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Iraq Report: October 15, 2004

15 October 2004, Volume 7, Number 38
TERRORISTS PENETRATE BAGHDAD'S GREEN ZONE. Terrorists penetrated the U.S.-fortified Green Zone in Iraq that houses the U.S. and U.K. embassies as well as several interim government offices on 14 October, detonating two bombs, Reuters reported. Eight people were killed in the blasts, and an unknown number wounded.

According to CNN, the first bomb went off at an outdoor marketplace frequented by foreigners working within the U.S.-controlled area. The second bomb was reportedly detonated at a cafe, CNN reported. AP cited U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel James Hutton as saying that "hand-carried explosives" were used in the explosions. Asked about casualties, Hutton said: "It doesn't appear any military was involved." He did not identify the nationalities of the dead and wounded. According to AP, about 10,000 Iraqis live within the Green Zone. Last week, officials warned that an improvised explosive device was found and defused within the zone. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI PRIME MINISTER DEMANDS AL-ZARQAWI BE HANDED OVER. Interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi issued a demand on 13 October that residents of Al-Fallujah hand over fugitive Jordanian terrorist Abu Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and his fighters or face a massive incursion into the city by U.S. and Iraqi forces, Al-Sharqiyah reported. Allawi told the interim National Assembly that he has encouraged a negotiating team from Al-Fallujah to exercise further pressure on gunmen in the city to turn themselves in, adding that it is ultimately the government's duty to restore calm to the restive city. "In fact, we are going to conduct military operations in Al-Fallujah if they do not hand over Al-Zarqawi and his followers in Al-Fallujah," Allawi said. "We will not show leniency with regard to protecting the Iraqi people. Hence, it should be clear to all of us that there are forces who really intend to harm Iraq."

A member of the Al-Fallujah negotiating team, Hatim Karim Mudib, told Al-Jazeera in a 13 October interview that al-Zarqawi is not in Al-Fallujah, adding that he doubts that al-Zarqawi even exists. "Al-Zarqawi has become an example like that of the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction for which the United States has come to Iraq. We hear about this name, which actually does not exist," Mudib said. He contended that the issue of al-Zarqawi was never addressed in negotiations with the interim government, saying: "We have discussed very delicate issues and [the government] said that they need to hold consultations among themselves in order to respond to Al-Fallujah citizens' demands." Mudib added that the government broke off negotiations with city representatives, and not vice versa. He also scolded the interim government for threatening the city on the eve of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

CORRUPTION RUNNING RAMPANT IN NEW STATE INSTITUTIONS. Corruption is reportedly running rampant in the new Iraqi government, according to Judge Radi al-Radi, who heads the Commission on Public Integrity established by the Coalition Provisional Authority to monitor corruption. Al-Diyar television cited al-Radi on 13 October as saying that 14 administrative corruption cases have been investigated at Iraqi ministries. The cases were reportedly referred to the Iraqi courts. Al-Radi also said that hundreds of instances of administrative corruption and bribery have been uncovered. Those issues will be addressed by the committee in the coming days, he said.

The Al-Diyar report is just one of many to surface in the Iraqi press in recent weeks. "Al-Zaman" reported on 7 October that Environment Ministry Undersecretary Ali Hanush resigned from his post a week earlier after his complaints of corruption and cronyism were not addressed. "I was extremely disappointed at the way affairs were being conducted in the ministry," Hanush told "Al-Zaman" in a letter. He said that government offices were subject to what he called "administrative violence" adding that many civil servants were promoted, demoted, removed, and transferred without justification. Loyalty to political factions tied to the government outweighed a person's qualifications, he said. "Al-Zaman" reported that corruption is affecting several levels of the civil service structure in Iraq, with officials openly seeking bribes to perform routine functions.

Baghdad's "Al-Shira" cited State Minister Wa'il Abd al-Latif in a 4 October report as saying that corruption is affecting border security as well. Abd al-Latif said that the problem stems from having border guards indigenous to the areas manning border stations. "When the police from Al-Basrah are deployed to protect the borders there, they sympathize with citizens of Al-Basrah, and the same is true when the police from Al-Anbar Governorate are deployed" at borders within the governorate.

The terrorists are entering into the country from Syria without search or verification of passports by paying bribes, he contended. Thus, they are also able to smuggle in paraphernalia that could assist them in their objectives, he added.

