10 September 2004, Volume 7, Number 33
INSIDE IRAQSHI'ITE SEMINARY CONDEMNS AL-SADR'S MAKESHIFT COURT. The Shi'ite seminary in Al-Najaf has reportedly issued a statement condemning a makeshift court established by radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr during last month's standoff in Al-Najaf, according to the Shi'ite News Network.
A 1 September statement signed by "a number of ulama," said that al-Sadr's office committed several violations by transgressing Shari'a limits, adding that the makeshift court lacked the simplest rules and regulations of Shari'a law. "Now, mutilated bodies and torture machines have been found and crimes discovered in the rooms of this court -- atrocities that are utterly shameful and which this non-Shari'a court committed in the name of Islam, which really has nothing to do with it," the statement read. The Shi'ite seminary called for all those involved in the makeshift court to be brought to justice, and called on the families of the dead, the tortured, and detainees to come forward and speak "of the gruesome crimes that this misguided gang has committed." Al-Sadr loyalists across southern Iraq have been accused of arbitrarily arresting citizens and trying them through al-Sadr's makeshift court system in recent months.
In an interview with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq on 29 August, Iraqi National Security Adviser Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i said: "The Iraqi government has a program of economic development and rebuilding of the holy city, training and assistance for the population and embracing the movement of Muqtada al-Sadr in political life of the country. That means conversion of [al-Sadr's] armed militia into a political movement. This is necessary because in the new Iraq there should not be any armed groups or militias because there is no way to achieve democracy with the help of armed militias." He went on to say: "The biggest political parties in Iraq have subscribed to the law on disbanding and converting armed militias. It means that armed militias are disbanded and accepted in the civil society as well as converted into parts of Iraqi armed forces, police forces, Iraqi National Guard, border guard forces, and other government forces." The interview can be heard in its entirety on the Radio Free Iraq website (http://www.iraqhurr.org/programs/specialreport/2004/08/20040829.asp). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
MILITANTS KIDNAP TWO ITALIAN AID WORKERS IN IRAQ. Gunmen raided the Baghdad offices of the Bridge to Baghdad humanitarian aid organization on 7 September, kidnapping two female Italian nationals and two Iraqis, Reuters reported. Representatives from the Italian aid organization told Al-Jazeera on 7 September that the gunmen arrived in three vehicles and stormed the building. Once inside, they reportedly tied the hands of one of the employees, and forced the others to the ground and asked the names of the employees inside the building. The men left after five minutes, taking the Italian women and an Iraqi male employee, as well as a woman working for another organization located on the premises.
Witnesses told Al-Jazeera that the gunmen were dressed in military fatigues and identified themselves as working for the government of interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi. Some 15 gunmen were said to have participated in the operation, AP reported on 7 September. Militants have kidnapped more than 100 foreigners in Iraq in the past 18 months. The aid organization has been operating in Iraq since 1991. A message posted on the Internet said that a group calling itself Ansar al-Zawahiri kidnapped the women, and claimed the two were Italian intelligence officers, dpa reported on 8 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
MILITANT GROUP DEMANDS $5 MILLION RANSOM FOR FRENCH HOSTAGES. The militant group Islamic Army of Iraq posted a statement to a jihadist website (http://www.Islamic-minbar.com/forum) on 6 September listing its final conditions for the release of two French journalists held captive in Iraq. The group's demands, which appear to be addressed to the French government, include a $5 million ransom payment, a commitment apparently on the part of the French government to not enter into any military or commercial trade with Iraq, as well as acceptance of a truce between the French government and Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The statement said that the group would wait 48 hours for its demands to be met.
The Muslim Scholars Association issued a religious edict or fatwa on 5 September calling on the militant group to release the hostages, Abu Dhabi television reported on the same day. The fatwa came after the group said it would stop kidnapping individuals thought to be working with U.S. forces in Iraq if the Sunni organization ordered it to do so. Salafi leader Sheikh Mahdi al-Sumaydi'i also condemned the journalists' kidnapping on 5 September, Al-Arabiyah reported the same day. A representative of radical Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr also called for the journalists' release, telling Al-Diyar television on 2 September: "Kidnapping civilians, particularly beheading them and such similar acts, is forbidden and is not part of Islam at all.... We call for the release of the two French hostages."
