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Iraq Report: April 27, 2001

27 April 2001, Volume 4, Number 14

BND SAYS IRAQ DEVELOPING NEW CHEMICAL WEAPONS. August Hanning, the director of the German intelligence service BND, told Hamburg's "Welt am Sonntag" on 22 April that Iraq is developing a new class of chemical weapons. He said that several German companies have delivered to Baghdad components needed for the production of poison gas. And he warned that Iraq is now working on missiles that could reach as far as Germany in the future. He said: "We must assume that these weapons will be ready for use by 2015 at the latest." Hanning said that Germany has handed over its data to the United Nations. (David Nissman)

'DISENCHANTMENT' RUMORED AMONG IRAQ SECURITY SERVICES. Loyalty among Saddam Husseyn's security services is no longer a sure thing, Iraqi merchants visiting Damascus have told London's "Al-Zaman" on 18 April. They specifically said that "the loyalty that these services showed in protecting the Saddam regime in 1991 will not be repeated."

Many officers are so poorly paid that they must find extra jobs, the paper said. Reports say that security and intelligence officials feel they are less privileged than the Special Security Service (SSS) officers, and that perks and gifts received by higher officers are not being passed to those of lower rank. And they added that the SSS has discovered that a number of intelligence and security officials have developed links with Arab, Iranian, and Turkish merchants with whom they have concluded commercial deals.

In a related development, Iraq is now suffering from a shortage of policemen. "Iraq Press" on 23 April reported that Lieutenant. General Hamid 'Uthman Saba'a, Iraq's police chief, recently told the "Al-Zawra" weekly that not a single Iraqi has volunteered to join the police. As a result, the short-handed police were able to solve only 11,000 of the 35,000 crimes committed in 2000, and the Interior Ministry has been forced to use army conscripts and civilian security guards in their place. (David Nissman)

QUSAY EXECUTES 1,000 PRISONERS. London's "Iraq Press" on 21 April reported that Qusay Husseyn executed 1,000 prisoners as part of an effort to "cleanse" Iraqi prisons of those who rose up against Saddam Husseyn at the end of the Gulf War. The paper said that the executions took place between October and December 2000 at the Abu Ghrayb prison, 20 kilometers west of Baghdad. Those killed were among the 3,000 people imprisoned immediately after the Gulf War. The relatives of the other 2,000 do not know the fate of their fathers, sons, husbands, and brothers, the paper added. (David Nissman)

ELECTIONS SAID INTENDED TO GROOM QUSAI FOR SENIOR PARTY POST. Elections to choose a new leadership for the ruling Ba'th Party are currently underway in Iraq, and according to London's "Iraq Press," one of the main aims of this vote is to advance Saddam Husseyn's youngest son, Qusay to a senior party post. Saddam pushed up the elections, and his oldest son 'Uday orchestrated a media campaign calling for the replacement of "the party's old guard." The elections are scheduled to be completed by 28 April, Saddam's birthday. Qusay now runs Iraq's security apparatus, and is generally viewed as his father's designated successor. (David Nissman)

AL-SAHHAF SEEN HAVING FAILED AS FOREIGN MINISTER. Muhammad Sa'id Al-Sahhaf's transfer from the post of foreign minister to that of minister of information was not unjustified, according to a number of analysts. London's "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" on 21 April noted that developments at the Arab summit in Amman had shown that "Al-Sahhaf and his delegation were not aware of the secret activities that were going on for several weeks behind their backs." The paper adds that Iraq's leadership had sent to Amman "a broken record that only knew how to repeat insults, that forgot the nature of his post as foreign minister, and that ignored the new developments that were evolving in the favor of his country." And it suggests that Al-Sahhaf is now in the right place, as information minister.

Meanwhile, "Al-Quds Al-'Arabi" of 21-22 April said that Al-Sahhaf had been shifted following sharp criticism by Saddam's son 'Uday, who pointed out in the 5 April edition of the Baghdad newspaper "Babil" (which 'Uday controls) that the Iraqi delegation in Amman "had ignored Saddam's instructions not to discuss the Iraq issue and focus on the Palestinian-Arab conflict." An Arab analyst, also quoted by "Al-Quds Al-Arabi," said that his performance was "poor" and that "we know that he does not decide Iraq's foreign policy, but his undiplomatic and distinctly discourteous stand cost the Iraqi diplomacy much, particularly on the Arab front."

