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Iraq Report: October 1, 1999

1 October 1999, Volume 2, Number 36

UNSC FIVE FAIL TO RESOLVE IRAQ IMPASSE... The statement issued on 23 September by the "permanent five" of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Great Britain, France, Russia, and China -- "underlined the need for the adoption of a new comprehensive resolution based on the disarmament and humanitarian objectives of the Council" but did not announce any binding agreement.

In essence, the five foreign ministers have decided "to continue consultations to resolve remaining differences with the aim of reaching agreement on a resolution to be adopted by the Council as soon as possible."

Journalistic reports reflected both deadlock and progress. Ian Black, in a commentary in the "Guardian" of 24 September, said that "serious differences" remained between Russia and the three Western powers about how the suspension of sanctions should be brought about. But according to a report by Michael Littlejohns of the "Financial Times," there was "significant progress" in discussions about the extent of a sanctions suspension and the mechanisms for arms monitoring. Many of the council members are said to favor the Anglo-Dutch proposal, which links the lifting of sanctions with the mechanisms for arms monitoring.

Somewhat less succinctly, the Baghdad newspaper "Al-'Iraq" said that the Anglo-Dutch proposal in the Security Council stipulates that "Iraq must provide the new committee with unconditional and unrestricted access to any and all places, installations, records and transport means that it might want to inspect in accordance with its mandate." The newspaper adds that this "is not in the interest of the Iraqi people but is in fact aimed at colonizing and enslaving them once again and blatantly interferes in the internal affairs of Iraq." (David Nissman)

...BUTLER EXPLAINS WHY. On 28 September, Ambassador Richard Butler described to the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee the history of international efforts to disarm Iraq.

Noting that the UN Security Council had initially required the complete elimination of all Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and medium-range missiles that could deliver them, Butler suggested that the UNSCOM mission intended to achieve this had run into three major problems that had limited its success: First, Iraq was no forthcoming in providing the necessary information and access. Second, Baghdad effectively divided its weaponry into two classes, those which it would reveal and those it would not discuss. And third, Saddam Hussein embarked on a program designed to make it look as if he had complied without in fact doing so, destroying part of these weapons but far from all of them.

In short, Butler said, Iraq refused to comply with the UN Security Council requirements and UNSCOM was not able to carry out its responsibilities. And that in turn means, he said, that Iraqi disarmament is still far from complete and thus Baghdad has no basis to call for an end to the sanctions regime.

Given that any of the five permanent members of the Security Council can wield a veto against any changes, Butler implied that achieving the complete disarmament of Iraq was almost an impossibility. He was even more explicit in an article in the current issue of "Foreign Affairs." There he argued that "the use of a veto to protect a clear transgressor of an arms control undertaking should be considered inadmissible." (David Nissman)

IRAQ CAMPAIGNS AGAINST SANCTIONS. The Iraqi ambassador to Malaysia, Adnan Malik Al-Ghazali, although satisfied with the existing relationship between Malaysia and his county, told Malaysia's "Business Times" on 28 September that if the sanctions against Iraq are lifted "the doors of opportunity for trade and investment" will be opened for both countries, both of which are members of the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Al-Ghazali maintained that Iraq had implemented all provisions of Security Council Resolution a long time ago." Iraq is lobbying Malaysia because Malaysia became an elected member of the Security Council this year. The Iraqi Ambassador pointed out that "Malaysia, as a member of the Security Council starting this year, has also been playing an active role" in advocating a lifting of the sanctions.

In May 1999 Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Muhamad told Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan that it backed the lifting of sanctions (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 14 May 1999) The Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister also said at that time that the sanctions and military actions against Iraq "had gone overboard." (David Nissman)

IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT VISITS MOROCCO. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan, envoy of President Saddam Husseyn to King Muhammad VI, left on 26 September for Morocco, Baghdad Radio reported on 26 September. In addition to conveying Saddam Husseyn's congratulations on the king's assumption to the throne, Ramadan reiterated "Iraq's desire to maintain and develop good relations with Morocco."

On his arrival in Casablanca, Moroccan Radio carried Ramadan's statement in which he said that "we consider these relations [with Morocco] to be in the front of Arab-Arab relations." Morocco, like other Maghreb countries, has remained uninvolved in most issues affecting Iraq, and is likely to remain so. These countries in April 1999, for example, refused to join the Arab Committee on Iraq (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 16 April 1999). Indeed, the members of the Arab-Maghreb Union had also "expressed surprise" when they were not invited to join the "Al-Ghardaqa 5" when it met at the beginning of the year. Iraq's concern abut the Arab Committee was that it was formed to prolong the sanctions. It probably interprets Morocco's refusal to join as a pro-Iraq stance. (David Nissman)

SESELJ PRAISES SADDAM'S RESISTANCE TO U.S. "SAVAGES." Sami Sadun, the Iraqi ambassador to Yugoslavia, met with chairman of the Serbian Radical Party (SRS) Vojislav Seselj at the SRS headquarters in Belgrade. A statement released by the SRS and reported in Tanjug on 27 September says they exchanged views on the current political situation in the world and the problems that Serbia and Iraq were facing as a result of the "criminal aggression, both military and political, the United States was carrying out against these countries."

