16 October 2003, Volume
NEW IRAQI CURRENCY DEBUTS.
New Iraqi banknotes issued by the U.S.-led administration debuted across Iraq on 15 October, international media reported. The banknotes are re-styled versions of older Iraqi notes, minus the image of deposed Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.
The banknotes are modeled on the "Swiss dinar," the Iraqi banknote used until 1990 in Iraq, when Hussein began printing new dinars bearing his likeness. Swiss dinars remained the currency of U.S.-protected northern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War. The new currency is offered in six new denominations and includes anticounterfeiting safeguards not previously available on Iraqi currency. The new dinar notes will be available in denominations of 50, 250, 1,000, 5,000, 10,000 and 25,000 dinars, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) website reported (http://www.cpa-iraq.org).
Both the pre-1990 Iraqi Swiss dinar, and the Saddam notes can be exchanged for the new dinar until 15 January 2004. The CPA has designated 250 exchange locations for citizens to exchange their money at a rate of one new dinar for one Saddam dinar, and 150 new dinars for one Swiss dinar. The new currency can be viewed on the CPA website. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SUICIDE CAR BOMBER ATTACKS TURKISH EMBASSY IN BAGHDAD.
A suicide car bomber detonated his vehicle outside the Turkish Embassy in Baghdad on 14 October, killing himself and injuring two embassy workers, international media reported. AP reported that hospital officials said as many as 13 were wounded in the incident. Preventive security measures implemented in recent days at the embassy likely protected embassy employees from sustaining serious injury or death, U.S. officials in Baghdad said.
In Ankara, Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin told reporters on 14 October, "I think that this attack is not an attack specially staged against Turkey and [the] Turkish Embassy," Anatolia news agency reported. Meanwhile, the news agency quoted Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul as telling reporters outside the Organization of the Islamic Conference's annual summit in Malaysia on 14 October, "This incident has once more showed the need for contributions of everybody to the settlement of stability and security in Iraq." The Turkish National Assembly voted last week to contribute up to 10,000 troops to peacekeeping efforts in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SUICIDE BOMBER ATTACKS BAGHDAD HOTEL.
A suicide car bomber tried to infiltrate the grounds of the Baghdad hotel, detonating his vehicle after crashing through a security barrier there on 12 October, international press reported. U.S. and Iraqi Governing Council officials use the hotel, as well as U.S. government contractors. It is also rumored to be used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) -- something that U.S. officials in Washington have denied. The bombing killed eight Iraqis and injured more than 35 individuals.
Iraqi police chief Ahmad Ibrahim told Reuters that the suicide vehicle was detonated 100 meters from the hotel, blowing a 3-meter by 3-meter crater in the road. International media reported that the blast could be felt several blocks away. "I don't have a size [of the bomb], but we do know that the car was a small car -- a sedan type, so, [it could have been] as much as explosives as they could pack in the car," Radio Free Iraq quoted U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Peter Mansur as saying.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera on 12 October, Iraqi Governing Council member Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i said that the incident should not be interpreted as a deterioration of security in Iraq. "The security situation is improving...I hope the Arab media will not call it resistance. I hope they will call a spade a spade and say that this is terrorism that targets the Iraqi people and their interests," he added. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI OIL MINISTER, INC AIDE ESCAPE ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT.
Iraqi Oil Minister Ibrahim Bahr al-Ulum and Nabil al-Musawi, an aide to Iraqi National Congress head and Governing Council member Ahmad Chalabi, escaped an assassination attempt in Baghdad on 12 October, the Saudi Press Agency reported on 13 October.
The incident occurred in the Mansur district of Baghdad when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a convoy of five vehicles transporting the two men. "The two men were traveling in the same car in a five-vehicle convoy when the motorcade came under fire from a speeding car," an unidentified source told middle-east-online.com. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI CLERIC AL-SADR ESTABLISHES ISLAMIC 'SHADOW' GOVERNMENT.
Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr announced his intention to form an Islamic state in Iraq by establishing a shadow government there, complete with ministries, international media reported on 11 October. Al-Sadr announced his new government during his sermon at Friday prayers in Al-Kufah on 10 October.
The anti-U.S. cleric said that he has established ministries of Awqaf (religious endowments), culture, finance, foreign affairs, information, interior, justice, and the "ministry for the propagation of virtue and the prevention of vice," Al-Jazeera reported on 11 October. Al-Sadr's followers have reportedly taken over two buildings in the holy city of Al-Najaf that they intend to use as the headquarters of the Interior Ministry and Foreign Ministry, Al-Jazeera reported on 13 October. The satellite news channel also reported clashes on 13 October between al-Sadr's followers and Spanish troops, which erupted when the coalition soldiers tried to disarm al-Sadr's guards. On 10 October, two U.S. soldiers and two Iraqis were killed during a gun battle between coalition forces and al-Sadr's followers outside the cleric's Baghdad office.
Coalition troops are not the only target of al-Sadr's forces. Fighting broke out in Karbala on 13 October when al-Sadr's men attacked supporters of moderate Shi'ite Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani near the Imam Hussein shrine. The fighting lasted several hours, with varying reports as to the number of dead ranging from one to seven individuals, Reuters reported on 14 October. Shaykh Muhammad Kin'ani told the news agency that al-Sadr's men tried to gain control over the shrine from al-Sistani's security forces.
Al-Sadr discussed his newly formed shadow government in a 14 October press conference broadcast by Al-Jazeera in Al-Najaf. Al-Sadr claimed to reporters that his government has found "credibility and support" abroad. Asked why he considered his shadow government more legitimate than the Iraqi Governing Council, since neither are elected governments, al-Sadr replied: "The Governing Council is subject to [a] U.S. veto. But, in our new government, there will be no submission to or veto by the occupation." Asked whether his formation of a shadow government should be considered an uprising, al-Sadr replied, "This could be an uprising, but it would be a peaceful uprising in which the Iraqi people would express their opinion, nothing more and nothing less." He added that his government will operate from Baghdad and Al-Najaf, but said he hoped the new Iraqi capital would someday be in Al-Najaf.
Iraqi Governing Council members criticized the cleric's shadow government in interviews this week, but did not appear alarmed by his move. "I believe there is no justification for this move by Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr," Mas'ud Barzani told Al-Jazeera on 12 October. Governing Council member Fu'ad Ma'sum called the al-Sadr "state" a "publicity stunt" in an interview with Cairo's Voice of the Arabs radio the same day. "There is no person or political party in Iraq capable of forming a government by itself, and this includes Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr," he said. Ma'sum added that the al-Sadr move did not constitute a threat to Iraqi cohesiveness. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UKRAINIANS SENTENCED TO SEVEN YEARS FOR OIL SMUGGLING.
Two Ukrainians have been convicted on charges of smuggling Iraqi oil and sentenced to seven years in Iraqi prison, Kyiv's "Ukrayinska pravda" reported on 13 October. Mykola Mazurenko, captain of the "Navstar-1" tanker, and his assistant Ivan Soshchenko were arrested in August and charged with the illegal acquisition of 3,500 tons of fuel (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 7 October 2003). The men have also been fined $2.4 million each for smuggling oil. "The main message lies in the fact that the time for organized oil contraband is over," CPA legal adviser Mike Kelly said. "You will lose your ship, lose your cargo, and your captain will be imprisoned, if you continue to carry out organized contraband," he said. (Kathleen Ridolfo)KURDISH PARLIAMENT TAKES DOWN IRAQI FLAG.
