7 March 2003, Volume
SUICIDE BOMBING KILLS FOUR IN NORTHERN IRAQ.
Four people were killed in northern Iraq when a suicide bomber blew himself up at a military checkpoint in the town of Halabja, Ankara-based "Anatolia" reported on 26 February. The bomber, the driver of the car in which he was riding, and two men manning the checkpoint were killed, according to "Anatolia." (Kathleen Ridolfo)PUK MISTAKENLY KILLS FIVE.
Soldiers for the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) shot and killed five people on 4 March at a military checkpoint near Al-Sulaymaniyah. AP first reported the incident as a clash between the PUK and the Islamist militant group Ansar Al-Islam. However, it later reported on the same day that the five victims were members of the Islamic Group of Kurdistan, which is not linked to Ansar, and has good relations with the PUK. According to AP, the PUK had been tracking carloads of Ansar militants when PUK soldiers mistook the victims' car for a similar car driven by the militants. PUK Prime Minister Barham Salih commented on the incident, saying, "A regrettable incident has occurred," adding, "We are investigating. If there are people who have overreacted and did not adhere to the rules of engagement, there will be repercussions for those involved." Among the dead is Abdullah Qasir, a well-known member of the Islamic Group, AP reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI PRESIDENT MEETS GOVERNORS, OFFICIALS.
Saddam Husayn spoke with governors and senior officials from various governorates in a meeting that was broadcast on Iraq Satellite Television on 26 February. During the meeting, Husayn told his guests that Iraq needs to set an example to the world by proving that U.S. objectives cannot be attained through propaganda. As the governors pledged that they would defend against a U.S.-led strike on Iraq, Husayn said, "The Ba'ath Party plays the role of an organizer. The battle is that of every Iraqi except the Iraqis who say that this is not their battle. We hope that there are no such Iraqis."
Husayn offered some advice to his guests, saying that every Iraqi family should build a trench in their backyard, adding, "Your family can go to the trench when there is bombardment. If the trench is deep and secured with cover, it can serve as a means of protection if a shell falls on the house, God forbid." He said families would be safe in trenches, "So, why should we sustain casualties?" (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI OPPOSITION TO SEEK TALKS WITH U.S., TURKEY.
Kurdistan Democratic Party spokesman Hoshyar Zebari told reporters in Salah Al-Din on 27 February that the Iraqi opposition would seek to hold talks with the United States and Turkey in an attempt to ward off a Turkish invasion of northern Iraq in the event of a U.S.-led attack on Iraq, abcnews.com reported the same day. "We have decided to send a high-level delegation of the Iraqi opposition to seek multilateral talks with the government of the United States and with the government of Turkey on this matter," Zebari said. In a reference to the yet-to-be-released memorandum of understanding reached between the United States and Turkey, Zebari said, "We hope it won't be at the cost of the poor Kurdish people." (Kathleen Ridolfo)BARZANI WARNS TURKS ABOUT ENTERING IRAQI KURDISTAN.
The conference of the Iraqi Kurdish opposition concluded its conference on 1 March in Salah al-Din. Mas'ud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, said at a press conference that "We are opposed to the entry of the Turkish armed forces onto Iraq's soil as well as any kind of military interference of other neighboring countries, and in return we extend our hands of friendship and brotherhood toward them," reported the "Kurdistan Observer" on 2 March.
He added that "the future of Iraq will depend on a strong parliament's decisions, and a federative system, and on these issues we are quite agreed with the Americans." He also said that "all Iraqi individuals would enjoy equal rights at the future democratic system of Iraq and one of the responsibilities of the dissidents following the liberation of the country would be not to allow taking revenge, or creating crises." (David Nissman)IRAQI LEADER CUTS SALARIES OF OVERWEIGHT WORKERS.
President Husayn issued a decree on 26 February stating that any government official or officer of the armed forces whose weight is found to "exceed the allowed limit" during an annual fitness checkup will have his "salary, allocations, as well as bonuses on religious and national holidays halved," AFP reported the same day. This is not the first time Husayn has issued a fat-busting decree. A second decree issued by the Iraqi president on 26 February stated that Ba'ath Party members caught "gambling with the intention of making money" will be jailed for three years, according to AFP. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI EDITORIAL ASSAILS GULF INITIATIVE.