Seselj said the Iraqi President Saddam Husseyn "has become the symbol of resistance to the U.S. savages and neo-fascists." Sadun replied that he "respected the resistance offered by the Serbian people to the U.S. fascist domination."

The two announced that a meeting is to take place between representatives of the DRD and the Ba'th Party "with the aim of bringing the parties closer and establishing cooperation among all the patriotic parties and political forces that do not accept U.S. hegemony."

Prior to Sa'dun's arrival as Iraqi ambassador in Belgrade, Seselj had held similar talks with the Iraqi charge d'affaires at the end of July, and issued similar statements. At that time, the meeting between the SRS and the Ba'th Party was supposed to be in September (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 30 July 1999). Unless the meeting takes place immediately, one can assume it has been deferred to a later date. (David Nissman)

BARZAN AL-TIKRIT TO RETURN TO IRAQ. Barzan Al-Tikrit, Saddam Husseyn's half-brother, who was widely rumored to have left Iraq in order to seek political asylum (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 10 September 1999), is returning to Baghdad. AFP, citing a report in the London-based "Al-Hayat," said on 23 September that Barzan Al-Tikrit had left Geneva on 21 September for Iraq after obtaining "reassurances from the Iraqi president." Quoting sources close to Barzan, "Al-Hayat" said that he had met with United Arab Emirates President Sayed bin Sultan Al-Nahayan in Geneva. The rumor of his defection, spread by Iraqi opposition circles, said that the reasons for his alleged action were differences with Saddam Husseyn's eldest son Uday, who married his daughter Saja Takriti. Reportedly, she ran away and returned to her parents' home in Geneva several years ago. (David Nissman)

ECEVIT TO PRESS U.S. ON NORTHERN IRAQ. The Istanbul daily "Cumhuriyet" of 24 September claims that "when Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit meets President Bill Clinton...he will tell him that the future of northern Iraq is more important than Cyprus." His message will be "the territorial integrity of [Iraq] cannot be violated."

Ecevit will make a major effort to try to recoup some of the losses sustained as a result of participating in the economic embargo on Iraq. Reuters reported on 27 September that Ecevit had told reporters that "after Iraq, the embargo on Iraq did the most damage in Turkey. The direct losses are around $30 billion to $35 billion."

There are also Turkey's geopolitical interests. Cumhuriyet points out that "the establishment of independent states in northern or southern Iraq would plunge Iraq into chaos." Turkey has two concerns: one is that the cost of the international economic embargo imposed against Iraq since 1991 to Turkey has been very great. In partial recompense, Ankara would like an exemption from the embargo similar to that granted to Jordan in accordance with Article 50 of the UN Charter.

Turkey's other worry is the Kurdish question in northern Iraq. Many officials in Turkey fear that an independent Kurdish state might arise from the current Kurdish autonomies in northern Iraq. To demonstrate that this is a misperception of reality, the Anatolia news agency on 23 September interviewed Safin Diza'i, the Ankara representative of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which controls the Kurdistan Regional Government in the region. He pointed out that the KPD had invited a group of deputies from the Turkish Grand National Assembly to northern Iraq "to see that allegations to the effect that an independent state has been established in north Iraq do not reflect the reality."

The allegation bruited about the Turkish media show that universities and a police organization have been established in the region. Diza'i said that there are four million people living in north Iraq and that "the establishment of a police organization is inevitable if stability is to be achieved in the region."

Six Turkish deputies departed for north Iraq to see the situation themselves on 23 September. On their return, Diyarbekir Deputy S. Hasim Hasimi told Anatolia on 26 September that Barzani had told him that they do not aim to establish an independent state and that in any case, it is impossible to do so in the area where they are located."

