11 January 2002, Volume 5, Number 1
IRAQ PREPARES FOR POSSIBLE U.S. STRIKE. Iraq has recently taken some steps in preparation for the possibility of a U.S. strike. According to the Kurdish newspaper "Hawlati" of 7 January, Iraq has been divided into three security zones: the North, Baghdad, and the South. Ministries and security installations have been moved to some secret places, and to mosques and religious sites. Also, Baghdad has buried artillery and tanks in an area north of Baghdad in the region bordering Kurdistan and has completely hidden them. Also, it intends to destroy all the bridges on the road between Jalawla and Baghdad, except for the main ones. (David Nissman)
SADDAM GIVES DEFIANT 'ARMY DAY' SPEECH. On 6 January Saddam Husseyn delivered his now traditional Army Day speech, in which he declared that any attack on his country would fail. As he told listeners on Baghdad Radio on 6 January: "...as your debased enemies failed in the past, so will any aggressor, if he lets himself be seduced into an evil act against your trust...." This will happen because "Allah supports your nation and your people as long as they obey Him...." In addition, he said, "A salute to all Muslim Mujahedin who have followed the faithful examples of Islam and Arabism...."
He referred to the army as being of "al-Qadissiyah" -- a reference to the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), the army of the Mother of Battles (a reference to the Gulf War), and the army of Palestine.
On the same day, according to AP of 6 June, Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut was criticized by the Ba'th Party newspaper "Al-Thawrah" for saying that "the war against terrorism will not end until Saddam Husseyn is removed from power in Baghdad." "Al-Thawrah" said he was "insolent."
According to AFP of 6 January, he excused himself to the Palestinians by saying, "We are with you, though without having our swords" because "the circumstances and the barriers of politics and geography impose this situation." He may have been alluding to his call for the formation last year of a 6.5 million-soldier army allegedly to go and fight for Palestine. (David Nissman)
IRAQI ARAB LEAGUE DELEGATE ON 'AFGHANIZATION OF IRAQ.' An "Al-Ahram" correspondent on 29 December asked Iraq's permanent delegate to the Arab League, Dr. Muhsin Khalil, on the use of the expression "the Afghanization of Iraq" in the context of a question whether the United States would aim a strike at Iraq.
Khalil answered that the expression is hardly a new one, and said it is derived from the "Afghani mujahedin's resistance to the pro-Soviet regime in Afghanistan" and explained that its contemporary usage "draws on the model of the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan under the Taliban regime."
With regard to its application to Iraq, he claims it is an "unrealistic" comparison, more suited to psychological warfare. He pointed out that there is, firstly, no popular rejection of the regime in Iraq, whereas the Afghan regime had been imposed on it by the Soviet Union. The Iraqi regime, on the other hand, is the "exact opposite" in Iraq where the regime has been at the forefront for more than 50 years, and is known for "its patriotic stances at the domestic level," and "its pan-Arab stances at the Arab level." Thus, it has an "asset of support" both inside Iraq and throughout the Arab world.
He said further that the term "afghanizing" Iraq is not new and was announced in an Israeli study, the purpose of which was to fragment the Arab world, and was a "Zionist scheme."
The reason that the term has been reactivated is that "Iraq holds on to an independent national program and an unchanging pan-Arab policy." And the United States feels that labeling Iraq "could be detrimental to its interests."
Khalil said that he expects an American strike, and Iraq is ready for it. He avoided questions on whether Iraq possesses any advanced technology, and added, in answer to another question, that the Arab countries generally will refuse any aggression against Iraq, even if it undermines their interests with the United States. (David Nissman)
ARAB LEAGUE SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT IRAQ. Arab League Secretary General Amr Musa said he would probably visit Iraq later this month, reported AFP on 5 January. He added that a date would be fixed for the visit after contacts with Iraqi officials. He called for a lifting of the 11-year-old sanctions.
He stated that "the Arab position regarding Iraq is clear and firm: we do not see that sanctions, no matter what country they are imposed on, should be perpetual."
Musa claimed, "Iraq represents a special case, and this makes the visit important because it touches on several issues." He did not specify what these issues were.
