3 October 2003, Volume
IRAQI WAR CRIMES TRIBUNAL PROPOSED.
The Iraqi Governing Council is preparing to form a war crimes tribunal to try members of the deposed Hussein regime for crimes against its citizens, washingtonpost.com reported on 2 October. "All these people who were buried in mass graves, all these people who were tortured, all these people who were forcibly deported, all these people who had properties confiscated were victims," council member Samir Shakir Mahmud said. "And they were victims in the hundreds of thousands, if not millions." Mahmud said the council is committed to seeing that justice is served, but added that a statute establishing the war crimes tribunal will address only "mass crimes," the daily reported. International human rights groups have expressed concern over an Iraqi tribunal process, and instead have called for independent international experts to oversee a tribunal. The United States opposes international proceedings for Iraqi war crimes and has said it prefers Iraqis to oversee a tribunal. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL WARNS POLITICAL PARTIES, RELIGIOUS GROUPS AGAINST PARTISANSHIP.
The Iraqi Governing Council has reportedly warned religious groups and political parties not to interfere in the employment policies of state institutions, KUNA reported on 1 October. The council said in a statement that one's qualifications and skills should be the only factor in ministries' decisions and administrative affairs pertaining to unemployment, promotion, and dismissal, and that partisanship should not play a role. The statement is likely related to an earlier decision by the governing council to consider reinstating some former Ba'ath Party members who lost their jobs as a result of the Coalition Provisional Authority's (CPA) de-Ba'athification policy. (Kathleen Ridolfo)JOBLESS IRAQIS TURN VIOLENT IN BAGHDAD, MOSUL.
Protests by jobless Iraqis in Baghdad and Mosul turned violent on 1 October, international media reported. In Baghdad, protestors seeking jobs in the U.S.-supported security services threw rocks at a security building and reportedly set fire to a police car and civilian vehicle, Reuters reported. Iraqi police reportedly fired shots from automatic rifles and pistols at the crowd, wounding several people before U.S. troops secured the area. Many of the protesters said they were former members of the Iraqi Army. Protesters told AP that they had repeatedly come to the office of the Facilities Protection Force looking for jobs. Both AP and CNN reported that protestors complained that Iraqi police were asking for $100 bribes just to fill out a job application, while others said they were turned away and told by police that no jobs were available, despite earlier promises that they would be hired by July. In Mosul, a large crowd of protesters hurled rocks at an unemployment office before taking their protest to a local government building, Reuters reported. The crowd dispersed after security forces fired shots into the air. International officials, including U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer, have estimated the unemployment rate in Iraq at approximately 50 percent. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI MINISTRY PLANNING CENSUS.
The Iraqi Planning Ministry has formed a committee to prepare for a nationwide census, KUNA reported on 1 October. Planning Minister Mahdi al-Hafiz told the news agency that the census is an important step toward the transfer of power to a sovereign Iraqi government, because it will serve as the basis for the electoral process, as it will be used to compile a list of eligible voters for national elections. Al-Hafiz said he hopes the census will be carried out by next year. The census will also track the number of Iraqis living inside and outside Iraq, and will collect information about the ethnic and religious diversity of the country. The last Iraqi census, carried out under the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein in 1997, did not include the autonomous Kurdish areas in the north. The details of that census were not widely publicized by the regime. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKOMAN LEADER SURVIVES ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN IRAQ.
A Turkoman Islamic leader reportedly escaped an assassination attempt in northern Iraq on 29 September, KUNA reported on 30 September. Sami Dunmer was attacked after leaving a meeting in Tikrit where Arabs and Kurds had gathered to form a municipal council. He called at the meeting for Turkoman representation in the council. An unidentified source told KUNA that Dunmer was attacked on a road between Salah Al-Din and Tikrit, and was rushed to a hospital in Turkey for treatment for a head wound. The source claimed that Kurds were behind the attack. (Kathleen Ridolfo)GOVERNING COUNCIL CONSIDERS REINSTATING BA'ATHISTS.