Meanwhile, Al-Arabiyah reported on 5 September that Muslim Scholars Association member Sheikh Ahmad Abd al-Ghafur al-Samarra'i has said that it is impermissible to kill foreign workers in Iraq, many of whom are poor workers that have come to Iraq in order to earn a living. Al-Samarra'i's statements came after the Black Banners Group called on the association to issue a fatwa on the killing of foreign workers. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
HEAD OF IRAQI WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL DISMISSED. Salim Chalabi, the nephew of Iraqi National Congress (INC) head Ahmad Chalabi, was dismissed from his position as head of the Iraqi War Crimes Tribunal prosecuting Saddam Hussein and other former regime members, "Al-Furat" reported on 7 September. Al-Sharqiyah television reported on 5 September that Talib al-Zubaydi, the assistant to the court president, was named as Salim Chalabi's successor.
An arrest warrant was issued for Salim Chalabi in early August for his alleged role in the assassination of a senior Finance Ministry official (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 12 August 2004). INC spokesman Haydar al-Musawi told Al-Diyar television on 7 September that the charges against Salim Chalabi are "groundless" and contended that those who seek to destroy him because of his relation to INC head Ahmad Chalabi are misguided, adding that Salim Chalabi is not a member of the INC. "He is a jurist, and he was selected for this post based on his legal competence," al-Musawi said.
Ahmad Chalabi told Al-Arabiyah television on 1 September that an Iraqi judge has dropped counterfeiting charges against him. He added that the arrest warrant against Salim Chalabi had been changed to a subpoena. Chalabi said that he had met with the judge who had signed the arrest warrants, after which the judge changed his mind. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
CHALABI ACCUSES U.S. OF PLANNING HIS POLITICAL ASSASSINATION. Iraqi National Congress (INC) head Ahmad Chalabi has accused the U.S. administration of plotting to destroy him politically, according to a 4 September report in the INC newspaper "Al-Mu'tamar." Chalabi reportedly told the daily that the U.S. National Security Council prepared a report that was personally approved by U.S. President George W. Bush that called for what the newspaper termed Chalabi's "political assassination" and for the exclusion of the INC from the Iraqi political arena.
Chalabi said that the report, seen by U.S. journalists, would be published either in the U.S. press or in Iraq. The INC head made similar allegations against the U.S. administration in a 2 September interview with Dubai's Al-Arabiyah television.
He said in the Al-Arabiyah interview that he was targeted for assassination by "terrorists" the day before. Asked who specifically had targeted him, Chalabi said that Saddam Hussein loyalists and Arab governments both played a role according to what he called "preliminary evidence." Chalabi's convoy was attacked while traveling from Al-Najaf to Baghdad.
Chalabi told Al-Arabiyah that he sent "INC forces" to the scene of the accident on 2 September to retrieve the bodies of his security men killed in the attack. "When the members of the INC force arrived in the area, they came under fire from both sides of the road and heavy weapons were used in addition to smoke bombs." When asked why he did not seek the help of Iraqi security forces in retrieving the bodies, he answered: "We contacted [them] but they were late in responding.... We considered it our duty to dispatch a force to do what was needed."
Asked about the alleged conspiracy to destroy him politically, he said: "How else can we explain the occupation of our headquarters in Al-Bayt Al-Sini [Baghdad]? Why did the government not occupy the headquarters of others? For instance, the prime minister [Iyad Allawi] lives in the former house of Taha Yasin Ramadan. The head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party [Mas'ud Barzani] lives in a government guest palace. The head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim] lives in the palace of Tariq Aziz or Barzan al-Tikriti, and so on. The ministers and members of the Governing Council live in the palaces of the ministers, which Saddam built in the Al-Qadisiyah Complex [in Baghdad]. Why is the INC being targeted and why should they occupy its offices on various weak pretexts?"