Many Iraqis seeking passports to travel abroad have complained in recent months that Iraqi passport agents were seeking between $100 and $200 to speed up the processing of passports. The official cost for a new passport is $1. AP reported on 10 August that Iraqi citizens have complained of having to pay bribes at other places as well: banks, the electric company, telecommunications offices, the tax service, and at real estate offices.

The Commission on Public Integrity was established in March and was to have 21 inspectors general working within government ministries and offices to monitor corruption. The website offers a 16-page overview of the legacy of corruption in Iraq, dating from the time of the Ottoman Empire to the Hussein regime. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

AL-ZARQAWI GROUP CLAIMS IT BEHEADED TWO IRAQI INTELLIGENCE OFFICERS. The Jama'at Al-Tawhid wa Al-Jihad terrorist group affiliated with al-Zarqawi posted a videotape on the Internet on 13 October depicting the beheading of two purported Iraqi intelligence officers captured in Iraq.

The men, who identified themselves as Fadil Ibrahim Shammal and Faras Amil, both spoke of their work for Iraqi intelligence. They said they were involved in missions to penetrate Al-Jazeera television offices, with Amil saying he planted eavesdropping devices in Al-Jazeera's offices, which he claimed was a mission coordinated by the CIA. After both confessions, the men are decapitated on video. A member of Jama'at Al-Tawhid wa Al-Jihad read the same statement at each beheading that said it was shameful for the hostages to think that they belonged to the Islamic nation when they did not. "We must stay on our course to eliminate these obstacles to restore our religion's glory," the statement said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

UNEARTHING OF MASS GRAVE BEGINS. Investigators began unearthing a mass grave near the northern Iraqi city of Mosul on 13 October, international media reported. The grave contains as many as 300 bodies, AP cited Greg Kehoe of the Iraqi Special Tribunal as saying.

Kehoe said that his team had removed 120 bodies thus far from the grave. The bodies are believed to be Kurds killed during the 1987-88 Anfal campaign carried out by the Hussein regime, KurdSat reported on 13 October. The satellite news channel cited Kehoe as saying that the investigating team made that determination based on the clothing and belongings found in the grave. The victims were buried in nine trenches.

KurdSat also cited archeologist Michael Soti as saying that the grave may contain as many as 2,000 to 3,000 bodies. Kehoe told AP that it appeared that the victims had been bulldozed into the graves. "Unlike bodies that you've seen in many mass graves -- they look like cordwood -- all lined up," he said. "That didn't happen here. These bodies were just pushed in." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

AL-QAEDA OPERATIVE ARRESTED IN IRAQ. Police in Al-Najaf have reportedly arrested an Al-Qaeda operative in the Shi'ite holy city of Al-Najaf, Radio Free Iraq (RFI) reported on 12 October. Al-Najaf police Major General Ghanim al-Jaza'iri told RFI that the man was found in possession of a map detailing the border area between Iraq and Saudi Arabia, as well as modern German-manufactured communications equipment. The individual, who is not Iraqi, was also carrying forged Iraqi identification documents. He allegedly identified himself to police as an Arab national and has reportedly confessed to having direct connections to Al-Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, RFI reported. Al-Sharqiyah television quoted Jaza'iri as saying: "I cannot disclose the identity and nationality of this person because that could lead to a diplomatic crisis with his country." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

U.S. FORCES ARREST SUNNI CLERIC. U.S. forces arrested a Sunni cleric during a raid on his mosque in Al-Ramadi, Al-Jazeera reported on 12 October. The cleric, Abd al-Alim al-Sa'di, is the imam of the Abd al-Salam Mosque and head of the Al-Anbar Islamic Scholars League. His son Usama was also arrested in the raid. Reuters reported that six other people were detained in raids at other mosques in the area. Fighting broke out between U.S. forces and militants across the Al-Anbar governorate on 11 October, which includes the volatile towns of Al-Ramadi and Al-Fallujah. Reuters cited hospitals as reporting that three civilians and a police officer were killed in the clashes.

Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, spokesman for the Muslim Scholars Association told London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" in a 12 October interview published the following day that the raids on mosques equated to an American religious crusade against Muslims. "There is frankly speaking a crusade targeting Islam and the Muslims. The occupation forces violated the sanctity of nine mosques in Al-Ramadi city," the spokesman claimed. "This is a religious war, as [U.S. President George W.] Bush had said. This is not an operation of hunting down resistance. Resistance does not sit in mosques," he contended.

Al-Faydi also claimed that U.S. forces entered the mosques during the raids, while U.S. military spokesmen have said that the United States provided support for Iraqis, but did not enter the mosques during the raids. U.S. Commander Leo Gilbert, a spokesman for the Marine Corps press office in Al-Anbar, told Al-Jazeera television on 12 October: "The multinational force does not go into mosques. We are the support of the Iraqi security forces, who go into the mosques for the sole purpose of searching the mosques for insurgents and any Iraqi forces who are choosing to use those mosques as a base of operation to hurt individuals."

Asked if he can prove that militants have used mosques as a base, Gilbert said: "I am absolutely certain that the multinational force and the Iraqi security forces on more than one occasion had observed anti-Iraqi forces and insurgents in three areas where they were conducting illicit and wrong activities then go into the mosques and use these mosques as a refuge." (Kathleen Ridolfo)

MILITIAMEN BEGIN HANDING IN WEAPONS. Militiamen loyal to Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr began handing in medium and heavy weapons on 11 October as part of a negotiated settlement to the standoff between U.S.-backed Iraqi forces and al-Sadr militiamen in the Al-Sadr City neighborhood named after the cleric's father, international media reported. Militiamen were given five days to hand in their weapons in exchange for cash.

Reuters reported that AK-47 assault rifles, rocket-propelled-grenade launchers, or mortar rounds can bring $50 each. One fighter reportedly walked off with $14,500 after turning in a stash of grenade launchers and mortars. However, militiamen were reportedly slow to hand over their weapons on 11 October. News agencies reported a higher turnout on 12 October. "It's going to be busier today. I don't care where the weapons are coming from. It's less bullets on the street to kill my men," Al-Sadr City National Guard Commander Colonel Mehdi Zayer told AFP. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

73 AFGHANS ARRESTED IN IRAQ. Iraqi National Guard forces reportedly arrested 73 Afghan nationals who entered the country illegally on 11 October, Al-Sharqiyah television reported. National Guard spokesman Captain Furat al-Tamimi said the Afghans were arrested in Al-Amarah, located 265 kilometers southeast of Baghdad near the Iranian border. A large number of women and children were reportedly among the group.

Meanwhile, Tehran's ILNA news agency cited an Iraqi police officer from Al-Yusifiyah as saying that Iranian, Syrian, and Jordanian citizens were among 78 people arrested on 11 October. Documents found among those arrested indicated that they had traveled to Iraq to carry out armed attacks, the news agency reported. Al-Yusifiyah is located some 15 kilometers south of Baghdad. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER RELEASED IN IRAQ. An American national working as a photographer in Baghdad was released from captivity on 13 October, Al-Arabiyah television reported. Paul Taggart was kidnapped by an armed group on 10 October while driving in Baghdad. He was on his way to Al-Sadr City to begin a 10-day filming project, Reuters reported on 13 October.

"They fed me well, gave me water, and did not do me any harm or mistreat me. I did not know what their political or financial goals were, and I did not know who they were," Taggart told Al-Arabiyah. Taggart said that he did not communicate with his captors, because he speaks little Arabic, while they spoke no English.

Ali Sumaysim, the spokesman for Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, told Al-Arabiyah that his office helped search for Taggart after al-Sadr militiamen were accused of kidnapping the photographer. Sumaysim located the kidnappers, and told Al-Arabiyah that they were not affiliated with al-Sadr or his Imam Al-Mahdi Army. He declined to give details about the identity of the hostage takers. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TURKISH CONTRACTOR, TRANSLATOR BEHEADED IN IRAQ. The militant group Ansar Al-Sunnah Army beheaded a Turkish contractor and his translator in Iraq on 11 October, international media reported. The group said in a message posted to the Internet that the contractor and his Iraqi Kurdish translator "confessed" that they worked for U.S. forces in Iraq, AFP reported. A videotape depicting the beheadings was also reportedly posted on the Internet. The men were taken hostage between Mosul and Baghdad on 8 October. The Ansar Al-Sunnah Army is also responsible for the August killing of 12 Nepalese workers in Iraq.