The Kurdish parliament has reportedly decided to no longer fly the Iraqi flag of the deposed Hussein regime, Voice of the Mujahedin reported on 13 October. The flag is banned from government institutions and departments run by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Parliament members said that the Kurds view the flag as a representation of the former regime and its despotic policies and ethnic persecution. KDP member Natiq Ghafur told the radio station that the decision to not fly the flag was made following requests by the Kurdish people that the flag not be flown. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SHI'ITE RELIGIOUS OFFICIAL TARGETED IN EXPLOSION.
An Iraqi Shi'ite religious leader was targeted in a Baghdad explosion on 12 October, MENA reported the same day. The explosion occurred in the Al-Karkh area of Baghdad when a land mine attached to a lamppost was detonated as a convoy of vehicles passed by transporting Husayn al-Shami, an official of the Iraqi Awqaf Commission. Four people, including al-Shami, were injured in the incident. "Those left of Saddam [Hussein's loyalists] are still dreaming and thinking in dark labyrinths. They are still afraid of sunlight, thinking in dark rooms, and targeting the children, women, life, and air in Iraq," Al-Jazeera quoted al-Shami as saying. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TWO IRAQI POLICE OFFICERS KILLED, TWO INJURED IN IRBIL ATTACK.
Two Iraqi policemen were killed and two were injured when their patrol came under attack in the northern Iraqi city of Irbil, Kurdistan Satellite TV reported on 9 October. The incident occurred when armed assailants fired on a police vehicle transporting the officers. Two civilians were also killed in the attack, the Irbil police chief told the satellite channel. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI JUSTICE MINISTER DISCUSSES PROGRESS.
Iraqi Justice Minister Hisham Abd al-Rahman al-Shibli told London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" in an interview published on 9 October that his ministry has made much progress in recent weeks towards rehabilitating the Iraqi judicial system. "The first thing we did was to pass decisions on the independence of the judiciary...the judiciary has become totally independent of the executive authority..." he said. The ministry will soon review all decisions and laws imposed by the deposed Iraqi regime "so as to replace them with ones that serve the Iraqi people's interest," al-Shibli added.
The justice minister told "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" that the ministry will establish a "special court consisting of Iraqi judges" to try former regime members for crimes against the Iraqi people. Regarding the prosecution of Arab fighters, al-Shibli said, "We will punish anyone who commits a crime against the Iraqi people." (Kathleen Ridolfo)AL-BASRAH AIRPORT OPENING DELAYED AGAIN.
The reopening of the Al-Basrah Airport has been postponed indefinitely, Voice of the Mujahedin Radio quoted British Army spokesman Hisham Halawi as saying on 9 October. The delay is due to continued instability in the area and inadequate infrastructure at the airport. (Kathleen Ridolfo)IRAQI POLICE DEFUSE EXPLOSIVE DEVICE AT AL-BASRAH UNIVERSITY.
Iraqi police recently defused an explosive device found in a residential area of the University of Al-Basrah, "Al-Ta'akhi" reported on 9 October. The police team received help from a coalition explosives unit in the operation. According to "Al-Ta'akhi," the device was discovered in an area where the university's teaching staff resides. Explosive devices have been discovered in recent months at other universities in Iraq, including Baghdad University. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SHI'ITE CLERIC ADVISES IRAQIS NOT TO TRUST COALITION.
An Iraqi Shi'ite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Bashir al-Najafi, reportedly advised Iraqis at a recent seminar not to believe the promises of the U.S.-led coalition in Iraq, the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq's (SCIRI) Voice of the Mujahedin radio reported on 10 October. "We should know that most of the grievances Muslims are facing all over the world are caused by international oppression that is led by the United States and its henchmen," al-Najafi said.
The anti-U.S. cleric reportedly escaped an attempted assassination on 7 September when security men from SCIRI discovered an assassin in al-Najafi's house, AFP reported on 9 September. The would-be assassin confessed to being a member of the Saddam Fedayeen, and also reportedly confessed to the killing of two U.S. soldiers in Baghdad. (Kathleen Ridolfo)FORMER REGIME MEMBER ARRESTED FOR POSSESSION OF IRAQI PASSPORTS.
