21 July 2001, Volume 4, Number 22
SADDAM SAYS OIL IS NOT IRAQ'S ONLY WEAPON... In a speech on the 33rd anniversary of the coup that brought the Ba'th Party to power in Iraq, Iraqi leader Saddam Husseyn warned that oil was not Iraq's only weapon and urged Arab countries to take action against the "intolerable injustice" in Israel. He said that "now it is the right time for you to seize your opportunity to be and to play the role God chose for you, otherwise, the enemies of the Arab nation will inflict more injustice and tyranny upon you," according to AFP of 17 July. Saddam maintained that "although petroleum is an essential part of our great national resources, it is not the basis of our potential and will power, and it will certainly not be a doorway to weakness in us." (David Nissman)
YUGOSLAVIA WANTS TO REPAIR IRAQ'S POWER GRID. A visiting cabinet minister from Yugoslavia has expressed his country's desire to rehabilitate Iraq's power stations and sign contracts for the implementation of large electrical projects in the country, according to "Iraq News" from Amman on 17 July. Generating capacity in Iraq runs at a deficit of 50 percent, and Iraq has allocated over $3 billion to repair the grid. It also plans to construct new generating projects to meet the rising demand for power, which is estimated at more than 3,000 megawatts.
The minister told Subhan Faysal Mahjub, the head of Iraq's electrical commission, that his country will step up efforts at the UN to release stalled contracts that Yugoslav firms have signed with their Iraqi counterparts. A total of 240 contracts with a value of $74 million are on hold at the UN. At the same time, a delegation lead by Adica Dacic, deputy leader of the Socialist Party of Serbia, met with Tariq Aziz, deputy prime minister and head of the Foreign Relations Bureau of the Iraq Command of the Ba'th Party, according to Baghdad Television on 17 July. During the meeting, Dacic stressed the Yugoslav people's "solidarity with Iraq in its resistance to the imperialist-Zionist blockade and aggression." Aziz expressed Iraq's firm stand in support of the Yugoslav people. (David Nissman)
...AND DENOUNCES FOREIGNERS INCITING KURDS. On 15 July Saddam Husseyn met with members of the Legislative Council (a Ba'th Party puppet outside of Kurdistan) of the Kurdish Autonomous Region, as well as other dignitaries including the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), and members of the Iraq Command of the Arab Socialist Ba'th Party. He took the opportunity to deliver a speech in which he reviewed his stand on the Kurds, who he felt were a component part of Iraq, Baghdad Television reported on 15 July.
On Kurdish autonomy, he said that the ultimate choice for those living under the autonomy "will not be anything but a genuine Iraqi nationalist choice." He expresses confidence that the Kurds and the Arabs are one people. And concerning Baghdad's intervention in 1991, he said: "Be confident -- brothers -- that is the people who claim they rule the Kurdish people in the autonomous region not through Baghdad's intervention, they would have opted for the harshest methods in dealing with the Kurdish people. However, many figures in the autonomous area deal with the Kurdish people out of their fear that Baghdad may use their maltreatment of the Kurdish people to seize the opportunity. They do not know that we wanted the Kurdish people to go through this experience so they can come to realize who represents them in his conscience, mind, and policies."
The problem, he says, are "foreigners." "Foreigners in the autonomous region are all spies. If foreigners here are given a chance they will become spies as well, in the same way the dogs, members of UNSCOM, were spies in Iraq, in Baghdad, and Al-Najaf. Members of UNSCOM acted as spies in the autonomous region as well. You know what happens to spies who are exposed. So, banish foreigners. Focus on expelling foreigners. Foreigners only go to the autonomous region to deceive and play a wicked role that aims at bleeding Iraq to weaken it." (David Nissman)
UDAY'S CONVERSION TO SHI'ITE SECT QUESTIONED. Uday's recent announcement that he had converted to Shi'ism has led opposition leaders to question his motives. According to an article in London's "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" of 14 July, the Shi'ite religious scholar Dr. Muhammad Bahr-Al-Ulum said that Uday's claim of conversion "is only a new plot to provoke sectarian sedition between the sons of the oppressed Iraqi people."