The Iraqi Governing Council said on 30 September that it would consider reinstating some Ba'athists that were expelled from their government jobs under an order issued by CPA head L. Paul Bremer in May (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 16 May 2003). The Governing Council said in a directive that it would form committees to consider possible exemptions to the de-Ba'athification policy. The change in policy could allow former Ba'ath party members to return to their jobs, or be reinstated in order to receive retirement benefits, latimes.com reported on 1 October. But, Coalition Provisional Authority spokesman Charles Heatley said on 29 September that there would be no appeals mechanism. He said that there is a "procedure for exemptions which could be considered on the basis of whether people are both essential to their jobs, and whether they did not, in fact, commit any crimes in their previous employment...there've been very few cases of those exemptions granted," AP reported on 30 September. Under Saddam Hussein, between 25,000 and 50,000 Ba'ath party member held high-ranking government posts. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI OIL MINISTER INTERVIEWED ON RECONSTRUCTION EFFORTS.
Iraqi interim Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum told London's "Al-Hayat" of September that the rehabilitation of Iraq's oil fields is the priority of the Iraqi interim government. "The process of rehabilitating current producing fields may take two years," he said. "Therefore, we do not expect a boom in oil production for Iraq before around three to four years from now." Bahr al-Ulum stressed that his ministry intends to ask former oil workers dismissed from their jobs by the former regime to return, adding that Iraq will require the international community's help in rebuilding its oil sector. He said the ministry plans to develop its oil sector both vertically and horizontally, giving priority to oil refineries, petrochemicals, and liquid gas. The ministry will leave the issue of privatizing the oil sector to a future elected Iraqi parliament. Regarding oil contracts negotiated by deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, Bahr al-Ulum said each contract will be subject to review, and contracts that "conflict with the interests of the Iraqi people" will be canceled. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQIS REPORTEDLY SAY THEY CANNOT MEET U.S. DEADLINE FOR CONSTITUTION.
A leading Iraqi official has said the U.S.-imposed six-month deadline for drafting a constitution cannot be met, "The Washington Post" reported on 30 September. "It's impossible to do it in six months, as [U.S. Secretary of State Colin] Powell wants," said former Iraqi judge and Iraqi Governing Council member Dara Nur al-Din, who acts as the council's liaison to the constitutional drafting committee. "It's unreasonable. It takes much more time than this -- much more." Nur al-Din added that Iraqis must first decide how to select the members of the drafting committee. Once the committee is formed, they must then decide on a number of issues regarding the future state -- such as whether it will be Islamic and whether it will be based on a presidential or parliamentary system.
U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell told the Iraqi Governing Council that it has six months to draft a new Iraqi constitution, nytimes.com reported on 26 September. "We would like to put a deadline on them," Powell told the daily, adding, "They've got six months. It'll be a difficult deadline to meet, but we've got to get them going." The United States has been under mounting pressure by UN member states demanding that Washington set a specific timetable for its transfer of power to a new Iraqi government.
Powell suggested in the interview that the Governing Council should set a timetable in the near future. "Now, if they take forever to give us the answer to that question, then we've got a problem," Powell said. "But I think they'll give us an answer fairly quickly." An unidentified U.S. official told "The Washington Post" that the U.S. administration is confident the Iraqis will meet the deadline, the daily reported on 30 September. "If a constitution has to be drafted before there can be a government, you bet we'll get a constitution."
Meanwhile, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters during a 30 September press briefing (http://www.state.gov) that the United States will be flexible with the six-month deadline. Boucher said Powell "said this could be done in six months, maybe. We'd like to see it done in six months, but it's a matter for the Iraqis to decide...to determine how they want to handle this process, and what kind of timeframe they can do it in." (Kathleen Ridolfo)GOVERNING COUNCIL MEMBERS REJECT REPORTS OF TENSION BETWEEN IRAQ, U.S.