The militant group Islamic Army in Iraq claimed responsibility for the 1 September assassination attempt on Chalabi, Al-Jazeera reported on 3 September. The group reportedly sent a videotaped message to the satellite news channel claiming to have captured one of Chalabi's bodyguards during the attack. The hostage speaks in the videotape, saying that three of his colleagues were killed in the incident. Al-Jazeera reported that the hostage also made statements about Chalabi's relations with Iran and with the U.S. Congress. The Islamic Army in Iraq said that the hostage subsequently died of his injuries. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
SCIRI, AL-DA'WAH IN TALKS FOR POLITICAL ALLIANCE. Baghdad's Al-Sharqiyah television reported on 5 September that Iraq's two largest Islamic groups have entered into discussions about forging an alliance in preparation for the January elections. Leaders from the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), led by Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, reportedly met with representatives of the Islamic Al-Da'wah Party on 5 September to discuss the possibility of merging the two parties into one current, SCIRI spokesman Rida Jawad Taqi said. Taqi added that SCIRI was also courting smaller Shi'ite groups, such as the Al-Fadilah Party, and an al-Sadr splinter group led by Muhammad al-Ya'qubi. A SCIRI-Da'wah alliance would arguably form the largest political grouping in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S., IRAQI OFFICIALS SAY FORMER VICE PRESIDENT NOT CAPTURED. Iraqi officials have retracted claims that National Guard forces captured Izzat Ibrahim al-Duri, the former Iraqi vice president and vice chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, Reuters reported on 6 September. Al-Duri is sixth on the list of the 55 most-wanted fugitives from the Hussein regime, and the highest-ranking remaining fugitive from Saddam Hussein's inner circle.
Unidentified government officials claimed on 5 August that al-Duri was captured in a raid in his hometown of Tikrit as he sought medical treatment for leukemia. The officials said that 70 Hussein loyalists were killed in the raid and 80 arrested, but U.S. military officials and Iraqi Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan al-Khuza'i said they have no knowledge of the raid, washingtonpost.com reported on 6 September, while National Guard commander General Ahmad Khalaf Salman told Reuters, "No units of ours took part in such an operation." The United States is offering a $10 million reward for information leading to the capture or killing of al-Duri, who was a senior official in northern Iraq when the Hussein government attacked and killed some 5,000 Kurds using chemical weapons in the town of Halabja in 1988.
London's "Al-Hayat" reported on 2 September that "thousands" of high-ranking Iraqi officials from the deposed Hussein regime moved to Syria after the regime's collapse and have reorganized the Ba'ath Party. Citing unnamed sources, the report said that the party elected al-Duri "secretary-general and supreme commander of the resistance." It added that al-Duri was moving around the Syrian-Iraqi border area with the help of Arab tribes, adding that he was receiving constant medical care from regime loyalists. Meanwhile, Baghdad's "Al-Shira" cited Arab sources on 4 September as saying that al-Duri died six months ago. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
BAGHDAD GOVERNOR ESCAPES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT. Baghdad Governor Ali al-Haydari escaped an assassination attempt in the capital on 7 September, international media reported. Al-Haydari told Al-Arabiyah television that a roadside bomb detonated as his car approached it. He said he is sure that the bomb targeted his vehicle, since it detonated just 1 meter away. Al-Jazeera and Reuters reported that gunmen opened fire on the convoy before the roadside bomb exploded. Reuters also reported that one bystander was killed in the attack; al-Haydari said two civilians were killed. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
VIOLENT CLASHES ERUPT BETWEEN MILITIAMEN AND U.S. FORCES IN BAGHDAD. Militiamen loyal to radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr battled U.S. forces in the Al-Sadr City neighborhood of Baghdad on 6 and 7 September, Al-Jazeera television reported on 7 September. The satellite news channel cited Iraqi government officials as saying that 15 people were killed and 70 wounded in the fighting. One U.S. soldier was also killed, Reuters reported on 7 September. Meanwhile, a car bomb targeted a convoy transporting U.S. Marines near Al-Fallujah on 6 September, killing seven Marines and three Iraqis, nytimes.com reported on 7 September. The website described the attack as the deadliest attack on U.S. forces in four months. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
INTERIM GOVERNMENT EXTENDS BAN ON AL-JAZEERA. The Iraqi interim government extended indefinitely a one-month ban on Doha-based Al-Jazeera television just two days before the ban was to expire, the satellite news channel reported on 4 September.
