12 June 2003, Volume 6, Number 26
INSIDE IRAQIRAQI INTELLIGENCE DOCUMENT INSTRUCTS ON POSTWAR SABATOGE. A document issued by the Iraqi intelligence service before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom reportedly instructed personnel to commit acts of sabotage, looting, and murder in the event that Iraq loses the war, "The Washington Times" reported on 9 June. The one-page document titled "Emergency Secret Plan" and labeled "Extremely Confidential" was uncovered in Al-Basrah in April. Signed by the "Head of General Intelligence," it also ordered agents to infiltrate political parties and religious institutions in the event that the regime of Saddam Hussein was deposed.
According to "The Washington Times," the document lists 11 directives, including "looting and setting alight of all government offices," particularly intelligence and military security buildings. It also calls on agents to "assassinate religious scholars and preachers" and to "cause damage" to water and power plants. Three directives advise operatives to "make contact and become close" to returning exiles, to "employ all elements you can depend on and send them to the mosques and places of worship," and to enroll themselves in Shi'ite religious schools in Al-Najaf -- presumably all three directives aimed to spy on Iraqis that would pose a threat to the Hussein regime.
The document, "Order 549," is dated 23 January 2003 and is noted as a continuation of a previous "secret letter 3870" issued on 19 January, "The Washington Times" reported. The document helps substantiate U.S. claims that U.S. forces have come under attack by elements loyal to the deposed Hussein regime. U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters on 10 June that he expects the attacks to continue for some time, but insisted that the coalition troops will eventually eliminate those elements. "Do I think that's going to disappear in the next month or two or three? No. Will it disappear when some two or three divisions of coalition forces arrive in the country? No," Reuters quoted Rumsfeld as telling reporters in Lisbon. "It will take time to root out the remnants of the Saddam Hussein regime and we intend to do it."
Meanwhile, a 10 June press release on the CENTCOM website reported that 384 Iraqis were detained for interrogation by the U.S. 4th Infantry Division in a raid north of Baghdad. Thirty individuals have already been confirmed to be pro-Hussein. Twelve individuals were reportedly detained when they attempted to escape capture by boat. CENTCOM also reported that the 4th Infantry Division raided a house "believed to hold individuals responsible for an attack on Coalition Forces on June 7." Two individuals were detained in the raid, and two more individuals were located at a local hospital and detained.
Other raids have led to the detention of 31 individuals in Baqubah -- in which U.S. troops confiscated 13 rocket-propelled grenades and "various small arms" -- and the detention of six people in Al-Taji, where U.S. forces confiscated 90 rocket-propelled grenades, four boxes of antitank mines, 40 grenades, and "associated small arms." For a full listing of coalition activities in Iraq, visit the CENTCOM website (http://www.centcom.mil/). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
FORMER EXILE GROUPS SAY THEY ARE BEING TREATED UNFAIRLY. U.S. officials in Iraq have said a decision by the U.S. administrator in Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, to appoint an interim Iraqi advisory council -- in lieu of the interim government that was to be elected by a delegation headed by the seven former exiled Iraqi political groups -- is the result of those groups' failure to transform themselves into inclusive, efficient organizations, "The Washington Post" reported on 8 June. Unnamed U.S. officials in Baghdad reportedly told the daily that Washington mistakenly believed that those seven organizations could transform into a cohesive Iraqi leadership. "We gave them a chance," the official said. "We bankrolled some of them. But they just couldn't get their act together. It was amateur hour."
Bremer criticized the groups for not broadening their constituencies to include women, Christians, and tribal groups, "The Washington Post" reported. Meanwhile, the top British official in the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) told Reuters on 7 June that conditions are not right for elections in Iraq. "Everyone recognized last night that there's simply no climate in this country at the moment for successful elections," he said, referring to a 6 June meeting between Bremer, the group of seven, and 10 prominent Iraqi leaders.
Participants from the group of seven Iraqi groups said Bremer recently told them that they "don't represent the country," "The Washington Post" reported on 8 June. Iraqi National Congress (INC) official Entifadh Qanbar has complained that the United States does not recognize the difficulties that returning opposition groups have faced, telling the daily, "We all have extensive contacts, but there is a lot we are doing from scratch."