The Iraqi newspaper "Babil," run by the Iraqi president's son, Uday Husayn, published an editorial on its website (http://www.iraq2000.com/babil/) on 2 March criticizing the United Arab Emirates' proposal calling for President Husayn to step down. The editorial refers to U.S. allies as "agents by proxy," stating that they have "chosen to side with the devil." "This is the case of the one (U.A.E.) who called on the Iraqi president to step down.... He (the U.A.E.) is a proxy agent with the face of an Arab and the heart of a devil," the editorial stated. "He has an American tongue; he utters what the Americans and the enemies of the nation want him to say," it added, noting that such measures are aimed at fracturing Arab solidarity. "Is this agent a solitary snake lost in the desert, or does it have sisters and brothers that will come to the surface?" the editorial asked. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQ REPORTS ON U.S., U.K. SORTIES.
A spokesman for the Iraqi Air Defense Command reported in a 2 March statement that U.S. and U.K. forces carried out 71 sorties that day, attacking civilian and service installations in Basra, killing six "citizens" and wounding 15 others, Iraq News Agency reported on 3 March (http://www.urulink.net/iraqnews/). In a now-familiar formulation, the spokesman said Iraq's ground defenses "confronted the enemy aircraft" and forced them to leave Iraqi airspace. The statement added that the number of sorties carried out from Kuwait since 17 December 1998 totals 22,281, while the number of sorties from military bases in Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait stands at 50,195. U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) stated in a 3 March briefing that coalition aircraft attacked four Iraqi military communications facilities and an air-defense facility after Iraq fired antiaircraft artillery at coalition aircraft earlier that day. "The specific targets were struck because they enhanced Iraq's integrated air-defense network," CENTCOM announced. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI LEADER ADDRESSES PEOPLE ON NEW ISLAMIC YEAR.
President Husayn issued a 4 March statement to his people on the occasion of the new Islamic year, Iraq Television reported the same day. "What does the idol (presumably referring to the United States) of this age want? How can we successfully defeat it?" Husayn asked, adding, "The idol of this age thinks he is a substitute for God.... He believes he can say anything and everything." The Iraqi leader further addressed Iraqis and Palestinians by saying, "Harm has been inflicted on you and your property," and called on them to follow a path of "jihad against the mercenaries and aggressors." He added, "If you follow such a path, you will be victorious." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
SPAT BREAKS OUT AT OIC SUMMIT.
Izzat Ibrahim, vice chairman of Iraq's Revolutionary Command Council lashed out at the Kuwaiti delegation during the meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha, Qatar on 5 March, Qatar Television reported. Addressing OIC members, Ibrahim said that Kuwait "impudently disregards the resolutions of the summits -- the Beirut summit, the Cairo summit, the Nonaligned summit, and all Islamic summits. [It] threatens Iraq's security and calls on the U.S. forces to deploy in his land." Following an unheard remark by the Kuwaiti delegate, Ibrahim lashed out, shouting, "Shut up you minion, shut up you little agent! Shut up you monkey! Shut up! You are addressing Iraq!" Al-Jazeera Television carried live coverage of Ibrahim's remarks, while Qatar Television cut transmission. Ibrahim went on to call Kuwait a traitor to the Islamic nation, before Qatari Shaykh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani reestablished order in the room saying, "Please, we do not want to turn the conference into a heated argument. We are on the air now." The Kuwaiti delegate to the conference later addressed OIC members, saying, "These [allegations] are all lies. These are the words of an infidel and a charlatan," Reuters reported on the same day. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKISH PARLIAMENT DENIES U.S. REQUEST TO PLACE TROOPS IN TURKEY.
The Turkish refusal to provide the U.S. a base from which they could launch troops into Iraq in the event of war has led U.S. military planners to rethink their war plans, according to an article in "The Wall Street Journal" of 3 March. Pentagon officials, however, say that they can still put a large enough force into northern Iraq to achieve their objectives, namely, protect the Kurds and secure Iraqi oilfields in the Mosul and Kirkuk areas.
One American option is to insert a light-infantry force into a region in northern Iraq from Kuwait. Backed up by a limited number of heavy tanks and armored personnel carriers, the U.S. would still be able to attain its objectives, the daily said. As a defense analyst put it: "The problem is that you are taking the transport planes, aerial refuelers, fighter and jamming aircraft out of other parts of the campaign to move this force."
A few days later, Turkish officials gathered in Ankara to discuss the Turkish position. Cabinet members said the U.S. is in a rush and did not stop to consider the technical problems facing Turkey, according to Turkish CNN on 2 March.
Reconsideration of the issue by the Turkish parliament on 4 March did not occur. It appears Ankara will wait until 7 March when there is to be another debate in the UN Security Council to make a final decision on deployment.