The ministerial committee for national security in Iraq reportedly decided to extend the closure after Al-Jazeera failed to present a written explanation for what the government termed as seeking opinions against the Iraqi people and interim government. The committee issued a statement that also said that Al-Jazeera exceeded the proper boundaries in its broadcasts from inside Iraq by holding exclusive interviews in violation of the one-month ban. Al-Jazeera's coverage of events inside Iraq over the past month has not appeared to have been affected by the ban.
Al-Jazeera lawyer Haydar al-Mulla said in a 4 September telephone interview from Baghdad that 10 officers from the Interior Ministry and over 30 policemen stormed the news channel's Baghdad offices that day to inspect the premises and seal the offices to prevent employees from entering. Al-Mulla said that Al-Jazeera acted on the advice of Prime Minister Allawi's office and met with Ibrahim al-Janabi, head of the National Media and Communications Commission, to discuss the closure on 2 September. He described that meeting as "positive" and expressed surprise at the subsequent closure. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQI FORCES DETAIN 500 SUSPECTS IN AL-LATIFIYAH RAID. Iraqi National Guard forces and police carried out a joint raid on a suspected insurgent hideout in Al-Latifiyah, 25 kilometers south of Baghdad, on 5 September that resulted in the arrest of 500 suspected insurgents, Al-Sharqiyah television reported the same day. Twelve policemen were killed and 16 policemen and National Guard officers were wounded in the operation, which resulted in the confiscation of what Al-Sharqiyah described as "huge quantities" of explosives, including 1,500 liters of TNT, mortar shells, and antitank weapons. The Sunni Muslim Scholars Association denounced the operation, and accused Iraqi forces of carrying out "arbitrary arrests," Radio Dijlah reported on 6 September. The organization called for an investigation into the operation. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
REGIONAL NEWSMILITANT GROUP THREATENS JORDAN AND TURKEY. The militant group Al-Husayn Islamic Brigades posted a statement on the Minbar Ahl Al-Sunnah wa Al-Jama'at website (http://www.Islamic-minbar.com) on 7 September threatening Jordan and Turkey with attacks unless the two countries close their Baghdad embassies and withdraw from Iraq.
The statement cited Jordanian and Turkish relations with the U.S.-led multinational forces, specifically for supplying multinational forces with aid, equipment, and ammunition, presumably through the delivery of such materials across their borders. "In the event of no response, we shall take our own approach and respond to and repel, in a painful manner, these agent governments that sold out [their] religion and conscience to please and support the crusaders against the mujahedin," the statement says. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
PUK HEAD OFFERS PROTECTION FOR TURKISH TRUCK DRIVERS. Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) head Jalal Talabani on 7 September offered protection to Turkish truck drivers working in Iraq, Anatolia news agency reported. Talabani spoke with reporters in Ankara while en route to Europe. He said that Kurdish peshmerga forces could escort Turkish drivers to Baghdad if those drivers change their routes and travel through Al-Sulaymaniyah and Kirkuk rather than through Mosul.
Meanwhile, Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) official Nechirvan Barzani, who leads the Kurdistan Regional Government, arrived in Ankara on 7 September for talks with Turkish officials. Regarding the spate of attacks and kidnappings of Turkish truck drivers, Barzani told reporters, "These incidents do not take place in the [KDP] region we control; they happen mostly in the south." Barzani did not say whether he would offer protection to Turkish drivers on behalf of the KDP. The KDP controls the western region of Iraqi Kurdistan while the PUK controls the eastern side. The wife of a Turkish truck driver held captive for the past several weeks said on 7 September that the kidnappers have demanded a $45,000 ransom for the driver's release, TRT-2 television reported.
