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Iraq Report: May 7, 1999


7 May 1999, Volume 2, Number 18

MORE EVIDENCE OF SADDAM'S AID TO MILOSEVIC. Iraqi President Saddam Husseyn gave President Slobodan Milosevic of Yugoslavia the Fire Ray (Al-Tawhan) mid-range air-to-air missile system which had been partially developed by Brazilian experts to equip Iraqi jet fighters, according to the Brazilian newspaper "O Estado de Sao Paulo" on 30 April. This technology transfer took place in accordance with a secret technological agreement between Husseyn and Milosevic signed in 1997.

According to the newspaper, missile construction plans were transferred in March 1997 to the Vazduhoplovna Industrija 'Soko.' There was a 12-month timetable before the first test shots were fired, and a year and a half later the first series was to have been produced. Some 120 units were scheduled for delivery between December 1998 and March 2000. Due to various shortages, however, none of the prototypes was finished.

The Fire Ray effects an electronic interception within a radius of 40 kilometers. It is inspired by the American AIM-7 Sparrow.

In Iraq, flight tests were scheduled for December 1991 but never took place.

Brazilian participation in this project reportedly began in 1987 when a Brazilian War Ministry delegation visited Baghdad. At that time, Iraq did not want to buy a finished product and preferred to rely on the results of binational cooperation.

"O Estado de Sao Paulo" says that the Gulf War interrupted all of these projects. And a former member of the Brazilian delegation in Baghdad says that "the technological patrimony was preserved and now it is also in the hands of the Yugoslavs." (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD DEFIANT IN FACE OF CONTINUED BOMBING. Iraqi Vice President Yasin Ramadan said on Iraqi Satellite Channel Television on 4 May that the ongoing bombing campaign against his country will not cause Baghdad to change its policies. "Any aggressors who feel that they possess all the resources they need to easily defeat the party they want to defeat but practically fail to do so...will inevitably be filled with rancor and hatred," Ramadan said. "Therefore, they carry out actions which do not take into consideration any minimal level of values, morals, and considerations respected by any citizen in the world."

While Ramadan may be overestimating the emotions felt by those conducting the war against them, the feelings he expressed are spreading in the Arab and Islamic world. Indeed, it has even begun to surface in the Gulf states, most of which had been staunchly anti-Iraqi in the past. One Gulf newspaper recently suggested that "the Americans don't care about protecting human rights and minorities, they want to protect their supremacy in the world," according to a 3 May dpa report.

At the same time, however, most of the elites in the Gulf states clearly support NATO's efforts in Kosova. As the same Gulf newspaper put it, these elites hope to be able to "make clear to their own populations � whose unhappiness with allied air raids on Iraq is steadily mounting � that the West, especially Washington, will also come to the aid of Muslims when they are attacked by Christians." (David Nissman)

INC CRITICIZES UN. A special delegation from the Iraq National Committee visited the UN April 19-21 to submit a memorandum to both the members of the UN Security Council and the UN Office of the Iraq Program.

The memorandum suggests that there are "structural weaknesses" in the UN program which "prevent Iraqis from reaping its full benefits." One weakness, the report says, lies in the allocation of funding to various components of the Iraq program. At present, the humanitarian program is based on expenditures of $31 billion per 180-day period. Yet only $1.8 billion is available to finance the program. The INC proposes suspension of the arrangements which deduct thirty percent from Iraq's revenue for the Compensation Fund and the allocation of these fund to the humanitarian program.

According to the memorandum, the UN program also suffers from weakness in its procurement and distribution efforts and the international body's inability to override Baghdad's approach. The memorandum notes that "the Iraqi government has failed to sign contracts for pharmaceuticals and, according to the report of the UNSG, ordered a mere 1 percent of the quantity permitted." And it continues: "Of the medicines and medical supplies actually imported since the start of the program, over 50 percent worth $275 million lies undistributed in warehouses."

The INC memorandum suggests that procurement and distribution of humanitarian supplies in the center and south of Iraq should be controlled directly by the Office of the Iraq Program and UN agencies, as is the case in the north.

The UN's Monitoring program is another of the entire program's "structural weaknesses," the INC paper says. There are only 150 monitors overseeing the equitable distribution of the humanitarian needs of 22 million people. In addition, the memorandum notes, these officials are dependent on the cooperation of escorts from the Iraqi government.

The INC claims it has received many reports that the distribution excludes many categories of people "including vulnerable women and children." The INC proposes that the number of monitors be increased and allowed freedom of movement and access without the control of the Iraqi government.

An addendum to the memorandum addressed the question of the treatment of the Kurds. Noting that Kurds are suffering even more than other residents of Iraq, the addendum documents that between 1975 and 1990 the Iraqi government destroyed over 3,500 villages and towns and deported 182,000 people to the south of the country.

Immediately after the Gulf War, the addendum says, the Kurds received some help: the setting up of a "safe haven" and the later imposition of a "no-fly zone" provided some measure of security to many of the Kurds. But as the memorandum points out, many Kurds live outside these areas and have little or no defense against Baghdad's oppression.

To deal with these problems, the INC calls on the UN to lift the economic sanctions in Iraqi Kurdistan, extend the line of the no-fly zone to include the rest of Kurdistan, shift responsibility for the delivery of food and medicine from the Iraqi government and transfer this responsibility to the UN, procure foodstuffs locally in order to counter "agricultural disincentive and reduce the high unemployment rate," to provide assistance to those exposed to chemical warfare, and to allocate sufficient funds to implement an aggressive mine-clearing operation in Iraqi Kurdistan.

