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Iraq Report: January 21, 2000

21 January 2000, Volume 3, Number 3

SADDAM AGAIN FAILS TO MENTION KUWAIT. In his annual speech on the anniversary of the Gulf War on 17 January, Iraqi leader Saddam Husseyn failed to mention Kuwait as he developed his favored theme of the exaltation of deprivation: "...You know that matter and material things, whatever name they may take, do not rank highest in value during the lifetime of dies and leaves them behind, unable to exchange them or use them after he passes to extinction." Some 5,000 Iraqis gathered in Baghdad on that date to denounce the U.S. and the U.K. According to AFP, they carried banners calling for an end to the embargo and the rejection of UN Security Council Resolution 1284. Kuwaiti Defense Minister Shaykh Salem Al-Sabah reacted to Saddam's speech by saying that Baghdad still poses a threat to the region and that Kuwait will take every possible measure to be able to defend itself. (David Nissman)

SAUDIS WORRIED BY IRAQI DIPLOMATIC CAMPAIGN. An analysis published in Jeddah's pro-government newspaper "'Ukaz" on 13 January suggests that the Saudi authorities are concerned about Iraq's current diplomatic effort to escape from its isolation. "Some might actually have been influenced by the Iraqi viewpoint," the paper said, noting that "it is difficult to blame these countries as the concerned parties on the other side did nothing to forestall this Iraqi diplomatic campaign." "'Ukaz" points out that Iraqi arguments "do not portray the whole truth" but have achieved some success in forging facts and concealing them from the leaders and the people of the country visited. The paper asks rhetorically: "when will a counter-move be launched to explain the real needs and correct the misconceptions?" (David Nissman)

CZECHS REJECT IRAQI LINKAGE DEMANDS. Iraqi officials told a visiting group of Czechs that Baghdad will not develop trade relations with Prague as long as what they called the "hostile" radio station Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty continues to broadcast from Czech territory, according to Russia's ITAR-TASS as cited by the Czech news agency CTK, on 16 January. But Czech Deputy Foreign Minister Hynek Kmonicek said that he had rejected the linkage between the RFE/RL broadcasts and trade and told the Iraqis that the Czech government has no power to influence the broadcasts. He emphasized that Radio Free Iraq's broadcasts are not transmitted from Czech soil. And he told reporters that he had asked Baghdad to treat firms equally with EU-based companies bidding for deals under the oil-for-food program. (David Nissman)

EKEUS TO BE UNMOVIC CHIEF? UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has appointed Rolf Ekeus to return to his former position as UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq. The "Financial Times" reported that Annan had taken this step after failing to get agreement on 25 other names, a pattern that reflects continuing divisions within the Security Council. Russia, China and France have formally registered their objections, a step that points to both a filibuster on this appointment and further erosion of international support for sanctions. If Ekeus is ultimately rejected by the Security Council, Annan has also lined up the Finnish Ambassador to Israel and Cyprus, Pasi Patokallio. Brazil's former UN ambassador, Celso Amorim, was also on Annan's short list, but is reported to have withdrawn his name. Baghdad has indicated that this entire debate is irrelevant because it has no intention of admitting UNMOVIC. (David Nissman)

UAE CROWN PRINCE OPPOSES IRAQ SANCTIONS. Shaykh Muhammad bin Rashid Al-Maktum, defense minister and crown prince of the United Arab Emirates, told AFP on 18 January that he is convinced that sanctions only help Saddam Husseyn remain in power. "Our brothers in Kuwait," he added, "should also know that they will face the most risk in the event of the partition of Iraq which will lead to instability in the region."