There are some in the U.S. who see the Iraq mission as riskier without Turkey. General Tommy Franks, who would command the U.S. war against Iraq, said that his war plans are flexible and take into account such problems. Many, including Senator Jay Rockefeller, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, complained about the Turkish parliament's vote. Primarily, the complaints focus on the fact that the U.S. strategy becomes more predictable if they are forced to move troops from Kuwait, according to AP on 2 March. (David Nissman)TURKISH MILITARY SUPPORTS GOVERNMENT.
The chief of the Turkish General Staff, Hilmi Ozkok, told reporters on 5 March that the Turkish military supports the position of the Turkish government on Iraq, as it was presented in the motion submitted to the Turkish Grand National Assembly in mid-February, NTV reported. Commenting on the parliament's decision not to provide the U.S. with access to Turkish bases, or to send Turkish troops into northern Iraq, Ozkok said, "If we do not participate at all, we shall still sustain the same damages to be caused by a war. It will however, be impossible to be compensated for these damages, and we shall not have a right of say in the aftermath of the war. If, however, we...assist those waging the war, we believe that then part of the damage might be compensated...we will not be faced with unexpected developments."
Turkish Prime Minister Abdullah Gul responded to Ozkok's statement, telling reporters at the Organization of the Islamic Conference in Doha, "It is a good statement," "Anatolia" reported on 5 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKISH COMMANDER SAYS HIS COUNTRY READY TO COUNTER THREATS IN NORTHERN IRAQ.
Turkish Air Force Commander General Cumhur Asparuk told Turkey's TRT 2 Television on 4 March that Turkish troops are ready to counter any threats in northern Iraq. Asparauk said that Turkey now has a "sufficient number of troops in the southeast," and is prepared for nuclear, biological, and chemical attacks. He also noted that the Patriot missile-defense systems have been deployed in Diyarbakir and Batman. Asked whether the Kurdish groups in northern Iraq were in possession of equipment that could threaten Turkey, Asparuk said, "There is no such threat according to our intelligence information." (Kathleen Ridolfo)ARAB SUMMIT CONCLUDES WITH PLAN TO CONVEY ANTIWAR POSITION.
An Arab League emergency summit in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm Al-Shaykh ended on 1 March with an agreement by Arab leaders to send delegations to convey the Arab antiwar position to the UN and possibly Washington and Baghdad, AP reported on 2 March. Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa said the delegations will be dispatched "within days." Meanwhile, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri referred to the summit's rejection of foreign interference in the domestic affairs of Arab states as "progress." Speaking to reporters at the conclusion of talks on 1 March, Sabri said, "We hope that Arab countries will use the potential they have at their disposal to deprive the greedy and treacherous of the opportunity to encroach on their peoples, honor, dignity, and land," Iraq Television reported the same day.
Lebanese Foreign Minister Mahmud Hammud spoke with reporters on 5 March as he departed for New York to join a delegation of Arab Foreign Ministers scheduled to meet with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on 6 March, saying that the delegation will convey an Arab position which is opposed to war, Tele-Liban reported. "During our meetings, we will stress the necessity for the Security Council to shoulder its responsibility in order to reach a peaceful solution, which we all seek," Hammud said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)GCC MINISTERIAL COUNCIL DISCUSSES U.A.E.'S IRAQ INITIATIVE.
The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Ministerial Council failed on 3 March to unanimously back an initiative on Iraq presented by the United Arab Emirates that would have called for the Iraqi president to step down, Al-Jazeera television reported. Approval by the council requires unanimous support. The initiative was first proposed on 1 March at the Arab League emergency summit meeting, but Arab leaders refused to discuss the idea on the grounds that it was not issued as a formal proposal. The U.A.E. raised the issue again on 2 March when members of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) met for an evening session in Doha, Qatar.
Asked whether the proposal amounts to interference in Iraq's internal affairs, U.A.E. Foreign Minister Rashid Abdullah al-Nu'aymi told reporters, "We do not think it means interference. This is an initiative to avoid a catastrophe, which will materialize if the aggression takes place, if Iraq is destroyed, and if the region is harmed," Al-Jazeera reported on 2 March. Bahraini monarch Shaykh Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa praised the initiative, saying it "is the only Arab way out to protect Iraq and spare its people and the whole region the threats" of war, AP reported on 2 March. The Kuwaiti cabinet also backed the initiative, noting in a 2 March statement that the proposal would "spare the region a destructive war that would destabilize peace and security," Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) reported. Qatar has also voiced support for the initiative.