Iraqi Governing Council members are denying widespread press reports citing tension between members of the council -- specifically President for September Ahmad Chalabi -- and Washington over issues of transfer of power (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 25 September 2003), according to a report by the U.S. State Department's "Washington File" posted on the State Department website (http://usinfo.state.gov) on 25 September. "We have no disagreement with the United States government. We are not at odds with the United States," the report quoted Chalabi as telling reporters at the United Nations on 24 September. Referring to U.S. President George W. Bush's recent speech to the UN General Assembly (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 24 September 2003), Chalabi added, "There is nothing in his speech that we disagree with. We share the common objective of having a free, democratic Iraq in the international community."
Meanwhile, interim Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari reportedly said, "There is no difference whatsoever between the views of the governing council and the United States or the coalition on how we should proceed and move forward." (Kathleen Ridolfo)BAGHDAD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT DISMISSED FOR NOT EXCLUDING BA'ATHIST PROFESSORS.
Iraqi interim Higher Education Minister Ziad Abd al-Razzaq has reportedly dismissed Baghdad University President Sami al-Muzaffar from his position after al-Muzaffar refused to abide by an Iraqi Governing Council decision to exclude senior Ba'athists from the university's teaching and administrative staff, Al-Jazeera reported on 27 September. "Regrettably, [al-Muzaffar] stood against this [de-Ba'athification] measure despite the fact that I had called him several times and tried to convince him of implementing the decision" of the governing council, Abd al-Razzaq said. He added that he believes al-Muzaffar was keeping professors in their positions because of personal relations. Al-Muzaffar told the satellite news channel in a 27 September interview that he will not recognize the authority of the interim minister. "I was not relieved from my duties and [Abd al-Razzaq] has no authority to discharge me," al-Muzaffar said. "I am a person who was elected while he is the one who has been appointed." Al-Muzaffar accused Abd al-Razzaq of sending contradictory orders to the university and denied that he kept Ba'athists on staff because of personal relations. He said he will remain at home but added that he considers the dismissal "illegal." (Kathleen Ridolfo)KURDISH DAILY CRITICIZES U.S. IMMUNITY DEAL WITH FORMER IRAQI DEFENSE MINISTER.
Kurdishmedia.com carried an article on 28 September criticizing the special treatment given to former Iraqi Defense Minister Sultan Hashim Ahmad upon his surrender to coalition forces on 18 September (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 September 2003), considering that Ahmad is known to have participated in the 1988 Anfal campaign during which, according to Human Rights Watch (http://www.hrw.org), then-President Saddam Hussein's forces killed 50,000 to 100,000 Kurds from February to September 1988 alone. Kurdishmedia.com reprinted a letter by Ahmad to Hussein dated March 1988 in which Ahmad refers to himself as the "chief of Anfal Operation," listing the names of villages destroyed by Iraqi troops. The article also details meetings between Hussein and Ahmad, including one in Al-Sulaymaniyah that was held just four days prior to the massacre of some 5,000 Kurds in the nearby town of Halabjah. The report also questions Kurdish human rights activist Dawud Bagistani's role in helping negotiate Ahmad's surrender and speculates whether the United States granted immunity to Ahmad in the hope that he might provide information on Iraq's WMD program. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SCHOOLS REOPEN IN IRAQ.
Iraqi schools reopened this week, but many schoolchildren will be using old textbooks, as the U.S.-led administration in Iraq races to get revised post-Hussein textbooks to classrooms, international media reported. "Some textbooks are creeping round Al-Basrah, and some are being unloaded, but we had to get schools started," Bill Evers, a U.S. adviser to the Iraqi Education Ministry told FT.com on 1 October. Evers said that officials at the Education Ministry were advised to tell teachers to "teach around" textbook references to deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.