He also urged preserving the unity and sovereignty of Iraq, a matter "representing a basic part of Arab policy" and which is linked to "the complete application of UN Security Council resolutions."
According to Baghdad Radio of 8 January, Musa's visit is to start on 11 January. An Iraqi Foreign Ministry spokesman said that the Foreign Ministry welcomes the Arab League secretary general, who is known for his competence and keen interest in preserving the "march of Arab solidarity."
His visit will only be the second such visit by an Arab League secretary-general since Iraq's invasion of Kuwait. (David Nissman)
ANNAN APPROVES 'OIL-FOR-FOOD' REVENUE DISTRIBUTION PLAN. On 3 January UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan approved a $4.432 billion plan submitted by Iraq for distributing revenues in the latest six-month phase of the 'oil-for-food' plan.
According to the plan, $1.091 billion is allocated for food imports into areas under government control, and $184 million for the non-Baghdad-controlled Kurdish north of the country.
The plan, which covers the period from 1 December 2001 to 29 May 2002, allocates $600 million for spare parts and new equipment for the oil industry. The amount of money allocated will be lower than in past phases due to sluggish oil sales and a 30 percent drop in the price of crude oil.
Some $295 million has been allocated to agriculture ($37 million of it for northern Iraq) and $293.5 million for the electricity sector, including $65.5 million for the northern part of the country.
According to AFP on 4 January, it is estimated that $700 million are required for new water and sanitation rehabilitation projects and an additional $150 million to complete the work to improve water supplies to Baghdad. But, "due to limited funds," the plan has only allocated $322.6 million to this sector, including $125 million for Baghdad and $112 million for the north.
Other allocations include $230.5 million for Iraq's railway system, $179 million for irrigation, $178 million for medicines, and $129,500 for primary and secondary education. The bulk of these allocations are destined for the Baghdad-controlled parts of the country. (David Nissman)
DELIVERIES OF IRAQI FUEL OIL TO TURKEY RESUME. Deliveries of Iraqi fuel oil to Turkey resumed on 7 January after a four-month interruption, according to AFP on 7 January. Initially, about a hundred trucks a day will cross the border point at Khabur to go to Mosul to pick up the oil. Before the cut-off almost 1,500 trucks a day made the trip.
Khabur was closed to trucks making these deliveries after Iraq halted fuel oil deliveries to northern Iraq (Kurdistan). This trade, which is outside the confines of the oil-for-food program, is tolerated by Turkey's Western allies to allow Turkey's impoverished southeast to make up for the financial losses resulting from the UN sanctions on Iraq. The Turkish government estimates that the embargo has cost the country more than $35 billion.
A Turkish border official is quoted by the "Turkish Daily News" of 8 January as saying, "with the resumption of this trade, the economy here will revive." The drivers carry fruit and vegetables into Iraq and return with the oil. (David Nissman)
SPANISH SOLIDARITY DELEGATION IN IRAQ. A Spanish medical delegation has arrived in Baghdad for a visit aimed at showing solidarity with the country, according to Xinhua of 3 January. The delegation is headed by Carlos Faria, general director of the Spanish Campaign for Lifting the Embargo on Iraq.
In a statement to the Iraq News Agency, Faria said that this was the fourth visit of his organization. During the visit, he and others will visit some hospitals "to see the negative effects of the embargo." Spain has called for lifting the embargo on Iraq and has urged Iraq to implement the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. (David Nissman)
GERMAN INTEREST IN IRAQ TRADE GROWS. Deutsche Welle reported on 5 January that German companies saw their exports to Iraq rise fourfold. They hope to increase this trade even though Iraq is seen as a possible target in the war against terrorism.
In 2001 the volume of approved exports rose from 273 million marks to approximately 1.2 billion marks. Siemens AG, for example, is benefiting from Iraq's demand for medical supplies. In its business year of 2000-01 it sold goods worth less than 10 million euros to Iraq, and for 2001-02 it estimates sales of "more than 50 million euros." To reach this goal, Siemens requires export approvals. "You have to expect the approval process to take around six months, said Wolfgang Dintera of the Middle East division of Siemens medical technology.
