May 16, 2002

Iraq News Wire

May 16, 2002
Iraq |

I. Excerpts from Saddam Hussein's Address to Arab Leaders on April 22, 2002[1]

"...Once again I bring you my ideas and viewpoints... At a time when our Palestinian brothers are being killed, our sacred places desecrated, and our wealth ransacked... we have to agree on a plan of action with the help of Allah... Our nation has faced similar difficult tests in the past, and was [up] to the challenge... by making the necessary sacrifices in a united and organized action..."

"We are now – leaders and peoples – facing some choices… and my question is: Are we going to choose the right goals and methods? [And are we going] to share the tasks in a brotherly way befitting the faithful sons of our nation?... Or are we going to miss the opportunity and leave the initiative to our nation's enemies, the enemies of Allah and humanity, the allies of Satan?..."

"Dear brothers, we are the sons of one [Arab] nation, and we should thank Allah for this honor. But, this identity carries with it a big responsibility... The people of every country in our nation have expressed their will clearly and strongly concerning the events around them... and the question is: Do the [masses] determine the policies of a country, or is it the leaders of that country that do so? I say: Policies are determined by those responsible for them, but no official should make a decision which is an anathema to his people's conscience, interests and dignity... The foreigner is trying to scare some of us, make some of us fear our own people [by telling us] that our positions - or even our lives - are in danger if we do not surrender to his will. That is why we should all believe and then say that – after Allah – we rely on our people..."

"You may ask: 'So, what do you propose?' I propose... not to talk about the nation's weaknesses... because [such talk] may be seen as an attempt to shrug [our] responsibilities..."

"If we do not encourage grass-root initiatives against our enemy, let us at least be tolerant of them [grassroots initiatives]. For instance, [Arab] trade unions and professional organizations can do a lot to harm the enemy, such as labor strikes in oil exporting ports, teamsters' strikes, railways, airports, communications, etc. In fact trade unions used to do that, but now they measure their words by the parameters [set by] their foreign ministries... When diplomacy fails, other actions [should] replace it..."

"Zionism and the American administration are set to confront the Arab nation... therefore it is our duty to mobilize all our capabilities in all areas, and not to rely on the U.S. in anything that has to do with the good of our nation and Arab security, because the American administration has been wading in Arab blood up to its knees... We must believe that no one can defeat us... Our nation will be defeated only when it abandons its duties and special attributes, and when its leaders fall asleep... It is our duty as leaders to stay awake, and stay strong... If the people get angry and find it necessary to replace one of us, I would still consider this a loss, [and I would have preferred] if he had taken the right path [to begin with]. I don't think that any one of us, including myself would wish such fate on himself..."

"A nation's wealth is part of its strength, and throughout history other nations used it [as a weapon], even when it contradicted the spirit of the U.N. The U.S. itself used the commercial grain agreements [for that purpose]… and you remember how it cancelled the agreement with Iraq that was signed in February 1990. And you remember how it used it against the Soviet Union in the past, and is using it now against Russia and others. You may even know that the U.S., supported by Britain, stopped [shipments] of medications to the Iraqi people, even though the cost was paid prior to August 1990... I am aware that some of my brothers in oil producing countries have said that oil is not a weapon... and I say: [Y]es, it is not a tank or a canon or an airplane, but it could be used as a weapon when tanks, canons and planes are not effective, or are not being used..."

"Oil should be used as a backup weapon in battle, and not [necessarily] as an alternative... We did not propose to use oil as a weapon until we realized that our Arab brethren were not ready to use other weapons... In any case, we are ready to try to use any effective weapon that would restore our legitimate rights. So, if you want to use military weapons, followed by oil, we are ready for that with our armies, oil, and people..."

