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Iraq Report: August 24, 2001

24 August 2001, Volume 4, Number 26

SADDAM CONTINUES TO SEEK ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY. Saddam Husseyn on 16 August met with Dr. Fadil Muslim Al-Janabi, head of the Iraq Atomic Energy Agency (AEA) and Staff Lieutenant General Shahin Yasin Muhammad, Commander of Air Defense (ADC), and a number of others from the AEA and the ADC to discuss acquiring and using modern scientific techniques in a variety of fields, including the military, Baghdad television reported. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD SEEKS 10 MISSING BIOENGINEERS. "Iraq Press" on 19 August reported that Iraqi security services have intensified their hunt for 10 engineers who had been involved in the production of biological weapons at the Military Industrialization Corporation (MIC) but who have been missing for three months. Some in Baghdad, the service said, believe that the 10 have fled the country. The MIC remains important. It is believed to be producing artillery, munitions, and possibly armored vehicles. Prior to the Gulf War, MIC was believed to supply 60 percent of the hardware for Iraq's military, and 80 percent of the hardware for the ground forces. (David Nissman)

SADDAM'S SON UDAY OFFENDS BOTH SYRIA AND RUSSIA. By publishing an article under a pseudonym in his Baghdad newspaper "Babil," Saddam Husseyn's son Uday managed to offend both Moscow and Syria and forced the Iraqi leadership to disassociate itself from Uday's remarks, London's "Al-Hayat" reported on 18 August. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Al-Hadithi reportedly had tried in vain to contact Uday in an effort to avoid the repercussions of the article. The article discusses the Syrian presence in Lebanon and refers to "Russia's weakness in the face of the United States." (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD WANTS ARAB LEAGUE TO SET UP MISSING PERSONS COMMITTEE. Iraq has urged the Arab League to set up a committee to resolve what it calls the issue of Iraqi and Kuwaiti missing persons in the Second Gulf War, according to Baghdad Radio on 18 August.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan issued a statement in which he said that Iraq has refused to cooperate with the UN Russian envoy entrusted with resolving the problem of the prisoners and missing persons. In response to Annan's statement, Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Al-Hadithi said, "the coordinator has been entrusted with a selective mission. It concerns the Kuwaiti missing persons only, neglecting the issue of the Iraqi missing persons. Therefore, Iraq refuses to deal with this person because this is a humanitarian issue. There are established international mechanisms for dealing with this issue within the framework of the International Committee of the Red Cross." He also denied that Iraq was holding any Kuwaiti prisoners. `

"Al-Qadisiyyah" on 19 August accused Annan of being "selective" in his position toward Iraq. The paper asked, "If Annan wants to know the fate of the missing Kuwaitis, why does he not express the same desire to know the fate of the 1,142 missing Iraqis?" Iraq has admitted taking prisoners but has said it lost track of them during the Shiite uprising in southern Iraq after Iraq's retreat from Kuwait, AFP reported on 19 August. (David Nissman)

AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL DENOUNCES IRAQI USE OF TORTURE. In a new report, the international human rights organization Amnesty International said that Saddam Husseyn's regime continues to torture political prisoners, its website reported on 15 August. Among the forms of torture currently being used, Amnesty says, are gouging-out of eyes, severe beatings, and electric shocks to various parts of the body. Amnesty noted that the Baghdad regime is violating its own penal code by taking such actions since the code's Article 333 prohibits the use of torture by any public official. (David Nissman)

ARAB LEAGUE DENIES SECRETARY-GENERAL TO VISIT IRAQ. An Arab League official source has denied news agency reports that the Secretary-General Amr Musa plans to visit Iraq at the present time, according to the Amman's "Al-Dustur" of 20 August. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD TO HOLD TRADE FAIR IN CAIRO. According to Cairo's "ArabFinance" of 20 August, an Iraqi trade fair will take place there 15-25 September. It is intended to increase bilateral trade volume between Cairo and Baghdad, which now amounts to some $2 billion a year. A free-trade agreement signed between the two countries earlier this year came into effect only a week ago. (David Nissman)

IRAQ DEMANDS JORDAN RETURN PLANES. Baghdad has demanded that Jordan return six planes which were sent to the country for shelter during the 1991 Gulf War, according to UPI on 20 August. The Iraqi weekly "Nabad Al-Shabab" on 20 August quoted Jamil Al-Tikriti, director-general of the Iraqi Transportation Ministry, as saying that the return would be in line with "Arab and Islamic norms and traditions." Al-Tikriti said that the "detention" of the Iraqi planes continued because of "a U.S.-British will" and warned Jordan that it would be responsible if the United States succeeds in forcing the sale of the planes and the transfer of the proceeds to a UN account. (David Nissman)