UNICEF spokesman Geoffrey Keele told the daily that 40 million out of 66 million new books on order had been printed, with the remainder to be completed by the end of November. UNICEF and UNESCO were commissioned to print the books, with $10 million in funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), and another $67 million from the oil-for-food program. Some 852,000 textbooks were stuck at the Kuwait border on 30 September, while UNICEF scrambled to find a military escort to bring the books into Iraq, U.S. officials in Baghdad told FT.com.
Returning teachers will also see a change. Some 1,200 schools have been rebuilt or upgraded with an average of $35,000 going to each school, Bechtel spokesman Francis Canavan told FT.com. Bechtel was awarded the contract to rebuild the schools by the U.S. government (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report, 23 May 2003). Teachers are also receiving a pay raise, averaging between $67 and $335 month. Under the Hussein regime, they were paid between $5 and $13 month, AP reported on 1 October. Portraits of Hussein, which once adorned the walls of each classroom, are also gone. U.S. 1st Armored Division soldiers have delivered truckloads of new magic markers, crayons, and watercolors donated by U.S. military families. USAID is also providing students with book bags, pencils, and pocket calculators, FT.com reported. According to Reuters, some 4.5 million Iraqi children will head back to the classroom this week. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. FORCES UNCOVER WEAPONS CACHES IN IRAQ.
U.S. forces uncovered large stores of weapons in Iraq from 27-28 September. A weapons cache on 27 September near deposed President Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, AP reported on 28 September. The discovery was one of the largest caches seized by U.S. forces since April, Major Mike Rauhut said. The cache included some 23 Russian-made surface-to-air missiles, 450 kilograms of plastic explosives, grenades and grenade launchers, rockets, a mortar, and mortar rounds, he said. Nytimes.com reported the number of grenades seized at more than 400. Another discovery near Kirkuk on 27 September uncovered eight SA-7 surface-to-air missiles, seven mortar tubes, and "a substantial number of electrical switches" used to make homemade bombs, AP quoted Major Josslyn Aberle as saying on 28 September. Meanwhile, Iraqi police uncovered a cache in Baghdad on 27 September that included more than 10 small rockets without warheads. AP reported that the warheads were likely removed to be used in the construction of roadside bombs. Police General Ahmad Kadhim Ibrahim said the weapons were smuggled into Al-Basrah port from an unidentified neighboring country and brought to Baghdad. An informant's tip led police to the weapons.
U.S. forces had little luck on 29 September, however, in tracking down about a dozen "triggermen" believed to be responsible for assassinating members of the new Iraqi police force, drive-by shootings, and roadside bombings, Reuters reported on 29 September. Four suspects were arrested in raids on 15 houses in the early morning hours, but many suspects eluded capture. "The 12 to 15 we were after were the trigger pullers. This was the biggest operation we've conducted in Tikrit so far," Lieutenant Colonel David Poirier told reporters. "Unfortunately, it looks like we didn't get any of them." Poirier added that the suspects are constantly on the run, changing houses on a daily basis. Some 100 U.S. soldiers and 200 Iraqi police participated in the operation. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.S. FORCES CAPTURE THREE SUSPECTED OF ABDUCTING U.S. SOLDIERS.
U.S. forces have captured three individuals suspected of abducting two U.S. soldiers in June, according to a press release posted on the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) website on 29 September (http://www.centcom.mil). The incident occurred when the automobile the four were riding in "attempted to run a coalition traffic control point near Al-Dujayl," according to the press release. A gunfight then erupted between the vehicle's occupants and U.S. forces, and one suspect inside the vehicle was killed. U.S. troops then searched the vehicle and discovered two M16 rifles identified as the weapons assigned to two U.S. soldiers abducted on 25 June while guarding a cache of seized explosives near the village of Halabsa, northeast of Dujayl. The soldiers' bodies were later found in Taji on 28 June. The car search also yielded an AK-47 assault rifle, an Iraqi military uniform, and other "equipment," according to CENTCOM. (Kathleen Ridolfo)ACCUSATIONS FLY BETWEEN CZECH TROOPS AND SHI'ITE CLERIC IN IRAQ.