Qanbar called Bremer's decision "a regression of what the U.S. had promised" opposition groups, warning, "We should not be sidelined." Qanbar said: "We should not be looked at as unrepresentative. In any democracy, there is no government that represents everybody." Meanwhile, Hamid al-Bayati of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) said the 6 June meeting led to a joint decision by those groups not to participate in an administration appointed by Bremer. "This is also a decision taken by all seven political parties," Reuters quoted al-Bayati as saying on 7 June. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. TROOPS RAID SCIRI, KDP OFFICES. U.S. forces raided SCIRI's Baghdad offices on 7 June, Reuters reported the same day. The raid came one day after Bremer told returned exile groups that they will not be included in a post-Saddam Hussein government. SCIRI announced on 7 June that it would not join the U.S.-planned Iraqi advisory council unless such a council is elected, not appointed, as under the current plan. Reuters reported that around 35 U.S. troops, armed with assault rifles and machine guns, entered the SCIRI offices in a Baghdad villa and confiscated documents and a safe. No arrests were made. Guards at the villa told the news agency that the building houses the personal guards of Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim, brother of SCIRI head Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. Meanwhile, Al-Jazeera reported that U.S. forces arrested 20 SCIRI members on 7 June, including cleric Shaykh Ali al-Mu'allah.
Meanwhile, U.S. forces also raided the offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in Baghdad, prompting the KDP to issue a statement on 10 June condemning the move. "We would like to make clear that the office [in the Al-Mansur district] was among a number of offices opened with the knowledge of and agreement and encouragement by the U.S. forces," the statement read. "In light of the security meeting held previously [presumably with U.S. officials] in Baghdad, there was absolutely no justification for taking such a tyrannical measure. We were taken aback by such conduct that could have been settled through understanding and consultation without harming the security of the offices of the party, which will not accept such affronts," the statement added. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQI ROYAL RETURNS TO BAGHDAD. Sharif Ali bin al-Husayn, the cousin of Iraq's last king, returned to Baghdad on 10 June after 45 years in exile, AP reported. Some 1,500 tribal shaykhs and monarchists turned out to welcome al-Husayn, who told the crowd, "After so many years outside Iraq, I have come home to my country." Al-Husayn is the cousin of the late King Faysal II, who was assassinated during the 1958 "Free Officers" coup in Iraq. A London investment banker by training, he is also the head of the opposition group-cum-political party, the Constitutional Monarchy Movement (CMM). The group was active in U.S.-supported meetings among opposition groups before the war in Iraq.
Al-Husayn has long vowed that he would not seek to reinstate the monarchy in Iraq unless it were sanctioned by the Iraqi people, but it appears that he has returned to Iraq with an agenda. According to a 10 June report by Al-Jazeera, al-Husayn advocates a monarchy that does not enjoy executive powers, but rather would oversee politics among disparate Iraqi groups.
While al-Husayn called for a dignified, free, and democratic Iraq in Baghdad on 10 June, he also appeared critical of the U.S. administration in Iraq, saying, "It is a shame that in a rich country like Iraq, people don't get their salaries." Al-Husayn's CMM backed Muhammad Muhsin al-Zubaydi, the exile who returned to Iraq in mid-April and appointed himself mayor of Baghdad before being forcibly removed by coalition forces (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 25 April and 2 May 2003). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQI TRIBAL CHIEF ASSASSINATED IN AL-BASRAH. Shaykh Ali al-Sa'dun, the chief shaykh of the Al-Sa'dun tribes, was shot and killed in Al-Basrah on 5 June, Al-Jazeera Television reported the same day. Al-Sa'dun's car came under attack by four masked assailants as he and two family members were being driven to their home, the broadcaster reported. Many members of the Sa'dun tribe reportedly have strong ties to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party and held positions in the government of deposed President Hussein. Al-Jazeera reported that the slaying appears to be just one of a number of attacks against Ba'ath Party members in Al-Basrah in recent days. Unknown assailants attacked the home of a woman associated with the party on 3 June, setting it ablaze. Prior to that incident, a former army colonel who worked in the Iraqi security apparatus was killed on the road connecting Umm Qasr and Al-Basrah. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
FORENSIC EXPERTS SAY MASS GRAVE IN IRAQ IS RECENT. U.S. and British forensic experts have reportedly determined that a mass grave found at the Salman Pak site, located approximately 35 kilometers southeast of Baghdad, contains the bodies of victims killed by the Hussein regime in the final days or weeks before it was toppled, "The Washington Post" reported on 10 June. "This is the first grave we've found of such recent vintage," U.S. Army Colonel Ed Burley told the daily. The site, located inside a former Iraqi security-forces compound, is just outside the village that bears the same name.