In an indication that this memorandum may already have had some effect, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan on 3 May urged the Security Council and the Iraqi government to take new measures to address the grave humanitarian situation in Iraq. Annan stressed that "it is essential to depoliticize the humanitarian committee," and he called on Baghdad to address the distribution problems which have prevented assistance from getting to its intended recipients. (David Nissman)

NO SURPRISES AT BAGHDAD CONFERENCE. A conference held in Baghdad 1-3 May on the theme "The Aggression and Embargo on Iraq is an Arab and an International Issue," was entirely predictable in both form and content.

Iraqi Deputy Premier Tariq Aziz delivered the opening speech on behalf of Saddam Husseyn. He criticized U.S. aggression against Iraq as well as the continuation of the "unjust blockade" for which the UN Security Council was also to blame, Republic of Iraq Radio reported on 1 May. He also suggested that "the independence, sovereignty, and basic interests of all Arab nations are threatened." And he called for the "formation of an international front or any practical grouping that comprises the countries which reject U.S. hegemony."

At all public sessions, foreign delegations from such groups as the Cuban Communist Party, the Tunisian Committee for Revoking the Iraq Sanctions, and the Voices in the Wilderness organization repeated what Aziz had said.

More serious conversations may have taken place in private, however. Extreme Russian nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky met with President Saddam Husseyn to discuss issues of mutual interest, Republic of Iraq Radio reported on 1 May.

Meanwhile, a meeting between Mikhail Gutseriyev, the Russian Duma's vice speaker in charge of Mideastern Affairs, and Saddam Husseyn, focused on the need to boost "comprehensive contacts between Russia and Iraq in the economic, cultural and other affairs," ITAR-TASS reported on 2 May.

The resolution of the conference does sound one somewhat unusual note: It mentions the problem of dealing with depleted uranium in weaponry used by the U.S. during the Gulf War. This mention may have been prompted by a 30 April article in "The Christian Science Monitor" on this issue.

After the conference, Iraq's National Assembly affirmed that "the establishment of a new grouping that would restore balance to the international situation has become an urgent need." It declared that "this grouping should be based on the principles of civilized dialogue and respect for cultural and religious pluralism; the removal of weapons of mass destruction; the achievement of justice; and true respect for international law, the UN charter, and human rights," INA reported on 4 May. (David Nissman)

QUSAYY TO BE NAMED SECOND IN COMMAND. Qusayy Husseyn is to be named vice chairman of the State Council in the second part of this year, according to Iraqi diplomatic sources in Amman, "Al Sharq Al-Aswat" reported on 2 May. He will assume his new position following the convening of the Ba'th Party conference in July of this year. He is expected to be given a leading position in the party, which will open the way to naming him vice chairman of the State Council. His father, Saddam, is chairman of the state.

At present, Qusayy is in charge of the "special security organ," meaning he supervises all security organs, civil and military intelligence, the special units in the Republican Guard, and the Iraqi Army.

In related moves, Saddam Husseyn has turned over all security files pertaining to Iraq's security and political relations with Syria and Iran as well as Iraqi attempts to infiltrate the EC and initiate a dialogue with the United States to Qusayy and intelligence chief Rafi' Dahham. These files had formerly been in the hands of Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz and Foreign Minister Muhammad Sa'id Al-Sahhaf, "Al-Zaman" reported on 30 April.

Qusayy has already met with Syrian President Hafez Asad to discuss issues relating to the two branches of the Ba'th Party in the two countries and on facilitating the use of Syrian territory for political, security, and economic purposes. Also under discussion was deporting Iraqi opposition factions that are still in Syria.

Dahham held talks with Iranian intelligence officials, the Revolutionary Guard, and military intelligence. Among the issues discussed were preventing elements opposed to the two governments from crossing the common border, exchanging information about military and security developments in the Gulf region, and organizing the illegal sale of Iraqi oil via Bandar Abbas. (David Nissman)

IRAQ APPOINTS NEW AMBASSADOR TO AZERBAIJAN. Iraq has appointed Ghalib 'Abd Al-Husayn to serve as its ambassador in Baku. A graduate of the literature faculty of Baghdad University, the new envoy received a doctorate from Minsk State University. He also graduated from the Baghdad Institute of Diplomacy, "525 Gazet" reported on 1 May. (David Nissman)

IRAQ NEWS AGENCY NOW ON LINE. The official news agency of Iraq, the Iraq News Agency, is now online, AFP reported on 30 April. INA Director Uday Tayi told reporters that its releases are available in both Arabic and English at www.nisciraq.net/iraqnews.

The new INA site was supposed to be up and running on 28 April in honor of Saddam Husseyn's birthday, but the CIH Chernobyl virus paralyzed dozens of computers across Iraq and delayed start-up for several days. (David Nissman)

IRAN, SAUDI ARABIA DISCUSS IRAQ. Iranian Majlis speaker Ali Akbar Nateq-Nuri met with Saudi Arabian Second Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Prince Sultan Bin 'Abd al-Aziz in Tehran to discuss Kosova, Afghanistan, and "the problems of the downtrodden Iraqi people," the Voice of the Islamic Republic of Iran reported on 4 May.

Nateq-Nuri reiterated Iran's view on the importance of Baghdad's implementation of UN and UN Security Council resolutions and said: "We want an independent Iraq whose territorial integrity is maintained. We believe that the Iraqi people themselves should make decisions on Iraq's internal affairs." (David Nissman)

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