"I must say that I have never read or heard any leaders of any nation tell their enemy that they would not use weapons against it... [W]ouldn't this encourage the enemy in its aggression?... Don't the Arabs have the right to use their capabilities to defend their lives, sovereignty, honor and beliefs?... For these reasons I see that:

  1. 1. "Arabs should express their solidarity with their brothers... The oil exporters, including Iraq, should immediately reduce their oil exports by 50%, and deprive the U.S. and the Zionist entity from the half [that is exported], and threaten any country or company with the same measures if they supply them with oil that they had imported from Arab countries... We will thus embarrass the American administration in front of its own people, and will force it to listen respectfully to the voice of the Arabs... Such measures should be effective immediately and until further notice, until the [Arab] nation's goals are attained... The Arabs should take a collective stand, and if anyone of them deviates, Allah forbid, he should be considered delinquent in his duties, to his nation, and to the nation's security..."
  2. 2. "Countries that support the rights of the Arabs should get oil allocations proportionate to their support. These allocations will decrease if their support decreases. Special attention should be given to members of the [U.N.] Security Council, particularly the permanent members."
  3. 3. "Arab countries should cooperate with oil-producing Islamic countries, so that they take the same measures."
  4. 4. "Arab countries... with the support of Islamic countries, should try to get OPEC to adopt a resolution supporting these measures..."
  5. 5. "Establish a council... to follow up on the details of these measures..."
  6. 6. "The Arab nation should get ready, as one, to face any reaction or aggression, with the conviction that the foreigner cannot force us to accept what we refuse collectively. The weakest country among us, if confronted with foreign aggression against it, will be stronger than the aggressor because it is in the bosom of the nation..."

"May Allah grant us success together... Allahu Akbar [Allah is great]"

II. The Return of International Arms Inspectors to Iraq: On Again, Off Again

Iraqi officials and press reports have been sending contradictory messages concerning the return of the international arms inspectors to Iraq. The latest such messages were:

On the one hand, "Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri hinted in an interview with the Kuwaiti daily Al-Rai Al-Aamm that Iraq may agree to the return of international arms inspectors, and said that the issue was being discussed in order to find a framework for cooperation with the U.N... He stressed that Baghdad's agreement may come regardless of American threats to attack Iraq..."[2]

On the other hand, the daily Babil quoted Tariq Aziz, Iraq's Deputy P.M. as saying to the German magazine Focus: "...When asked why Iraq doesn't agree to the return of the U.N. arms inspectors, if indeed it does not have weapons of mass destruction [WMD], he replied, 'Because it will be a waste of time...'"[3]

III. Iraqi Religious Leaders: Martyrdom is the Highest Level of Jihad

"Iraq's religious leaders issued a Fatwa [an Islamic religious edict] stating that acts of martyrdom that are carried out by the Palestinians against the Zionist occupation are, according to the Koran, the highest level of Jihad for the sake of Allah... The Muslims in Iraq bless these blessed acts of martyrdom and encourage all Muslim religious leaders to support them with their edicts..."[4]

IV. The Kurds in Northern Iraq: News and Opinions

An Assassination Attempt and Calls to Fight Terror
The failed assassination attempt against Barham Ahmad Saleh, one of the two heads of government in the self-governed region in northern Iraq, was described by the papers as an act of terrorism with the aim of destabilizing the security of that area.

The Saudi-owned London Daily Al Sharq Al Awsat writes: "The funerals of the victims of the assassination attempt turned into a popular demonstration in which the participants called for 'punishing the terrorists and those who support them'... Saleh himself addressed the demonstrators and said that their gathering was a manifestation of anger and rejection to terrorism and that it was the best tool to uproot terrorism in Kurdistan..."[5]

Al Hayat writes that, "Kurdish sources in Suleimaniya said that an extremist Islamic group that broke away from the defunct 'Jund Al-Islam' militia [Soldiers of Islam] is responsible for the assassination attempt..."[6]

In response to these attempts "The two main Kurdish parties, headed by Mas'oud Al-Barazani and Jalal Al-Talabani are focusing on coordinating their efforts to combat terrorism in the area, and the creation of a combined special action committee..."[71]

