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Iraq Report: December 17, 1999

17 December 1999, Volume 2, Number 46

UNSC CONTINUES TO DISCUSS DRAFT RESOLUTION. Intense lobbying continues in the United Nations Security Council in advance of an expected vote on a modified version of the Anglo-Dutch draft resolution concerning Iraq. The vote itself will determine both the composition of a new arms monitoring commission for Iraq and the conditions under which the sanctions against Iraq would be lifted.

The vote has been repeatedly expected and repeatedly delayed over the last week. Delaying an up or down poll are negotiations over the precise language of the draft The United States and Britain would like the other three members of the Security Council--Russia, China, and France--to support the resolution in its current version which links the lifting of sanctions with the reintroduction of a weapons inspections commission. Iraq has frequently asserted that it will not accept such a linkage.

Under the terms of the current draft, a new inspection agency would be established--UNMOVIC (UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission)--in place the now defunct UNSCOM. If Iraq complies with UNMOVIC, the sanctions could be suspended in a controversial and complicated process expected to take about one year

Amendments to the resolution proposed by Russia on 10 December would "prevent the United States and Great Britain from imposing arms requirements that Iraq could not meet and thus keeping the sanctions in place indefinitely.

Barbara Crossette, writing in "The New York Times" on 14 December, notes that some Arab diplomats "question whether the United States really wants an effective monitoring operation, or whether Washington is backing the new plan on the assumption that Iraq would block it, thus providing a pretext for more bombings." Indeed, according to Abdelwahhab Badrakhan, writing in "Al-Hayat" (and appearing in the "Mideast Mirror" on 13 December), the resolution "would essentially perpetuate a status quo that benefits the United States." (David Nissman)

IRAQI MINISTER DENIES 'UDAYY-QUSAYY RIVALRY. In an interview given to the Egyptian semi-official newspaper "Al-Ahram," Iraqi Information Minister Humam Abdu'-l-Khaliq has denied the existence of a power struggle between Saddam Husseyn's sons, Udayy and Qusayy, as well as reports that Qusayy, the younger of the two, was being given key posts.

Abdu'l-Khaliq claimed that the newspaper reports of the rivalry between the two sons were "designed to give the appearance of conflict within the Iraqi regime, and that the regime was on the verge of demise."

He admitted that Qusayy has an official post supervising the Republican Guards but dismissed as mere rumor reports that Qusayy had been named deputy commander in chief of Iraq's armed forces (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 27 November 1999).

The Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq had claimed in October that there was a rift between the Husseyn family between Udayy and Saddam's first wife Sajidah, on one hand, and Qusayy and Saddam, on the other (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 15 October 1999). These claims were given impetus by reports of an assassination attempt on Qusayy in October (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 10 December 1999). (David Nissman)

NEW CHIEF OF STAFF FOR IRAQI ARMY. General Ibrahim Abd Al-Sattar, who comes from Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit and who earlier served as a commander of the Republican Guard, has been appointed as the new Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army, AP reported on 10 December. He replaces General Abd Al-Wahid Shinan Al-Rabat, who was named governor of Baghdad.

The new chief of staff is a career tank officer, who led Iraq's 2nd Army Corps during the 1980-1988 Iran-Iraq War. Following Iraq's invasion of Kuwait in 1990, he was named Chief of Staff of the Republican Guard. (David Nissman)

NO PAPAL VISIT TO IRAQ. Pope John Paul II will not visit Iraq "at least for the time being," Radio Vatican reported on 11 December, at least in part because of Baghdad's opposition. In a note to the Vatican Secretariat of State, the Iraqi government explained that what it called the abnormal situation in the country due to the embargo and the no-fly zones imposed by the United States and Great Britain does not allow the planned papal visit to Ur to take place.

The Pope's spokesman, Joaquin Navarro Valls, said the Pope's journey to Ur "was a dream, his dream, and he is certainly greatly disappointed by its cancellation," ANSA reported on 14 December.