In a final statement issued on 3 March, the council voiced appreciation for the initiative but added that it should be submitted within the framework of the Arab League. "In light of the significance of [U.A.E. President] Shaykh Zayed's proposal on Iraq...and in order to muster support for it, the [GCC Ministerial] Council views that the initiative must be mooted for discussion at the Arab level," the statement read. Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faysal did not openly endorse the initiative but said on 3 March that the U.A.E. "presented those ideas to serve Arabs and to achieve peace, security, and stability for the Iraqi people," "Arab News" reported on 4 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KUWAITI DEFENSE MINISTER ON U.S., PENINSULA SHIELD FORCES.
Kuwaiti Defense Minister Shaykh Jaber al-Mubarak al-Hamad al-Sabah told the Kuwait News Agency (KUNA) on 3 March that the United States has not asked Kuwait to host the 62,000 troops that were destined for Turkey. "No request was presented in this regard," al-Sabah said, adding, "If presented, it will be considered by the competent authorities for taking the appropriate decision." Al-Sabah also said in a 3 March press statement at the Kuwaiti National Assembly that there is no need to call up Kuwaiti Army reserves since there are presently 100,000 U.S. troops stationed in Kuwait, KUNA reported.
Al-Sabah also stated on 4 March that the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Peninsula Shield Forces would not enter Iraq in the event of war, saying "These forces are to defend Kuwait within the framework of the joint Gulf defense agreement," KUNA reported. The forces, which were formed by GCC states in 1986, are normally based in Hafr Al-Batin, Saudi Arabia. The troops began arriving in Kuwait in recent days per a January decision by the GCC to defend Kuwait against any attack. (Kathleen Ridolfo)AMERICAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT TRANSPORTED TO TURKISH MILITARY BASE NEAR IRAQ BORDER.
A convoy carried military equipment from Incirlik, near Adana, to Mardin's Kiziltepe region, 190 km from Silopi, according to NTV on 2 March. The trucks were carrying dozens of jeeps, heavy weapons, ammunition, as well as camping equipment, food, and medical supplies for soldiers.
A second convoy followed the first made up primarily of civilian vehicles. These were driven by American soldiers who entered the zone and started to deploy. (David Nissman)BADR BRIGADES BUILDING UP BASE IN NORTHERN IRAQ.
The Iranian-backed Badr Brigades of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) are constructing a new military camp in northern Iraq in preparation for an influx of its fighters, according to a 2 March report by "The New York Times." The camp is reportedly located 11 miles inside Iraq and 135 miles from Baghdad and includes 120 squad-sized tents, according to the daily. In addition, the Brigades have built an ammunition bunker, latrines, and opened a grocery store. "The New York Times" quoted SCIRI official Galib al-Asadi as saying that the Badr Brigades would fight independent of American leadership. "We are not going to fight alongside the Americans," he said, adding, "We were fighting the Iraqi regime when the United States was helping the Iraqi regime, and we will continue to fight the regime whether the United States comes or not," "The New York Times" reported. The Brigades have had a small presence in Iraq since 1998 in a camp outside Maidan. (Kathleen Ridolfo)JORDAN PREPARES FOR REFUGEE INFLUX.
A 4 March report in "The Jordan Times" detailed Jordan's preparations for a possible deluge of refugees fleeing war in Iraq. Citing unnamed officials, the report said two camps are planned for Jordan's eastern border, along with a 100-bed mobile hospital. The Jordan Red Crescent and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) would run the camps. An International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies official told the newspaper that the facilities' initial capacity of 5,000 people would later be expanded to 40,000 "in Jordan, Syria, or Iraq." A February UNHCR report predicted that a war could send as many as 600,000 refugees into Jordan, Turkey, and Iran for six months. (Daniel Kimmage)
UNMOVIC CHIEF GIVES 'PREVIEW' OF 7 MARCH BRIEFING.
Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission, gave a briefing to reporters at the UN on 5 March in which he discussed the status of inspections in Iraq, the international press reported. Blix said that he would soon (possibly on 7 March) release a list of "29 remaining issues that Iraq needs to resolve in order to be in compliance with UN demands that it rid itself of banned weapons of mass destruction," the UN News Service reported on the same day (http://www.un.org). Blix, along with IAEA chief Muhammad al-Baradei, will present a quarterly briefing on inspections to the Security Council on 7 March. Blix called Iraq's decision to abide by UN demands to destroy the Al-Sumud 2 missile "real disarmament," saying, "Here, weapons that can be used in war are destroyed in fairly large quantities. It is the whole program and it is the various items that are related to that, like launchers, casting chambers, etc. These are being destroyed. Now that is real disarmament," RFE/RL reported on 6 March. Regarding Iraqi ideas on ways in which inspectors can determine whether Iraq really destroyed biological agents in 1991, as it claims, Blix told reporters, "Our [UNMOVIC] experts have been somewhat skeptical about the possibility of pouring lots of quantities [of biological agents] into the earth in 1991 and now in 2003 try to see how much did you pour into the ground." Blix also told reporters that he believed Iraq had been proactive in the last month, but added that the Iraqi track record "was not so good." "Therefore, I would not want to suggest that I am confident that [full Iraqi disarmament] would happen," Blix added. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN SECRETARY-GENERAL SAYS 'MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE.'
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York on 4 March that Iraq's recent offer to provide information regarding anthrax and VX, as well as its compliance with UN demands to destroy 120 Al-Sumud 2 missiles, are "positive developments," but added that Iraq needs to do more to satisfy UN weapons inspectors. Annan's comments can be viewed on the UN website, (http://www.un.org). Regarding the current Security Council debate on Iraq, Annan said, "I tend to believe that if the council were to manage to come together and resolve this crisis effectively and successfully, the credibility and the influence of the council will be enhanced...If action were to be taken outside the council authority, the support for that action -- popular and otherwise -- would also be diminished." Annan said he has no plans to visit Iraq at the current time. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN SECURITY COUNCIL PRESIDENT SAYS UNMOVIC/IAEA PRESENTATION WILL BE OPEN.
Guinean Ambassador to the UN and chair of the UN Security Council (UNSC) presidency for March, Mamady Traore, announced on 4 March that the UNMOVIC/IAEA quarterly briefing to the UNSC and debate scheduled for 7 March would be open. It had previous been agreed upon that the briefing and debate would be closed. The Security Council will meet, however, after 7 March for closed consultations. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQ MEETS UN DEMAND TO DESTROY MISSILES.
Iraq agreed "in principle" to comply with UN demands to destroy its stockpile of Al-Sumud 2 missiles, the UN website announced on 27 February. The apparent concession was made in a letter from Iraqi presidential adviser Amr Al-Sa'di addressed to UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) Executive Chairman Hans Blix. According to the UN statement, UNMOVIC Deputy Executive Chairman Dimitri Perricos, who arrived to Baghdad on 27 February, would meet with Iraqi officials to discuss the destruction process, which would be carried out by Iraq under UN supervision. Reuters quoted "Iraqi sources" on 28 February as saying that the UN demand to destroy the missiles was unjust and "seemed to have political aims."
Iraqi presidential adviser Lieutenant General Amr al-Sa'di gave a 1 March briefing on the destruction process of the Al-Sumud 2 missile, Al-Jazeera reported. Al-Sa'di told reporters that Iraq had begun the destruction process, destroying 10 missiles on 1-2 March, as well as a casting chamber and a vessel for making rocket propellants. Al-Sa'di added that Iraq was still debating whether or not to publish photos of the destruction process, since it would be "painful" for the Iraqi people to see.
Al-Sa'di also told reporters that the remaining Al-Sumud 2 missiles were not in Baghdad (the destruction is taking place in Al-Taji, some 15 kilometers north of the capital), but rather were deployed to "various military sectors" and are filled with fuel. "It would take some time to bring them here and empty the fuel," he added, noting that it takes three hours per missile to empty fuel, and that fuel can be emptied from only two missiles at a time. "Also, do not forget that before the missile is destroyed, the load should be removed [igniter and elementary engine], which consists of explosive material...[and] the explosive warhead must be separated from the missile's body and treated independently," Al-Sa'di said, concluding that it is a "complicated process" that would take some time.
Nevertheless, Iraq has thus far met UN demands -- 28 of the 120 missiles were destroyed between 1 and 5 March, according to the UN. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN WORKERS LEAVING IRAQ.
Almost half of the UN staff working in Iraq has left voluntarily in the last month, according to a 22 February report by Reuters. They have been permitted to depart under a UN policy that allows staffers to take time off, leave for training, or move to another mission. "No evacuation order has been issued, but it was decided earlier this month that we would allow staff that may wish to leave to do so," Stephane Dujarric, a spokesman for the UN, told Reuters on 21 February. The policy does not apply to UN weapons inspectors or their support staff. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UNMOVIC CHIEF REPORTS INSPECTIONS HAVE HAD 'LIMITED RESULTS.'