The problem is that the UN Sanctions Committee is sometimes slow in granting approval or issues a rejection. Yet this has not hampered German companies from attempting to do business with Baghdad. This past year German participation more than doubled over the preceding year at the Baghdad International Trade Fair. (David Nissman)
JORDANIAN PREMIER TO VISIT BAGHDAD. Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu-al-Raghib will visit Baghdad this week at the head of a large economic delegation comprising officials of the public and private sectors, according to the Amman weekly "Shihan" of 5-11 January.
He is to discuss economic issues pertaining to increasing the volume of trade enshrined in the Iraq-Jordan trade protocol as well as increasing the volume of Jordanian commodities exported to Iraq.
According to "Shihan's" source, the final sections of the pipeline between Iraq and Jordan will be laid. There are also a number of economic issues between the two countries, particularly with regard to the rights and claims of the Jordanian private sector that are still deposited with Iraq per the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Iraq and the United Nations (the oil-for-food deal). (David Nissman)
TURKMEN LANGUAGE PROHIBITED IN KIRKUK, ETHNIC CLEANSING CONTINUES. The Iraqi government's policy of ethnic cleansing in the Kirkuk region has become more aggressive in recent weeks. Arabization has been speeded up in the area; Arabs moving to Kirkuk have been encouraged to buy land and houses belonging to dispossessed Kurds. Government subsidies have been given to them providing easy financing to complete purchases, according to an article in KurdishMedia.com of 8 January.
The government also plans to build 2,200 new accommodation units for Arab officials and teachers moved to Kirkuk. At the same time, 1,500 land plots inside the city have been readied for distribution to Arab officials. In a region where many suffer from a shortage of electricity, electricity supply lines are being extended to arabized areas and other places preparing to receive Arab settlers.
Kirkuk authorities have prohibited conversation in Turkmen in government offices. The penalty for anyone ignoring this order is six months in prison. Kirkuk used to be a predominantly Turkmen city, and Baghdad is trying to eliminate traces of this.
In addition, the newspaper "Anba' Kurdistan" on 8 January reported that a list of another 575 Kurdish families for forced deportation has been drawn up by the authorities. Their properties are to be taken by Arab settlers. (David Nissman)
TURKMEN POLITICAL PARTIES ACCUSED OF 'FOREIGN AFFILIATION.' Walid Sharika, secretary-general of the Iraqi Turkoman Brotherhood Party, claimed in "Brayati" of 15 December that there are two categories of Turkmen political movements in Iraqi Kurdistan. "One is committed to its patriotic duties and the second has [foreign] affiliation and is guided from outside the [Iraqi] borders," the "Kurdistan Observer" reported on 6 January. He argued further that "the establishment of the so-called Turkmen Front..., which is guided from abroad, is an attempt which aims at destroying the democratic experience [in Iraqi Kurdistan]."
The Iraqi Turkmen Front is a coalition of several Turkmen parties, and was founded in 1992, following the takeover of the Iraqi Kurdistan administration by the Kurds. In 1999 some parties left the front, accusing its leadership of "propagating pan-Turkish ideas" and of being "guided by a foreign country."
Sharika continued to say that "because of their...short-term interests, they [the Turkmen Front] avoid even mentioning the word Kurdistan [in their media].... When they say the Turkmens have not an independent territory, it does not mean that in reality we [the Turkmen] lack a national right...as [Iraqi] Kurdistan is our land."
Several Turkmen parties operate outside the Turkmen Front in northern Iraq: The Turkmen Cultural Association, Turkmen Brotherhood Association, Turkmen National Salvation Party, and Kurdish Turkmen Democratic Party. Most of these parties have their own newspapers, radio, and television broadcasts in the Turkmen language.
These parties, except for the Turkmen Front, which refuses to submit an official application, have legal permission from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) to operate officially in the KRG. There is also a Turkmen Education Department supervising teaching in Turkmen at Turkmen schools, except for those run according to the rules of the Turkmen Front.
