25 September 2003, Volume
GOVERNING COUNCIL MEMBER DIES FIVE DAYS AFTER ATTACK.
Iraqi Governing Council member Aqilah al-Hashimi died in Baghdad five days after gunmen attacked her and her escorts outside her Baghdad home (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 22 September 2003), international news agencies reported on 25 September.
"On behalf of the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] and all its members, I offer condolences to her family, her colleagues on the Governing Council and the people of Iraq," Reuters quoted CPA head L. Paul Bremer as saying in a written statement.
Al-Hashimi, a Shi'ite Muslim, was one of three women to sit on the Governing Council, and the only member of the council to have served under the deposed Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in Iraq's Foreign Ministry. Three of her escorts, including a brother, were also injured in the 20 September attack. One of the attackers was shot and killed by her security detail.
According to Al-Jazeera, al-Hashimi had sustained wounds in the shoulder, leg, and abdomen. She was reportedly in critical but stable condition at a U.S. military hospital in the Iraqi capital by 21 September following two surgeries but CNN reported on 24 September that al-Hashimi had taken a turn for the worse. She had been due to travel with an Iraqi delegation representing Iraq at the UN General Assembly meeting in New York this week.
Many Governing Council members have reportedly received threats for working with the U.S.-led transitional authority in Iraq, but this is the first reported attack on a Governing Council member. (Kathleen Ridolfo)GOVERNING COUNCIL BANS AL-JAZEERA, AL-ARABIYAH FOR TWO WEEKS.
The Iraqi Governing Council voted on 22 September to ban the Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiyah satellite channels from covering official activities in Iraq for two weeks, international media reported on 23 September.
Entifadh Qanbar, spokesman for Ahmad Chalabi, the council's president for the month of September, told a press conference on 23 September that the decision "has not been issued yet" because "the Governing Council is discussing this issue with the coalition troops to put it in a legal framework in order to protect the Iraqi people from the poisonous propaganda aired by these two channels and in sowing sectarian and racial sedition in Iraq." Qanbar said, "a detailed decision in this regard" would be issued by 24 September.
The news channels are banned from "covering council activities and official press conferences" and from entering ministries and council buildings for the next two weeks, the Governing Council said in a statement, Reuters reported on 23 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KURDISH PESHMERGA CONTINUE TO ARREST MILITANTS.
Kurdish peshmerga forces reportedly launched a "manhunt" on 21 September to round up militants in and around the northern Iraqi city of Al-Sulaymaniyah, MENA reported on 22 September. Kurdish sources told the news agency that some 100 militants belonging to Ansar al-Islam and Al-Qaeda were arrested in the operation.
MENA noted that the peshmerga -- operating in coordination with U.S. forces -- arrested some 200 Ansar militants in a previous operation that was carried out after intelligence indicated that the militants were plotting to assassinate Patriotic Union of Kurdistan head Jalal Talabani and some peshmerga leaders for their association with the U.S.-led coalition. (Kathleen Ridolfo)CAR BOMB DETONATED OUTSIDE UN HEADQUARTERS IN BAGHDAD.
A car bomb exploded outside the UN headquarters in Baghdad on 22 September, killing the bomber and an Iraqi security guard and wounding eight other people, international media reported. "This is a suicide bomb," Captain Sean Kirley of the U.S. military told Reuters.
The car bomber reportedly attempted to approach the UN headquarters but was stopped by an Iraqi security guard before he reached the UN car-park checkpoint, Kirley said. "The driver and the guard engaged in conversation and the bomb was detonated from inside the vehicle," he told reporters, adding: "He changed his target. He wanted to get into the UN headquarters and he changed his target. The parking lot he tried to enter was mainly used by Iraqi security forces to park their cars and rest."
The bombing came one day before an Iraqi delegation was scheduled to attend a UN General Assembly meeting in New York. Unknown assailants bombed the UN compound one month ago, killing scores of UN employees and international workers, including UN Special Representative to Iraq Sergio Vieira de Mello. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQIS INVITE FOREIGN INVESTORS AT G-7 MEETING IN DUBAI.
The U.S.-led administration in Iraq announced at the G-7 meeting in Dubai that the country is now open to foreign investment, international media reported on 21 September.
Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Iraqi interim Finance Minister Kamil Mubdir al-Kaylani said the reforms -- ending some 30 years of state economic control -- would "significantly advance efforts to build a free and open market economy in Iraq," Reuters reported on 21 September. Only the Iraqi oil and natural-resources sectors will remain closed to foreign investment. The free-market reforms reportedly open the country to 100 percent foreign ownership in all other sectors and reduce tax rates for individuals and corporations from 45 percent to 15 percent.
According to Reuters, foreign investors will not be allowed to own real estate in Iraq but may lease property for up to 40 years. Other reforms include the free transfer of foreign-exchange earnings and hassle-free entry for foreign banks. Six foreign banks will be offered "fast-track" entry into Iraq and full ownership of local banks within five years, the news agency noted. Two of the banks will reportedly be expected to begin offering substantial lending very quickly.
For a complete list of economic and financial reforms, see al-Kaylani's press statement posted on the CPA website (http://www.cpa-iraq.org). (Kathleen Ridolfo)SHI'ITE CLERIC DISCUSSES HIS ARMY, RELATIONS WITH IRAN.
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr discussed his controversial Imam al-Mahdi Army in an interview with Cairo's "Al-Ahram al-Arabi" newspaper in an interview published on 20 September. Al-Sadr contended that he was "not sure" of the U.S. order calling on militias in Iraq to disband, telling the weekly, "This applies to Al-Najaf city only, and not all of Iraq's cities." He added that it was his group's "legal and legitimate" right to carry weapons and that his "army" remains armed to protect leading Shi'ite figures in that holy city. He reiterated earlier claims that the volunteer army includes women, saying, "We need women to protect the religious shrines."
Asked about his trip to Iran (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 12 June 2003), al-Sadr said that he "wished to strengthen ties between Iraq and the neighboring states to avoid repeating the tragedy that Iraq suffered -- namely its isolation from its neighbors." When the interviewer pointed out that the U.S. has cautioned Iraq's neighbors not to interfere in Iraq's internal affairs, al-Sadr responded: "I too refuse any meddling...I broached the issue of the borders between Iraq and Iran, and coordination of visitors traveling between the two countries...the problem is that Iraq's borders are open from all directions. They are open with Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Kuwait, and Jordan, so why focus on Iran?"
Al-Sadr was also asked whether he represents an extension of Ayatollah Khomeini's revolution. He responded: "I am the extension of my own reference, that of my father [assassinated Shi'ite cleric Muhammad Sadiq al-Sadr]. If the two lines are similar, which is a fact, then our goals are also similar. There is no harm in my being an extension of the Khomeini revolution." He went on to say that he believes there is dissimilarity between his beliefs and other Shi'ite trends, but added that it did not constitute a "difference," saying, "All of us...seek to accomplish the same goal of pleasing God."
On relations between Shi'ites and Sunnis, al-Sadr claimed -- although he is reportedly not qualified to do so -- that he issued a fatwa after the fall of the Hussein regime calling on the two groups to come together. When asked about his group's seizure of a number of Sunni mosques in Iraq, he reiterated earlier justifications that some "Sunni" mosques were actually Shi'ite mosques confiscated by Hussein and given to Sunnis, so they were rightfully the property of Shi'ites. He added: "There are [also] purely Shi'ite areas such as Karbala and Al-Najaf, and there is nothing to justify the presence of Sunni mosques [in those cities] because nobody will make any use of them. Anyway, the unity we call for requires that a Shi'ite imam lead the Sunni minority in prayers and vice-versa."
Asked about Shi'ite cleric Kazim al-Ha'iri, whom al-Sadr claimed as his movement's leader and religious guide, he said, "Theoretically, the Shi'ites need a field commander in the battle scene...if al-Ha'iri proposed himself as a field commander, we will be committed to him as a reference." Regarding the U.S.-led administration in Iraq, al-Sadr said, "Every time we open an institution or an office, the occupying forces hasten to close it and arrest its members." He also rejected public opinion polls that claim that Iraqis approve of the Coalition Provisional Authority, calling one such poll "a lie and a fraud." (Kathleen Ridolfo)TELECOM MINISTER SAYS PHONE SERVICES WILL BE BACK IN MONTHS.
