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Iraq Report: July 14, 2000

14 July 2000, Volume 3, Number 23

BAGHDAD SAYS CAMP DAVID SUMMIT WILL FAIL. An official Iraqi newspaper, "Al-Iraq" said on 11 July that the Camp David summit meeting between Israel and the Palestinians will fail or end in "a deal in which the Palestinians offer concessions at the expense of our Palestinian people," Reuters reported. The paper noted that the summit "reminds us of the wretched accords signed 22 years ago between Anwar Sadat and Menachem Begin which aimed to get Egypt out of the Arab-Zionist conflict." After that earlier accord, Baghdad organized an Arab summit at which almost all Arab leaders condemned the accord. Baghdad is still at war with Israel. It also opposes peace agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel and Jordan. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD PLANS TO ASSASSINATE DISSIDENTS ABROAD. London's "Al-Zaman" reported on 10 July that senior Iraqi intelligence and public security senior officers had met to discuss launching assassination operations against Iraqi dissidents. The paper said that these attacks would take place in Arab capitals as well as Tehran.

Defining the exact details of the new campaign, called "Hawk-1," was entrusted to Lieutenant Colonel Hatim Al-Azzawi, Major Dirgham Al-Janabi, and Lieutenants Bassam Sultan and Rashid Al-Ujayli, the paper said. They are expected to use automobile accidents and poison to do in the dissidents. Among the first targets, the paper said, will be dissidents who visit Gulf state capitals and Tehran. Later, the group reportedly plans to extend the assassination campaign to Western European capitals.

The same sources also mentioned that the special detachment of the Public Security Department recently carried out a series of terrorist operations and car explosions in Iraqi Kurdistan in an attempt to seed discord among the Kurdish factions and instigate fighting between them once again. Then Iraqi forces could enter the Kurdish areas under the slogan "preserving stability and saving the souls of citizens."

If the newspaper report is based on misinformation sent by Baghdad or reality, it is bound to deter some opposition figures from traveling. There is no doubt, however, that the actions alluded to in Iraqi Kurdistan are genuine. But this may be merely an attempt to add verisimilitude to the formation of "Hawk-1". (David Nissman)

BA'TH PARTY GROUPS SAID TO CRITICIZE SADDAM. The Iraq Communist Party says that dissident groups within the Ba'th Party have prepared a communique attacking Saddam Husseyn for mismanagement of Iraqi and party affairs, reported on 6 July. Signed by those who call themselves the "Real Leadership of the Ba'th Party," the statement reportedly calls on all Ba'thists to unite against Saddam Husseyn. In a possibly related incident. Saddam has dismissed some 80 members of Ba'th Party for abusing their positions. (David Nissman)

ABSENCES MARK LONDON INC MEETING. The Central Council of the Iraq National Congress (INC) took place in London on 7 July, but some of its members stayed away from the meeting.

According to a report in the Paris newspaper "Al-Quds Al-'Arabi" on 8 July, the Islamic Unity Movement in Iraqi Kurdistan said it would boycott the meeting because it did "not find anything new in it in the interest of our people, which shows that it excludes democratic and social work."

In addition, the Iraq National Accord (INA) indicated several days before the meeting that it was withdrawing from the INC. In a detailed memorandum, published by London's "Al-Hayat" on 5 July, the INA argued that this meeting of the INC Central Committee was "not wholly legitimate" and that the Central Committee was attempting to "monopolize" the work of the INC. In addition, it criticized what it described as the "disruptive move to end joint national action once and for all" as well as supposed INC efforts to direct action toward "unilateral interests."

The INA has withdrawn from the INC once before. But other absences meant that almost one-third of the Central Council's membership stayed away. The INC itself admitted as much. Its closing after the Central Council meeting said that "over two-thirds" of its members attended, implicitly acknowledging that that almost one-third of the membership did not attend.

The meeting featured criticism from those who did attend. Two members of the INC's council, Baha Shbeib and Ismail Qaderi, issued a statement accusing "certain leaders" of the INC of striving to consolidate their personal power and flaunting foreign support to that end. And two other Central Committee members condemned the INC leadership and warned that the Iraqi opposition could never effect democratic change in Iraq if it did not "get rid of those elements which profess democracy but could not be further away from it."

There are now 65 members of the Central Council. They represent the Islamic Trend; the National Accord; the Kurdistan Democratic Party; the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan; five Turkmen members; three Assyrian members; the Liberals; the Nationalists; the Democratic Trend; the Constitutional Movement; two tribes; Islamic Unity; and the Islamic Union.