Burley said witnesses from the village said the grave contained around 100 bodies, some of which have already been removed by family members for burial. Two witnesses from Salman Pak told "The Washington Post" that they found 115 bodies in a ditch inside the compound on 10 April, one day after the Iraqi capital fell to coalition forces. Some of the victims were wearing military uniforms and are thought to be army deserters, while others were dressed in striped pajamas -- the "uniform" of prisoners. They were found with their hands bound behind their backs and some had bags tied over their heads. All had been shot in the head, "The Washington Post" reported.
Meanwhile, London's "The Guardian" interviewed Iraqi locals on 9 June, one of whom said that he saw the victims arrive at the site on 4 April. "We were sitting in a cafe on the main road when we saw three dark red buses come past heading in this direction," Sayed Sloumi told the daily, adding, "We could see prisoners in the bus. Their eyes were covered with blindfolds from their shirts." He said that there appeared to be seven guards on each of the buses that entered the grounds of Salman Pak.
According to "The Guardian," the bodies had not been covered with earth and were partly decomposed when residents broke into the site on 10 April. The daily reported that more than 150 bodies had been found.
Salman Pak was a training site for Iraqi Special Forces and a base for the Mukhabarat Intelligence Agency. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQIS BUYING EXECUTION VIDEOS IN EFFORT TO LOCATE MISSING. Iraqis are buying up videotaped executions carried out by the deposed Hussein regime in an effort to locate missing loved ones, BBC reported on 9 June. Many of the tapes reportedly contain footage of executions carried out after the 1991 Shi'a uprising that followed the Gulf War the same year. The BBC reported that some of the videotapes show a man, who appears to be Ali Hassan al-Majid, killing people. Al-Majid is a cousin of former President Hussein and a lieutenant general who earned the nickname "Chemical Ali" for his leading role in the Hussein regime's 1988 poison-gas attacks on Kurds. An Iraqi vendor told the BBC's Arabic Service that Iraqis want to see for themselves what happened during the Hussein regime. "This is normal. People have suffered a lot of tragedies from Saddam Hussein. I don't know whether people believe these things or not," he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQI CENTRAL BANK PRINTING NEW BANK NOTES. The Iraqi Central Bank has begun printing small denomination bank notes in an effort to ease a cash crisis in the country, Reuters reported on 9 June. The crisis comes as the result of Iraqis not wanting to use 10,000-dinar notes (worth about $10) because they are reportedly easy to counterfeit and because of rumors that they might be declared worthless since large quantities of the denomination were stolen following the overthrow of the Hussein regime in early April.
According to Reuters, some Iraqi merchants are reluctant to accept the 10,000-dinar notes and are redeeming the notes at around 70 percent of their face value. Many Iraqis are paid in 10,000-dinar notes. In order to compensate, the central bank has begun printing millions of 250-dinar notes, which are now in high demand.
The face of deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein will remain on the notes for now, however. "It was not possible to change the banknotes for the time being," Acting Central Bank Governor Falah Salman told Reuters, adding, "there is no national authority in Iraq at the moment to change the design of the banknotes." He also criticized those trying to deflate the value of the 10,000-dinar notes, saying, "People are trying to make a profit by saying the notes will become worthless, then buying them for less than face value." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
TURKOMANS UNWITTINGLY TURN OVER RATION CARDS. The Turkoman weekly "Turkomaneli" reported on 9 June that groups disguised in police and civilian uniforms have approached citizens in Kirkuk in recent days asking them to turn over their food ration cards, apparently in exchange for new cards. However, once received, the unidentified individuals never return. According to the weekly, produced by the Iraqi Turkoman Front, the deception was carried out by "political hired gangs of fake parties aimed at dividing the people." The newspaper contends that the gangs sought to damage the reputation of the Iraqi Turkoman Front and undermine its credibility in the Turkoman community. The article then goes on to criticize the "fake Turkoman Brotherhood Party" for "selling itself cheaply," presumably to other parties. It advises Turkomans to not relinquish their ration cards. The report was not substantiated by other press outlets. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S.-LED ECONOMIC COUNCIL FOR IRAQ HOLDS INAUGURAL MEETING... The U.S.-led economic council that was established to pull Iraq out of its economic quagmire met for the first time on 9 June to discuss job creation and foreign investment, Reuters reported the same day. U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer oversaw the talks, attended by representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and some 30 members of the private sector and political parties in Iraq.