Meanwhile, 10 Turkish contractors taken hostage in Iraq in September were freed by their captors this week, Anatolia news agency reported on 12 October. The hostages were released after their employer pledged to halt its operations in Iraq, according to the report. Turkish Foreign Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Gul confirmed the men's release, saying they were taken to the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad. The militant group Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq Salafist Brigades said they would release the men on 10 October, according to Al-Jazeera television. There is no word on what caused the delay in their release. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

ANSAR AL-SUNNAH ARMY CLAIMS IT BEHEADED SHI'ITE WORKER. The military wing of the Ansar Al-Sunnah Army posted a videotape and statement to an Islamic website ( on 12 October claiming to have captured and beheaded an Iraqi Shi'ite working for multinational forces.

The man, Ala' al-Maliki, "confessed" in the videotape to having worked in the "Citizens Claims Office" established by U.S. forces to collect and buy weapons from Iraqis. Al-Maliki said he was a follower of deceased Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr and claimed to have close ties to al-Sadr organizations.

The Ansar Al-Sunnah Army said in a statement: "The lions of monotheism and protectors of the faith captured one of the most dangerous spies named Ala' al-Maliki.... He collected weapons and ammunition and handed them over to the Crusader U.S. forces with the intent to deplete the market."

The group also accused al-Maliki of "liquidating" many Sunnis. "He confessed that an undisclosed relationship exists between al-Sadr's movement and the U.S. forces." "After completing his interrogation...the mujahedin implemented the verdict of God and beheaded him to make him an example to others," the statement said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI MINISTER SAYS NUCLEAR SITES SECURED. Science and Technology Minister Rashad Umar Mandan disputed claims by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 8 October 2004) that entire sites housing Iraq's nuclear complex have been dismantled and dual-use equipment has disappeared, AP reported on 13 October.

The minister told AP that all sites under Iraqi control are secure, and invited IAEA inspectors to return to Iraq to verify the presence of all equipment. "The locations under my control are very well protected. Not even a single screw is being taken away without my knowledge," he said. Mandan did concede, however, that the missing equipment, including milling machines and electron-beam welders, could have been taken in the looting spree that broke out following the U.S.-led invasion, AP reported.

The IAEA responded to the apparent invitation to return its inspectors to Iraq on 13 October, Reuters reported. "We are ready, subject to Security Council guidance and the prevailing security situation, to resume our Security Council mandated verification activities in Iraq," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

NEW SECURITY FORCE ESTABLISHED IN IRAQ. The U.S. military announced the establishment of a new security force in Iraq on 6 October, Reuters reported. The civil intervention force will be responsible for policing demonstrations and riots. It is the eighth security force to be established in Iraq since the fall of the Hussein regime. The force, once operational, will have some 4,800 members and will fall under the command of the Iraqi police.

Al-Sharqiyah television, meanwhile, reported that the force will have some 1,500 members. The deputy commander of the force, Brigadier General Aziz Ibrahim, said that the forces will be divided into three brigades and will begin training in November. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TURKEY REPORTEDLY PRESSURING KURDISH REFUGEES TO RETURN HOME. The Turkish government is reportedly pressuring Iraqi Kurdish refugees to return home to Iraq, reported on 10 October. Some 10,000 Kurds that fled Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War remain in Turkey, and Ankara says they are no longer welcome. Another 30,000 Kurds that sought shelter in Turkey during the war have since returned to Iraq, the website reported. Ankara has reportedly raised the issue with Iraq's Kurdish leaders, including Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) head Mas'ud Barzani during his visit to Ankara last week. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

TURKISH OFFICIALS EXPRESS CONCERN OVER BARZANI'S REMARKS. Turkish officials this week expressed concern over remarks made by Mas'ud Barzani while on an official visit to Ankara, international media reported. Barzani spoke with reporters in the Turkish capital on 12 October and said that the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk had a Kurdish "identity" and vowed to fight any force that attempts to oppress its people, be they Kurds or other ethnic groups.

