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Iraq Report: December 1, 2000

1 December 2000, Volume 3, Number 40

IRAQ TO SUE U.S., BRITAIN AND KUWAIT IN WORLD COURT. Baghdad's daily "Al-Rafidayn" has reported that Baghdad plans to sue the United States, Britain, and Kuwait in the World Court for human and material losses caused by the 10-year embargo on Iraq. The story was repeated in Beirut's "Monday Morning" of 27 November. According to "Al-Rafidayn," Jamil Nayla, a senior Iraqi transport official, said that "the air embargo had resulted in the death of 6,286 people," of whom not all were Iraqis. He add that "Iraq will also claim damages for losses caused by blocked contracts" for the purchase of essential goods and equipment "especially in the communications sector." And he said that Kuwait had been named in the suit because it has "long advocated the blocking of contracts for buying necessary equipment for the repair of Iraq's telecommunications network." (David Nissman)

SADDAM DEFINES THE ROLE OF POLITICAL PARTIES. In an article published in Baghdad's "Al-Jumhuriyah" on 25 November, Saddam Husseyn outlined his thinking on the nature of political parties. He says: "A party is nothing more than an organized and disciplined ability that seeks to achieve specific aims in accordance with a known course on the basis of its historic life span or its phase and what is available to it." He distinguished between a majority party which he said is "the people's party," and all other parties which have their own names. He further distinguished between what he called constructive and destructive parties. While the majority party achieves its objectives for the people, the minority party "weakens the historical role and message of the majority" and destroys "its walls and spirit." Such general pronouncements are an increasing staple of Saddam's political discourse. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD EXPRESSES SUPPORT FOR PALESTINIANS' INTIFADAH. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan told visiting Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF) Secretary-General Abu-Al-Abbas that Baghdad fully supports the Palestinian people's intifadah and believes that the PLF's struggle will ultimately be crowned by victory, Baghdad television reported on 26 November. Abu-Al-Abbas in turn hailed Saddam's principled and pan-Arab position. Meanwhile, Yasir 'Arafat cabled Saddam Husseyn on the occasion of the advent of Ramadan, expressing his heartfelt gratitude for Saddam's support and expressing the hopes that "Iraq will restore its strong role in support of the just causes and rights of our nation and will contribute to enhancing its status and progress." (David Nissman)

IRAQ SEEKS TO EXPAND AID TO PALESTINIANS. Baghdad has asked the United Nations to modify its MOU to allow Iraq to provide additional funds to the Palestinians in accord with the UN Charter, Baghdad Television reported on 27 November. This request was contained in a letter sent by Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad Sa'id Al-Sahhaf to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Al-Sahhaf explained that "the Iraqi government is ready for this procedure, which it views as necessary and urgent to extend support to the brotherly Palestinian peoples."

At the same time, Baghdad Radio on 27 November reported that the third consignment within the framework of the Iraqi "steadfastness convoy" had left for Amman with 50 trucks loaded with flour, rice, vegetable oil, formula milk, and medical supplies. (David Nissman)

AZIZ SEEKS RUSSIAN, CHINESE SUPPORT. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz visited Beijing and Moscow to seek additional political support for Baghdad in its campaign to have sanctions lifted. During his visit to the latter, Chinese Foreign Minister Tang Jiaxuan criticized "some Western countries for setting up no-fly zones in a sovereign country against the United Nations Charter and the norms of international relations, " Reuters reported on 27 November. Moreover, Tang vowed China would continue efforts within the UN Security Council to remove the sanctions. In Moscow, Aziz met with Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov on the problems related to the lifting of the embargo against Iraq. (David Nissman)

MOSCOW SAYS SANCTIONS SLOW DEMINING IN IRAQ, LIBYA. An unnamed senior official in the Russian Emergencies Ministry told ITAR-TASS on 26 November that Moscow would like to do more to help with demining operations in Iraq and Libya but is constrained by the sanctions regime. He said that the Russian government currently is seeking to find a legal way around these limitations.