Bremer reportedly told the press following the meeting that several proposals were put forward, but he did not elaborate on the meeting. Asked to name one project that has generated post-Hussein employment for Iraqis, Bremer said, "One of the things that is already creating jobs is the fact that we are paying salaries to almost 2 million civil servants.... We plan to finish the process of paying the back salaries from April this week, and then we will commence right away to pay the May and June salaries." Bremer noted that the payment of salaries has contributed almost $500 million to the Iraqi economy over the past three months. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
...AS CPA ANNOUNCES $100 MILLION IN RECONSTRUCTION PROJECTS IN IRAQ. CPA head Bremer has announced that $100 million in Iraqi funds will be used to jumpstart the economy, including the employment sector, by initiating reconstruction projects, Reuters reported on 10 June. "This will pay for much-needed investment in Iraq's infrastructure.... Modernizing the infrastructure is essential to modernizing the economy," Bremer told reporters. "At the same time, this fund will create jobs for thousands of Iraqi workers on important projects across the country," he added.
Bremer said the funds will go to Iraqi-owned construction companies. According to Reuters, the three administrative regions set up by the United States -- the north, south-central, and south -- will each receive $15 million for urgent reconstruction projects. Another $20 million will go to repairing ministry buildings damaged during the recent conflict, while $35 million will be set aside to complete unfinished public-works projects. "The $100 million will come from Iraqi funds," Bremer said. "We have a number of sources of Iraqi funds -- vested funds, seized funds, and of course funds in the central bank." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. REPORTEDLY ENFORCING NEW BAN ON INCITEMENT IN IRAQ. The U.S.-led administration in Iraq is reportedly cracking down on mosques, enforcing a new ban on incitement to violence, news.com.au reported on 6 June. The new ban prohibits incitement to "armed insurrection," including attacks on coalition forces, and "racial and religious violence," the website reported, citing an unnamed spokesman from the CPA. "We respect religious sites...but if we hear that there are groups who are using and abusing religious establishments such as mosques to incite religious or ethnic violence, we would consider taking action," the source said. Coalition forces have reportedly detained a number of Iraqi clerics in recent days. However, it is unclear whether those detentions are related to charges of incitement. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
TASK FORCE IRONHORSE LAUNCHES OPERATION PENINSULA STRIKE IN IRAQ... U.S. forces launched Operation Peninsula Strike in Iraq on 9 June, according to a U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) press release (http://www.centcom.mil). The operation consists of a series of raids aimed at eradicating "Ba'ath Party loyalists, paramilitary groups, and other subversive elements located on a peninsula along the Tigris River, northeast of Balad," a town situated some 65 kilometers north of Baghdad. Air, land, and sea raids were launched to "capture or destroy subversive elements."
The task force comprises U.S. Army infantry, armor, artillery, aviation, engineers, and U.S. Air Force personnel. According to CENTCOM, Operation Peninsula Strike's efforts have thus far led to the capture of 397 suspects, and a curfew has been imposed on the peninsula. CENTCOM noted that "specially trained soldiers" were screening detainees and processing information "which can be used in the apprehension of hostile groups who continue to try to harm coalition forces and innocent Iraqi people." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
...AS ARAB PRESS REPORTS AREA UNDER SIEGE. Al-Jazeera reported on Operation Peninsula Strike on 10 June, calling it a "large-scale mopping-up and arrest campaign." According to an Al-Jazeera reporter located in Yathrib (Salah al-Din Governorate), the campaign had been under way for three days on 10 June. He confirmed that a curfew has been imposed on the area, which he identified as "Al-Dulu'iyah," and claimed that U.S. forces "destroyed furniture and assailed citizens" during the operation, in which three Iraqis were allegedly killed. "Some of them were hit with rifle butts and could not survive the severe blows they received," he claimed. Residents claimed U.S. troops stole money and private property and are "occupying" some homes. The reporter on the scene said U.S. soldiers carried CENTCOM lists of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis of the deposed Hussein regime, and questioned residents of Al-Dulu'iyah about Ali Hassan al-Majid (a.k.a. "Chemical Ali") and a person called Rakan who, according to some press reports, is the nephew of al-Majid. Both were reportedly killed in the 5 April bombing of al-Majid's home in Al-Basrah, but U.S. officials have said that they no longer believe al-Majid was killed in that bombing (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 6 June 2003). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. TROOPS REMAIN UNDER ATTACK. Attacks against U.S. soldiers continued unabated as the first week of June came to a close. Two soldiers were wounded when two assailants fired weapons at them as they guarded a bank in central Baghdad on 5 May. One assailant was shot and killed, while the other escaped. Elsewhere, a U.S. soldier was shot and killed and five others were wounded when they came under attack in the Iraqi city of Al-Fallujah (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 5 June 2003).