Turkey has claimed that Kurds are trying to change the demographic face of the city by resettling Kurds and pressuring Turkomans to leave. Kurds contend that the city had a majority Kurdish population before President Hussein initiated his Arabization program, which sought to drive out Kurds and resettle Arabs in their homes. "If anyone, if any regime or system wants to continue the Arabization or oppression of the people of Kirkuk, we will defend their rights and we are ready to fight for them," Barzani told AFP. "Our position is that the identity of Kirkuk is part of Kurdistan. But it is an Iraqi city. The promotion of co-existence and fraternity [in Kirkuk] has to be a priority for everybody. We are working in that direction," he added.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul reportedly warned Barzani a day earlier not to attempt to change the demographic profile of the oil-rich city. Turkish special representative to Iraq Ambassador Osman Koruturk told Istanbul's NTV on 13 October: "Barzani's remarks on the issue of Kirkuk [are] extremely upsetting for us. To say that Kirkuk is a Kurdish city is tantamount to mortgaging the will of the Iraqi people." Koruturk contended that Turkey would defend its interests in Iraq, should violence break out. "An ethnic clash in Iraq will lead to the disappearance of that country. At the moment, the most probable venue for ethnic clashes in Iraq is Kirkuk. Therefore, Kirkuk is not the domestic affair of Iraq, it is a [regional affair] that might seriously affect its neighbors. All the developments in Iraq have an effect on its neighbors be it in a negative or a positive manner. We, as Turkey, are determined to ensure that the developments in Iraq do not have an adverse affect on us," he said.

RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq (RFI) interviewed Iraqis in Baghdad on the issue of Kirkuk on 13 October. Most of those interviewed expressed dismay over Barzani's remarks, saying that no ethnic group lays claim to the Iraqi cities of Baghdad, Al-Basrah, or Mosul, so why Kirkuk? Interviewees expressed the opinion that Kirkuk should remain for all Iraqis.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani last week proposed that Kirkuk be administered on the Belgian federal model, where regional administrations decide issues relating to health care, education, transportation, and the environment; and the federal government in Brussels determines matters of security and foreign policy, reported on 6 October. "An administration model similar to that of Brussels should be established for Kirkuk," Talabani said. "All ethnic and political groups should reach an agreement on Kirkuk." The PUK head denied that his party is moving ethnic Kurds to the city, but he insisted that Kurds have a right to return to the city.

Turkey has also taken a strong interest in the Turkoman population of Tel Afar in recent weeks. Anatolia news agency reported on 11 October that the Turkish Red Crescent Society sent a humanitarian aid convoy to the town, which has been the scene of fighting between militants and multinational forces. The convoy appears to be the third convoy sent to the town in as many weeks. The first convoy carried some $500,000 in aid including 450 tents, 3,000 blankets, 1,000 packages of foodstuffs, and 28,000 bottles of water. Anatolia reported that Turkish aid to Tel Afar has thus far totaled $1 million.

Meanwhile, Cairo's MENA reported on 12 October that peshmerga forces are digging tunnels and setting up military outposts 25 kilometers north of Mosul, near Dahuk. Sources told MENA that the forces, now working as Iraqi National Guard soldiers, have been digging tunnels between Mosul and Fayda for one week, and that large convoys are moving Kurdish gunmen toward Mosul. The news agency contends that the positioning of peshmerga in the area would effectively give the peshmerga control over all entry points for Turkish trucks traveling to Iraq. The true reasons for the fortification of the area is unknown. Turkish truckers have in the past, however, complained of having to pay high fees to Kurdish border officials while transporting goods to Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

130 IRANIANS RELEASED FROM DETENTION IN IRAQ. Iranian state-run television reported on 11 October that 130 Iranian nationals were released from detention and repatriated to Iran. Some 400 Iranians reportedly remain in detention in Al-Kut, Al-Basrah, Al-Hillah, and in Abu Ghurayb. Iranian Charge d'Affaires Kazemi-Qomi said that 98 percent of the Iranians in detention are there because they entered Iraq illegally. One to two percent of those detained had committed a crime, he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

JORDAN, IRAQ SEEK INTERNATIONAL FUNDING FOR JOINT PROJECTS. Jordan and Iraq approved a number of infrastructure projects along their border on 10 October but said they will need international donor support in order to implement the projects, "Jordan Times" reported on 12 October.