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has reportedly accused Czech doctors working in the southern Iraqi city of Al-Basrah of distributing a passage of the Koran on which derogatory comments were written, Czech radio reported on 30 September. Czech Defense Ministry spokesman Ladislav Sticha responded by calling al-Sadr's allegations "an act of provocation that is clearly aimed at destabilizing the situation in Al-Basrah." He added that the defamatory comments were written "in very poor English and contain a number of grammatical errors frequently made by local people."
Meanwhile, Czech Ambassador to Kuwait Jana Hybaskova told CTK on 20 September that Shaykh Sabah Saidi, an associate of al-Sadr, has made threats against the Czech field hospital. Hybaskova traveled to Al-Basrah to meet with local authorities and said she and the authorities believe the text is a forgery and a provocation, and that the Czech field hospital will continue to operate. She added that the hospital's relations with the local population remain good. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
JORDAN TO TRAIN 30,000 IRAQI SECURITY FORCES.
Jordan will soon begin training some 30,000 Iraqi security personnel, King Abdullah II told AFP in an interview published by Jordan News Agency on 29 September. King Abdullah said his country is in the final stages of preparation for the training course. "There will be eight-week courses, and every course will be attended by 1,500 Iraqis. Soon we will receive the first batch of 3,000," he said. "There will also be training for instructors, and an initial 100 Iraqi instructors will be trained in the Jordanian police academy." However, the king stressed that sending Jordanian soldiers to Iraq is not an option. "I don't think it is fair to the Iraqis, nor to any of [Iraq's] neighbors," he said. Meanwhile, the Jordanian government has reportedly acknowledged that "several dozen" Jordanians are among the prisoners of war now in coalition custody at Umm Qasr in southern Iraq, dpa reported on 29 September. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KUWAIT REJECTS U.S. SUGGESTION TO DROP DEBT CLAIMS.
Kuwaiti parliamentarians rejected a call by the U.S. for Kuwait to drop its claims amounting to billions of dollars for war reparations owed by Iraq, Reuters reported on 28 September. "This is some kind of (U.S.) pressure on Kuwait...the issue of the reparations is something that concerns the impacted countries and the United Nations," Kuwaiti MP Yousif al-Zalzalah told "Al-Watan" daily on the same day. "The  Iraqi occupation happened, so the past political leadership or the one that follows it must bear responsibility for that occupation," another MP, Khalid al-Adwa said. Reuters reported that U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer said that "it is curious to me to have a country whose [annual] per capita income GDP is about $800...pay reparations to countries whose per-capita GDP is a factor of 10 times that," for the 1990 war, even though the majority of Iraqis opposed the invasion.
According to Reuters, Iraq owed some $98 billion in reparations to Kuwait and Saudi Arabia for the 1990 invasion and subsequent war. As of 18 September, the United Nations Compensation Commission has paid out some $17.8 billion to individuals, corporations, and governments with claims stemming from the occupation and war (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 September 2003). Meanwhile, the UN estimates the total asserted value of claims to be $350 billion. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRANIAN AGENTS ENTERING IRAQ DISGUISED AS PILGRIMS.