Mgr. Jean-Louis Tauran, the Holy See's secretary for relations with states, commented that "It is understood that, in a country living under the embargo for so many years, the authorities do not feel able to ensure a minimum of facilities, of safety, of logistics, and therefore they preferred, also out of respect for the Holy Father, to postpone the visit."

An Iraqi official put it somewhat differently in an interview with "Al-Jazirah Satellite Television on 12 December: Iraqi Trade Minister Muhammad Mahdi Salih, said the reason for the cancellation was "due to the security situation in the southern no-fly zone...Iraq is concerned that this situation may be exploited to attack the Pope's convoy and thus Iraq will be held responsible."

According to AP on 10 December, the U.S. State Department had suggested that the Pope's presence in Iraq would highlight its "horrible human rights record." (David Nissman)

IRAQI AGENTS FAIL TO ACQUIRE CZECH RADAR. For several weeks Iraqi agents have been operating in the Czech Republic in an attempt to acquire the newly developed Komar-2 mobile radar system, the Czech news agency CTK reported on 8 December. Prague's "Pravo" newspaper said that an employee of Czech military counterintelligence, who wishes to remain anonymous, had said that "foreign intelligence services have been interested in the radar since it started to be developed. Several weeks ago a small group of people linked to the Iraqi secret services arrived in the Czech Republic. It is obvious that they are interested in seizing the technology." This source added that the Iraqis "cannot make a step without us knowing about it." He also expressed doubt whether they could even export the documentation on the radar. (David Nissman)

ROMANIAN-IRAQI TRADE TALKS CONTINUE. The 12th session of the joint Iraqi-Romanian trade committee took place in Baghdad this week. The Iraqi side was represented by Jamil Ibrahim Ali, senior undersecretary of the Ministry of Transport and Telecommunications. The Romanian side was headed by Surin Putinga, undersecretary of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Republic of Iraq radio reported on 9 December. (David Nissman)

IRAQ, YUGOSLAVIA TO EXPAND COOPERATION. During the visit of an Iraqi parliamentary delegation to Belgrade, both sides pledged efforts to increase their round cooperation in the political and economic fields, Xinhua reported on 10 December. They also condemned what they called U.S. hegemonism and interference in the internal affairs of other countries.

Srdja Bozovic, the chairman of the Chamber of the Yugoslav Republic, told his Iraqi counterpart, Sa'dun Hammadi, that "differences in religion, ideology, and political systems" should not hinder development of friendly relations between Yugoslavia and Iraq while their common aspiration of maintaining freedom and democracy should serve as a bridge for bilateral cooperation.

Hammadi and Dragan Tomic, a Serbian parliamentary leader, issued a joint statement on 13 December which said that "safeguarding independence and territorial integrity are both countries' main national interests." They added that "the new world order, which will be dominated by a single power, represents a great threat for peace and stability in the world." (David Nissman)

TALABANI URGES GREATER REGIONAL COOPERATION WITH IRAN. Jalal Talabani, leader of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, during a meeting with the governor general of Iran's Kurdestan Province, Abdollah Ramazanzadeh, called for regional cooperation with Iran in economic, cultural and sport sectors via Iran's Kurdestan Province, IRNA reported on 9 December.

Talabani also asked for the cooperation of Iranian scholars and university students in running the Persian-language faculty to be established at Al-Sulaymaniyah University in the PUK-controlled part of the Kurdistan Regional Government. And he said that Iraqi Kurdistan could meet some of Iran's need for wheat, and also "voiced readiness to sign contracts with Iran on chasing and arresting culprits."

Ramazanzadeh, for his part, said he was prepared for economic cooperation within the limits set by international sanctions against Iraq. (David Nissman)

NO OPPOSITION MEETING IN IRAQI KURDISTAN. An opposition meeting planned by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq for those Iraqi opposition organizations which had boycotted the INC's New York session last month will not take place.

