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Iraq Report: September 8, 2000

8 September 2000, Volume 3, Number 31

UNMOVIC INSPECTORS STAND DOWN. The United States and other permanent members of the Security Council have persuaded Hans Blix, the chairman of UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification, and Inspection Commission), to cancel his planned announcement that the weapons inspectors are ready to return to Iraq, according to a report in "The Washington Post" on 30 August. More than half of the newly-trained weapons inspectors have been sent back to their home countries.

A Security Council diplomat is quoted by the daily as saying "the U.S. and Russia agreed that it was not appropriate to give the impression that Mr. Blix and the commission were ready to go back into Iraq. They cautioned that this might create a climate of confrontation at an inappropriate time."

A U.S. official also contended that it would be premature to relaunch weapons inspections in Iraq: "They have more work to do. While UNMOVIC has completed its first stage of preparation, it's a plain fact that they are not yet ready to launch a full-scale program in Iraq."

Two days later, on 1 September, "The Washington Post" carried another story noting that the Pentagon had alerted an Army Patriot antimissile battery for possible deployment in Israel because of concerns about a possible threat from Iraq during the U.S. presidential campaign. (David Nissman)

DOES SADDAM HAVE LYMPHATIC CANCER? Iraqi sources are now saying that President Saddam Husseyn has appointed a family council under his second son, Qusayy, to run Iraqi affairs in the event he is too incapacitated, according to a report in London's "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" of 3 September. But on 5 September, the Iraqi Embassy in Bangladesh issued a denial that Saddam has cancer, according to the "Times of India" on 6 September.

An Iraqi doctor told the London paper that previous reports have indicated that the Iraqi president suffers from pain in the joints, disturbed breathing, a weakened respiratory system, weak eyesight, and a lack of concentration. The doctor told "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" that a security committee headed by the president's secretary, Abd Humud, has decided that no Iraqi physician is to treat Saddam. The medical team which is treating Saddam is headed by French, German, and Swiss doctors.

Another "independent" Iraqi source says that Saddam presided over a family meeting attended by Humud, his sons Udayy and Qusayy, and his three brothers Barzan, Watban, and Sab'awi when it was decided that a council would be formed under Qusayy to run Iraq's affairs.

According to "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat," all presidential instructions which reach the ministries are now countersigned by Major-General Abd Humud. It adds that backstage Qusayy is behaving like the president, making decisions on both internal and external matters, especially on the question of Iraqi Kurdistan and the attempt to retake the three Kurdish governorates of Irbil, Dahuk, and Al-Sulaymaniyah. (David Nissman)

IRAQ CALLS UP RESERVES. Iraq has called up the military reserves, in a move that London's "Al-Quds Al-Arabi" of 4 September relates to the escalating media campaign waged by Iraq on Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The Mobilization and Statistic Directorate of the Iraqi Ministry of Defense has called up reserve officers and reserve soldiers born in 1975 to report to the Directorate in the case of officers, and the recruitment departments, in the case of soldiers, by 26 September. Iraqis outside the country are also required to report, with those who fail to show up subject to legal action. In the last few weeks there have been meetings between Saddam Husseyn and high-ranking army, air force, and air defense commanders. The meetings were also attended by the president's son, Qusayy, who is in charge of the Republican Guard forces. (David Nissman)

GCC MEETING CONDEMNS IRAQ. The Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) Ministerial Council from 1-2 September in Saudi Arabia and "discussed developments relating to Iraq's implementation of the Security Council resolutions pertaining to its aggression against the state of Kuwait," according to SPA on 2 September. "It observed anew that Iraq continues its procrastination and evasion of implementing basic parts of the relevant Security Council resolutions." In addition, "it took note of the Iraqi regime's renewal of its hostile and feverish campaigns against GCC member states."

The GCC Ministerial Council also expressed its "strong denunciation and condemnation of the speech by the Iraqi regime's president [on 8 August] and statements made by a number of senior officials who attacked the state of Kuwait and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia."