A Secret American-Kurdish Meeting in Germany
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted an anonymous Kurdish source as saying that "American officials from the Departments of Defense, and State and the CIA met secretly for 3 days [April 17 – 19] with the two Kurdish leaders Al-Barazani and Al-Talabani... to coordinate American efforts to launch the attack against Saddam Hussein, by the end of this year at the latest... The source said that the talks dealt with the possibility of uniting the military resources of the two main Kurdish factions into one military force..."[8]

A Call to Kurdish Leaders to Revert Back to the "Constitutional and Legal Legitimacy"
According to Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, "[T]ens of Kurdish academicians, intellectuals and professionals called upon the leadership of the two main Kurdish parties... to unite the two administrations that were established by these parties in northern Iraq and to revert back to the 'constitutional and legal legitimacy,' in order to deal with the anticipated [American strike against Iraqi] developments inside Iraq. The call... expressed 'fear from an attack by the Iraqi army against the liberated areas in Kurdistan,' and 'the Turkish threats to occupy Iraqi Kurdistan under pretexts and claims that aim at preventing the establishment of a Kurdish State...'"[9]

Baghdad Forbids Kurds, Turkemans, and Assyrians from Using Their Languages
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted [unidentified] Kurdish sources as reporting that "[T]he Kirkuk office of the General Education Department [of the central government in Baghdad] issued instructions to all middle and high schools, which forbade the use of the Kurdish language between teachers and students and required the use of Arabic even outside the classrooms. The same sources said that the Oil Company of the North in the city of Kirkuk told all its Kurd, Turkeman, and Assyrian employees to 'correct' their nationalities and make them 'Arab.' Officials in the company threatened to fire, or reassign those who refuse to do so..."[10]

Saddam Will Refresh Confidence
"Saddam Hussein will hold a referendum to 'test' his people's confidence in him… The last referendum in Iraq was held in 1995 when Saddam got 99.96% of the votes."[11]

People's Democracy Party (HADEP) Leader Murat Bozlak: The U.S. Should Enter Iraq
On April 30, 2002, at Sabanci University, HADEP [the People's Democracy Party which claims to represent the Kurdish population in Turkey] Leader Murat Bozlak was interviewed by the Turkish weekly Aydinlik and asked to explain his support of a U.S. operation in Iraq. Aydinlik published this interview titled "Is he a party leader or a soldier of Bush?"

"Bazlack said: 'From the beginning we say that Saddam's regime is harmful to the Iraqi people. Whether we want it or not, the U.S. says there will be an operation in Iraq.'"

Q: "You say that Saddam's regime must be removed. This is the U.S.'s job. How will the U.S. do this job?"

A: "The world has only one pole today. The U.S. is the super power. She intervenes [in various places] to maintain world order. She does this with countries such as England. Whether we like it or not, the U.S. says that there will be an operation in Iraq. It is a reality that Saddam's regime is not in the best interest of the Iraqi people. We have said this in the past. We think that a change in Iraq, similar to the one in Afghanistan, would be harmful to the Iraqi people. If there could be a different method other than a military operation, we think this [removal of the regime] would be possible. Saddam must go. Ask the Americans how the operation will be conducted."

Q: "Would [the operation] be [carried out] with the opposition forces?"

A: "I don't know how the opposition forces will contribute [to the operation]. My wish is that it won't [harm] the innocent Iraqis."

Q: "What do you think of the puppet state that the U.S. wants to establish in Northern Iraq?"

A: "The puppet state?" [He laughs], "It is not good to make immediate judgments ."

Q: "Colin Powell guaranteed the territorial integrity of northern Iraq-"

A: [interrupts] "Meaning he [Powell] says 'we want to establish a state in northern Iraq.' Would a foreign affairs minister, a state official make such a statement? But on the other hand, besides what [Saddam] did to the Arabs, there are the massacres Saddam did to the Kurdish citizens. Five thousand people were killed in one night in Halebje. There is already a local administration established by KDP [Kurdish Democratic Party] in northern Iraq. We say that there should be a democratic federation without threatening the territorial integrity of Iraq."