Iraqi interim Telecommunications Minister Haydar Jawad al-Abadi reportedly announced on 22 September that telephone services will be restored nationwide within 60 days, Baghdad's "Al-Bayan" reported on 23 September. The daily of the Islamic Da'wah Party added that al-Abadi has been pressing his staff to speed up the restoration project. The ministry is also working to link Iraq's telecommunications networks to one national network, the report noted. (Kathleen Ridolfo)NEW CPA APPOINTMENTS ANNOUNCED.
The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) in Iraq has announced two new economic and industrial appointments. George Wolfe has been appointed director of economic development, according to an 18 September press release posted on the CPA website (http://www.cpa-iraq.org). Wolfe, who has served as deputy director, was to take over from Peter McPherson on 24 September. Wolfe previously served as deputy general counsel for the U.S. Treasury Department and as a private-sector adviser to the U.S. trade representative under President George W. Bush. He is a lawyer by training and is expected to serve in his new position until 1 November, when Marek Belka, a former deputy prime minister of Poland, will succeed him.
Meanwhile, the CPA appointed Robert McKee as the senior oil adviser to the Iraqi Oil Ministry, Reuters reported on 22 September. McKee formerly served as executive vice president of ConocoPhillips. He replaces Philip Carroll, who will return to "private life," Reuters quoted a U.S. administration statement as saying. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. TRANSFERS AUTHORITY OVER AL-NAJAF TO SPANISH.
U.S. Marines officially transferred control over the central Iraqi city of Al-Najaf to the Spanish Plus Ultra Brigade on 23 September, dpa reported. Spanish commander General Alfredo Cardona said that while his multinational force's primary duty is to provide security, troops would also assist with rebuilding infrastructure, according to dpa. The 1,000-strong force of Spanish, Honduran, and Salvadoran troops in Al-Najaf operates under a Polish-led division that assumed responsibility for a south-central Iraqi sector at the beginning of September.
The U.S. Marines were originally due to hand over power in late August, but that move was delayed following the assassination of Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim on 29 August outside the Imam Ali Mosque in that city (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 5 September 2003). Some 900 Marines had been stationed in Al-Najaf. (Kathleen Ridolfo)EXPLOSIONS ROCK HOTEL, MOVIE THEATER IN IRAQ.
One person was killed and two others wounded in an explosion outside a Baghdad hotel on 25 September, Al-Arabiyah television reported. The hotel housed employees of U.S.-based NBC television. A Somali security guard was killed in the blast. Iraqi police said a bomb had been placed in a hut that housed the hotel generator, BBC reported. The incident appears to be the first time that Western media have been attacked in Iraq since the downfall of the Hussein regime. A movie theater in the northern city of Mosul was targeted one day earlier, when a hand grenade went off inside the theater, killing two and wounding some 20 others, Al-Jazeera reported on 24 September. Eyewitnesses said that the theater was showing a pornographic film at the time of the explosion. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
WORLD BANK/IMF MEETINGS FOCUS ON IRAQ.
The reconstruction of Iraq was a major focus of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF)'s annual meeting in Dubai this week where senior Iraqi officials have lobbied hard for international support ahead of next month's international donors' conference for Iraq. IMF head Horst Koehler told a press conference on 24 September that the international community must work together towards that rebuilding. "I think the most important thing...is that the leaders of the world now really set aside their disputes over Iraq and for a consensus so that the international community can unite and the World Bank and IMF and others can go to Iraq and work together and work with the Iraqi people," Koehler said.
World Bank President James Wolfensohn, meanwhile, told reporters that he would meet with Iraqi officials in Dubai on 24 September to discuss a draft estimate of costs for the reconstruction efforts. Wolfensohn declined to tell reporters what that estimate was, but said U.S.-published estimates ranging from $50 billion-$70 billion were "in the ball park," Reuters reported. He said that the estimates would be completed in early October. According to ft.com, U.S. administrator in Iraq Bremer said that the World Bank estimate will cost $60 billion-$70 billion over the next for to five years, the website reported on 23 September.