But Abbas Al-Janabi, an Iraqi newsman and Uday's former secretary, said that Uday's statement "is only a game against his father and brother Qusay, and an attempt to remain in the limelight at any price." In a sense, Bahr-Al-Ulum goes along with this: he said that the conversion "is a plot by his father, Saddam Husseyn, to maintain an opposition facade within his family against Qusay so as to threaten him if he crossed the red lines and that he (Saddam) wants to persuade Shi'ite simpletons to accept Uday and rally around him." (David Nissman)
WHO POSTPONES DEPLETED URANIUM STUDY IN IRAQ. Dr. Umid Midhat Mubarak, Iraqi Minister of Health, said that the UN General Secretariat's decision to postpone for security reasons the visit to Iraq by a WHO delegation to investigate the results of the use of depleted uranium against Iraq shows U.S. hegemony over the international organization, Baghdad Television reported on 13 July. He said that during Iraq's participation in the WHO meetings in Geneva in March, the organization had accepted the Iraqi proposal to form joint committees to investigate the results of the depleted uranium. And he added that WHO had originally selected the last week in June for the WHO visit. The minister condemned the WHO's position and called on all honorable forces in the world to oppose this "inhuman" position. (David Nissman)
CORRUPTION CAUSES MEDIA RESHUFFLE IN BAGHDAD. Muhammad Sa'id Al-Sahhaf fired Dr. Mudhafar Al-Adhami after reports of widespread corruption and embezzlement at the Iraqi TV and Radio Corporation forced that organization into bankruptcy, according to "Iraq Press" from Amman on 18 July. Shaykh Abdullatif Humayam was also dismissed as editor-in-chief of the Baghdad weekly newspaper "Al-Ra'i" which has published articles critical of government performance. It was the only weekly outside the influence of Uday Saddam Husseyn, who controls the rest of the media in Iraq. The new editor, Ghazi Faysal, is noted for his unquestioning loyalty to Uday. (David Nissman)
MASS ARRESTS IN BAGHDAD SLUM. Iraqi security services made a thorough sweep of Saddam town, a densely populated township in which an estimated two million Iraqis live. Several arrests were made. According to "Iraq Press" of 17 June, the search was for weapons and light arms. In another district in Baghdad, a member of the Bani Malik was killed and five others were wounded in another district. Witnesses say the security forces attacked the clan when it refused to surrender one of its members. It is not known whether death penalties will be ordered in any of the clashes. "Iraq Press" of 17 July further reported that the tongue of an Iraqi man had been amputated in front of a large crowd for his having allegedly cursed President Saddam Husseyn. The event took place in Diwaniya, a city some 180 kilometers south of Baghdad. Three similar tongue amputations took place in the town of Hilla, 110 kilometers south of Baghdad. The government has never acknowledged reports of tongue amputation, but state-run media have often carried reports of army deserters who had their ears chopped off and foreheads branded. (David Nissman)
SCIRI SAYS MISSILE ATTACKS WILL CONTINUE. Hujjat Al-Islam Sayyid Abd-Al-Aziz Hakim, a member of the central council of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Islam (SCIRI), said that the use of missiles for dealing blows on the Iraqi Ba'thist regime shows the capabilities and resources of the Iraqi mujahadin. In an interview with a correspondent from the Iranian Student News Agency (ISNA) on 14 July, Sayyid claimed that "we obviously study the targets carefully so that civilians are not harmed." On the recent missile attack on Baghdad (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 13 July 2001), he said "this is a warning from the mujahadin to the Iraqi regime...." And he added that "The Mujahadin's missile attack against the Ba'th regime's positions was also intended to carry a message to the forces of the world arrogance [Americans] that the Iraqi mujahadin are ready at all times to resort to any action to get rid of the foreign domination in Iraq and they are endeavoring to protect Iraq's territorial integrity and to establish an Islamic government there." (David Nissman)
TURKISH FREIGHT TRAIN ARRIVES IN BAGHDAD. The first Turkish freight train in 20 years arrived in Baghdad on the evening of 13 July, Baghdad Radio reported on 14 July. The arrival of the train is the result of an agreement between the railway networks of Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. The agreement was reached last month. The acting director-general of the Public Corporation of Railroads in Iraq said that this train will transport goods from Turkey and Eastern European countries to Iraq under a memorandum of understanding. The train that arrived was carrying 450 tons of goods. A passenger train is scheduled to arrive on 20 July, and operate thenceforth on a weekly basis. This train will have two sleeping cars, containing 24 beds and a first class. It also has a restaurant carriage. (David Nissman)