Hans Blix has reportedly told the UN Security Council that UN inspections in Iraq have produced "limited results," the BBC website (http://news.bbc.co.uk) reported, citing a draft copy of the UNMOVIC quarterly report that was presented to the UN Security Council on 1 March. Blix also contends that Iraq did not provide credible evidence on the destruction of missiles it purportedly destroyed in 1991 and did not locate other unaccounted for proscribed weapons, the BBC reported. An oral presentation of the UNMOVIC report is to be given to the Security Council on 7 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE SAYS IRAQ NOT DISARMING.
Colin Powell said in a 5 March speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., that Iraq is still failing to disarm. His remarks can be viewed in their entirety on the State Department's website (http://www.state.gov). "Destroying a handful of missiles here under duress...[is] not the kind of compliance that was intended by UN [Security Council] Resolution 1441," Powell said, adding, "Iraq's too little, too late gestures are meant not just to deceive and delay action by the international community, he has as one of his major goals to divide the international community, to split us into arguing factions." Powell cited Iraq's past denials -- and later admissions -- to UN inspectors regarding its possession of weapons of mass destruction as evidence that the regime should not be trusted, and said of Iraq's recent commitment to provide inspectors with information on VX "in a week," "I'm not going to hold my breath. We've been waiting for these reports to come for years and they have not come."
Powell also claimed to have "recent intelligence" indicating that Iraq has declared and will destroy "only a portion" of its Al-Sumud 2 stockpile, adding Iraq "has, in fact, ordered the continued production of the missiles that you see being destroyed. We have evidence...that [Iraq] has also begun to hide machinery it can use to convert other kinds of engines to power Al-Sumud 2" missiles, Powell added. He also claimed to have intelligence "from multiple sources" indicating that Iraq is moving weapons of mass destruction (WMD) around Iraq in an effort to avoid detection by UN weapons inspectors. He added that intelligence suggests that the Iraqi regime has placed banned materials in poor, working-class neighborhoods outside Baghdad. Powell claimed that senior Iraqi officials have confirmed that Iraq possesses WMD and that officials, as recently as February, have threatened Iraqi scientists that they had better not cooperate with UN inspectors and have even asked the scientists to wear concealed recording devices during interviews. Powell also alleged that the hotels where scientists are interviewed are bugged. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. EXPELS TWO IRAQIS.
The United States gave two Iraqis employed at the Iraq UN mission in New York 72 hours to leave the country under expulsion orders issued on 4 March, AP reported on 5 March. Iraqi Ambassador to the UN Muhammad al-Duri confirmed the order, saying that the men held the rank of attache but are on the list of personnel accredited to the UN, according to AP. "They are security personnel of the mission, the guards...they are living in the basement of the (Iraqi) mission, al-Duri said, adding, "They have nothing to do with the United Nations," he said. "They are there for security reasons, to guard the mission." The U.S. State Department has identified the men as Nazih Abdul Latif Rahman and Yehia Naeem Suaoud. "The two attaches were engaged in activities outside the scope of their official function. Federal law enforcement authorities deemed the activities to be harmful to our national security," the State Department announced. The men have until midnight on 7 March to depart the U.S. The State Department has also requested the expulsion of 300 Iraqis working in 60 countries on the grounds that they are agents. Some of the Iraqis hold diplomatic positions, AP reported on 5 March.
This week's expulsions mark the third incident in 10 months. The U.S. expelled an Iraqi journalist working at the UN in February. Muhammad Hassan Allawi, who reported on the UN for the Iraq News Agency, was ordered by the State Department to leave the U.S. within two weeks on grounds that his activities were "harmful to U.S. national security," the BBC reported on 14 February. Allawi had worked at the UN for two years. Prior to the February expulsion, the State Department expelled Abd al-Rahman IK Saad in June 2002. He had served as the first secretary at the Iraqi UN mission where he worked on economic and social affairs, the BBC reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)BRITISH PRIME MINISTER SAYS IRAQ RESOLUTION WILL PASS...
British Prime Minister Tony Blair has said that he is confident that a new resolution on Iraq will pass if put to a vote in the UN Security Council, Reuters reported on 5 March. "If [Husayn] is not complying, there will undoubtedly be a resolution put to a vote," Blair told the British House of Commons during a weekly Question Time session. "We are confident of securing the votes for that resolution," he added." (Kathleen Ridolfo)...BUT U.K. PROPOSING COMPROMISE AT THE UN.