A raid on the home of a security officer from the deposed Hussein regime's General Passports Department uncovered an undisclosed number of blank passports, seals, and a heat press belonging to the General Passports Department, Baghdad's "Al-Sa'ah al-Mustaqillah" reported on 11 October. Iraqi policemen and coalition troops, who conducted the joint raid, arrested Tahsin Abd al-Razzaq Fullayih. It is unclear whether Fullayih was attempting to sell the passports illegally.
According to CPA Order 16 signed in June, Iraqi passports issued by the deposed regime remain valid until their expiration date. Any Iraqi passport that has expired in the past four years is also considered valid "for the exclusive purpose of a one-time return trip to Iraq if travel is completed before 31 December 2003," according to the CPA website (http://www.cpa-iraq.org). (Kathleen Ridolfo)LEADER OF NEW POLITICAL PARTY REVEALS INSPIRATION.
The leader of a new political party, the Unified Democratic Grouping, told Baghdad's "Ukaz al-Mustaqbal" in an interview published on 7 October that he was inspired by God to form his political party. "This idea, in which no one else took part, took shape in my mind. But I know that Almighty God is the one that revealed the suggestion to me," Fawwaz Dahham al-Hulayyil said.
Al-Hulayyil told the newspaper that his party has large support "from all cross sections" of society and is active in a number of Iraqi governorates. He declined to reveal his party's sources for funding, saying only that the party relies on its "own capabilities" to finance its activities. Asked about his attitude toward coalition forces, al-Hulayyil claimed that the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq was undemocratic, adding, "We are ready for dialogue" with the U.S. "The dialogue will be for the purpose of setting the appointed time of their evacuation...." (Kathleen Ridolfo)
KUWAITI CABINET FORMS COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE IRAQI WAR CRIMES.
The Kuwaiti cabinet has decided to form a committee to examine war crimes by the deposed Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein that took place during Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait and the subsequent 1991 Gulf War, KUNA reported on 12 October. The committee will examine illegal acts with the purpose of seeking a legal resolution to the crimes.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of State for Cabinet and National Assembly Affairs Muhammad Dhaifallah Sharar said following the decision that the committee would be chaired by the Ministry of Justice, and comprise representatives of the Foreign, Fatwa and Legislation, and Interior ministries, as well as the Public Authority for the Assessment of Compensation for Losses (incurred during the invasion), the Martyr Office, and the National Committee for Prisoners of War and Missing Affairs.
Sharar added that the committee would seek to enforce international agreements regarding war crimes and genocide. The remains of a number of Kuwaiti nationals missing since 1990-91 have been discovered in mass graves in Iraq since the Hussein regime's downfall. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TURKEY PLANS NEW BORDER GATE WITH IRAQ.
Plans are reportedly under way for the construction of a new border crossing between Turkey and Iraq, Istanbul's NTV reported on 8 October. The new "Ali Riza Efendi" border gate will be in Ovakoy, which is located 12 kilometers from Silopi, where the Habur border crossing is located.
The new gate will reportedly be used for the transport of military equipment across the Turkish-Iraqi border, and will be linked to Mosul highway by the construction of a new road. According to NTV, when Turkish Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Ugur Ziyal informed U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman of the plans, Edelman replied, "We view this positively, but I must ask Washington." (Kathleen Ridolfo)CONTROVERSY CONTINUES OVER POSSIBLE TURKISH TROOP DEPLOYMENT.
Iraqi leaders are remaining steadfast in their insistence that Turkey not deploy troops to Iraq (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 9 October 2003). Speaking to reporters at the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) summit in Malaysia on 13 October, Iraqi interim Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari told reporters, "The Governing Council feels it is better not to involve and engage any of Iraq's neighboring countries in peacekeeping missions because of the sensitivities of the whole issue," Reuters reported on the same day.