According to unnamed "U.S. officials" cited by the Istanbul newspaper "Milliyet" of 27 September, the importance Clinton attaches to Ecevit's visit is proportional to "the need for Ankara's support for the things he wants to do in foreign policy in the remainder of his term." Basically, Milliyet feels the U.S. will still need Turkey's help in overthrowing Saddam. In order to gain this Turkish support, the U.S. will have to make some concessions to Turkish needs. (David Nissman)

INC NATIONAL ASSEMBLY TO MEET IN NEW YORK. The Iraq National Congress (INC) announced on 27 September that it will hold its National Assembly meeting in New York on 20 October. This will be the first meeting of the National Assembly since October 1992. Following the National Assembly sessions, there will be a broader meeting of the Iraqi opposition, including groups and individuals not now members of the INC. (David Nissman)

COMMANDER OF IMK-I FORCES IN NEW YORK. His eminence Sheikh Ali Abdel Aziz, the director-general of the Islamic Movement in Kurdistan -- Iraq (IMK-I) and commander-in-chief of its armed forces arrived in New York on 23 September to participate in meetings of the Iraqi opposition. In a press release issued by IMK-I's Foreign Office, dated 24 September, he said through the participation of the opposition, "we shall be able to restore the unity of the Iraq people.'

He stressed that "restoring and earning our neighbors trust and confidence, while fulfilling the Iraqi people's needs to achieve their life-long dreams of peace, prosperity and liberty for all nations sharing the state: Arabs, Kurds, Turkmen and other minorities."

He further explained that the "objective of the Islamic movement of Kurdistan" is "the establishment of justice, the granting of legal freedoms and the giving of the one's rights, which each deserves in life." (David Nissman)

ASSYRIANS CLOSED OUT OF U.S.-OPPOSITION MEETINGS. An AINA (Assyrian International News Agency) report of 25 September says that Assyrians have been absent from the meetings arranged between the Iraqi opposition and the U.S. in Washington. According to AINA, the U.S. State Department had earlier balked at allowing any Assyrian representatives into the meetings until all the Assyrian political parties had agreed on a common single representative.

The imposition of the requirement of a single representative of all Assyrian political parties is somewhat baffling, since other ethnic groups from the Iraqi opposition have been allowed more than one representative, such as the Kurds and the Iraqi Turkmen. Since the Assyrian population of Iraq totals more than two million, the Assyrian exclusion cannot be justified on numerical grounds.

On 17 September Abgar Maloul, described by AINA as "the leading figure of the ADO (Assyrian Democratic Organization) in North America," pointed out that the State Department and opposition groups are ostensibly pressing for democracy and pluralism while refusing to allow the participation of Assyrian representatives.

There had been several months of intensive Assyrian activity between the various Assyrian political groups to select a consensus candidate able to speak for the major Assyrian groupings (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 27 August and 10 September 1999). The three main groups -- the ADO, the Assyrian Democratic Movement (ADM) and the Assyrian Universal Alliance (AUA) -- had selected Yacoub Yousif as the consensus Assyrian representative. Mr. Yousif was already a member of the Iraqi National Congress as well as a "leading figure in the most broad-based and representative Assyrian organization in Iraq."

Many Assyrians feel that there has been maneuvering by non-Assyrian groups within the Iraqi opposition to block consensus Assyrian representation. The State Department lock-out is believed to be a ploy to prevent the emergence of revelations linking certain opposition groups to attacks on the Assyrians. Fundamentally, the lockout means that the Assyrians continue to be disenfranchised within their own homeland. (David Nissman)

U.S. TO TRAIN IRAQI OPPOSITIONISTS AT ARMY CAMP? The London-based Arabic newspaper "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" on 24 September reported that Iraqi opposition sources discussed with Martin Indyk, Assistant U.S. Secretary of State for Near East Affairs the issue of training Iraqi oppositionists in the use of arms at an American army camp inside the United States.

This request was a part of a discussion held 22 September devoted to the implementation of the military aspects of the Iraq Liberation Act.

"Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" added that Ahmad Al-Chalabi, a member of the provisional Iraq National Congress presidency, has confirmed the information about the training of the oppositionists in a statement made to Radio Free Iraq. He said that Indyk asked him for a list of the Iraqis whom the opposition wishes to have trained.

In Baghdad, Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said that the "conspiracy" that Washington is backing against his regime "will not succeed." (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD CONTINUES ETHNIC CLEANSING. Baghdad is continuing to implement its policy of deporting non-Arab minorities out of Iraq-controlled regions into the Kurdish self-rule territories. Kurdish Media carries a report from the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) newspaper "Kurdistan Niwe" of 22 September noting the deportation of three families, totaling 16 people, from the Al-Thawra part of Baghdad to regions under the control of the PUK.

Kurdish Media reports on 23 September that the Iraqi regime has formed committees of security men to monitor Kurdish and Turkmen civil servants in Kirkuk "with the intention of identifying them and deporting them. According to an unconfirmed report, this action is to take place in October 1999.

The same report mentions that the regime is engaged in spreading rumors about the agreement reached by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the PUK. According to the sources cited, the Baghdad is "deeply unhappy" about the KDP-PUK agreement and is attempting to destroy the image of the parties. Baghdad is suggesting that the two sides will be unable to come to any sort of agreement and are, thus, useless. (David Nissman)