Istanbul's "Milliyet" reported on 4 September that the Turkish government has determined that truckers are victimized for four reasons: first, those delivering supplies to multinational forces are targeted by militants for doing so; second, some truckers are targeted by opportunists that attack truckers for their cargo, money, or to extort money for the truckers' safe return; third, they are the victims of either Turkish or foreign groups who lost out on contract bids and are seeking revenge; and fourth, some truck drivers "fake" their own kidnappings in order to extort money from their employers.
The government also reportedly determined that many drivers are taken hostage after failing to adhere to advisories concerning travel routes. The report contended that Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul recently cited an apparently common scenario where drivers diverted their routes and entered Tikrit because "they sell tasty kebabs there." Other reported reasons for route diversions were to see religious sites and to seek new job opportunities. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
KUWAITI GOVERNMENT DONATES $60 MILLION TO REBUILD AL-NAJAF. The Kuwaiti government has reportedly donated $60 million to help rebuild the Iraqi holy city of Al-Najaf. Homes and businesses in the city sustained millions of dollars in damage following intense fighting between militiamen and U.S.-backed Iraqi forces in August. Iraqi State Minister Qasim Dawud told Baghdad's Radio Dijlah on 1 September that the Iraqi government has allocated $50 million to reconstruction efforts in the city, as part of an agreement between the government and Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, who negotiated an end to the standoff. Dawud said that a large portion of the funds will go to infrastructure projects including water, sewage, and electricity. Some $5 million will be used to better equip Al-Najaf's two main hospitals. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
AL-YAWIR SAYS JOINING GCC NOT ON IRAQ'S AGENDA. Iraqi President Ghazi Ajil al-Yawir told KUNA in an interview published on 4 September that Iraq is not currently in a position to consider joining the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). "The GCC [comprises] many elements, including social, political, and economic factors, as well as the geographical aspect. This makes it premature to request becoming a member," he said.
Al-Yawir pointed out that the GCC states "have economic integration and we are seeking to normalize our economy." He said that once the political and economic situation in Iraq stabilizes, "Iraq will be like any other country and will achieve economic integration with its neighbors based on what these countries can do for us and what we can do for them regardless of historic and emotional elements." The GCC members are Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates (http://www.gcc-sg.org). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
AL-SADR'S IRANIAN CONNECTION COMES UNDER QUESTION. Two recent reports suggest that some of the Iranian support for Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr may be drying up. Ansar Al-Sunnah leader Abu Abdallah al-Hassan bin Mahmud criticized Iran in an interview published in the 21-27 August issue of the Beirut political weekly newspaper "Al-Muharrir" (for a description of the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army, see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 4 June 2004). He said bombings that target Iraqi citizens are carried out by organizations representing Iran, because the Persians bear a grudge dating from the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War. Abu al-Hassan accused the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Al-Da'wah al-Islamiyah, and the Islamic Action Organization of being Iranian products. Abu al-Hassan claimed that Iranian intelligence operatives killed SCIRI leader Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim because he turned against his Iranian patrons by promoting a democratic federal Iraq rather than a Shi'a theocracy.
The Iranians, furthermore, want the "fatwa headquarters" transferred from Al-Najaf to Qom, Abu al-Hassan said. Iran's objective in Iraq is to spread Shi'a Islam, create an Islamic government, have the Shi'a rule the country, buy land, and "obliterate the Iraqi identity." He added that Iran wants to control the shrines, introduce prostitution networks, sell drugs, and create sectarian strife.
Abu al-Hassan added in his interview in "Al-Muharrir" that his organization works with Muqtada al-Sadr's Imam Al-Mahdi Army. This cooperation is based on a note from al-Sadr's father, Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr, that said if he is martyred his sons should "follow the fatwas of Al-Sayyid [Kazim] al-Ha'iri and Sheikh Dr. Ahmad al-Kubaysi. You must unite with the Sunnis." Subsequently, the Ansar Al-Sunnah and the Imam Al-Mahdi Army exchanged personnel. "Therefore, the relationship can be described as intimate," Abu al-Hassan said.