One day later, U.S. troops were attacked in the central Iraqi town of Khaldiya, located some 70 kilometers west of Baghdad, on 6 June when unidentified assailants fired small arms and rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) at troops patrolling an air base west of Baghdad, AP reported, citing U.S. military sources. An M1A1 Abrams tank and a military-police Humvee came under attack in the incident. U.S. troops reportedly returned fire, but there were no reports of casualties on either side.
On 7 June, unknown assailants operating out of a mosque fired automatic weapons on U.S. troops patrolling the northern edge of Al-Fallujah while RPG fire emanated from another location on the opposite side of the street. CENTCOM said that the incident was an example of "pockets of resistance" by individuals operating at a coordinated local level. In Tikrit, located north of Al-Fallujah along the Tigris River, one U.S. soldier was killed and four wounded by RPG and small arms fire. The next day, soldiers again came under attack by assailants operating from inside the same mosque in Al-Fallujah, but reportedly did not return fire. Two individuals were detained however, according to CENTCOM.
Farther west on the Syrian-Iraqi border, a soldier was killed while manning a checkpoint on 9 June. The incident occurred when a car pulled up alongside the checkpoint and requested help for a "sick" person in the car. As a soldier approached, two armed individuals exited the vehicle and shot the soldier with pistols. Soldiers at the checkpoint returned fire, killing one assailant and capturing another. At least one other individual fled in the vehicle.
U.S. forces came under fire again on 10 June when RPGs were fired at troops manning a trash collection point in southwest Baghdad. One U.S. paratrooper was killed and a second injured in the incident. The incident occurred when a van carrying four passengers stopped in a nearby alley some 250 meters from the soldiers. "Two attackers exited the van and each fired a rocket-propelled grenade at the squad," according to CENTCOM. "One RPG struck a vehicle and the other landed short of the soldiers' location." Eyewitnesses reported seeing the attackers flee down the alley. On 10 June "The Washington Post" reported that the preceding two weeks left eight U.S. soldiers dead and another 25 wounded. Four U.S. soldiers have been killed and 21 wounded in Al-Fallujah alone since April, according to AP. Meanwhile, 23 Iraqis were killed and 78 wounded in the town, located west of Baghdad. Details for these incidents can be viewed on the CENTCOM website (http://www.centcom.mil/) (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. CONTINUES TO ROUND UP REGIME LOYALISTS. U.S. forces reportedly detained a former Iraqi police general following allegations of subversion and corruption, Reuters reported on 7 June. General Muhammad Habib al-Mashadani was a senior Ba'ath Party member and former deputy commander of the Iraqi national police. He was arrested on 6 June for trying to recreate a Ba'athist cell within the police force, a spokesman for the CPA said.
Al-Mashadani was reportedly using intimidation to get his relatives on the police payroll and to have police vehicles assigned to his family members for their personal use. "We are not going to tolerate corruption in the police department or any other branch of government," the CPA spokesman quoted a U.S. adviser to the Iraqi Interior Ministry, Bernard Kerik, as saying. U.S. forces arrested 15 members of the banned Ba'ath Party gathered at an Iraqi police academy who were allegedly planning to blow up police outposts and assault U.S. forces in late May (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 2 June 2003).
Meanwhile, two Iraqis on CENTCOM's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis of deposed President Hussein's regime have been captured, according to a 10 June CENTCOM press release. Latif Nusayyif al-Jasim al-Dulaymi, a former member of the Revolutionary Command Council and deputy secretary of the Ba'ath Party's Military Bureau, is 18th on the list. Brigadier General Husayn al-Awadi (previously listed by CENTCOM as al-Awawi) was the Ba'ath Party's regional chairman for the Ninawa Governorate and a brigadier general in the Chemical Corps. He is 53rd on the CENTCOM list. No further details were given on the capture of the two men. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EXPLOSIONS ROCK AMMUNITION-SUPPLY DEPOTS IN IRAQ. Two separate explosions rocked ammunition-supply facilities in central Iraq on 9 June, according to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) press releases. Three Iraqis were killed and two more injured by an explosion at an Iraqi ammunition-supply facility in Al-Diwaniyah on the morning of 9 June, CENTCOM reported. An explosive-ordnance disposal team subsequently set up a buffer zone around the facility and is assessing the site, CENTCOM added. The cause of that explosion is under investigation. Later in the day, a fire set off a series of explosions at a coalition ammunition-supply point in Karbala. There were no reported casualties and the incident is also under investigation. CENTCOM reported that the fire did not appear to be the result of hostile action. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
BAGHDAD NEWSPAPER ACCUSES U.S. SOLDIERS OF RAPE. The twice-weekly pro-Shi'a newspaper "Al-Sa'ah" published an article on 7 June claiming that more than 18 U.S. Marines raped two Iraqi girls aged 14 and 15 in the central Iraqi governorate of Wasit. According to the "Al-Sa'ah" report, "eyewitnesses" said the girls were taken to the Marine headquarters, where troops raped them and then "threw them" in front of a local hospital. The paper claimed that one girl died in the hospital while the other girl's parents killed her. It also claimed that the U.S. Marines then withdrew from the area, fearing retaliation.