"While Murat Bozdag is appealing to the U.S., even Mr. Barzani, who is the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, which has been a basic supporter of the U.S., isn't giving such statements."

"On March 25, during a meeting in the Kurdish parliament, he [Barzani] said: '...Are you supporting an operation against the Iraqi regime or not? We don't have an answer to this short question. We want hundreds of answers for our questions first...'"[12]

V. Iraq's Relations with its Neighbors

Kuwait's Deputy P.M.: 'Iraq is Best at Making the Wrong Decisions'

In an interview with the Kuwait paper Al-Rai Al-Aamm, Sheikh Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Sabah, Kuwait's deputy prime minister/minister of defense said that, "...The Iraqi regime is best at making the wrong decisions, and [we should be] wary of it... The decision to launch a military strike against Iraq should be an international decision especially when it is expected that [the existence of] weapons of mass destruction have increased in Iraq, due to lack of international inspection..."

When asked whether Kuwait had any information about chemical weapons in Iraq he answered, "We had definite information prior to the invasion [of Kuwait], Iraq used chemical weapons against its own people in the north and in its war against Iran… [W]e expect that [Iraq] has enhanced its experience with WMD due to the lack of international inspection..."[13]

In reference to Iraq's endorsement of the summit's decisions aimed at securing Kuwait's sovereignty and normalizing relations between the two countries, Al-Rai Al-Aamm reported that "Kuwait refused again to hold bilateral meetings with Iraq… and said that it wanted to ensure that the Iraqi position in the Arab Summit in Beirut was a 'fundamental change and not a transitional rhetoric...'"[14]

"Abd Al-Rahman Al-Atiya, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council expressed his hope, upon his arrival in Kuwait on April 20, 2002, that 'no Iraqi official would use shrieking propaganda that may undermine the accomplishments of the Beirut Summit...' He stressed that Iraq must implement the Beirut agreements, i.e. respecting Kuwait's sovereignty and security, repatriating Kuwaiti POW's and detainees, and returning Kuwaiti property to the Kuwaiti government..."[15]

In a meeting with a visiting Turkish delegation in Baghdad, Iraqi Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadhan said that "Iraq asks and hopes that Turkey will resist American threats against Iraq, and that it will not provide them with support, because that would affect cooperation between the two countries... He added: 'We would have hoped that the Turkish position was better than what it is right now...'"[16]

Saddam Hussein Demands the Return of the Iraqi Planes Held in Iran

"Iraq's President demanded the return of the Iraqi planes that were sent to Iran for safekeeping during the Gulf War in 1991 as a proof of Iran's goodwill towards the Arabs and the Palestinian problem..."[17]

Flight Accord
"According to an Iraqi official in the Ministry of Transportation, Iraq and Iran signed an agreement allowing Iranian civilian aircrafts to fly over Iraqi airspace. The official did not say whether the agreement extends the same privileges to Iraqi airplanes over Iran..."[18]

[1] Iraqi News Agency (Iraq), April 22, 2002.

[2] Babil (Iraq), March 30, 2002.

[3] Babil (Iraq), April 8, 2002.

[4] Iraqi News Agency (Iraq), April 16, 2002.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 6, 2002.

[6] Al-Hayat (London), April 5, 2002.

[7] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 10, 2002.

[8] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 21, 2002.

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 16, 2002.

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 11, 2002.

[11] Radikal, May 10, 2002.

[12] Aydinlik (weekly), May 5, 2002.

[13] Al-Rai Al-Aamm (Kuwait), April 4, 2002.

[14] Al-Rai Al-Aamm (Kuwait), April 19, 2002.

[15] Al-Rai Al-Aamm (Kuwait), April 21, 2002.

[16] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 1, 2002.

[17] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 18, 2002.

[18] (Iraqi Opposition), April 18, 2002.

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