Baghdad had denounced the final declaration, calling the communique "false" and claiming that the "instigators" of this declaration were the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments, according to AFP on 3 September. Moreover, a spokesman for the Iraqi Ministry for Culture and Information claimed that "these two regimes thus persist in their treachery toward Iraq and are bent on killing its children, men, and women." He said that "We are the ones who map out Iraq's political stand and we do not wait for this to be done by anyone like the rotten foreign minister of the Saudi regime." And "Babil," the Baghdad newspaper under the control of Udayy Saddam Husseyn, not to be outdone in invective, referred to the GCC ministers as "camel herders" on 3 September.

The GCC unites Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. (David Nissman)

HAMMADI EXPLAINS IRAQ'S NONCOMPLIANCE WITH 1248. Dr. Sa'dun Hammadi, speaker of the Iraq National Assembly, said in New York on 28 August that Security Council Resolution 1248 "is the latest manifestation of tyranny practiced be a Security Council member state against Iraq," according to Baghdad Radio on 28 August.

In a statement before a session of Presiding Officers of National Parliaments, he explained that "what is happening in Iraq today is happening because of the embargo imposed by the United States -- an embargo that lacks legal and moral justification -- [it] is nothing less than a collective annihilation process, which even UN employees could not tolerate."

He claimed that Iraq has already fulfilled all its obligations to the UN, and that Resolution 1284 "takes matters back to square one after 10 years of making sacrifices and cooperating with the Security Council. Therefore, Iraq cannot comply with this resolution." (David Nissman)

JORDANIAN MINISTERS IN IRAQ TO INCREASE TRADE. Jordanian Minister of Trade and Industry Wasif Azar and Minister of Transport Muhammad Kalaldah are in Iraq for talks on ways to further activate bilateral cooperation between Jordan and Iraq, Radio Jordan reported on 4 September.

In the industrial field, talks will center on increasing the volume of trade between the two countries, expanding the base of Jordanian commodities and products exported to Iraq, and increase the share of Jordan's industrial companies in the contracts of the Memorandum of Understanding.

In the transport field, the two sides will seek to expand Iraqi exports via the seaport of Aqaba, especially since the government has recently reduced transport charges from Aqaba to Iraq so that Aqaba will become competitive in terms of the costs of loading, unloading, and transport.

Between December 1996 and November 1999 Amman exported goods worth $843 million under the UN oil-for-food program, according to AFP of 4 September. The "Jordan Times" of 5 September notes that Jordan has dropped to the 23rd rank among countries that import to Iraq in line with the oil-for-food agreement, from fourth place after Russia, China, and France in 1997. An Iraqi industrial official said in Jordan last month that Baghdad was preparing to shift its trade back to Aqaba. Aqaba had been recently superseded by ports in the Gulf, Iran, and Syria.

Because of the ministerial visit to Iraq, a visit by the Jordanian Chamber of Commerce, scheduled to take place this week, was postponed until further notice, reported the "Jordan Times" on 4 September. The Chamber of Commerce delegation was to accompany the ministerial delegation, but the government decided that since talks will concern political as well as economic issues, "the delegation should include only government officials." (David Nissman)

IRAQI PARLIAMENTARY DELEGATION IN POLAND. An Iraqi National Assembly delegation, headed by Dr. Ghalib Jasim, secretary of the National Assembly, left Baghdad for Warsaw on 4 September, INA reported. Jasim said he will have meetings with the Polish parliament and senate speakers, the ministers of foreign affairs, agriculture, health, and higher education with the aim of strengthening bilateral ties. In addition, the Iraqi delegation will brief Polish officials on Iraq's stand on international resolutions and the need for their legal implementation "in a manner that guarantees the interests of all countries."