Zebari conceded, however, that a compromise might be found between U.S. and Iraqi officials in an interview published on the same day in London's "Al-Sharq al-Awsat." "The mission of Turkish forces must be limited to peacekeeping and not involve intervention in Iraq's internal affairs and also supply lines must be under the control of coalition and local or Kurdish forces," Zebari said. Should Turkish forces be deployed to Iraq, a supply route would pass through Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq.
Iraqi Governing Council member and Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) leader Mas'ud Barzani has threatened to resign from his position on the Governing Council if Turkish troops are deployed to Iraq, a KDP source told MENA on 13 October. The Governing Council has "rejected the deployment of troops by Turkey and other countries in the region, and we have asked for Arab League support for this position," Barzani told reporters in Cairo following a 12 October meeting with Arab League Secretary-General Amr Musa, Al-Jazeera reported. "The deployment of troops from Turkey or neighboring countries would only increase tensions in Iraq and would provide protection for no one," he said. "Turkey has its own agenda and its intervention in Iraq will cause many problems."
KDP military commander Hamid Effendi, who leads a 50,000-strong peshmerga force, told MENA on 13 October that the entrance of Turkish troops would trigger clashes between Turks and Kurds in northern Iraq. He claimed that tens of thousands of Kurds and tens of thousands of Iraqis stood ready to confront Turkish troops in Iraq.
Meanwhile, the head of military operations for the Office of the Chief of the General Staff in Ankara, Lieutenant General Metin Yavuz Yalcin, told reporters at a 13 October press briefing that a Turkish liaison team was dispatched to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa, Florida, in mid-August to begin coordinating with U.S. military officials, Anatolia news agency reported the same day. He added that Turkey was looking at three possible locations for its troop deployment: the Salah Al-Din Governorate, including Tikrit; the Al-Anbar Euphrates coast area; and the northern area of the Al-Anbar Province. The province is located in west-central Iraq.
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher confirmed to reporters on 14 October that the U.S. and Turkey have not decided anything regarding the possible deployment. "On the issue of Turkey's potential contributions, that's something that's still being worked and discussed. As we have always said, we think that there can be a positive role for Turkish troops to play in Iraq in helping stabilize the country and to move forward. But I really don't have any, sort of, new developments on that at this point," Boucher said. He added that the U.S. is also in talks with Iraqi leaders over the deployment. (Kathleen Ridolfo)SAUDI ARABIA ARRESTS FOUR 'ISLAMISTS' NEAR IRAQ BORDER.
Saudi Arabian security forces reportedly arrested four Saudi Islamists in the Judaydah-Ar'ar border area with Iraq that were attempting to infiltrate the country, "Al-Hayat" reported on 13 October. The security forces discovered hand grenades, machine guns, and weapons in the vehicle the men were traveling in. Saudi Interior Minister Prince Nayif bin Abd al-Aziz told a press conference on 14 October that the suspects were attempting to elude capture when they were arrested, Al-Jazeera reported.
Abd al-Aziz also told reporters that his country has also turned over three Americans suspected of links to terrorism to U.S. officials. He declined to say whether the suspects were naturalized citizens or not. (Kathleen Ridolfo)PUK HEAD MEETS OFFICIALS IN TEHRAN.
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) head Jalal Talabani began three days of meetings with Iranian officials in Tehran on 13 October to discuss Iranian investment in Iraqi reconstruction projects, Tehran's Fars News Agency reported the same day.
Speaking to reporters at Mehrabad Airport, Talabani said that he would also discuss recent developments in Iraq, and ways to consolidate PUK-Iranian relations. "It is possible to establish strong economic relations between Kermanshah and Al-Sulaymaniyah [provinces]. We hope that Iranian companies will cooperate with Kurdistan, especially because we have good projects going [on] as well," he added. (Kathleen Ridolfo)TEHRAN DEBATES SCIRI'S ROLE IN IRAQ.