Hundreds of Iranian agents have infiltrated Iraq disguised as pilgrims, according to a 28 September report by the London-based "Sunday Telegraph." The agents were dispatched at the order of the radical clergy, who do not want to see a stable and unified Iraq, according to Iraqi political leaders. An Iranian opposition group called the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) told the weekly that some translators employed by the U.S.-led administration in Iraq are working for the Iranian government and says it has knowledge of Iranian intelligence agents working in Iraq, particularly in the holy cities of Al-Najaf and Karbala, which are frequented by Iranian pilgrims. "The Iranian agents have melted into the population and are just waiting until the moment is right," one NCRI official said. Iran has reportedly also sent agents across its vast borders with Iraq to recruit sympathizers for its spy networks. One Iraqi exile told the "Sunday Telegraph" that a number of Iranian Revolutionary Guard agents deployed to Al-Najaf were working within the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). SCIRI was based in Iran for over 20 years and funded by the Iranian government. U.S. officials have long-accused Iran of attempting to interfere in Iraqi politics since the downfall of the Hussein regime. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SUBMITS DRAFT IRAQ RESOLUTION TO SECURITY COUNCIL.
The United States submitted a draft resolution on Iraq to the UN Security Council on 1 October, international media reported. The draft allows for a UN role in the rebuilding of Iraq, but reportedly falls short of meeting European demands for a concrete date for the transfer of power back to Iraqis. It does call for Iraq's administration to be "progressively undertaken by the evolving structures of the Iraqi interim administration," and calls on the Iraqi Governing Council to set a timetable for the drafting of an Iraqi constitution and a date for national elections.
The draft also calls for the establishment of a multinational force to contribute to security in Iraq and calls on UN member states to contribute financial aid and troops to this end. U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Negroponte said on 1 October that the United States would like to see the resolution passed before the international donors conference on Iraq, scheduled for 24 October in Madrid. The U.S. holds the Security Council presidency for the month of October. The text of the draft resolution can be viewed at http://www.msnbc.com/news/974711.asp. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UN SAYS WORK GOES ON DESPITE WITHDRAWAL OF INTERNATIONAL STAFF.
The UN has said that the work of UN agencies in Iraq has thus far been unhindered despite the withdrawal of most of its international staff from the country (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 26 September 2003). "We have sufficient staff in-country, national and international staff, to carry out everything that is an essential humanitarian task," UN Acting Head of Operations Kevin Kennedy told reporters in Baghdad, UN News Center reported on 1 October (http://www.un.org/news). "Our number of international staff throughout all of Iraq varies from day to day, with about 40 to 50 at the moment, but that changes literally on a daily basis depending on the circumstances and the operations that we are carrying out," he added. There were some 650 international staff in Iraq prior to the 19 August bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 29 August 2003). (Kathleen Ridolfo)OIL-FOR-FOOD DIRECTOR SAYS DELAYS WILL IMPACT PROGRAM'S CLOSING.
The Executive Director of the Office of the Iraq Program, Benon Sevan told the UN Security Council in his 29 September progress report that the 19 August bombing of UN headquarters in Baghdad and the subsequent reduction of international UN staff in Iraq, coupled with slow movement on the part of the U.S.-led administration in Iraq have all affected his office's ability to meet its timeline for closing the program on 21 November. UN Security Council Resolution 1483 (May) called for the phasing out of the program, which provided Iraqis with humanitarian supplies since December 1996 pursuant to UN Security Council Resolution 986 (April, 1995).
Sevan noted in his report that "handover preparations and best-case scenarios have been undermined by chronic insecurity and the tragic terrorist attack of 19 August on UN headquarters in Baghdad." In talking points on the program, posted on the UN website (http://www.un.org/depts./oip), Sevan said that the minimum number of UN international staff required for an orderly transfer of UN oil-for-food assets is 115, which means that the program cannot support transfer, since the UN reduced its international staff in Iraq last month. "Accordingly, in the absence of the minimum number of required international staff, the only alternative course of action could be the transfer of assets, ongoing operations, and responsibility for the administration of any remaining activity under the program to the Coalition Provisional Authority [CPA] together with the relevant documentation," Sevan recommended. His progress report added that the CPA needed to increase the number of its staff working on the transfer "most expeditiously" in order to help the transfer process. Sevan said that his office would keep the Security Council posted on a weekly basis, as the situation might change depending upon the security situation in Iraq, and the possibility that international UN staff might return. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
EU PLEDGES 200 MILLION EUROS FOR IRAQI RECONSTRUCTION...