Britain is, however, floating a compromise at the UN that would amend the current draft resolution proposed by the U.S., U.K., and Spain, allowing Iraq additional time to comply with UN resolutions, Reuters reported on 6 March. The proposal calls for members to vote on a new resolution authorizing war in Iraq if Iraq fails to disarm within a specific window of time, meaning days, not weeks, Reuters reported. A spokesman for British Prime Minister Tony Blair told reporters on 6 March, "Clearly there are discussions going on with all kinds of ideas being bounced around," but added, "We are not giving a running commentary on the negotiations at the United Nations," the BBC reported. The spokesman also said that Blair remained optimistic that a new Iraqi resolution would pass in the Security Council. (Kathleen Ridolfo)DIVIDED HOUSE OF COMMONS BACKS MILITARY ACTION IN IRAQ.
The British House of Commons held a six-hour debate on the issue of Iraq on 26 February that ended in a vote that supported military action against Iraq but signaled deep divisions on the issue, London's "The Daily Telegraph" reported the next day. An unsuccessful cross-party amendment stating that the need for military action against Iraq is "as yet unproven" won 199 votes, nearly one-third of the House of Commons. But "The New York Times" noted that antiwar Labour members of Parliament "managed to attract an estimated 120 of the party's 410 members in the House" behind that motion, "laying bare the deep divisions in Prime Minister Tony Blair's Labor Party over his hard-line stance on disarming Iraq." (Kathleen Ridolfo)BRITISH, FRENCH REACT TO MISSILE DESTRUCTION.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair, commenting on the Iraqi decision to destroy its Al-Sumud 2 weapons, told a news conference in Madrid on 28 February that "this is not a time for games," Reuters reported. "The moment I heard earlier in the week that [Iraqi President] Saddam Husayn was saying he would not destroy the missiles was the moment I knew that later in the week he would announce, just before Dr. Blix reported, that he would indeed destroy these missiles," Blair said. The press conference was held following talks between Blair and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar, who has joined the United States and Britain in taking a hard line on Iraqi disarmament.
French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie said on 3 March that UN weapons inspectors are making progress, citing Iraq's destruction of the Al-Sumud 2 missiles, AFP reported. Speaking to reporters at an air base in Villacoublay, Alliot-Marie said: "Iraq seems to respond, as we have been urging it to do. This shows that the inspections are working, and I think in this sense that this is rather a good thing for the resolution of the Iraq crisis." (Kathleen Ridolfo)FRANCE, RUSSIA AND GERMANY WILL NOT SUPPORT ANOTHER UN RESOLUTION.
French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin read a joint statement on 5 March by Russia, France, and Germany rejecting a U.S.-proposed draft resolution authorizing the use of force in Iraq, which stated, "We will not allow a draft resolution authorizing the recourse to force to pass," AFP reported. Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov told the same group of reporters that UN permanent Security Council member China shares the Russian-French approach, adding, "The possibilities for a political settlement exist, even if there is just one chance to avoid war. The path we are proposing is the most reasonable one."
De Villepin also called on Iraq to cooperate more fully with UN weapons inspectors, saying, "These inspections cannot go on indefinitely. We would therefore like these inspections to be speeded up from now, in line with the proposals tabled at the Security Council by our three countries," LCI Television reported.
China announced its support for the 5 March statement issued by Russia, France, and Germany, Reuters reported on 6 March. "China's position on Iraq is consistent with their joint statement," Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan told a news conference. He did not, however, state that China would veto a U.S.-proposed draft authorizing military force in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE IRAQI OPPOSITION CONFERENCE
By Kathleen Ridolfo
Members of the Iraqi opposition's Coordination and Follow-up Committee held talks in the Iraqi city of Salah Al-Din from 26 February to 1 March. The committee was elected in December 2002 at a London meeting of opposition members. Long rife with division, the opposition has endeavored in recent months -- under the auspices of the United States -- to form a unified vision of a post-Saddam Husayn Iraq.
Mas'ud Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), opened the conference by telling members that they should not let their personal opinions supersede those of the majority, Kurdistan Satellite Television reported on 26 February. Barzani added that Iraqis look forward to "Iraq changing into an oasis of peace, calm, and prosperity." Also addressing Turkish plans to enter Kurdish areas in the event of a U.S.-led strike on Iraq to head off a possible Kurdish political secession, Barzani said, "We urge the international community, particularly the U.S.A., to prevent any regional interference in the affairs of Iraq. We would like to stress that the Iraqi people as a whole reject regional intervention under any pretext whatsoever," Barzani added.