London's "Al-Zaman" on 9 December said that "one of the obstacles preventing the meeting from being held in Al-Sulaymaniyah is the absence of regional consensus, particularly on the part of the Syrians who informed Damascus-based opposition groups that they do not wish the meeting to be held as it clashes with Syria's agenda with regard to the Middle East peace talks." "Al-Zaman" added that Syria may have leaned on the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), which was to have hosted the meeting, to not have the meeting.

According to the "Kurdistan Observer" of 10 December, a SCIRI spokesman in London said that his group had reached an agreement with Jalal Talabani, leader of the PUK, to hold the opposition meeting in Al-Sulaymaniyah. The PUK's office of external relations was quoted by "Kurdistani Nuwe" in Sorani Kurdish on 8 December as saying that as far as the PUK was concerned, "it had not made any proposals of that kind, nor had it been contacted regarding that matter by any Iraqi opposition group." (David Nissman)

SCIRI LEADER TO TRAVEL TO KUWAIT. Muhammad Baqir Al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), is scheduled to arrive in Kuwait for his annual visit on 19 December, according to the Kuwaiti newspaper "Al-Watan." Al-Hakim likely will again be pressured by other pro-Iranian Iraqi opposition groups to convince Iran to adopt a tougher position on Saddam Husseyn. SCIRI is believed to be the largest and best organized of the pro-Iranian Iraqi opposition groups. (David Nissman)

KDP OFFICIAL ON KURDS IN IRAQ. Umar Butani, the official in the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) responsible for Arab relations, told Cairo's "Al-Ahram" newspaper on 6 that the Kurds want to live in a unified Iraq, but within a framework of democracy, political pluralism, and self-rule. He added that the federal government in Baghdad should include Kurdish ministers as well as a Kurdish vice president. He stressed that since the Kurdish population of Iraq is some six million, they are entitled to self-rule.

Butani was a member of the Kurdish delegation attending the New York meeting of the Iraq National Congress. He said that the KDP opposed the use of force from within its territories to change the Iraqi regime in Iraq. (David Nissman)

PKK SUPPORTED BY SADDAM HUSSEYN. In order to weaken his opponents and prevent Mas'ud Barzani and Jalal Talabani from gaining strength in northern Iraq, Saddam Husseyn has extended support to the PKK in northern Iraq, Turkey's semi-official news agency "Anatolia" said on 9 December.

Turkish intelligence agents told the agency that Baghdad's support of the PKK intensified especially during the last three months when Saddam's arms and equipment were supplied to PKK bases in Iraq by the Iraqi command. The PKK has an office in Baghdad and camps in Makhmur and Domiz.

"Anatolia" adds that PKK guerrillas are receiving training in the use of 120-mm howitzers and 57-mm cannons, in addition to assassination training provided by Iraq's Republican Guard. Special activity was noted in the Makhmur camp, from whence "terrorists who had finished their training were carries to regions controlled by Talabani on military vehicles." In addition, five camps have been set up in the Kirkuk region involving some 250-300 PKK activists.

This additional support may be why the PKK, which had been taking a more or less peaceful line since the capture of Ocalan, has suddenly become more active. A statement released by the PKK Presidential Council on 5 December and published by the "Kurdistan Observer" on 10 December claims that "Once again, the Turkish state, in collaboration with the KDP, has been pursuing an eradication campaign against our guerrilla forces inside both Northern and Southern Kurdistan," adding that "Statements and decisions of the international community regarding the solution of the Kurdish issue are far from producing any tangible results because they are unimplemented."

Osman Ocalan told the "Kurdistan Observer" on 29 November that the KDP was one of the PKK's major enemies. He said: "Even though Turkey supports the assaults against our party, the real enemy of our organization in this campaign is the KDP, and they paid the PUL's supreme command the sum of $80 million to fight against the PKK."