JORDANIAN-IRAQI TRADE NOT MEETING EXPECTATIONS. The value of contracted goods for export to Iraq has not exceeded $50 million this year, despite the signing of a Jordanian-Iraqi trade protocol for $450 million. According to the "Jordan Times" of 19 August, the amount of goods actually exported to Iraq has been less than the $50 million. Moreover, official statistics show that Jordanian exports to Iraq have dropped by 22 percent over last year. Under the trade protocol, Iraq will supply Jordan with all its oil needs -- an estimated 5 million tons, half of which will be supplied as a grant and the remainder at preferential prices. (David Nissman)

SYRIA, KUWAIT DISCUSS IRAQ. Syrian President Bashar Al-Asad held talks on 19 August with Kuwait's Emir Shaykh Jabir Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah on the 11-year dispute between Kuwait and Iraq, according to AFP on 19 August. Asad argued that the economic sanctions have harmed the Iraqi people. But Kuwait maintains that the Iraqi regime should be held responsible for refusing to comply with the UN Security Council resolutions. (David Nissman)

CHINA DENIES ILLEGAL TRADE WITH IRAQ. Sun Yuxi, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, has denied a report appearing in "The Wall Street Journal" that Chinese companies are helping Iraq to enhance its air defense system, according to the Beijing newspaper "Zhongguo Xinwen" of 16 August. Sun said: "The Chinese government has so far not discovered any trade activity with Iraq that violates the resolutions of the UN Security Council. On the issue of executing the UN Security Council's relevant resolutions to sanction Iraq, the Chinese government has always held a consistent, clear, and firm attitude, and forbids any enterprise or individual from conducting economic or trade activities that violate the Security Council's resolutions on the issue of Iraq." (David Nissman)

JAPANESE PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN BAGHDAD. A Japanese parliamentary delegation, led by Yoshinari Norota, arrived in Baghdad on 15 August, according to AFP. Iraqi parliamentary speaker Sa'dun Hammadi said that "Iraq is ready to restore its relations (with Japan) in all fields in order to reach the level of cooperation" the two countries enjoyed before the Gulf War. Norota responded that there is "the need to develop Iraqi-Japanese cooperation in the economic and parliamentary fields." Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz expressed the hope that the Japanese government would rethink is positions toward Iraq and adopt a more objective and balanced stand toward the embargo and aggression on it. Aziz expressed the hope that Japan's position will not be in harmony with the U.S. hostile policy, reported INA on 16 August. The head of the Japanese delegation expressed satisfaction with the visit. (David Nissman)

KURDS ACCUSE BAGHDAD OF TERRORIST ATTACKS. "Iraq Press" reported from Irbil on 21 August that Iraqi Kurds are blaming Baghdad for carrying out terrorist attacks in their region. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) says they have already thwarted several attempts by agents sent from Baghdad to plant bombs and explosives. On 8 August the KDP announced the seizure of 15 kilos of TNT in a car coming from the Baghdad-controlled city of Kirkuk. The driver admitted that the Iraqi Mukhabarat had supplied him with the explosives in order to attack a UN building. On 21 July authorities seized a car with UN plates coming from Baghdad. It was filled with explosives.

Up to now, the KDP had avoided blaming Baghdad. Consequently, this criticism reflects a major change in policy. It may be related to Iraq's plan to build a new route to Turkey, replacing the one through Kurdistan now in use. The taxes the KDP imposes on trucks passing through its territory make up the largest portion of the region's budget outside the revenues the UN has allocated to the region under the oil-for-food program. (David Nissman)

KURDISH IDP EXCHANGE CONTINUES. The KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) agreed to initiate the fourth phase of the return of internally displaced persons (IDPs) to their homes. This is considered a step forward in building the peace process between the two parties, according to the PUK-affiliated "Kurdistan Newsline" of 16 August. (David Nissman)

FIGHTING ERUPTS AMONG ISLAMIC GROUPS IN KURDISTAN. Clashes took place between the Islamic Group and the Islamic Unity Movement of Kurdistan (IUMK) at the beginning of August, according to the Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Hawlati" on 5 August. An official of the Al-Sulaymaniyah Center for the Islamic Group said that after several incidents "we felt that there is a hand that wants to destroy the security of the region and create hostility and fighting. As a result of subsequent clashes, the IUMK withdrew to Halabcha and Tawila, and the region is quiet." "Hawlati" also reports of tension between the PUK and the IUMK. The PUK has demanded that one of the IUMK's members be turned over to them for trial and investigation. (David Nissman)

CABINET CHANGES IN KDP-CONTROLLED KRG. On 15 August cabinet changes were announced in the KDP-controlled Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) presided over by Nechirvan Barzani, reported the "Kurdistan Observer" on 16 August. Seven new members were appointed to the cabinet, while four were relieved of their posts. Among the new cabinet members are :Karim Sinjari, Interior; Mahmud Muhammad Mahmud, Education; and Hamid Afandi, Industry and Energy. Four left the cabinet, including Fadil Mirani, Interior; Zayim Ali, Military Affairs; and Falakadeen Kakkayi, Education. Mirani and Ali will focus their efforts on the party's political affairs as members of the Political Bureau. (David Nissman)