FRANCE-IRAQ MARITIME TRADE ROUTE OPENS. The French shipping company, CMA CGM, is preparing to inaugurate a maritime trade route between Iraq and France, according to the company's representative in Iraq, Dr. Riyad Shakir Al-Ani, who is quoted in the Baghdad weekly "Nabd Al-Shabab" of 9 July. Al-Ani said that the company would start sending its ships to break the economic embargo on Iraq and carry the goods within the framework of the memorandum of understanding from all countries of the world. The first ship is to dock at the port of Umm Qasr during the third week of July. CMA CGM, France's leading shipping company, is ranked 10th in the world in terms of the number of ships it owns, shipment capabilities, and containers. (David Nissman)
FRENCH COMMERCIAL EXCHANGES WITH IRAQ HIGHLIGHTED. Iraqi sources have revealed that Baghdad "has not yet canceled any of the deals it has previously signed with French companies, despite recent statements by Iraqi officials about punishing Paris for its stance on the smart sanctions," London's "Al-Zaman" reported on 17 July. In the context of the oil-for-food program, France is at the head of the list of countries in commercial exchanges with Iraq. Over the nine phases of the program, the total value of these bilateral exchanges is $5.3 billion. Earlier this month Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salih said that his country would reward Russia, Turkey, Syria, and Jordan for their stance rejecting the smart sanctions. Meanwhile, Egypt's UN ambassador, Ahmad Abul Gheit, said that Egyptian contracts have been on the rise since the oil-for-food program came into effect, according to "MENA" on 17 July. The total value of Egyptian contracts is more than $2.7 million. He added that in the last six months, contracts worth some $690 million were implemented. If the competitive ability of the Egyptian companies were to be increased, these figures could be doubled. Egypt leads the Arab countries in deals with Iraq. (David Nissman)
RUSSIA FAVORS ARMS MONITORING IN IRAQ... In talks with the Kuwaiti Information Minister Shaykh Ahmad Fahad Al-Sabah, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Russia believed in the need of resuming UN arms control in Iraq to coincide with freezing sanctions on Baghdad, according to KUNA and Interfax of 13 July. The statement said that UN Security Council Resolution 1360 reflected a possible consensus among Security Council members and this could pave the way for a solution to the UN-Iraq problem. The statement also said that Russia and Kuwait have underscored the need for boosting political dialogue and further cementing trade, economic and investment cooperation. (David Nissman)
...AS RUSSIAN DUMA HEARS PLEA ON ARABIZATION. Shorish Khalid Lemiany, representative of the PUK-controlled sector of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG-Suleymania) visited the Russian parliament on 13 July and was received by Russian deputy Sergei Mitrokhov, according to KurdishMedia on 15 July. They discussed Russian and Kurdish relationships, and the KRG representative presented a program of the works by the KRG designed to build a civil society. He also informed Mitrokhov that Russia could persuade the Iraqi government to stop the Arabization of Kurdish areas under its control. Meanwhile, the Association Against Ethnic Cleansing in Kirkuk has announced its foundation and declared that the ethnic-cleansing policy of the Iraqi government in Kirkuk and other areas under its control aims to eradicate Kurdish identity in these areas; it maintains that this policy represents a danger to Iraqi unity. The association stressed that the whole picture of the situation would be offered to international organizations through all channels of the media in order to pressure Baghdad to stop the ethnic-cleansing policy. (David Nissman)
INC MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS. A delegation from the Iraq National Congress met with U.S. officials in Washington recently. On 13 June, it met with Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the chief of staff in Vice President Cheney's office, and officials of the Middle East Desk at the Defense Department. They also met briefly with President George W. Bush and members of Congress. According to an analysis in London's "Al-Hayat" of 14 July, the INC members reviewed the situation in Iraq and emphasized "the importance of operating inside Iraq as the main arena for the opposition's activity." They demanded the activation of the Iraq Liberation Act.