Iraqi interim Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafiz reportedly told the World Bank and IMF in Dubai that the cost for rebuilding Iraq might be as high as $100 billion for the 2004-07 period, ITAR-TASS reported on 24 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI TRIBAL DELEGATION MEETS WITH SYRIAN PRESIDENT.
A delegation of the National Council of Iraqi Tribes headed by Chairman Shaykh Husayn Ali al-Sha'lan met with Syrian President Bashar al-Asad on 22 September, SANA news agency reported the same day. During the meeting, al-Asad expressed a desire to continue social and economic relations between the two neighboring states, and pledged his nation's help in securing Iraq's independence and territorial integrity.
Meanwhile, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Bouthaina Sha'ban told London's "The Times" that "Syria would be willing [to send troops] and all Arab countries would be willing, including all Iraq's neighbors," if the UN were put in charge of Iraq and the United States set a clear timetable for withdrawal, the daily reported on 22 September. "If these two points are addressed, all the Arabs will be willing to help to restore security and to help in the reconstruction of Iraq," she said. "This is the only way to send [peacekeeping] troops to Iraq." (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQIS REPORT BEING TRAPPED IN SYRIA.
Iraqi citizens that have crossed into Syria are reportedly finding it difficult to return home after the U.S. banned individuals between the ages of 18 and 45 from entering Iraq, Beirut's "Daily Star" reported on 23 September. "Nobody told me this when I drove from Baghdad to Damascus. I only found out when I entered Syria," one such person, identified as Muhammad, told the newspaper. He, like many Iraqis, sought shelter in Syria from the regime of now-deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein in the last three decades. Muhammad returned to Iraq following the downfall of the regime, but was apparently earning a living transporting passengers in his taxi back and forth to Damascus.
Taxi drivers told the "Daily Star" that security measures at the Al-Tanf, Al-Yarubiyah, and Abu Kamal crossings were tightened following U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell's visit to Iraq on 13 September. The drivers claim, however, that U.S. troops at the border crossings are taking bribes, in particular from truckers wishing to cross the border. Another Iraqi told the daily that Iraqis hired by the U.S. military to man the border crossings accept the bribes "under the watchful eyes" of U.S. troops. "The Iraqis act as middlemen for the American soldiers," he said, adding, "Anything you want can cross into Iraq if you are prepared to pay the money." The drivers' claims have not been substantiated by independent sources.
A Baghdad newspaper, "Al-Ittijah al-Akhar" reported on 13 September that Syrian authorities had opened the northern border crossing near Mosul, allowing citizens from that city to cross into Syria using only identification cards and an authorized letter from the Mosul Governorate. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKEY COOLING TO IDEA OF SENDING TROOPS TO IRAQ?
Turkish officials have reportedly cooled to the idea of sending troops to Iraq, according to recent Turkish press reports. While Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has remained adamant that Turkey should contribute troops to Iraq, he nonetheless had remained noncommittal for the past month as Turkey made its demands known to U.S. officials.
One demand -- that the U.S. military dismantle the Kurdish Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) resistance group, formerly known as the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) -- has reportedly not been met with as much enthusiasm by U.S. officials as Turkey would like. Istanbul's "Turkiye'de Aksam" reported on 20 September that Turkish officials are now pressing hard for a UN mandate in Iraq before they will commit troops, quoting Erdogan as telling reporters on 15 September: "We truly want a peace force led by the United Nations to be established. We have not made any promises to the United States."
Meanwhile, "Milliyet" reported on 20 September that there is a growing rift over the issue within the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP). The daily cited an unnamed official as saying a vote for troops might not pass the National Assembly. The United States has asked Turkey to contribute 10,000 troops to peacekeeping efforts in Iraq.
The Turkish General Staff did, however, send a delegation this week to meet with U.S. military officials in Baghdad to coordinate operations between Turkish troops already stationed in Iraq (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 24 July 2003) and U.S. military personnel, turkishdailynews.com reported on 23 September. The talks revolve around the issue of PKK/KADEK militants and are expected to continue on 1-2 October in Ankara. The Turkish website also reported that the U.S. has hinted that it would not move to eliminate PKK/KADEK militants until a five-month amnesty period, which began in August, ends.
Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul, who had previously said a decision would come by September, told reporters that the parliament would now decide the issue of troops in October when it reconvenes following a summer break. The U.S. made a request for some 10,000 Turkish peacekeeping troops in July. Meanwhile, the U.S. signed a loan agreement in Dubai this week giving Turkey $8.5 billion to support economic reform there. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI INTERIM GOVERNMENT TAKES SEAT AT THE OPEC TABLE.
The Iraqi interim government took its seat at the table of ministers representing the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) in Vienna on 24 September as a "full member," international media reported.
OPEC member states had been divided for several weeks over whether to allow the interim Iraqi government to attend its sessions, and if so in what capacity. But OPEC President Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah confirmed to AFP following a late-night meeting on 23 September that Iraqi interim Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum would represent his country with full membership status, the news agency reported on 24 September. Venezuela was reportedly among the staunchest opponents of the decision.
The most surprising decision by oil ministers at the 24 September meeting was to slash oil production by 900,000 barrels a day beginning on 1 November. The decision however, would not impact Iraqi production for the time being since Iraq will not be subject to production quotas until its oil industry is working at full capacity, OPEC President Abdullah al-Attiyah said on 24 September, nytimes.com reported. Some oil analysts speculated that the OPEC decision was politically motivated. "This was a message to Washington: 'You can send a delegation to OPEC, but we control the oil price,'" Mehdi Varzi, a private energy consultant in London, told the daily.
Meanwhile, interim Iraqi Oil Minister Bahr al-Ulum dispelled any rumors that Iraq might leave the cartel, telling reporters at the twice-yearly meeting in Vienna: "Iraq is a founder member of OPEC.... It will stay and remain a member of OPEC. Iraq should play an active role in achieving the objectives of this organization, with full cooperation with its members." Bahr al-Ulum added that Iraq seeks to produce 3.5 million to 4 million barrels a day by the end of 2005, and as much as 6 million barrels by the end of the decade. Iraq is currently producing around 1.8 million barrels per day. Iraq's appearance at the OPEC table is the first since the 1991 Gulf War. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
IRAQ ON THE AGENDA OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY OPENING SESSION.
U.S. President George W. Bush praised the work of the United Nations and its agencies for their work in Iraq and Afghanistan and called on member states to set aside their differences and "move forward" in an address to the UN General Assembly on the first day of its annual high-level debate, international media reported on 23 September.
Bush acknowledged that some member states disagreed with the U.S.-led coalition's decision to go to war in Iraq, but added that "there was and there remains unity among us on the fundamental principles and objectives of the United Nations." His speech, posted on the White House website (http://www.whitehouse.gov), highlighted achievements in postwar Iraq and called on the UN to expand its role there. "As in the aftermath of other conflicts, the United Nations should assist in developing a constitution, in training civil servants, and conducting free and fair elections," Bush said. "All nations of goodwill should step forward" and provide support to Iraqis, he added. "Iraq as a democracy will have great power to inspire the Middle East," he said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also addressed the General Assembly on 23 September, telling member states that the UN is facing a challenge to its tenets of collective security and the principles of the UN Charter in the wake of "recent events" in the international arena that included unilateral action by states against their foes of a preemptive nature. The decision of states to take unilateral action against another or to act through ad hoc coalitions "represents a fundamental challenge to the principles on which, however imperfectly, world peace and stability have rested for the last 58 years." He said the world body has come "to a fork in the road," adding that its structure might require reform. "Now we must decide whether it is possible to continue on the basis agreed then, or whether radical changes are needed."
Annan noted that many UN Security Council member states agree that the council should be enlarged "but there is no agreement on the details." The secretary-general said he will address the issue by establishing a "high-level" panel to advise the world body on a number of reform issues, according to the UN website (http://www.un.org).
Meanwhile, French President Jacques Chirac's address to the assembly appeared to complement both Bush and Annan's speeches. Chirac echoed the secretary-general's sentiments regarding unilateralism, telling member states: "In an open world, no one can live in isolation, no one can act alone in the name of all, and no one can accept the anarchy of a society without rules. There is no alternative to the United Nations." Multilateralism, he said, is a "guarantee of legitimacy and democracy, especially in matters regarding the use of force or laying down universal norms." He also called for an expansion of the UN Security Council "to include new permanent members," citing Germany and Japan as possible candidates for those seats.