The projects, estimated to cost some $1.078 billion include the upgrading of the Al-Karamah border center ($105.8 million), the establishment of a 10 million-square-meter free trade zone at the border ($49 million), an upgrade of transportation routes between the two countries ($723 million), and an upgrade of the Aqaba port ($200 million). Jordan's Aqaba port is used as a gateway for Iraqi imports and exports, but the daily reports that congestion at the port has led to a 10 to 14 day wait for tankers to be cleared. The congestion has caused ships to be diverted to the Saudi port of Jeddah, which has delayed the delivery of goods to Baghdad. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQ GETS RIGHT TO VOTE BACK AT GENERAL ASSEMBLY. The UN General Assembly reinstated Iraq's right to vote at sessions on 12 October, Reuters reported on the same day. Iraq had been banned from voting in the General Assembly until it has paid at least $14.6 million in back dues. UN rules require that member states that fail to pay their dues can get back their right to vote if the assembly determines that the country's failure to pay is due to circumstances beyond their control. Ten other countries also regained their right to vote at the UN session. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

ANNAN ORDERS FUNDING FOR INVESTIGATION INTO UN FRAUD. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan sent a letter to the Security Council on 13 October detailing the financing for the independent investigation into fraud and corruption allegations connected to the oil-for-food program in Iraq, the UN News Center reported the same day (

The investigation will be funded with $30 million taken from an escrow account that holds revenue from the now defunct program. The money will reportedly finance the investigation through the end of 2005. Former U.S. Federal Reserve banking chief Paul Volcker will head the investigation. Former oil-for-food chief Benon Sevan has been accused of participating in the fraud. AP reported on 13 October that the New York attorney general is investigating Sevan, who has denied any wrongdoing. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

UNDP REPORT FINDS THAT HUNDREDS OF SUNKEN SHIPS OBSTRUCTING ACCESS TO IRAQI PORTS. A new study by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) has found that hundreds of sunken ships ranging in size from large freighters and tankers to small tug boats and dhows (wooden sailboats) are obstructing access to Iraqi seaports and threatening the marine environment in the Persian Gulf, the UN agency reported on 5 October (

The UNDP survey of the Umm Qasr and Al-Zubayr ports identified 282 sunken ships and compiled detailed information on the condition and location of 40 large wrecks that need to be removed, the agency said. Some of the ships have been in the Gulf since the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq war. Others were sunk in the 1991 and 2003 wars. UNDP contends that Iraq will not be able to fully rehabilitate its seaports until the ships are removed. The potential for an environmental catastrophe also exists, with many ships leaking pollutants. "The current is very strong in the area where the vessels are, so a lot of pollution is being carried out to the Gulf and is spreading," UNDP survey adviser Paul Clifford said. UNDP has estimated that removal for larger vessels will cost between $1 million and $8 million each. UNDP said that Kuwait could suffer from the environmental hazard, since it desalinates Gulf water and converts it to drinking water.

UNDP estimates that it would cost Iraq $34 million to remove the ships that currently obstruct access to the ports and to restore the channels to their original depths. The UNDP contends that if port access for deep-draught vessels is restored, the savings to Iraq in one year alone would far exceed the investment.

The survey, carried out earlier this year, received support from the U.K. Department for International Development, the French Foreign Ministry, and the Regional Organization for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME).

The UNDP has been working on dredging and shipwreck removal for the past two years in Iraq's Persian Gulf ports. The agency reports that the Japanese government funded a $2.5 million emergency dredging program in 2003 that led to the removal of 550,000 cubic meters of silt. This year, Japan allocated $24 million from the UN Trust Fund for Iraq for additional dredging. UNDP contributed another $36.5 million for two large dredgers and spare parts to support the Iraqi dredging fleet. The agency says that another $40 million dredger is needed for the project, and Iraq needs $8 million per year for operating costs in order to maintain the port area. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI OFFICIALS ASK DONOR COUNTRIES TO FOLLOW THROUGH WITH AID. An Iraqi delegation led by Deputy Prime Minister Barham Salih asked some 55 countries attending the first session of a two-day donor conference in Tokyo on 13 October for support through debt reduction and reconstruction efforts, international media reported. The conference was the first donor meeting to take place since the transfer of power to the interim government on 28 June.

The conference did not focus on eliciting new funds, but rather called on donors to follow through with previous commitments made at the 23-23 October 2003 Madrid conference (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 24 October 2003). Only $6.7 billion dollars of the $33 billion pledged at that conference has been spent thus far, AFP reported. The Iraqi government asked donors to consider using their pledges to fund 324 reconstruction projects at a cost of $43.5 billion, including 53 infrastructure projects.

