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Iraq Report: October 29, 1999

29 October 1999, Volume 2, Number 40

IRAQI GROUPS TO BOYCOTT INC MEETING. Eleven Iraqi groups have published a declaration in the London-based "Al-Quds Al-'Arabi" announcing that they will not take part in the Iraqi National Congress's New York meeting scheduled to begin 29 October. The groups charge the INC with failing to represent the entire Iraqi people and to ensure the independence of the Iraqi opposition, and thus bowing to foreign interference.

The groups include the Islamic Al-Da'wa Party, the Iraqi Democratic Grouping, the World Assyrian Union-the Political Wing, the Movement for National Reform in Iraq, the Iraqi Communist Party, the Union of Iraqi Democrats, the Free Iraq Council, the Iraqi Islamic Party, the Iraqi Socialist Party, and the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party.

But other groups are also avoiding the meeting, including the Iraqi Islamic Movement. The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq has refused to attend in protest of the decision to hold the sessions in the United States.

According to the INC, some 300 people will attend the New York sessions and seek to underline the unity of the Iraqi opposition, to elect a new leadership, to set up specific political, military, and financial mechanisms, to agree on a practical strategy and program for bringing down the regime, and to present a vision of a future Iraq that is free and prosperous and living in peace with itself and its neighbors.

According to one of the boycotters, the last objective has been "borrowed literally from U.S. statements' on the Iraq issue, refers to Iraqi participation in the Middle East peace process, and is one of the US conditions for backing the opposition. (David Nissman)

"ISLAMIC MOVEMENT" ALSO TO PASS UP MEETING. Two Iraqi Islamic leaders expressed doubts about the American policy concerning the Iraqi opposition and Saddam Husseyn. Shaykh 'Ali 'Abdul'aziz, head of the Islamic Movement in Kurdistan told Reuters on 25 October that he did not believe the US was "serious" in its efforts to replace Saddam Husseyn and thus would not participate in US-led meetings. But he did add that Washington's refusal to accept a letter from Saddam Husseyn which King 'Abdullah of Jordan was carrying he perceived as a positive step. Another shaykh also commented on the U.S. policy on Iraq. Jawad Al-Khalisi, leader of the Islamic Movement in Iraq, told Manama's "Al-Ayyam" newspaper on 25 October that he will boycott the INC New York sessions. Arguing that the basic position of the Iraqi opposition was already contained in the 1992 memorandum, Al-Khalisi argued that there should not be any discussion about the post-Saddam system until his regime has been overthrown and a legitimate government established.

He further suggested that a national conference aimed at salvaging Iraq must refuse to discuss any future project about the form of administration in the country until the regime has been overthrown and a parliament has been established because "discussing these issues will only strengthen Saddam Husseyn's authority and give him the opportunity to appear as the defender of unity of Iraq's people and land."

Shaykh Al-Khalisi asserted that there is a national scheme, apart from what he terms the "U.S. scheme", but it is suffering "from U.S. attempts to marginalize its national forces." He subsequently expanded on his objections to the INC's New York meeting in a lengthy article in the London's "Al-Quds Al-'Arabi" (David Nissman)

NEW OPPOSITION GROUP FORMED. Ten Iraqi oppositionists have signed a document declarating the creation of a new opposition group, the Iraqi 'National Action Council' (NAC), Al-Quds Al'Arabi reported on 26 October. Their appeal calls for "intensifying actions that aim to reject foreign aggression, demand the lifting of sanctions imposed on the Iraqi people, and call for democracy and human rights in Iraq."

The new group denounced the Iraq Liberation Act because "it aims to incite sedition and provoke a civil war and, consequently, partition and subdue the homeland in order to protect US interests in the region and thereby strengthen the Zionist entity and bolster its presence and influence in all countries of the region."

While the document does not dwell on the minorities in Iraq and does not touch on religious differences at all, it does say about the Kurds that the "national, cultural, and religious rights of the Kurdish people and all components of the Iraqi people" must be acknowledged provided that Iraq's "entity, national unity and national soil" are protected. In other words, it appears to make no definitive statement on the Kurdish demands for a federal structure to accommodate their demands. (David Nissman)

'UDAYY VS. QUSAYY BATTLE HEATS UP. The competition between the two sons of Saddam Husseyn has entered a new phase, according to Jeddah's "Ukaz" on 19 October. The paper said that the latest dispute between the two erupted when 'Uday forcibly intervened to prevent the publication of a book and a number of leaflets by the Regional Command of the ruling Ba'th Party. The publications praise Qusayy, his position, and his political and economic efficiency as well as highlighting the role he is now playing within the party and the regime (see RFERL Iraq Report, 7 May 1999 and 15 October for background). According to what the paper described as "circles that are very close to the family of Saddam Husseyn", 'Udayy was very angry and warned his father that he was going to leave Iraq with his mother Sadijah Khayrallah Tilfah if Saddam continues to give Qusayy preferential treatment. (David Nissman).

PAPAL VISIT TO IRAQ POSTPONED. Pope John Paul's planned visit to Ur, originally scheduled for early December has now been postponed until no earlier than mid-January 2000, according to the London Telegraph on 22 October. The Vatican apparently has delayed the trip because of concerns that Saddam Husseyn might seek to use the visit for propaganda purposes. (For background, see RFERL Iraq Report, * October and 3 September) The paper added that a recent letter from Iraqi intellectuals, published with Saddam's sanction, calling on the Pope to denounce the West for the embargo as a condition of his visit angered the Vatican. (David Nissman)

SERBS, IRAQIS CALL FOR ANTI-U.S. FRONT. A senior Iraqi Ba'th Party leader, Harith Al-Khashali, and Serbian Information Minister Aleksandar Vucic have called for the creation of "a joint resistance front of freedom-loving countries to the United States and its Western European allies on all political levels, " Tanjug reported on 25 October.