Regarding Iraq, Chirac offered a softer line than he had in previous weeks, calling for a UN mandate for a multinational force in Iraq, "commanded naturally by the main troop contributor" -- the United States. His remarks coincided with Bush's call for the UN to assist with preparations for national elections and the drafting of an Iraqi constitution, and called for a "realistic timetable" for the transfer of administrative and economic power to the Iraqi people. He did not, however, specify what France considers a "realistic timetable" to be, possibly indicating that his country might be backing down from an earlier demand that power be transferred to Iraqis within one month (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 September 2003).
The true test to determine whether UN members have overcome their differences regarding Iraq will come in the approaching days as the Security Council members work to approve a new resolution on the rebuilding of Iraq. That resolution, sponsored by the United States, may be presented to the Security Council as early as next week. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN SECRETARY-GENERAL 'DISMAYED' OVER SECOND UN BOMBING IN IRAQ.
Kofi Annan has expressed "dismay" over the second bombing at UN headquarters in Baghdad in less than a month, UN spokesman Fred Eckhard told reporters on 22 September, according to Reuters. The most recent car bombing killed the perpetrator and one Iraqi, and wounded 19 others. Speaking later to reporters, Annan said the world body might reassess its role in Iraq following the bombing. "We need a secure environment to be able to operate," he said. "We will go forward, but of course if [the environment in Iraq] continues to deteriorate, then our operations will be handicapped considerably." Meanwhile, the UN Staff Union issued a terse statement calling for the withdrawal of all UN personnel from Iraq until proper security measures are in place, asking, "How much more can our staff take in Iraq?" (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN: 13 MILLION IRAQIS STILL IN NEED OF FOOD ASSISTANCE.
Approximately 13 million Iraqis are still in need of food assistance, according to a joint report by the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), the FAO website (http://www.fao.org) announced on 23 September.
The report notes that a good cereal harvest this year and the lifting of economic sanctions have improved the situation in Iraq, but three years of severe drought and widespread unemployment -- now estimated at 60 percent -- have left many Iraqis poor and in need of assistance. "While starvation has been averted, chronic malnutrition persists among several million vulnerable people, including some 100,000 refugees and around 200,000 internally displaced people," the website notes.
The hardest hit appear to be women and children living in central and southern Iraq, while the report notes that acute malnutrition has been nearly eliminated in Iraq's northern governorates. The report also notes that millions of Iraqis have no access to food except through the oil-for-food program, which is scheduled to end in November. The WFP estimates that some 3.5 million Iraqis will need supplementary food in 2004.
The Bush administration said on 17 September that it would be providing food assistance to Iraqis until at least June 2004, and officials declined to say whether the oil-for-food program would be phased out this November as planned, according to a Reuters report. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
GOVERNING COUNCIL PRESIDENT SAID TO BE CHALLENGING U.S. PLAN IN IRAQ.
Iraqi Governing Council President for September Ahmad Chalabi is reportedly seeking new alternatives to the U.S.-led administration in Iraq, much to the consternation of U.S. officials, nytimes.com reported on 23 September. Chalabi has reportedly sent his representatives to France and Germany to discuss those countries' proposals for a new UN mandate over Iraq that would transfer Iraq's administration to Iraqi leaders.
Chalabi, who is in New York to attend the UN General Assembly meeting on 23 September, has reportedly disturbed U.S. officials, who have repeatedly warned him and other Governing Council members to avoid a confrontation with U.S. administrator Bremer. One Chalabi aide told the daily that such a confrontation might be imminent, saying, "We don't want to come out in the open and pick a fight with Bremer...but the sovereignty issue is coming to a head, and it is pretty clear that a breach is coming pretty soon between the Governing Council and Bremer." Another aide told nytimes.com, "We are going to find a place where we can pick a fight."