According to the shaykh, "the United States cannot risk the partition of Iraq" because it means "the opening of a dark tunnel in the territory in which it is located. Nobody can predict what lies at the end of the tunnel." (David Nissman)

IRAQ ENVOY BUYS HOUSE IN SOUTH AFRICA. Using the accrued interest--some $3 million --on funds Pretoria has impounded since the Gulf War, Iraq's ambassador to South Africa, Ghassan Al-Fatah, has purchased a luxurious residence there, "Business Day" reported on 19 January. Pretoria appears to have released the funds in order to gain a toehold in the potentially lucrative Iraq market by doing business in areas permitted by the UN, mostly medical and development projects. At present there is almost no bilateral trade between the two countries and diplomatic relations have existed only since 1998. (David Nissman)

IRAQ HOPES FOR EXPANDED TIES WITH PAKISTAN. Iraq's ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Karim M. Aswad, told Karachi's "Business Recorder" on 17 January that Baghdad hopes to expand its economic ties with Pakistan this year. To that end, he said, Iraq will host a joint ministerial commission in the near future to help open Iraq's market for Pakistani goods. "Our doors are always open to Pakistani businessmen who should come and capture the opportunity," the ambassador said. (David Nissman)

MORE ATTACKS AGAINST IRAQI OFFICIALS. In early December, there were several attacks against Iraqi governmental institutions and officials, the Iraq Communist Party web site reported on 14 January. In one, a security officer was killed. In another, an air defense base was attacked. In a third, a housing development for Ba'th Party functionaries was attacked with the reported "liquidation" of four people "who had carried out barbaric acts" against Iraqi civilians. And in a fourth, the headquarters of the 45th Division in the Shatrah Administrative District was attacked in an unspecified way. (David Nissman)

REPUBLICAN GUARD DEPLOY NEAR IRAQI KURDISTAN. Iraqi troops have begun a massive deployment near the Kurdish-controlled areas of Iraq, according to the 11 January issue of London's "Al-Zaman." The paper added that one guard unit is now stationed in Mosul, which Baghdad controls, and Dohuk, which is within the Kurdish Regional Government's (KRG) territory. A similar rotation of forces has taken place in the oil city of Kirkuk. "Al-Zaman" cites what it called informed sources within the Ba'th Party to the effect that Husseyn has stressed to military commanders the importance of maintaining security within towns and firmly confronting "aggression" from outside the borders. (David Nissman)

KHARRAZI: ISRAEL WANTS A DIVIDED IRAQ. Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi told Istanbul's NTV on 19 January that "we believe Israel has started to implement certain plans in connection with the region, and this cannot be in the interests of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq." And he added that the Israelis "have in mind to divide Iraq, to establish a Kurdish state in northern Iraq. This is surely not in line with Turkey's interests." Indeed, he continued, "I do not think that any country would accept that." (David Nissman)

WILL PUK-KDP PEACE PROCESS MOVE FORWARD? Hoshyar Zebari, chief of the KDP Office of External Relations, told Kurdistan TV International on 10 January that his group will soon propose a new initiative to advance the peace process. At the 12th KDP conference, he continued, "we have agreed with our PUK brothers and thus paved the way for future plans within this framework."

Meanwhile, London's "Al-Hayat" suggests that a major breakthrough may be imminent in U.S.-led efforts to reconcile the two rival Kurdish parties in northern Iraq. The key to such a rapprochement, the paper argues, is a falling out between Jalal Talabani's PUK and the PKK. The PUK has closed the PKK offices in its region, which, in turn, accused the PUK of colluding with its enemy, the KDP, and taking part in joint anti-PKK operations together with the KDP and the Turkish Army.

And the "Mideast Mirror" reports that the PUK and KDP leaders are also expected to meet again in Washington to consider implementation procedures for the accord they signed a year ago. That agreement calls for a joint regional administration, the sharing of taxation and customs revenue from the Kurdish region, and the normalization of relations between the two parties. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD CONTINUES DEPORTATIONS. Iraq's interior ministry recently deported 4,099 additional families from Baghdad because they were not included in the 1957 census list. The security department reportedly summoned a number of the heads of the city's administrative districts and warned them about concealing information about families living in their districts. Particularly targeted in this roundup were those who moved to Baghdad after the Kurdish uprising in 1991. (David Nissman)