Polish undersecretary of the economy, Tadeusz Donocik, visited Iraq at the end of July, Xinhua reported, and held talks with Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salah, Minister of Industry and Minerals Adnan Abd Al-Majid Jasim Al-Ani, and Irrigation Minister Mahmud Diyab Al-Ahmad. Donocik said that Poland is keen to develop trade ties with Iraq to make up for the heavy losses it suffered in dealing with the country during the last 10 years. (David Nissman)

NO MORE FREE EDUCATION IN IRAQ. Iraq's education system, once one of the best in the Arab world and free for the last 30 years, is no longer free. AFP on 2 September reported that Iraq's four million students will have to begin paying this month. It added that the Ministry of Education has set a scale of fees ranging from 2,000 dinars ($1.00) in primary schools to 25,000 dinars ($12.50) for the university, according to "Sawt Al-Talabah" ("Students' Voice"). An education official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that "it's a contribution from students to the efforts made by the government to maintain the level of education under the sanctions regime." Education standards have slipped in recent years, as attendance by both students and teachers has dropped as people struggle to make a living. Teachers earn an average of 3,500 dinars ($1.70) a month at today's exchange rate. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD TV: 'FOREIGN ORGANIZATION' PUT SNAKE EGGS IN KURDISH REGION. Baghdad Television on 2 September claimed that "a foreign organization which claims to be humanitarian has put large quantities of snake eggs...near the Qoy Sanjaq-Raniyah crossroads on the outskirts of the Dukan Lake in the Al-Sulaymaniyah Governorate." Arrivals from Al-Sulaymaniyah told an Iraq News Agency corespondent that in addition to snake eggs, a quantity of crocodile eggs were also found in Dukan Lake. They claimed that the spread of these eggs was noticed "after the arrival of elements affiliated with one of these foreign organizations, which calls itself a humanitarian organization, something which indicates that the organization is the source of these eggs." The "foreign organizations" are said to be affiliated with intelligence agencies which "exploit the abnormal situation in that area to wreak havoc and harm our Kurdish people in it." A year ago, a New Zealand demining expert was accused of burying locust eggs in the Khanaqin area, near the Iran-Iraq border (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 16 July 1999). (David Nissman)

RUSSIAN EMERGENCIES MINISTRY TO COOPERATE WITH IRAQ. Iraqi Minister of the Interior Muhammad Zimam Abd-Al-Razzaq met on 4 September with Aleksandr Ryzhov, an envoy of the Russian Emergencies Ministry, who presented him with a letter pledging expanded cooperation between Moscow and Baghdad. Abd-Al-Razzaq, for his part, praised the excellent relations between Iraq and Russia and said these relations serve bilateral interests. The meeting was attended by the undersecretaries of the Interior Minister for security and technical affairs, and the Russian charge d'affaires in Baghdad. (David Nissman)

RUSSIA, KUWAIT DISCUSS MOSCOW STANCE ON IRAQ. In the course of talks between Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and Kuwaiti Minister of Foreign Affairs Sulayman Al-Shahin last week, Moscow reaffirmed its position on Iraq. Ivanov said that Russia speaks for "the implementation of the UN Security Council's corresponding resolutions and the abolition of sanctions against Iraq," Interfax reported on 30 August. During the talks, Ivanov stressed that "work should be done on forming a reliable system of security and cooperation in the Persian Gulf, which will guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all the countries located there." The Russian side also pointed out the importance of "clarifying the fate of Kuwaiti citizens who are missing as a result of the Iraq-Kuwait conflict." (David Nissman)

OMANI FOREIGN MINISTER ON IRAQ 'TRAGEDY'. Omani Foreign Affairs Minister Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdallah told Arab foreign ministers attending the Arab League ministerial meeting on 3 September that Arab countries must work to end the "tragedy" suffered by Iraq as soon as possible, reported the "Omani Daily Observer" on 4 September. He said that "the Iraqi crisis is an Arab-Arab crisis, which the UN has been incapable of solving." He also condemned Arabs for their "lack of concern over the problem of the Gulf and Iraq." Alawi said that a summit of Arab leaders will take place in Cairo early next year. (David Nissman)