Meanwhile, ft.com reported that some Governing Council members are either at odds with Chalabi's plans, or are unaware of them. The website quoted council member Adnan Pachachi's spokesman Sa'd Abd al-Razzaq as saying: "We are all very enthusiastic for Iraq to get its sovereignty. But...it is difficult to do it now, before a constitution and elections." Iraqi National Accord head and Governing Council member Iyad Allawi went a step further, saying that the council was not seeking full sovereignty at this stage, but wanted more control over Iraq's budget and security forces. Asked about a timetable for sovereignty, Allawi said, "I don't think anyone could produce an accurate timetable because so much will be dictated by events and capabilities." (Kathleen Ridolfo)CPA HEAD ADDRESSES SENATE ON U.S. SUPPLEMENTAL AID PACKAGE FOR IRAQ.
Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) head Bremer addressed the Senate Appropriations Committee on 22 September asking committee members to support President Bush's $87 billion supplemental request package for reconstruction efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The package, which includes $20.3 billion in grants for work in Iraq, would be the United States' most ambitious aid package since the Marshall Plan that funded European reconstruction after World War II, Bremer told committee members.
Bremer encouraged the committee to approve the "urgent" package, saying, "No one part of the supplemental package is dispensable." The package, he said, includes $5.1 billion to enhance security. Some $2 billion will go to fund and train the police, border enforcement, fire and civil defense, public safety training, and the establishment of a communications network to link the above-mentioned security departments. Another $2 billion would go to national defense forces, including the three-division New Iraqi Army and a civil-defense corps. Some $1 billion would fund the justice system -- to investigate war crimes; "security for witnesses, judges, and prosecutors"; and prison construction.
Regarding infrastructure, Bremer told the Senate committee that $5.7 billion would be used to rebuild Iraq's electrical system, $2.1 billion for the oil infrastructure, $3.7 billion for potable water and sewer and public works systems, and another $3.7 billion to develop water resources, housing and construction, transportation and communications, health care, and private-sector development. The text of Bremer's address to the Senate Appropriations Committee is available on the U.S. State Department's website (http://usinfo.state.gov). Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM chief John Abizaid are also testifying before the committee this week. (Kathleen Ridolfo)HUTTON INQUIRY WRAPS UP TESTIMONY.
The Lord Hutton Inquiry into the death of British scientist David Kelly (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 5 and 21 September) entered its final week of testimony this week. British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon and John Scarlett, chairman of the Joint Intelligence Committee, came under fire for their roles in the U.K. government's claims in its dossier on Iraq that Saddam Hussein could launch weapons of mass destruction within 45 minutes, U.K. press agencies reported.
This week's testimony revealed that Geoff Hoon and Alastair Campbell, the former director of communications for Prime Minister Tony Blair, plotted together to unmask David Kelly as the Defense Ministry source for BBC journalist Andrew Gilligan's reports on the dossier, believing that the exposure of Kelly as the source would discredit Gilligan's story, ft.com reported on 23 September. The revelation came when excerpts of Campbell's diary were presented to the inquiry.
The evidence reportedly contradicted testimony by Hoon on 22 September that claimed that the government "made great efforts to ensure Dr. Kelly's anonymity." Campbell's diary also notes that Prime Minister Blair took efforts to shield Kelly, advising Campbell and Hoon that Kelly "should be properly treated" by U.K. officials. In addition, Hoon admitted under cross-examination on 22 September that he had personally approved the Defense Ministry's plan of exposing Kelly by revealing his identity to the press.
Testimony on 23 September revealed that the controversial dossier was changed at the last moment at the request of Downing Street officials to remove the qualification that Iraq would only use biological and chemical weapons if attacked, telegraph.co.uk reported on 24 September. The change was reportedly made without the consent of all members of the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), the U.K.'s highest intelligence body. JIC Chairman John Scarlett testified under cross-examination that he changed the passage in the final draft on 19 September 2002 -- five days before the dossier was to be published -- without consulting the committee.
Scarlett made the change on the advice of Jonathan Powell, who suggested in an e-mail that the sentence "Intelligence indicates that as part of Iraq's military planning Saddam is prepared to use chemical and biological weapons if he believes his regime is under threat" needed to be changed because it was not strong enough. The published sentence read, "Intelligence indicates that as part of Iraq's military planning Saddam is willing to use chemical and biological weapons." Scarlett took responsibility for the change, denying that he was pressured to make the change. He testified instead that the e-mail "prompted" him to take another look at the intelligence. (Kathleen Ridolfo)