"The New York Times" of 16 July reported that the Pentagon had reassured the Iraqi opposition leaders that they would not let Saddam Husseyn use Iraqi airspace to attack the Kurds or to threaten Baghdad's neighbors. But there may be fewer jet-fighter patrols over the no-fly zones. "Al-Hayat" says that its source in the INC had expressed satisfaction with the atmosphere that prevailed during the meetings and said "we sense that all U.S. circles are supportive of the Iraqi National Congress. He added that the U.S. administration will examine a mechanism to provide continuous support for INC activities.
The INC delegation included Dr. Ahmad Chalabi, Sharif Ali Bin-Al-Husayn, Shaykh Muhammad Muhammad Ali, and Latif Rashid. (David Nissman)
RIFT VALLEY FEVER OUTBREAK FEARED IN IRAQ. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization announced on 17 July the launch of a new project aimed at preventing the outbreak of Rift Valley fever, which threatens both livestock and people. A spokesman for the FAO noted that the disease is usually found in Africa, but has recently been diagnosed in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. The Iraqi government has sent four teams of veterinarians to Saudi Arabia. In the Kurdish province of Dahuk, fresh cases have been detected, according to "Iraq Press" of 18 July. Last year 20 confirmed cases were reported. The disease leads to hemorrhagic fever in humans. Three cases have been detected thus far. Symptoms of the disease include low-grade fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, and jaundice with liver and renal dysfunction. Prior to last year there were no cases of the disease, and the local medical establishment lacks the means and knowledge of how to deal with it. (David Nissman)
SADDAM ASKS KURDS TO MAKE PEACE. On 15 July, Iraqi Television said that Saddam Husseyn invited the Kurdish political parties controlling Iraqi Kurdistan to make peace with Iraq, KurdishMedia reported on 16 July. The analysis of Saddam's offer by KurdishMedia says that "when Saddam starts calling Kurds 'our people,' it is the sign that Saddam needs Kurds to support his failing regime. Saddam's regime is not in any position to offer anything to the Kurds. On the contrary, any negotiation will badly damage the Kurdish issue internationally."
Saddam still controls some 40 percent of Kurdistan and is conducting an active policy of Arabization there. The last time the Kurdish political parties negotiated with Saddam, two million Kurdish troops were driven by Saddam's army to the Turkish and Iranian borders after the second Gulf War. However, should there be negotiations, the Kurdish activists said, it must be conducted under the following rules: the UN needs to agree and be informed; third parties must act as mediators; the negotiation should be conducted in a third country, neither Kurdistan nor Iraq; and the Kurdish political parties should agree on an agenda.
Masud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) dismissed his call for peace, "KurdishMedia" reported on 17 July. "KurdishMedia" writes that "this refusal will isolate Saddam even more." It recalls that Saddam, at the peak of his power, once said that he would not allow Mustafa Barzani's sons to drink water from the Tigris or Euphrates. So the dismissal of his peace call is extremely humiliating for Saddam, also. (David Nissman)
BAGHDAD TO SEND 3 MILLION TEXTBOOKS TO IRAQI KURDISTAN. Husseyn Muhammad Qaduri, head of the Iraqi Ministry of Education's Kurdish studies department, told "Al-Iraq" newspaper on 13 July that three million textbooks would be delivered on 21 July to Irbil, Sulayamaniyah, and Dahuk, three provinces which have been under Kurdish control, according to AFP on 13 July. Qadduri said the move was "testimony to President Saddam Husseyn's interest in his Kurdish sons and their culture, including knowledge of the Kurdish language in teaching." He added that the books were to help Kurdish children pursue their studies despite the UN embargo. According to official Iraqi figures, 8.5 million textbooks have been sent to Iraqi Kurdistan since 1994. (David Nissman)