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI) Chairman Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim had a very busy schedule during his 5-10 October trip to Tehran. He met with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, President Hojatoleslam Mohammad Khatami, judiciary chief Ayatollah Mahmud Hashemi-Shahrudi, and Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi; participated in the third conference of the Ahl al-Bayt (the Household of the Prophet) organization; and gave the pre-sermon speech at the 10 October Friday prayers. Like his hosts, he repeatedly expressed his interest in seeing an end to the occupation of Iraq, according to Iranian news agencies. Behind the scenes, however, everything was not so united. Al-Hakim's visit comes at a sensitive time for Tehran-SCIRI relations.
When al-Hakim arrived in Tehran on 5 October he told reporters that the main reason for his visit is to thank Iran for its years of support for the Iraqi nation, ISNA reported. Al-Hakim said he has received invitations from "many countries," but, "because of Iran's principled policies toward Iraq over the years, I preferred to visit Iran before visiting other countries."
While it is true that SCIRI was the main recipient of Iranian backing for the Iraqi opposition during Saddam Hussein's reign, the situation has changed since the U.S.-led international coalition destroyed the Iraqi dictator's military. Tehran now finds itself surrounded on all sides by the U.S. and it does not like what it sees. This could explain its new relationship with the upstart Iraqi cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, a relationship that may have been cemented when al-Sadr visited Iran in early June (see "RFE/RL Iran Report," 9 June 2003).
Outspoken in his opposition to the coalition and in his hostility to the U.S., al-Sadr declared during the 10 October Friday prayers in Al-Kufah that he is forming his own cabinet, and one of his associates said it would include a ministry for the promotion of virtue and prohibition of vice. "Although this might entail some danger to my person, I have created some cabinet posts in our government," al-Sadr said, according to "The Washington Post" on 12 October.
Al-Hakim resents the support given to al-Sadr by the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps and the supreme leader's office, "Al-Sharq al-Awsat" reported on 8 October. Alireza Nurizadeh wrote in the Arabic-language London daily that al-Hakim has been under pressure to declare his fealty to Supreme Leader Khamenei ever since the late-August assassination of his brother, Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim. Moreover, Abd al-Aziz al-Hakim does not have sufficient standing to fill the religious vacuum in SCIRI left by the killing of the ayatollah, and Tehran does not want SCIRI to become a wholly political organization. Some Iranian officials, therefore, are backing Ayatollah Ali al-Haeri as SCIRI's religious leader.
"Al-Sharq al-Awsat" reported that al-Hakim came to Iran in response to President Khatami's invitation, and Khatami and other reformists had refused to meet with al-Sadr. Other news reports did not include such information or place the visit in the context of Iranian power politics.
Al-Hakim met with Khatami on 6 October, IRNA reported, and they discussed Tehran-Baghdad relations. "Jane's Foreign Report" reported on 9 October, three days later, that it had "learned" that al-Hakim was in Tehran on 6 October and had met with Khatami to discuss the Iraqi Governing Council.
Al-Hakim met with Foreign Minister Kharrazi on 6 October, ISNA reported. Kharrazi said: "The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the sovereignty of Iraq must be handed over to its people as soon as possible under the supervision of the UN. The occupiers have no choice other than handing over the management and political destiny of Iraq to leaders chosen by its people."
Judiciary chief Hashemi-Shahrudi called for an end to the occupation when he met with al-Hakim on 6 October, IRNA reported the next day. "By continuing the occupation of Iraq, the Americans are ruining their reputation before the world public opinion more than ever."
Al-Hakim met with Supreme Leader Khamenei on 7 October, IRNA reported. Khamenei described the end of the occupation as one of the Iraqis' main demands. During the Ahl al-Bayt conference on 9 October, Khamenei said that the occupation is the main problem facing Iraqis.