U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) issued a press release on its website on 9 June in response to the rape allegations, calling the article "absolutely false." CENTCOM said it has looked into the matter and has found no evidence, including no hospital records, substantiating the allegations. "This report is inaccurate, irresponsible, and purposefully attempts to damage the credibility of our forces," the press release stated. CENTCOM called "Al-Sa'ah" a pro-Ba'athist publication, adding that its chairman, Ahmad al-Qubaysi, supports Shi'a and Sunni unity to confront the U.S. presence in Iraq. International media have reported incidents in recent weeks in which Shi'ite leaders have ordered Iraqi girls to not converse with coalition forces, claiming that the girls are vulnerable to attack by U.S. troops. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SOLDIER WOUNDS IRAQIS IN WEAPONS MISHAP. A U.S. soldier reportedly wounded four Iraqis in Baghdad on 5 June when he accidentally fired on them with his machine gun, CENTCOM reported in a 5 June press release. The soldier "unintentionally discharged several rounds [exact count unknown] from his M-240 medium machine gun while picking the weapon up," CENTCOM stated. All four victims were shot in the legs, and one received a grazing wound to the ear, the press release noted. Their injuries were not life threatening. The incident is under investigation by a unit commander. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
REGIONAL NEWSIRAQI OIL CHIEF FREEZES OIL AGREEMENT WITH JORDAN. Thamir Abbas Ghadhban, the most senior Iraqi at the Iraqi Oil Ministry, has announced that oil agreements signed between the former regime of Saddam Hussein and Jordan have been frozen, Amman-based daily "Al-Ra'y" reported on 10 June. Ghadhban said that Iraq's post-Hussein oil policy will be characterized by transparency and openness, and that oil revenues would play a central role in the country's economic revitalization.
Ghadhban's statement appeared to indicate that Jordan would no longer receive the preferential treatment it once did under the sanctions-burdened Hussein regime. For years, Jordan received oil and oil byproducts at grossly subsidized prices. The annual agreement was renewed in November, allowing Jordan to purchase four million tons of crude oil in 2003 at $18 per barrel. In addition, Hussein granted other subsidies to Jordan (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 22 November 2003).
Luckily for Jordan, the Gulf states have come to the rescue. Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait have agreed to supply Jordan with oil for the next three months (beginning in June) under soft terms in order to ease the financial burden incurred by the Jordanian treasury since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom on 20 March. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
MUQTADA AL-SADR IN TEHRAN AS FOLLOWERS RALLY AGAINST BRITISH. Some 2,000 Iraqi Shi'a staged a rally on 7 June in front of the British military headquarters in Al-Basrah, AFP reported. They chanted, "Leave peacefully lest we expel you through our jihad," and they handed British officers a petition demanding that the British withdraw to the outskirts of Al-Basrah.
The demonstration was called by the Sadriyun, an organization currently headed by Hojatoleslam Muqtada al-Sadr, the son of the assassinated Ayatollah Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr. Muqtada al-Sadr, meanwhile, is in Tehran to participate in events commemorating the anniversary of the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. He told Ayatollah Khomeini's grandson, Hassan, that he hopes Iraq will have an Islamic government, ISNA reported.
Al-Sadr met with Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali-Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, who said, "If the Americans want to put in power a puppet government that acts contrary to the interests of the people, then they will certainly face many problems," IRNA reported on 8 June. The Iranian state news agency referred to al-Sadr as the envoy of Ayatollah Kazim al-Ha'iri-Shirazi (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 2 May 2003). (Bill Samii)
BAHRAINI BANKS SAY AGREEMENT NECESSARY ON UNPAID IRAQI DEBT BEFORE NEW INVESTMENT CAN BE MADE. Bahraini banks have said that they must recover millions in unpaid debt owed by Iraq before they would reconsider investing in reconstruction projects there, "Gulf Daily News" reported on 7 June.