Still, many countries pledged aid. Host country Japan vowed to provide $40 million to support January's parliamentary elections, Kyodo World Service reported. The funding will come out of a previously committed $490 million aid package, Kyodo World Service reported. Japanese Foreign Minister Nobutaka Machimura called on other states to also "contribute toward the smooth running of the elections." According to AFP, Iran pledged to provide an additional $10 million in funding for Iraq at the conference, while the European Union and South Korea both pledged new aid next year. Kuwait announced that it would provide $65 million for Iraq, a Japanese Foreign Ministry official told Kyodo.

Salih told conference participants that the "development and stability of Iraq cannot be driven forward through the barrels of guns. Assistance and aid in the short term is the key to destroying the causes of terrorism," AFP reported.

The interim government also asked the international community to contribute troops to provide security for the United Nations in Iraq. "We need more UN support and we need it now. Please don't let the Iraqi people down," Salih said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

NATO PLEDGES TO SPEED UP DEPLOYMENT OF TRAINERS TO IRAQ. NATO defense ministers meeting in Romania on 13 October pledged to speed up the deployment of some 300 trainers to Iraq by year-end, reported on 14 October.

A senior NATO official said that the first group of trainers could arrive at a new training center southeast of Baghdad by late November. "Speed is of the essence here," NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said. "It's what the Iraqis want." The website reported that some 3,000 NATO troops -- including command, logistics, and security personnel -- might be sent to support the training mission. NATO currently has some 35 trainers in Iraq. Their task is to work with senior Iraqi generals to formulate national command structures. The expanded mission will train senior noncommissioned officers and senior officers in command and control procedures. The United States, meanwhile, is training Iraqi combat forces, while the U.K. is training National Guard soldiers. NATO announced on 13 October ( that the North Atlantic Council had agreed on a "concept of operations" that would enhance NATO's mission in Iraq, including the coordination of offers of training and equipment. Few other details were given.

The organization acknowledged that Lieutenant General David Petraeus was now in charge of the NATO training mission. NATO member states had earlier balked at the U.S. insistence that NATO forces fall under a unified, U.S.-led command. Petraeus is also in charge of the training of Iraqi combat forces.

Meanwhile, German Defense Minister Peter Struck told reporters at the NATO meeting that German forces may eventually be deployed to Iraq. "I have made it very clear that within the foreseeable future, it is out of the question. But certainly there could be times ahead, in years to come, when Germany will get involved," he said. German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder has said repeatedly that he would not send troops to Iraq. Germany will begin training Iraqi troops in the United Arab Emirates in November, the "Financial Times" reported on 8 October. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

IRAQI MINISTER SAYS ANY WITHDRAWAL OF CZECH FORCES WOULD CAUSE POLITICAL HARM. Iraqi Culture Minister Mufid al-Jaza'iri told Czech television in a 10 October interview that any withdrawal of Czech forces from Iraq would signal a win for terrorist groups operating in Iraq.

"If I were looking at it from a purely technical point of view, then it probably would not play a very big role, not particularly. But if I look at it politically, it is of significance.... Any departure -- even of such a small group as the group of Czech policemen -- would politically send out a signal of support, indirectly for the extremist terrorist groups who, as I said, are doing their utmost to thwart the democratic process in our country," al-Jaza'iri said. The Czech Republic currently has some 100 policemen in Iraq. Al-Jaza'iri, has lived in the Czech Republic and speaks Czech.

Czech Defense Minister Karel Kuehnl told the same television program that his country could contribute to the rebuilding of Iraq through its training of security forces. "There are sufficient people in Iraq who are willing to serve in the new armed forces -- be it in the army or the police service. What they lack is training. And what they lack is material equipment. And I think that in both respects the Czech Republic can help," he said. Kuehnl said that the government has proposed a two-month extension of military police training in Iraq. The trainers will now remain in Iraq through February. Kuehnl said it was unlikely that the deployment would be further extended, but said that the Czech government will propose a training program inside the Czech Republic for future Iraqi officers. The military may also contribute surplus army equipment to the Iraqi armed forces. (Kathleen Ridolfo)