Baghdad-controlled Iraq. Residents of Kurdish-controlled regions are subject to harassment and levies of at least 250 dinars. The "Kurdistan Observer" of 24 August notes that Baghdad has used these actions to augment its program of ethnic cleansing of Kirkuk. (David Nissman)

PUK LEADERSHIP COUNCIL MEETS ON CURRENT POLICIES. The "Kurdistan Newsline" of 26 August reported from Sulaymaniyah that Jalal Talabani, general secretary of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), chaired a leadership council party meeting which called for the continuation of the peace process with the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). (David Nissman)

MESOPOTAMIAN ECOLOGICAL DISASTER WIPING OUT ASSYRIAN SETTLEMENTS. The ecological disaster facing the wetlands in southern Iraq (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 17 August 2001) will also have an impact on Assyrian settlements, if the construction of 30 new dams along the Tigris and Euphrates rivers is allowed to proceed. The United Nations Environmental Program has reported the dam construction involves the building of more dams than the capacity of the Tigris and Euphrates and will be brought to the attention of the World Summit for UN Substantial Development in 2002, according to a "Zinda" report on 23 August based on a "Turkish Daily News" article of 14 August. A UNEP counterproposal seeks efficient use of existing water resources and the elimination of any negative effects on the ecosystem. Meanwhile, "Zinda" notes that due to the disappearance of water resources in and around the Habur River in northeastern Syria, much of the Assyrian settlements in that region and the economy of thriving urban centers, such as Qamishli, are slowly vanishing. (David Nissman)

KDP ISSUES STATEMENT ON ARREST OF ASSYRIAN. On 27 August the KDP issued a statement on the arrest of Youkhana Yalda Khaie, a member of the Assyro-Chaldean community in Iraqi Kurdistan. According to the KDP, he was arrested under Article 168 of Iraqi criminal law for aiding and abetting PKK terrorists. Although there have been many protests from Assyrian communities worldwide, the KDP says that his collaboration with the PKK is well established. His trial date is set for 2 September at the Dohuk Criminal Court. The statement adds that interested persons may attend the trial and that "an independent inquiry by Amnesty International and other accredited human rights organizations is welcomed to assess and verify the circumstances under which Mr. Khaie is charged and being tried, and the treatment he has been receiving while in detention." (David Nissman)

CORRECTION: Michael Rubin has pointed out that an article in the 24 August "RFE/RL Iraq Report" on the cabinet reshuffle in the KDP-controlled Kurdistan Regional Government based on information printed in the "Kurdistan Observer" said that Falakidin Kaka'i was minister of education. He was actually minister of culture, so his replacement is taking over that position. Also, Rubin has been told that Abdulaziz Ta'ib remains minister of education. (David Nissman)

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