The loans were made to state-owned agencies to finance legitimate projects, according to Arab Banking Corporation (ABC) President and Chief Executive Officer Ghazi Abd al-Jawad. "Before any bank -- be it ABC or any other -- commits new monies we have to come to an agreement that is equitable and fair on how we [should] resolve the debt that is on the book," Abd al-Jawad said. He said that the process has been hindered by the lack of a functioning government administration in Iraq.
ABC is calling for a joint strategy by Bahraini banks. One option would be a debt-for-equity conversion -- banks would write-off some Iraqi debt in exchange for banking privileges in Iraq. "As a bank which has been dealing with Iraq in the past, we need somehow to reach an understanding on the exposures that we have to Iraq," Abd al-Jawad said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
JBA HOSTS IRAQI BUSINESSMEN FOR FOUR-DAY VISIT. The Jordanian Businessmen Association welcomed a delegation of Iraqi businessmen for meetings with their Jordanian counterparts aimed at increasing trade and investment between the two neighbors, Jordan News Agency reported on 7 June. The businessmen reportedly held meetings with Jordanian officials, including the ministers of planning and economy, and some 30 Jordanian-based Iraqi businessmen, according to later reports by the Jordan News Agency (http://www.petra.gov.jo/). Jordanian Planning Minister Bassem Awadallah invited the businessmen to attend the World Economic Forum's extraordinary meeting, which will be held in Jordan on 12 June. "Such participation is not only to exchange views on Iraq reconstruction efforts but to ensure a continuous role for Iraq in the Arab and international community," Awadallah told the businessmen. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EGYPTIAN COMPANIES REPORTEDLY REJECT ISRAELI PARTNERSHIPS. The Cairo-based magazine "Al-Ahram al-Arabi" reported on 7 June that Egyptian companies have rejected a U.S. Defense Department invitation to take part in the reconstruction tenders that will be awarded to Israeli companies. Jordanian companies were also invited to participate. The unconfirmed report cited the chairman of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, Khalid Abu Isma'il, as saying, "We reject this recommendation because the real purpose is to include Israel in Iraq's reconstruction projects, which will amount to more than $300 billion." He said that he was opposed to attempts to implement partnerships between Israel and Arab states through such projects.
Meanwhile, Bechtel, the U.S. firm granted the primary contract to rebuild Iraq, has said that it will grant most subcontracts to Iraqi firms, Reuters reported on 3 June. Senior Vice President Cliff Mumm told reporters that foreign firms would only be chosen when Iraqi firms could not be found to carry out certain contracts. "The whole idea is to spend this money to get the economy up and operating. That means you should spend it in Iraq," Mumm said. The San Francisco-based company's first subcontract was awarded to the Al-Bunnia Trading Company, a 93-year-old firm based in Baghdad. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
THE UN AND IRAQUNMOVIC CHIEF BRIEFS SECURITY COUNCIL. Hans Blix, executive chairman of the UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC), presented UNMOVIC's 13th quarterly report -- the last of his tenure, and possibly that of UNMOVIC -- to the UN Security Council on 5 June, international media reported.
Blix warned council members against concluding that Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction (WMD) simply because they were unaccounted for. He also cautioned against concluding that Iraq's WMD program had ended in cases where the Iraq regime did not account for those weapons. Blix said UN inspections in Iraq from November until March yielded no evidence of the continuation or resumption of WMD programs or significant quantities of proscribed biological or chemical agents, the UN News Center reported on 5 May (http://www.un.org/news). "This does not necessarily mean that such items could not exist," Blix cautioned. "They might -- there remain long lists of items unaccounted for -- but it is not justified to jump to the conclusion that something exists just because it is unaccounted for."
Blix told the UN Security Council on 5 June that information given to UNMOVIC inspectors by the deposed Iraqi regime regarding mobile laboratories differs from published descriptions of mobile laboratories recently discovered by the United States. "At UNMOVIC we cannot, of course, make a proper evaluation of the depicted vehicles on the basis of published material alone," Blix said.