Vucic told the Iraqi delegation, which had been in Yugoslavia for several days, that "the resistance front must be launched worldwide." And he claimed that such a resistance front to the U.S. imperialist ideology would expand just as the anti-fascist front did during World War II.

Al-Khasali, the Ba'th Party committee chairman for international affairs, said that "Iraq and Yugoslavia are linked by the common wish to defend and preserve their integrity, sovereignty, right to independent development and non-submission to blackmail and pressures." He added that the American objective was aimed at establishing control over the natural wealth of other countries." (David Nissman)

JAPAN TO REVIVE BILATERAL TIES WITH IRAQ. Kishichiro Amae, Director General of the Middle Eastern and African Affairs Bureau of the Japanese Foreign Ministry, told the Iraqi Foreign Minister Muhammad Sa'id Al-Sahhaf in Tokyo that Japan wants to revive bilateral relations with Iraq, according to the Kyodo news agency. Relations between the two countries have been strained since Tokyo closed its Baghdad embassy in 1991. (David Nissman)

BAGHDAD BACKS 'ONE CHINA POLICY'. Sa'dun Hammadi, Speaker of the Iraqi National Assembly, said that Baghdad will stick to a "one China" policy and thus support Beijing's stand on Taiwan, Xinhua reported on 21 October. He made this remark while receiving a Chinese delegation from the Friendship of the Chinese People With Foreign Countries Society headed by Vice- Chairman Su Guang. Deputy Prime Minister Tariq 'Aziz and 'Abdul-Ghafur also met with the Chinese delegation. And on 21 October the Chinese society signed a cooperation protocol with the Iraqi Organization of Friendship and Peace. (David Nissman)

SELEZNYOV RECEIVES BA'TH PARTY DELEGATION. Russian State Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznyov met members of the Iraqi Regional Command of the Arab Ba'th Socialist Party, led by 'Abd Al-Ghani 'Abd Al-Ghafur, ITAR- Tass reported 22 October.

Members of the Iraqi delegation pointed out that a draft resolution prepared by the U.S. for the UN posed a threat to Iraq, would lead to a revival of sanctions, and the country's colonization. They expressed the hope that Russia would use their veto rights at the UN, and said "Iraq will never forget its friends." (David Nissman)

KDP CONGRESS ISSUES FINAL STATEMENT. The 12th Congress of the Kurdistan Democratoc Party (KDP) issued a final statement and a number of resolutions. A press release published in the "Kurdistan Observer" on 24 October said the meeting had agreed on free elections for municipal councils according to laws enacted by Parliament will be held, a judicial administrative court is to be created, and a center for human rights under the direct supervision of the President is to be established

The congress also decided to promote development of Kurdistan's satellite television. In addition, it called for upgrading the current information system through the use of computers, Internet access and other means of technology.

The Congress further stressed the importance of the women's role and participation in the Party's activities and offices. KDP tolerance and full respect for all religions and the right to worship was underscored, and cultural rights of the Turkmens, Assyrians, and Chaldeans were explicitly recognized.

The meeting condemned Baghdad's efforts at Arabization and deportation operations in Kirkuk, Khanaqin, Makhmur, Shekhan, Sinjar and other areas as an effort made to change Kurdish national characteristics.

The Congress renewed its commitment to the resolution adopted by Parliament in favor of federalism as the nature of the relationship with the central government within a democratic, parliamentary and pluralistic Iraq.

In international affairs, the congress expressed support for the Middle East peace process was and noted that "the success of the peace talks between the Arab countries and Israel ensures the rights and interests of all peoples in the region in achieving a comprehensive peace plan."

Following the congress, the KDP made a number of major changes to the civil administration of the civil government in Irbil. and in party organization. The new nine-member Political Bureau includes Mas'ud Barzani's son, Masrur Barzani. A report in London's "Al-Hayat" on 26 October said the latest changes consolidate the role of the Barzani family, noting that Masrur Barzani will oversee areas of foreign relations and security.

Meanwhile, the rapprochement between the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) continues. The PUK had sent a delegation to the opening of the KDP Congress, and the two groups have agreed to open offices in each others' territory. PUK radio saying that this move was made for the sake of "enhancing bilateral ties and moving the peace process forward," Reuters reported on 24 October.

The communique issued after the PUK-KDP meeting in Sulaymaniyah also stressed "streamlining the free movement of citizens and safeguarding free trade between the areas of the two sides. In addition, issues relating to imports are to be resolved in the near future. But points of past contention between the KDP and PUK including access to the revenues from oil smuggling were not mentioned. (David Nissman)

KURDISH POLITICAL ACTIVIST ASSASSINATED. Farhad Farag, a Central Committee member of the "leadership of the Revolutionary Communist Party" was assassinated in front of his home in Sulaymaniyah in the PUK-controlled territory of northern Iraq on 17 October. He was one of the founders of the "Union for the Unemployed in Kurdistan" (UUK), "Kurdish Media" reported on 26 October.

Farag is not the first UUK member to be assassinated. In March 1991 Abo-Bakir Ali, a Kurdish poet and leading member of the UUK was also shot and killed in Sulaymaniyah, and on 26 August 1993 another UUK member, Nazar Oman was killed near Dahuk, a stronghold of the Kurdistan Democratic Party. (David Nissman)