The INC also issued a denial that any promises were made to Aziz Qadir, a representative of the Turkmen Front in London, to replace Ayad Allawi of the INA.

The council also elected a six-member presidium with the Turkmen, Aziz Qadir elected as chair. The statement itself makes no mention of the internal dissension which prevailed in Washington and was later reflected at the London meeting. (David Nissman)

OPPOSITION GROUPS SAID TO BE DISCOURAGED. Ghassan Al-'Atiyah, a widely respected Iraqi opposition figure and independent analyst of Iraqi affairs, suggests in an essay in London's "Al-Hayat" that some opposition groups are discouraged by the West's current approach because the sanctions regime has not brought the expected result.

He writes that ten years of sanctions have had the unintended consequence of allowing the Iraqi regime to turn "the suffering of the Iraqi people into a political pressure card to break the regional and international isolation imposed on it." As a result, he continues, "no matter how much Washington tries to persuade the world that it is Saddam Husseyn who is to blame for the suffering of the Iraqi people, he continues, the popular impression and conviction is that the United States is responsible first."

Because of that, the Western "policy of containment and the longwait for the fruits of this policy have begun to discourage the opposition."

At the same time, he suggests that the sanctions regime has benefitted the Kurds, who he argues have "an interest in the continuation of the status quo so that it would remain outside his hegemony and in the continued enforcement of Resolution 986 (oil-for-food) that gave the Kurds the unconditional privilege of using 13 percent of the Iraqi oil revenues." But the policy of containment "is preventing the Kurds from playing an effective role in overthrowing the regime." The problem for them is that the present situation does not offer a final resolution of the Kurdish situation.

Al-'Atiyah concludes by suggesting that Washington now has three options from which to choose: continuing the present sanctions regime, dealing with Saddam, and working more actively to replace him. (David Nissman)

SUDAN SUPPORTS SADDAM. Sudanese President Umar Al-Bashir, President of the Sudan, sent a message to Saddam Husseyn reaffirming his country's support for the Iraqi people. Sudan's interior minister, Major-General 'Abd Al-Rahim Muhammad Husseyn, passed the message to the Iraqi leader during a Baghdad visit, Sudan Television in Omduram reported on 9 July. (David Nissman)

ALGERIA SEEKS TO EXPAND TIES WITH BAGHDAD. Algerian Trade Minister Murad Medelci told Baghdad officials that his country hopes to expand bilateral trade, AFP reported on 11 July. During a meeting with Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq 'Aziz, Medelci also expressed "the wish of his government to strengthen cooperation with Iraq...and the solidarity of his government and the Algerian people with Iraq." Medelci was in Iraq to chair the Algeria-Iraq Commission on Economic and Trade Cooperation. He also met with Iraq's Minister of Finance Hikmat Al-Assawi. (David Nissman)

RUSSIAN DUMA CALLS FOR LIFTING IRAQ SANCTIONS. In a letter to the speaker of the Iraq National Assembly Sa'dun Hammadi, Russian Duma Speaker Gennadiy Seleznev said that the Duma had called for lifting the embargo on Iraq and respecting its sovereignty and territorial integrity, Baghdad Satellite Channel Television reported on 10 July. Seleznev also stressed Moscow's interest in enhancing cooperation with Iraq in all fields, not just parliamentary affairs. (David Nissman)

JORDAN CALLS FOR LIFTING OF SANCTIONS. Jordanian Prime Minister Ali Abu-Al-Raghib issued a statement on 9 July calling for the lifting of the embargo against Iraq, Jordan Television Channel 1 reported. Specifically, his statement noted that "[t]he Jordanian government in cooperation with the brother Arabs and the international community will exert its efforts to end the tribulations of this genuine civilized Arab country and lift the unjust embargo from the land of the Tigris and Euphrates. The government stresses its unwavering concern for Iraq's unity, independence, and territorial integrity." The premier added that Amman hopes to deal with the Iraqi government in ways that will allow Baghdad to return to the international fold. (David Nissman)

BELGIUM, IRAQ DISCUSS AGRICULTURAL COOPERATION. Belgian agricultural officials are in Baghdad to discuss cooperation in poultry production, cattle breeding, and the dairy industry, Baghdad Satellite Channel Television reported on 10 July. The Belgian delegation on its arrival was received by Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan who said the visit was important because it would help to "remove misconceptions resulting from the U.S. deception aimed at justifying its aggressive policy against the Iraqi people." (David Nissman)

