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Iraq Report: May 4, 2001

4 May 2001, Volume 4, Number 15

BAGHDAD WARNS AGAINST USE OF SATELLITE DISHES. Citing "responsible sources," "Al-Zawra," the weekly paper of the Iraqi Journalists Union which is under the control of Uday Saddam Husseyn, said that Baghdad officials have warned Iraqi citizens against installing satellite dishes without permission. The paper added that efforts are under way to define the basis on which permission will be given. (David Nissman)

IRAN DESTROYS MUJAHEDIN-E KHALQ BASES IN IRAQ. Ali Younessi, Tehran's intelligence minister, said on 26 April that Iranian security forces have destroyed all the bases of the Mujahedin-e Khalq organization (MKO) in Iraq, IRNA reported. He added that "those who survived the recent missile attacks fled their bases." And he said the attacks had been launched to punish the MKO for its terrorist operations against Iran. But he stressed in conclusion that "Iran will not let the MKO impede normalization of relations between her and its neighbors, especially Iraq." Meanwhile, Baghdad said that last week Iran had fired 56 Scud missiles at MKO bases on Iraqi territory, killing several people. (David Nissman)

IRAQ SAID TO HAVE TESTED 'DIRTY NUKE' IN 1987. Citing the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, "The New York Times" on 29 April reported that Baghdad tested a primitive nuclear weapon in 1987. The bomb was a "dirty" one, intended to inflict illness on personnel rather than to destroy facilities. Such radiation weapons are often described as the "poor relations" of actual nuclear weapons. But the Wisconsin Project said that the Baghdad test had been a dud, with radiation levels too low to achieve its goals. Other sources have questioned whether the bomb could be actually defined as a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Baghdad Television on 1 May quoted the political editor of the Iraq News Agency as having said that "These claims and falsehoods, just like the fabrications propagated by the spies of the now-defunct Special Commission and the CIA, are part of an anti-Iraqi campaign launched by Zionist circles more than 10 years ago. Iraq never tested the alleged bomb." (David Nissman)

RAMADAN SAYS U.S., IRAN BOTH ANTI-ARAB. In a speech to the Al-Bakr University on 25 April, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan said that Iran and the United States share a common position of "hatred and hostility towards the Arabs," Baghdad Radio reported. He added that he is confident that Baghdad's policies will ultimately break the blockade against Iraq and that American influence in the region will decline. (David Nissman)

ZHIRINOVSKY ASKS RUSSIA TO END BLOCKADE OF IRAQ. Before setting out for Iraq to participate in birthday celebrations for Saddam Husseyn, Duma Vice Speaker and LDPR leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky again called for an end to the economic sanctions against Iraq, ITAR-TASS reported. He said Russia would benefit in that event because "Iraq is prepared to place orders without delay with 200 Russian factories, to buy up products designated for civilian and military purposes that have been stock in Russian warehouses, as well as inviting to Iraq tens of thousands of our specialists who are currently jobless here." Also in Baghdad, Aleksandr Zerov, a senior official of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, met with Iraqi officials to discuss expanding cooperation, Radio Baghdad reported on 26 April. (David Nissman)

RUSSIA, IRAQ SEEK TO EXPAND BILATERAL TRADE. Russian and Iraqi trade officials on 1 May agreed to work to expand their bilateral trade, which currently amounts to $1.5 billion a year, ITAR-TASS reported. Representatives of the Russian business community on the delegation -- including officers of Energomash, Mashinimport, LUKoil and Transneft -- said that they too will push for higher trade. At the same time, Russian officials pressed for discussions on ways that Baghdad can pay off its $7 billion debt to Moscow. (David Nissman)

TURKISH TRADE FAIR OPENS IN BAGHDAD. More than 150 Turkish firms will take part in a Turkish Trade Fair in Baghdad beginning on 7 May, the Turkish Embassy in Iraq announced on 3 May. The companies taking part in the fair plan to sign contracts under the terms of the United Nations' oil for food program. Kursad Tuzman, the trade officer at the embassy, said in March that Ankara wants to boost bilateral trade to pre-1990 levels of more than $2.5 billion annually, up from the current $800 million. (David Nissman)