The European Commission pledged 200 million euros for Iraqi reconstruction efforts on 1 October, international media reported. European Union External Affairs Commissioner Chris Patten made the announcement ahead of an international donors' conference set for 24 October. "We very much hope that the discussions in Madrid will help to repair at least some of the damage that the Iraqi crisis has caused to the UN and to the multilateral system," middle-east-online.com quoted Patten as saying. Iraqi officials are seeking some $70 billion to finance reconstruction over the next 4-5 years.
Japan has said that it may pledge up to $1 billion to Iraqi reconstruction (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 18 September 2003). Regarding the EC pledge, Patten said, "Some people have said that that's too much, some people have said that it's too little. I think it's a realistic amount especially if you consider our budgetary restraints." Asked how much EU member states might individually pledge at the Madrid conference, Patten said, "I don't have a figure, but I'm looking forward to seeing it." (Kathleen Ridolfo)�AS U.S. SENATE PANEL APPROVES $87 BILLION FOR RECONSTRUCTION.
A U.S. Senate committee approved an $87 billion bill to fund the postwar reconstruction in Iraq and Afghanistan on 30 September, Reuters reported. The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the bill, but said some of the $20 billion called for by the White House as a grant to Iraq may be restructured into a loan. Some $65.6 billion of the bill will go to fund military operations in Iraq. "The Boston Globe" reported on 1 October that the Senate Democratic Policy Committee has criticized the bill, which includes $3.6 million for 600 radios and phones -- at a cost of $6,000 per unit. Other expenditures include $400 million for two prisons, at an average cost of $50,000 per bed. American high-security prisons cost $26,134 per bed, the group reported.
Although approved in committee, the debate is hardly over. Senator Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota), a member of the committee, had presented an amendment to the bill calling for Iraq's future oil revenue to be used as collateral for loans that would be sought on the international market, the "San Francisco Chronicle" reported on 1 October. Before the war, Iraq's oil sales amounted to around $14 billion a year, but current revenues are far lower. Dorgan's amendment failed in the Appropriations Committee on a 15-to-14 vote. But senators Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania) and Robert Bennett (Republican, Utah), said they might review the plan while the full Senate takes up the bill. The White House has expressed opposition to changing the grants to a loan for the reconstruction aid because Iraq is already in debt for some $200 billion incurred by the former regime. (Kathleen Ridolfo)WMD INSPECTOR REPORTEDLY SPECULATES THAT HUSSEIN WAS BLUFFING.
"The Washington Post" reported on 1 October that U.S. weapons inspector David Kay is "pursuing the possibility" that in an effort to stave off a U.S. invasion of Iraq this year, deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein bluffed about distributing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to his forces. "The idea of [WMD] deployment and the authority to launch was very solid [before the war]," former UN weapons inspector David Albright told the daily. "But it's now being looked at as possibly misinformation or that [Hussein's regime was] playing with us," he said. Kay is expected to report to Congress this week that Hussein retained the country's ability to develop chemical and biological weapons and planned to reconstitute Iraq's nuclear program once UN sanctions on Iraq were lifted. (Kathleen Ridolfo)U.K. REPRESENTATIVE TO IRAQ SAYS COALITION CAN GO IT ALONE.
Sir Jeremy Greenstock has told BBC radio that the coalition could manage in Iraq without the help of additional international troops, Reuters reported on 28 September. "It would be a very good development if we had a wider international involvement but that doesn't mean to say we cannot do what needs to be done with the forces we have deployed already," said Greenstock, a former U.K. ambassador to the UN. Britain currently has some 10,000 troops in Iraq, and the United States has about 130,000 military personnel there. The United States plans to send about 15,000 additional troops in the coming weeks. Greenstock was appointed special representative in June (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 21 June 2003), and is the British equivalent of U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)