IS THERE A SECRET IRAQI-YUGOSLAV MILITARY AGREEMENT? London's "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" reported on 5 July that "informed Western sources" now say that Yugoslavia and Iraq have signed a military agreement. The secret agreement reportedly includes cooperation in the technology and information sphere, especially continuing Belgrade's assistance to Iraq in the manufacture of the "Al-Sumud" missile. Some reports have suggested that there are now dozens of Yugoslav military experts in Iraq working on the production of ballistic missiles. Their salaries are paid for via credits for oil.

A 2 July Iraqi-Yugoslav trade agreement made no reference to any military agreements between the two countries at the time. But Yugoslav foreign trade minister Borislav Vukovic did tell Tanjug on that date that this accord did "create conditions for further promoting economic cooperation through building construction projects, technology transfers and joint production in Iraq." (David Nissman)

UN RELEASE HIGHLIGHTS IRAQI OIL REVENUES. Iraqi oil revenues generated from the sale of oil since the beginning of Phase Eight on 9 June are estimated to be $1.068 billion, the UN Office of the Iraq Program "Oil for Food" reported on 5 July. Since the beginning of the program, on 10 December 1996, Iraq has exported more than 1.871 billion barrels with a value of more than $30 billion. As far as humanitarian supplies are concerned, $6.905 billion worth of contracts in Phases IV through VII, and $1.203 billion have been put on hold. The total value of contracts on hold in all sectors is now $1.481 billion. (David Nissman)

IRAQ BLAMES U.S., BRITAIN FOR BLOCKING OIL CONTRACTS. Iraqi Minister of Oil Amir Muhammad Rashid, said that during the last two years of the oil-for food program, Iraq had signed oil contracts worth $1.4 billion, but that the UN Sanctions Committee had approved only $300 million worth of contracts. He blamed the U.S. and British delegates on the Sanctions Committee for obstructing the approval of the contracts, Xinhua reported on 11 July. During the 42 months of the oil-for-food program, the Iraqi officials said that a total of 1,989 contracts had been put on hold, nearly half of which were oil contracts. Since the program was launched in late 1996, the UN committee reportedly has blocked more than $3 billion in contracts. (David Nissman)

PKK, KDP CLASH IN NORTHERN IRAQ. Violent clashes are taking place between the Kurdish Workers Party's (PKK) military wing and forces of the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), "Anatolia" reported on 11 July. To date, the agency said, at least 40 people, of whom 31 were PKK members, have been killed and more than 50 others wounded. The PKK has been using north Iraq as a base and to conduct training. These fire fights are taking place in the mountainous areas, and the KDP has announced that it has seized the PKK camps. Reportedly, PKK units have begun to flee the area in groups. KDP officials have said that the move against the PKK was launched in order to drive the PKK from north Iraq and put an end to the attacks directed against the villagers. (David Nissman)

ALABANI MEETS SYRIAN OFFICIALS. Jalal Talabani. leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, met with Syrian Vice President 'Abd-Al-Halim Khaddam and 'Abd-Allah Al-Ahmar, the second highest figure in the Syrian Ba'th Party, on 9 July, according to a report by AFP on 9 July. They discussed the situation in Iraq. Talabani will continue on to Iran after he leaves Syria. (David Nissman)

ASSYRIANS, MIDDLE EASTERN CHRISTIANS DISCUSS DISCRIMINATION. On 28 June Assyrian organizations, together with representatives of other Christian groups in the Middle East, on 28 June took part in a Washing conference at the joint invitation of U.S. Senator Sam Brownback, Chairman of the subcommittee of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, and Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, to discuss the discrimination they are experiencing in the region.

They focused on "the injustices against Assyrians throughout Iraq both at the hands of the government as well as by Sorani-Behdinani Kurds in the so-called safe haven in northern Iraq, as well as concern for the Assyrians in Syria," according to a report from the Assyrian International News Agency (AINA) dated 7 July. Assyrian participants urged the U.S. officials present to consider lifting the sanctions on Iraq because of their impact both on the Iraqi people in general and on their own community in particular.

The AINA report notes that "the sanctions especially affect Assyrians/Chaldeans of Iraq due to the perception by common Iraqis that the Western countries responsible for the sanctions are Christian nations." (David Nissman)