The head of the Turkmen Brotherhood Association, Nafi Qassab, in "Brayati" of 15 December, said that "if federalism is not granted to [Iraqi] Kurdistan, we would not only gain nothing but even our existence [as a political force] would have no meaning. In this respect, no one, no party has the right to speak as the real representative of the Turkmen people, and the Turkmens' cause is not the cause of the Turkmen Front. If a poll is to be held, 99 percent of the Turkmens would say yes to federalism.... This is why we respect the federal status of [Iraqi] Kurdistan."
Qassab's remarks were in response to a visit to the U.S. State Department by a Turkmen Front delegation the preceding month. There, the delegation had stressed that they had not been given the green light for a federal structure within the KRG. Other Turkmen parties do not share this opinion. (David Nissman)
PKK TO RESUME ACTIVITIES. Two PKK members who fled from northern Iraq claim the PKK is prepared to resume its activities in the New Year. They say that nearly 4,500 armed PKK members are in camps in northern Iraq, headed by commanders from Armenia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran. Osman Ocalan said, "the duration of the proposal we made to the Turkish Republic for peace will expire in February 2002. We will resume our activities if our demands are not met", according to the Istanbul "Star" of 31 December. Turkish security officials have alerted military units on Iraq's northern border.
"Iraq Press" of 5 January reported that "hundreds" of Turkish special forces have moved inside Iraqi territory. Kurdish sources told "Iraq Press" that the PKK presence has almost vanished from the area. "Iraq Press" claims the Turkish move is connected with reports of a possible U.S. military strike against Iraq. A release from the Iraqi National Congress, dated 4 January and carried by ArabicNews.com on the same day, says that the Turkish soldiers are pursuing members of the PKK.
Kurds claim that more than 400 Turkish troops have crossed into Iraq since the beginning of January and are camped 60 kilometers east of Zakho. They have also reinforced the military base at Bamarni, a former Iraqi military camp in northern Iraq. Residents of the area say that the Turkish army now has 2,000 troops and 30 tanks in Bamarni. (David Nissman)
KURDISTAN PARLIAMENT PASSES 2002 BUDGET. The Iraqi Kurdish parliament approved the 2002 budget presented by the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG-Arbil) on 31 December 2001, according to KurdishMedia.com of 7 January. The budget, estimated at 1.5 million Kurdistan dinars, is an ambitious budget, designed to promote growth in sectors such as service, health, and education.
Also, on 3 January the parliamentary Legislation Committee met with the speaker of parliament, Dr. Roj Noori Shawais, to discuss the "executable" law in the KRG. The meeting was also attended by a number of personalities and legal experts. (David Nissman)
KURDISH ISLAMIC LEAGUE IN FINANCIAL TROUBLE. The Iraqi Kurdish Islamic League (KIL), an organization reputed to have good finances in normal times, has been strapped for cash as a result of the freezing of accounts due to the war on terrorism, according to an article in the Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Hawlati" of 1 January.
Along with other Islamic organizations worldwide, it is also in financial difficulties. According to information available to "Hawlati," it has not paid members' salaries on time, and has stopped other expenditures as well. KIL is run by Dr Ali Qaradaghi and is related to World Islamic Aid.
Appeals to the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) have borne no results. Attempts by "Hawlati's" journalists to interview KIL's secretary-general or a member of the organization's political bureau have found none of the potential interviewees ready to answer questions. (David Nissman)
JUND AL-ISLAM MEMBERS JOINING ISLAMIC GROUP. The Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Hawlati" of 31 December noted that a number of members, cadres, and armed men from the now-outlawed Jund al-Islam have joined the Islamic Group (KIG) in Kurdistan. A source told "Hawlati" that seven "Arab armed men along with their families" have joined, and there are more to follow. In another article in the same issue, "Hawlati" mentioned that 25 houses have been ransacked and burglarized over the last month.
Among the places ransacked are two telephone and fax companies, as well as the home of a member of the PUK's organizing committee in the area (in the Sharazur region of Sulaymaniyah Governorate).
In the Hurmal region of the same province, of the men arrested, one has been identified as a member of the Jund al-Islam. (David Nissman)