Meanwhile, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), told the gathering of opposition leaders that the members must set a comprehensive agenda, saying, "Our wounded Iraq is in dire need of healing," Kurdistan Satellite Television reported on 26 February. Al-Hakim rejected foreign intervention in a post-Husayn Iraq, saying that the Iraqi people need to determine their future "without a colonial mandate," adding, "The most dangerous threat is the threat of foreign domination. We [Iraqis] may be facing another mistake that may be committed by the U.S.A. and European countries." Al-Hakim added that the opposition meeting symbolizes a "testimony" to the rejection of the "reestablishment of direct colonialism under new slogans," which he said would be regarded "as a new war against religion."
U.S. presidential envoy Zalmay Khalilzad told conference participants "As partners, free Iraqis and the coalition (military forces) will plan together for a new and democratic Iraq," Kurdistan Satellite Television reported on 26 February. Khalilzad stressed that the U.S. is committed to the establishment of a democratic Iraq, saying "Iraqis should be free to choose their own government," adding, "What we do next here in this conference is to continue our joint work to making this vision of Iraq's future a reality." Khalilzad also stressed the necessity for widespread Iraqi participation in the post-Husayn rebuilding process.
As the three-day conference came to a close, the final statement of the Coordination and Follow-Up Committee reiterated the opposition's desire that power should be transferred "to the Iraqi people and their true representatives as soon as possible" following the ouster of Husayn's regime. The final statement can be viewed on the Kurdistan Democratic Party's (KDP) website (http://www.kdp.pp.se/final.pdf). The statement urges world leaders to avoid a total destruction of the Iraqi infrastructure in the event of war and spare as many lives as possible, calling on the U.S. and the international community "to distinguish between Saddam Husayn's regime and the Iraqi people; and between weapons of mass destruction and the infrastructure of Iraq." It also declared that once the Husayn regime is overthrown, "The Iraqi people would have the first and last word in deciding and managing the affairs of their country." The statement added that it hoped that Turkish forces would not enter northern Iraq during a war.
The statement also noted the desire of the opposition to contribute to the restoration of stability after any war. "The opposition will enlist the assistance of the Iraqi army and people, including religious and tribal personalities, to enhance law and order, social peace, and tolerance among all sections of society," the statement read. The opposition also called for the rehabilitation of militia organizations, including "those forces operating under the command of the leadership council of the Iraqi opposition." The militias would then be reintegrated into a national army, according to the statement.
Opposition members also elected a leadership committee. The KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) later provided details on the leadership in a 28 February statement, the KDP daily "Brayati" reported on 3 March. "In preparation for any possible major events that require unifying the ranks of our people and their capabilities," the KDP and PUK leaderships have decided "to form a joint higher leadership to lead the struggle in the political, military, and administrative fields, as well as national and international relations," the statement reportedly read. KDP head Barzani and PUK leader Jalal Talabani will co-chair the "leadership." Other members of the leadership committee include Ahmed Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord, and Adnan Pachachi, a former Iraqi official. In addition, the conference participants endorsed the decision of the December conference to elect 14 specialized committees addressing the following matters: operations, media, economic, follow-up on UN resolutions, reconstruction and development, foreign relations, national outreach, social, displaced and deported persons, finance, human rights, legal and constitutional issues, humanitarian relief, and education. The opposition fell short, however, of declaring that the leadership committee would seek to declare a provisional government. Speaking at the conference in Salah Al-Din, Talabani said: "There is no intention to declare a provisional government at this time. We believe that following liberation, we can discuss that," "The Washington Post" reported on 1 March.
Nevertheless, there are signs that the leadership committee is starting off on the wrong foot. Pachachi stated in an article published on ft.com on 2 March that he had rejected an invitation one week earlier from Talabani to join the leadership committee. Pachachi cited three reasons for rejecting Talabani's offer: first, he doubted the legitimacy of the group and its ability to be representative; second: the committee, he believed, would act only in an advisory capacity post-Husayn and not in an executive capacity; and third: Pachachi said he had reservations about the structure and membership of the committee. "Hence my surprise to learn on Friday (28 February) that I had been elected to the six-man leadership committee. This is a portent of how selection may go through without due process of information and consultation," Pachachi wrote.