The UNMOVIC chief also called on the council to leave UNMOVIC in existence. The United States has refused to allow the return of UNMOVIC inspectors to Iraq and has instead formed its own inspection team. "The core expertise and experience available within UNMOVIC remain a valuable asset, which the Security Council could use where the services of an independent body would be required for verification or monitoring," Blix said. "This might be of particular value in the field of biological weapons and missiles for which there exists no international verification organization." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
SUCCESSOR NAMED TO HEAD UN INSPECTIONS TEAM. The UN has named Demetrius Perricos as acting head of UNMOVIC, Reuters reported on 9 June. Perricos will succeed Blix, the current executive chairman of UNMOVIC, who is to retire at the end of June. Perricos has served as UNMOVIC deputy executive chairman and director of planning and operations, heading UN inspections in Iraq from November until March. He previously spent 16 years as the head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Reuters reported. It appears that the UN will not appoint a permanent successor to Blix until the future of UNMOVIC is made explicitly clear. The United States has objected to the return of UNMOVIC weapons inspectors to Iraq and appears to have replaced it with its own Iraq Survey Group to hunt for alleged weapons of mass destruction (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 6 June 2003). (Kathleen Ridolfo)
UN SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE MEETS WITH POLITICAL LEADERS, CPA HEAD. UN Special Representative to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello has begun meeting with a number of political leaders, as well as the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq. De Mello reportedly met with CPA Administrator Bremer and representatives of the UN Development Program, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank to discuss economic and monetary issues, the UN News Center reported on 9 May. He met again with Bremer on 9 May to discuss the political process in Iraq.
In addition, he met with former Iraqi Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi, who heads the political group Independent Iraqis for Democracy. Pachachi called for a stronger UN role in helping to establish a democratic Iraqi government.
De Mello met on 9 June with SCIRI representative Hamid al-Bayati, who also reportedly asked de Mello for UN support in helping the Iraqi people establish a democratic government. Al-Bayati stressed in the meeting that the Iraqi people must choose an interim government -- an idea that was once supported by the CPA but was discarded in early June (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 6 June 2003).
According to the UN News Center, de Mello will head to the Iraqi provinces in the coming days to discuss the situation in the country with local leaders. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EUROPE, THE U.S., AND IRAQU.K. COMMITTEE ASSAILS BLAIR FOR DOSSIER... Britain's Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee criticized the Prime Minister's office for publishing a dossier on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction without first clearing the document with intelligence services, AP reported on 10 June. In its annual report, the committee said that the document titled "Iraq: It's Infrastructure of Concealment, Deception and Intimidation," was not endorsed by British intelligence chiefs. "We have been assured that systems have now been put in place to ensure that this cannot happen again," the report stated. The dossier was largely discredited when it was revealed that it included material lifted from a student thesis posted on the Internet.
Two British parliamentary committees will also investigate allegations highlighted by Blair's office in the dossier that Iraq could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes of receiving the order, AP reported. Intelligence officials had said that the information regarding the timeframe for a WMD launch was unreliable. Blair's office has denied the fabrication. "The fact is there is not a shred of evidence, absolutely no evidence at all, that we have doctored or manipulated intelligence," AP quoted Blair as telling a press conference on 10 June. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
...AS U.S. PRESIDENT SAYS WEAPONS WILL BE DISCOVERED. U.S. President George W. Bush continues to insist that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and asked for patience while his team of inspectors searched for WMD, AP reported on 10 June. "Iraq had a weapons program...Intelligence throughout the decade [1990s] showed that they had a weapons program. I am absolutely convinced with time we'll find out they did have a weapons program," Bush said.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the credibility issue a day earlier, telling "Fox Sunday News" on 8 June, "We spent four days and nights out at the CIA, making sure that whatever I said [to the UN Security Council about Iraq] was supported by our intelligence holdings. Because it wasn't the president's credibility and my credibility on the line; it was the credibility of the United States of America," AP reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. OFFICIALS SAY 'CHEMICAL ALI' MIGHT BE ALIVE. Ali Hassan al-Majid, deposed President Hussein's cousin, might still be alive, according to U.S. officials, Reuters reported on 5 June. Al-Majid, known as "Chemical Ali" for his role in chemical attacks against Iraqi Kurds in the late 1980s, was thought to have been killed in a coalition bombing of his home in Al-Basrah on 5 April. Both CENTCOM and the U.S. Pentagon now consider his status uncertain, according to Reuters. CENTCOM spokesman Major Brad Lowell told reporters that al-Majid is still considered to be alive. "There is no disposition next to his name" on CENTCOM's list of the 55 most-wanted Iraqis, where al-Majid is listed fifth, Lowell said. "Therefore, he's at large." Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told reporters on Capitol Hill that U.S. forces "attacked locations where they believed him to be. There was some speculation afterward that they thought that he had been killed. Now there's some speculation that he may be alive," Rumsfeld said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)