Al-Ha'iri is an Iraqi cleric based in Qom, and he issued a fatwa in April 2003 that al-Sadr is his deputy in Iraq (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 28 April 2003). Since then, the 68-year-old al-Ha'iri has renounced his relationship with al-Sadr. "Mr. al-Sadr used to be our representative...but that was on condition of obedience to and coordination with our office in Al-Najaf," al-Ha'iri said in comments posted on his website, AP reported on 5 September. Al-Sadr "does not coordinate with our office, so his agency became void," according to the website, which added that al-Sadr "does not seek our advice in his stances, so we cannot endorse what he does." According to a 5 September report in "The New York Times," al-Ha'iri withdrew his support for al-Sadr after Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani informed senior clerics in Qom that the Imam Al-Mahdi Army caused some of the battle damage at the Imam Ali shrine in Al-Najaf. (Bill Samii)
THE UN AND IRAQFOREIGN MINISTER CALLS FOR UN'S RETURN TO IRAQ. Foreign Minister Hoshyar al-Zebari on 7 September called on the United Nations to return its foreign staff to Iraq, saying the UN's return is long overdue, the UN News Center reported (http://www.un.org/news). Al-Zebari told UN deputy special representative Ross Mountain in Baghdad that the UN is needed to help energize the reconstruction and political process. He also asked the UN to support an international conference on reconstruction.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a 7 September report to the Security Council that the ongoing violence in Iraq could delay the January elections, AP reported on 8 September. He noted that the recent surge in fighting, assassinations, and abductions across Iraq is hampering the political and economic initiatives of the interim government and is preventing an expansion of UN activities. Annan said that building an electoral administration remains a major challenge, in addition to the immense logistical challenge of voter registration and polling.
Meanwhile, few countries have stepped forward to contribute security and financial assistance to the UN to facilitate the world body's return to Iraq. Germany however, announced on 31 August that it would give 5 million euros ($6.1 million) to the UN towards electoral preparations. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EUROPE, THE U.S., AND IRAQRUSSIA REITERATES CALL FOR INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON IRAQ. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov reiterated his government's call for an international conference on Iraq on 5 September, RIA-Novosti reported. Lavrov said, "The idea to call an international conference on Iraq gives us one of the few chances to improve the situation," the news agency reported.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Yakovenko told Interfax news agency in an interview published on 5 September, "We are convinced that such a forum, whose participants would include influential Iraqi politicians, permanent members of the UN Security Council, principal donors, and leading regional states, would exercise a positive effect on the dynamics of the development of the situation in Iraq." He added that it is the Russian government's position that the only way to change the situation in Iraq is to organize an internal Iraqi dialogue aimed at national reconciliation. (Kathleen Ridolfo).
ARMENIAN TROOPS JOIN POLISH CONTINGENT IN IRAQ. Armenia has committed to sending 50 troops to Iraq to serve under the Polish contingent there, PAP reported on 6 September. Polish President Aleksander Kwasniewski expressed his appreciation for the troop commitment after a meeting the same day with Armenian President Robert Kocharian in Warsaw. "We appreciate this fact; we know that these are very difficult, yet inevitable decisions to make at a time when joint effort and solidarity are needed to combat terrorism," Kwasniewski said. The troop commitment comes as part of a security cooperation agreement signed by the two presidents on 6 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
JAPAN OFFERS $5.55 MILLION IN GRANTS TO AL-MUTHANNA PROVINCE. The Japanese Foreign Ministry said on 7 September that it would offer $5.55 million in grants for reconstruction efforts in Al-Muthanna Province in central Iraq. Japanese Self-Defense Forces are stationed in Al-Samawah, the province's main city.
Kyodo World Service reported on 7 September that nearly all of the aid, about $5.22 million, will go to finance the repair of roads and for the purchase of equipment to be used in the reconstruction of roads and bridges. The remainder of the money will be allocated for the purchase of water tanks for Al-Samawah. The allocations were determined following discussions with local residents and ministry officials, Foreign Minister Yoriko Kawaguchi said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)