BELARUS TO SIGN DIRECT AIR AGREEMENT WITH IRAQ. Vladimir Zametalin, an aide to Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, visited Baghdad to sign an agreement setting up a direct Minsk-Baghdad plane route, Baghdad Radio reported on 26 April. (David Nissman)

SADDAM, SYRIAN PRESIDENT CALL FOR CLOSER TIES. An exchange of letters between Iraqi leader Saddam Husseyn and Syrian President Bashar Asad sets the stage for expanded cooperation, Radio Monte Carlo reported on 2 May. Meanwhile, newspapers in both capitals pointed to upcoming exchanges of visits and expanded trade. Meanwhile, Syrian Oil Minister Mahir Jamal told London's "Al-Hayat" on 26 April that Damascus is planning to build new pipelines from the Iraqi border to the Syrian port of Banyas. He added that the Syrian side would carry out the contracting for this project during the next months and that it will be concluded in 36 months. (David Nissman)

PUK, TURKMEN, AND ASSYRIAN MOVEMENTS COOPERATING. Jalal Talabani told a visiting Turkmen Front delegation at the PUK Political Bureau headquarters in Qara Cholan that the two groups face a common threat from Baghdad and thus must work together, according the Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Kurdistani Nuwe" of 24 April. Meanwhile, Turkmen Front officials have also been visiting with other political parties and movements in northern Iraq: the Turkmen Front's liaison bureau in Dohuk met with the Assyrian National Party, the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Bet Nahrain Democratic Party in Dohuk on 11 April, and again on 15 April, a delegation of the Political Bureau of the Turkoman National Party visited the headquarters of the Assyrian Democratic Movement and the Bet Nahrain Democratic Party. And, at the invitation of the command of the Peace Monitoring Force (PMF), the Assyrian Democratic Movement delegates joined representatives of the PUK, the KDP, and the Turkmen Front at a banquet in Irbil, "Zinda" reported on 24 April. (David Nissman)

BARZANI VISIT TO TURKEY AGAIN DELAYED. The visit of Masud Barzani, leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), planned for late April, has been delayed unto 6-7 May, ostensibly due to the intensive program of Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, according to the "Turkish Daily News" of 26 April. Safin Diza'i, Ankara representative of the KDP, said that "During the previous five meetings between Barzani and Turkish officials, security matters and the terrorist threat dominated the talks. But now the number of PKK members has decreased to 600-700 from 4,000 in northern Iraq and they are locked in the Behdinan area." He stressed that not a single PKK camp remains in the region that is controlled by the KDP. (David Nissman)

KRG URGES HOLLAND, SWEDEN TO REVERSE DEPORTATION ORDERS. In a statement carried by the "Kurdistan Observer" on 26 April, the Kurdistan Regional Government called on Holland and Sweden to review and reverse their recent decisions to expel Kurds who had fled to those countries. The KRG said that it cannot provide any of those who returned with either jobs or housing. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD BLAMED FOR AL-SULAYMANIYAH EXPLOSION. Citing Iraqi Kurdish sources, London's "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" reported on 25 April that the Iraqi secret services were responsible for the 24 April explosion of a bomb near relief work headquarters in Al-Sulaymaniyah in PUK-controlled Iraqi Kurdistan. (David Nissman)

PUK'S TALABANI PROMISES CONCESSIONS FOR PEACE. Jalal Talabani, the PUK leader, said that he is prepared to make "all kinds of sacrifices" and concessions" to reach a peace accord with the KDP. "Peace is vital for the people of Kurdistan, especially at this stage and in this year, in which new international policies might come into force and this will definitely affect the way we live and the progress of our movement," Talabani said. (David Nissman)

WASHINGTON AGREEMENT AFTER SEVEN YEARS. In an essay in the "Kurdistan Observer" on 1 May to mark the seventh anniversary of the Washington agreement, Mahmud Osman, a leading analyst of Kurdish affairs, said that the accord's greatest shortcoming remains that none of its main provisions have been implemented. Osman calls for the demilitarization of cities and the formation of a united police force in the Kurdish regions of Iraq in order to uphold the rule of law would be an important step toward implementation of the agreement. (David Nissman)