Expediency Council Chairman Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani told al-Hakim on 7 October that free elections under the aegis of the United Nations would pave the way for the withdrawal of occupation forces, IRNA reported. Al-Hakim told his host that the U.S. is incapable of establishing security.
Al-Hakim said at an 8 October memorial ceremony in Tehran for his assassinated brother that there is international pressure on the U.S. to withdraw its troops and for it to specify a withdrawal date. "Of course, we support the international community in this demand and for the U.S. to limit the duration of its occupation of Iraq." He said on 9 October during the Ahl al-Bayt event that the Iraqi people have started a major battle to liberate their country from the occupation and the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, Tehran radio reported on 10 October.
Al-Hakim also discussed the assassination of his brother. He told reporters on 5 October that the investigation is continuing and there is no definitive conclusion yet, ISNA reported. "What is clear, however, is that the former Iraqi regime and its supporters had a hand in this crime." Al-Hakim added, "Of course, there are people who have argued that foreign groups were also involved in committing this serious crime." (Bill Samii)
U.S. PRESENTS DRAFT IRAQ RESOLUTION TO UN.
The United States formally presented a draft resolution on Iraq to the UN Security Council on 14 October, international media reported (see "RFE/RL Newsline," 14 October 2003). According to Reuters, the new draft sets a 15 December deadline for the Iraqi Governing Council to establish "a timetable and a program for the drafting of a new constitution for Iraq and for the holding of democratic elections under that constitution." "The draft outlines the process of returning as soon as possible full authority and responsibility to the people of Iraq," U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told a press conference in Washington on 14 October (http://www.usinfo.state.gov).
According to washingtonpost.com on 15 October, Russia, France, and Germany have dropped their demand that the United States transfer power to a provisional Iraqi government in the near future. According to the website, they have also dropped their demand calling for the UN to play a central role in rebuilding Iraq. But the three states have called for a definitive timetable for the end of the U.S. occupation, and for a Security Council role in monitoring Iraq's political transition, the website reported. The draft was cosponsored by Cameroon, Spain, and the United Kingdom.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told reporters at the UN in a 14 October press conference that the new U.S. draft resolution on Iraq does not represent a "major shift" from the previous version floated by the United States, international media reported. The draft that was formally presented on 14 October was the third revision. "Obviously, the current resolution does not represent a major shift in the thinking of the coalition...of course I will implement any resolution that the council might adopt, bearing in mind the constraints that we are all aware of," Annan said.
At the White House, spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters on14 October: "In terms of the vital role that the United Nations can play, they can play an important role in the humanitarian assistance and reconstruction and the constitutional electoral process, just to name a few. And this draft, this resolution, requests that the United Nations and the special representative of the United Nations lend their unique expertise to the Iraqi people in the process of drafting a constitution and conducting the elections."
Asked about a phrase in the resolution that says that the Iraqi Governing Council will embody the sovereignty of Iraq, Annan said: "Well, it is a nice phrase, but the resolution also says that the occupying power is the authority, and is the government. So in my judgment, the occupying power is the government, will remain the government, whether this resolution is passed or not, until such time that power is fully handed over to the Iraqis. And I think the resolution recognizes that." (Kathleen Ridolfo)IAEA HEAD CALLS FOR RETURN OF UN INSPECTORS TO IRAQ.
Mohammad el-Baradei, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), called on 13 October for the return of UN weapons inspectors to Iraq, AFP reported the same day. "We believe that it is time for UN inspectors to go back to Iraq to complete their work," el-Baradei said. "UN inspectors have the credibility and experience to effectively bring this issue to a closure, and to do so economically."
UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) and IAEA inspectors withdrew from Iraq on 17 March, just days before the U.S. launched Operation Iraqi Freedom (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 20 March 2003). The United States has refused to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq, and instead has initiated a search for weapons of mass destruction through it's Iraq Survey Group. (Kathleen Ridolfo)
U.S. SENATORS BATTLING OVER IRAQI AID PACKAGE.