The PKK has released a statement saying that all "concerned powers that they fulfill their obligations before we embark on active defense measures against all those approaches that aim to derail the democratic political process for a solution." Against the backdrop of this ultimatum, the "Kurdish Observer" of Neu-Isenburg reported on 10 December that over 10,000 refugees from North Kurdistan (Turkey) who had emigrated to South Kurdistan [Iraq] six years ago have applied to the UN General Secretariat to assure their safety when they return to their homes "to contribute to Abdullah Ocalan's Democratic Solution." (David Nissman)

IRAQ TURKMEN FRONT MEETS IN IRBIL. The Iraq Turkoman Front (ITF) met in Irbil last week to discuss recent developments concerning the Iraq issue and the role of the Iraqi Turkmen in these issues. The pace of these developments has accelerated since the meeting of the Iraq National Congress (INC) in New York in November.

At the New York meeting, the ITF was allowed to speak but was not included in the Leadership Council of the INC, despite the fact that Turkmen represent the third largest minority in Iraq, with a population of around 2.5 million.

The ITC Council is an umbrella group representing the Turkoman Fraternity, the Turkoman Independence Movement, the Iraq National Turkoman Party and the Turkmeneli Party, all of which are based in northern Iraq, as well as the Istanbul-based Iraqi Turkoman Culture and Assistance Association, and the Ankara-based Turkmeneli Cooperation and Culture Foundation.

Following the two-day meeting, the ITF issued a declaration expressing Turkmen "loyalty to Iraq's territorial integrity and unitary structure." It also called for expanding existing ties with parties operating in the region as well as "strengthening the ties of friendship and brotherhood" between the Turkmen and Kurdish peoples.

It added that "it is necessary to enhance our existing relations with our Arab and Assyrian brothers."

The statement then condemned the "inhuman implementations such as assimilation, separatism, forced migration, changing population registers upon pressure, and the destruction of historical monuments, which constitute the symbols of the Turkoman identity."

The basic wish of the ITF, the statement said, is that the Turkoman people "want to have equal rights as other groups and live in unity, togetherness, and tranquility with their cultural values."

And finally, the Turkoman leaders expressed their disappointment over the fact that a group of Turkish deputies who visited northern Iraq recently only had meetings with the Kurds and "departed without meeting with the Turkomans." They emphasized that in the future, they expect "support" from Turkey. (David Nissman)

A TURKISH VIEW ON KURDS AND TURKMEN IN IRAQ. Turkish journalist Arslan Tekin recently visited northern Iraq, primarily in territories under the control of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), and summarized his impressions in an article in the nationalist, pro-Islamic Istanbul newspaper "Turkiye" of 10 December. His comments reflect the views of some Turkish nationalists about the Kurds and, as such, provides important clues for an understanding of Turkish nationalist views on the proper relationships between Turks and Kurds.

Tekin argues that "if Turkey agrees, nearly the entire population of northern Iraq would come to Turkey's side. I was pleased to see that the Turkish government is aware of this." His claim does not appear to square with the facts: Few Kurds in northern Iraq have pro-Turkish views at least in public. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is in alliance with the Turkish Army in the campaign against the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK). But that clearly has more to do with the KDP's perception that the PKK is undercutting attempts by the KDP to lay the foundations of an autonomous state.

Tekin further claims that Barzani, the leader of the KDP, is "moving step by step toward establishing a state" but "the people are not prepared in any way for the establishment of a state by Barzani." He emphasizes the difficulties in partitioning Iraq, and asserts that "no restructuring of any type is possible if Turkey does not want it."

Tekin�s discussion of the Iraqi Turkmen is both more interesting and important primarily because Turkey has considered itself to be the protector of the Iraqi Turkmen since World War I when Turkey was forced to renounce all claims to the territory the Turkmen inhabit.

On Turkmen education, Tekin explains that Turkmen languages of instruction are Turkmen, Kurdish, and Arabic, and they are also taught English. They now have nine primary schools and four high schools. Plans to start a Turkmen university have been deferred until the political situation is the region is clearer. There are now 3,000 students and 75 teachers in the schools. In addition, in cities with large Turkmen populations, students attend schools run by the KDP and PUK (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan). In discussing the attacks on Turkmen institutions over the last few years, Tekin makes the point that the Turkmen have not only blamed Barzani and the KDP for these attacks, "they say that Saddam's men could also have done it." (David Nissman)