According to the Russian news agency, there are over 450,000 unexploded U.S. missiles and bombs on Iraqi territory. The UN demining operation found a total of 5,000 mines in a field in the Zakho area (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 17 November 2000). Most mines in Iraq are left over from the Iran-Iraq War and are so numerous that their removal is likely to take several years. (David Nissman)

JORDAN, IRAQ DISCUSS INDUSTRIAL COOPERATION... Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salih received a Jordanian delegation led by 'Uthman Budayr, head of the Amman Chamber of Industry, and Abd-Al-Halim Abidin, head of the Jordanian Investments Society, according to INA of 26 November. The two sides discussed expanding industrial cooperation in order to break the embargo. (David Nissman)

... AS IRAQI-SYRIAN MEDICAL WEEK OPENS IN BAGHDAD. A Syrian plane carrying a 90-person strong Syrian medical delegation led by Syrian Minister of Health Muhammad Iyyad Al-Shatti landed in Baghdad to participate in Iraq-Syria Health Week. Al-Shatti told INA that "our participation in the Iraqi-Syrian health week is a show of solidarity with the Iraqi people and an enhancement of the bilateral relations between the two sisterly countries in all fields, including the medical and pharmaceutical sectors." (David Nissman)

IRAQ VP GETS RED CARPET TREATMENT IN INDIA. Iraqi Vice President Taha Yasin Ramadan on 26 November became the most senior Iraqi official to visit India since 1990. He said he hoped to boost bilateral ties and said he would brief New Delhi officials about violations of Iraqi air space by U.S. and British warplanes and on the "unjust" impact of UN sanctions against Iraq. The "Times of India" said on 28 November that India had "rolled out the red carpet" for Ramadan's visit. An External Affairs Ministry spokesperson pointed out that "this is the highest-level visit ever from Iraq to India in the last 25 years...We have close relations with Iraq and are deeply concerned about the humanitarian angle there, especially the high mortality rate of children." (David Nissman)

JAPAN SEEKS MORE TRADE WITH IRAQ, TO REOPEN EMBASSY. Yasukunu Enoki, head of the Japanese Foreign Ministry's Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau, met with Iraqi Minister of Trade Muhammad Mahdi Salih in Baghdad to explore expanding trade relations between the two countries, Tokyo's "Kyodo" newspaper reported on 26 November. Enoki's visit is also intended to prepare the groundwork for reopening a Japanese embassy in Baghdad. (David Nissman)

AZIZ ASKS SYRIAN SUPPORT FOR DEALINGS WITH KURDS. Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz arrived in Damascus on 25 November on board the first Iraqi flight to leave Iraqi air space in 10 years. According to London's "Al-Hayat," he used the visit to seek Syrian mediation in Baghdad's struggle with Kurdish forces in northern Iraq. He also sought the support of Damascus in rallying Arab support for lifting the UN embargo on Baghdad. (David Nissman)

KDP STILL WAITING FOR BAGHDAD'S NEXT MOVE. Sami Abdurrahman, head of foreign relations for the Kurdistan Democratic Party, told Turkish journalists that the KDP was still waiting for Baghdad to make peaceful overtures to the KDP but that none have occurred since 1991, according to the "Turkish Daily News" of 25 November. He also said that forming an independent state would not be practical.

In other comments, Abdurrahman said that KDP ties with Turkey were "very good" and certain to get better. According to him, over 80 percent of the goods sold in markets and shops in the region were from Turkey. He also said that the Turkmen in the region have no problems with education or the media.

He said that the primary problem with the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was a lack of trust, adding that "this distrust can be overcome with time. The agreements made so far, if stuck to, will result in elections. Whoever wins will have the authority." But PUK calls for a 50-50 split in the administration have not and will not work. Abdurrahman also mentioned the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK), stating "we have never had relations with them in the past and we are not going to form any now. They have attacked us in the past and razed our villages to the ground." He noted that the majority of the PKK is being sheltered in PIK-held territory and that their presence in KDP territory had been mostly wiped out. (David Nissman)

TURKMEN FRONT CONGRESS CONCLUDES. The Second Turkmen Front Congress, held in Irbil between 20-22 November, reaffirmed the need for Turkmen in Iraq to struggle against Baghdad's forcible attacks on their community and its identity, according to the Congress' Final Statement, which appeared in the Irbil newspaper "Turkoman Ale" of 22 November. It also elected a new chairman of the Front, San'an Ahmad Agha. Several Turkmen parties boycotted the congress. According to a report from Kurdistan Satellite TV of 21 November, each of them issued its own statement denouncing the congress for failing to express the hopes and aspirations of the Turkmen. (These included the Turkmen Brotherhood Forum, the Iraqi Turkmen United Party, the Turkmen National Salvation Party, the Iraqi Turkmen Brotherhood Party, the Turkmen Cultural Association in Iraqi Kurdistan, and the Kurdistan Turkmen Party.) With only minor variations, they said that its policy was "harmful to coexistence among the ethnic groups in the Iraqi Kurdistan region and the gains achieved by the Turkmen in the region under the existing democratic experience and the parliament and government of Iraqi Kurdistan region." (David Nissman)