KURDISTAN ISLAMIC LEAGUE COUNCIL MEETS IN IRBIL. The Kurdistan Islamic League Central Shura (consultative council) met in Irbil in the KDP-controlled region of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). They viewed the results of a recent meeting between the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) "optimistically," according to a report in their newspaper "Yekgirtu" of 25 August. The shura statement says: "it hoped that the points on which [both sides] have agreed in recent meetings regarding the Washington agreement would be implemented. The central shura hopes that the ground will be prepared more earnestly for bringing the points of difference closer, and take a practical step in the peace process." The central shura also discussed the activities of its delegations that have traveled abroad in order to attend the [Iraqi] opposition meetings, visit the Kurdish community, and reorganize its members abroad. (David Nissman)

LAND IN KURDISH AREAS GIVEN TO MILITARY OFFICERS. According to a report that appeared in the Kirkuk newspaper "Sawt Al-Ta'mim" on 22 August and carried subsequently by the PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan) news organ "Kurdistani Nuwe" on 28 August, the Iraqi government has started giving fertile land in the governorate of Kirkuk (Al-Ta'mim) and its districts to Arab settlers and military and internal security forces personnel. "Sawt Al-Ta'mim" said that upon the orders of the Iraqi president an operations room was set up in Al-Ta'mim governorate to administer the land allocation process. The article in "Sawt Al-Ta'mim" says: "executive, engineering, and technical departments of the governorate are surveying the area in order to allocate residential land in favorable locations in the city of Kirkuk and its districts and subdistricts." The present inhabitants of the lands, Kurds and Turkmen, are never mentioned. (David Nissman)

KURDS IN NORTHERN IRAQ 'LOVE' SADDAM. A Baghdad Arabic newspaper, "Al-Iraq," which focuses on Kurdish affairs, claimed on 5 September that "the fact which the enemies, conspirators, and agents cannot deny and because of which they deeply hate our proud sons in the self-rule region [in northern Iraq] is that honorable Kurds love leader/President Saddam Husseyn..." The paper also referred to the intervention of the Republican Guard in Iraqi Kurdistan in 1994, noting that "the enemy and their allies are on the devil's side." That is why they tremble with fear and escape, as they did during the Al-Mutawakkil Ala Allah' operation in 1994 when our valiant Republican Guard forces struck their hideouts in dear Irbil." And it claims that "Iraqi Kurdistan is part of the great heart. Its population has always been loyal to Iraq." (David Nissman)

IRAQI POLICY ON KURDISH FEDERATION EXAMINED. Writing in London's "Al-Hayat" on 30 August, writer Nizam Mardini explains the "new Iraqi policy" towards the Kurdish opposition and federalism by suggesting that the Washington Agreement, signed by the KDP and PUK in September 1998, provides for the establishment of "a kind of a federal union between 'Kurdistan' and the rest of Iraq." He further argues that the United States has prepared maps to establish three states in Iraq "after it sensed that the Arab position does not go beyond verbal condemnation of the division of Iraq and verbal assertion of Iraq's unity and territorial integrity."

The issue of an Iraq federation was also raised by various Kurdish factions at the Arab-Kurdish dialogue seminar organized by the Egyptian Solidarity Committee in Cairo in April 1998. Mardini says that participants in the seminar opposed this option after Iraq warned against its danger by saying that it might lead to the internationalization of the Kurdish question and spread to the entire Arab region. The federation idea was generated in 1992 when the newly elected Kurdish parliament decided that the relationship between the region and Baghdad should be based on the federation as a constitutional form that would organize relations among sectarian-ethnic groups within a unified state, similar to those in India, Switzerland, Germany, and the United States.

This was rejected by Baghdad, who maintained that the federation would lead to the fragmentation of the country. According to the Iraqis, a federation would contradict the principles of the pan-Arab ideology of the Ba'th Party. As Mardini points out, "this is despite the fact that, in its amended constitution, Iraq violated the pan-Arab Ba'th ideology when it said that the Iraqi people "consist of two main national groups: the Arabs and the Kurds." And he concludes with the dubious thought that "in light of this, the Iraqi policy toward the Kurdish question took a new turn, away from the possibility of using force to regain control over the Kurdish region and northern Iraq." (David Nissman)