The U.S. Senate voted down a proposed amendment that called for the Bush administration's $20.3 billion grant package to Iraq to be changed into long-term loans by a vote of 57-39, washingtonpost.com reported. The amendment, proposed by Senator Byron Dorgan of North Dakota, would have eliminated the grant in favor of a new Iraq reconstruction finance authority that would have given Iraq the money in the form of a loan, guaranteed by Iraq through its future oil revenues. According to Reuters, the vote was taken after U.S. President George W. Bush met with a number of senators to urge that they do not make Iraq repay the aid money. The overall bill, which calls for $87 billion for military operations and aid in Iraq and Afghanistan, is expected to pass the House of Representatives and Senate this week, ahead of the 23-24 October Iraq donors conference in Madrid. The White House has said that the donors conference might fail should lawmakers not provide the $20.3 billion for reconstruction in Iraq. (Kathleen Ridolfo)UPCOMING DONORS CONFERENCE SHAPING UP.
As world leaders prepare to attend the 23-24 October donors conference for Iraq, there are signs that the conference may fall short of reaching the UN/World Bank estimate of $36 billion needed for Iraq over the next four years.
According to the Downing Street website (http://www.number-10.gov.uk), the United Kingdom will pledge some 296 million pounds (over $494 million) in new aid over the next two years. This is in addition to the 248 million pounds ($414 million) already pledged to Iraq, bringing the U.K.'s total two-year commitment to 544 million pounds (about $908 million). Spain, another major U.S. ally in the coalition that deposed former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's regime, has said that it will pledge 90 million euros ($105 million) for reconstruction. Australia is expected to pledge "in the tens of millions," but less than 50 million Australian dollars (nearly $34.5 million) at the Madrid conference, smh.com.au quoted government sources as saying on 15 October. That contribution is in addition to the 100 million Australian dollars ($69 million) given to Iraq in April. Denmark has pledged $50 million.
Meanwhile, Japan has said that it would provide $1.5 billion to Iraqi reconstruction efforts. Japanese media have reported that Japan may announce a pledge on 23-24 October of some $5 billion over the next five years to Iraq. It is the largest single contribution after that of the United States and should account for around 10 percent of the estimated cost of reconstruction. U.S. President George W. Bush has asked Congress for $20.3 billion in aid to Iraq for next year (see above). And, the European Union has pledged some 200 million euros ($235 million) for 2003-04.
Other states are expected to contribute to the rebuilding effort in Iraq, but have remained noncommittal. Sweden has said that it would only offer humanitarian aid as long as the U.S. remained in charge of Iraqi reconstruction, or until the establishment of a sovereign Iraqi government, Reuters reported on 15 October. South Korea has said that it intends to make a financial contribution in addition to the 5,000 combat troops already committed to Iraq, but has thus far not disclosed an amount. And Germany, France, and Russia have yet to commit any economic aid to Iraq.
Iraqi interim Trade Minister Ali Abd al-Amir Allawi told Reuters on 15 October that his weeklong Asian tour to secure funds for Iraqi rebuilding has shown positive signs, particularly from Japan and South Korea. Regarding China, Allawi said, "Their response was positive on humanitarian aid but they're awaiting the resolution of various political issues in the [UN] Security Council before they take a position regarding financial commitments to reconstruction.''
The CPA's chief fundraiser is former Polish Deputy Prime Minister Marek Belka. He told Reuters in a 14 October interview that he expects the Persian Gulf states to help in the reconstruction effort. "We expect Gulf countries to be active in Madrid and we have unofficial promises they will be," he said. Belka, who will begin serving as the deputy director of economic development on 1 November, also said that he expects that some countries would contribute by writing off Iraq's foreign debt incurred under the deposed Hussein regime, which is estimated at about $120 billion including commercial debt. About 45 nations are expected to attend the donors conference. (Kathleen Ridolfo)