Another analyst cited by the paper said that 'Uday's attacks on him were a key factor in his demotion and transfer. (David Nissman)

SADDAM'S BIRTHDAY TO COST $25 MILLION. Izzat Ibrahim Al-Duri, vice chairman of the Iraqi Revolution Command Council and chairman of a higher committee for Saddam Husseyn's birthday, has met with governors and leading officials of the Ba'th Party to discuss and approve plans for celebrating Saddam Husseyn's birthday, according to "Al-Hayat" on 22 April. The celebration, to take place in Tikrit on 28 April, will cost more than $25 million. Among the projects to be completed in advance of that date are the erection of 20 statues and the installation of 100 new murals about the Iraqi leader. On 23 April, the Iraqi parliament called for Saddam's birthday to become a national holiday. (David Nissman)

RAMADAN SAYS IRAQ-RUSSIA TIES AT 'NEW LEVEL'... Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan said his visit to Moscow had demonstrated that Iraqi-Russian ties are now at "a new level," Interfax reported. The two countries agreed on the need to lift sanctions and also on a variety of scientific, technical, and cultural cooperation projects. (David Nissman)

...AND RUSSIA TO LAUNCH IRAQI SATELLITES. The Intersputnik international space communications organization and the Russian Alfa Eco company will pool efforts to launch communications satellites and develop the telecom system of Iraq, "Interfax" reported on 19 April. But this will not restore Iraq's military telecom systems, Russian officials said. Viktor Veshchunov, head of the Intersputnik international department, said that the possibility of building a ground station in Iraq that would be used for telephone communications and television broadcast via an Intersputnik satellite. Intersputnik had built such a station in the 1980s, but it was destroyed in the Gulf War. (David Nissman)

IRAQI VICE PRESIDENT VISITS TATARSTAN. After his stay in Moscow, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan visited Tatarstan for two days, meeting with Tatar officials and discussing economic cooperation. Prime Minister Rustam Minnikhanov told RIA-Novosti on 21 April that the visit had been "fruitful and useful." (David Nissman)

IRAQ TO BOYCOTT ISLAMIC PARLIAMENTARY MEETING. Iraq announced on 22 April that it will not attend the Islamic Parliamentary Meeting in Tehran in protest over the missile attack by Iran on Iraqi territory, DPA reported on 22 April. Iraqi National Assembly speaker Sa'dun Hammadi said that "Iraq has decided to boycott the Islamic Parliamentary Meeting, designed to express support for the Palestinian uprising, in protest against the armed Iranian attack on Iraqi territory. On the next day, Reuters reported that Iraq had accused Iran of 61 cease-fire violations in the first 10 weeks of the year. These violations do not include the Iranian missile attack on the Mujahedin-e Khalq bases inside Iraq. Iran accuses Iraq of sheltering the Mujahedin, who are the main Iranian opposition group. (David Nissman)

SAUDIS SEND 35 TONS OF MEDICINE TO IRAQ. Saudi Pharmaceuticals has delivered 35 tons of medicine to Iraq as part of the first contract won by the firm under the UN oil-for-food program, according to AFP of 24 April. The Saudi newspaper "Al-Riyadh" added that the company had won the contract after direct talks with the Iraqi Ministry of Health. (David Nissman)

YEMEN, RUSSIA DISCUSS IRAQ. Yemeni Foreign Minister Abu Baker Al-Kirbi is in Moscow for talks with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on Iraq and military cooperation, AFP reported on 24 April. They are to discuss the situation in the Persian Gulf and solving the Iraq conflict and to prepare for the upcoming visit of Yemeni President Ali Abdallah Saleh later this year. (David Nissman)

BARZANI PUTS 'FINAL TOUCHES' ON PEACE WITH PUK. KDP leader Mas'ud Barzani said in Irbil on 22 April that "we are working on putting the Kurdish house in order. Very good steps have been taken. I hope that a good peace will be achieved. We are in the process of putting the final touches [on it]. We will not fulfill the enemies' aim of killing Kurds at the hands of Kurds," Salah Al-Din-based Kurdistan Satellite TV reported. (David Nissman)

TALABANI OPTIMISTIC ABOUT KURDISH FUTURE. In an interview published in Cairo's "Al-Ahram Al-'Arabi" on 21 April, PUK leader Jalal Talabani said that the establishment of the "safe haven" for the Kurds of Iraq had created a "favorable climate for the democratic experience in Iraqi Kurdistan. It brought us closer to our central goal of setting up a pluralistic democratic system that includes all Iraq and guarantees the Kurds their autonomy within the context of a united Iraqi confederation." Talabani emphasized that "we have no separatist ambition," but he added that the Kurdish people do have the right to autonomy. At the same time, he said that Kurds must be careful in their dealings with the Iraqi opposition lest they be made "scapegoats." (David Nissman)

KDP, PUK FORCES WITHDRAW FROM CONTACT LINES. On 18 April military delegations of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) met at the Pirar border point between KDP- and PUK-controlled territories of Iraq Kurdistan in order to organize a pull back of forces from the lines between them and thus promote the peace process, "KurdSat" reported on 18 April. (David Nissman)

TURKISH DEFENSE MINISTER ATTENDS IRAQI TURKMEN RECEPTION. Turkish National Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu attended a reception organized by the Iraqi Turkmen Front on 24 April in Ankara, "Anadolu Ajansi" on 24 April. Also in attendance were members of the Turkish Supreme Court, the director-general of the Middle East Department of the Foreign Ministry, and various other officials. (David Nissman)

SERBIAN SOCIALIST PARTY DELEGATION VISITS BAGHDAD. A Socialist Party of Serbia delegation, headed by Vice President Zivadin Jovanovic, paid a brief working visit to Iraq at the invitation of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party, according to Tanjug on 24 April. The delegation met with several senior Iraqi officials but not with Saddam Husseyn. (David Nissman)