May 18, 2002

Iraq News Wire

May 18, 2002
Iraq |

I. Iraqi Plans to Blow Up American Naval Ships Revealed
The Saudi daily Al-Watan published an interview with Muhammad Mansour Shihab, an operative in Al-Qa'ida, who was captured in northern Iraq in May 2000 and is now detained by a Kurdish Iraqi opposition faction. By his own admission, he worked for Al-Qa'ida in the late 1990s and smuggled weapons to Iraq via Iran. He revealed that "the Iraqi regime planned to attack American ships in the Arabian Gulf [Persian Gulf] at the beginning of 2001. The plan was to load half a ton of explosives aboard a commercial ship operated by a crew of suicide sailors." "The ship," according to him, "was to sail under the Iranian flag in order to conceal Iraq's role in the operation." He also revealed that "$16 million were allocated to carry out the first of nine planned operations, some of them in Kuwait…" [Shihab goes on to relate details of the operations and implicates two of Saddam Hussein's cousins in the planning…] [1]

II. Iraq's Minister of Agriculture: The U.S. and Israel are Waging a Biological War Against Iraq
"Abd Al-Ilah Muhammad Saleh, Iraqi Minister of agriculture, accused the U.S. and Israel of waging a biological war against his country by infesting Iraq with the white fly… He said that this harmful fly could not have appeared [in Iraq] accidentally, because Iraq did not import any animals since the beginning of the international embargo in August 1990… U.N. statistics indicate that since 1995 the white fly spread in 13 of the 15 provinces in central and southern Iraq." [2]

"The white fly has infested about 70% of the citrus groves in Baghdad and its surrounding areas… Farmers say that the disease spread during the last few years because of the drought and they asked the Farmers Union to intervene with the Ministry of Agriculture to reverse its decision, issued last July, to reduce water allocations to farmers…" [3]

III. Iraqi Opposition Source: Iraqi Delegation Returns from Secret Moscow Visit
According to Iraqi Opposition Press, "Russian diplomats in Ankara revealed that an Iraqi delegation returned from a secret visit to Moscow in early April where it held discussions about acquiring military equipment. According to these diplomats, the delegation included officials from the Iraqi Intelligence Apparatus, the Ministry of Defense and Military Intelligence… and it submitted a list of requests, including new weapons, especially for air defenses. According to the same sources, the Russian officials informed the Iraqis that these requests would be fulfilled if Iraq accepted the formula of the 'smart sanctions' and agreed to the return of U.N. arms inspectors to Iraq…" [4]

IV. From Inside Iraq: Political, Social and Economic News
Numbered Cards to Renew the Pledge of Allegiance to Saddam

"…Organizations within the [Iraqi] Ba'ath Party distributed numbered cards among the citizens in their homes and work-places, in which they were asked to report to certain locations and present these cards as an expression of renewing their pledge of allegiance to President Saddam Hussein… The presence of Saddam Hussein across Iraq has become more prominent than ever before due to his 58 Directives to the people. These directives, issued on August 8th 2000 on the 12th anniversary of Iraq's 'victory' against Iran, soon became a doctrine that all Iraqis were advised to follow. They are posted in the main intersections in Baghdad, broadcasted before every newscast, taught in schools, printed on official letterheads and analyzed in graduate theses…" [5]

Saddam Hussein: All Iraqi Merchants Must Pass a Test in Islamic Trade Doctrines "Saddam Hussein announced that Iraqi merchants will soon be required to pass a test in Islamic trade doctrines, and that thosewho fail will be removed from the list of [licensed] merchants… He said that this is the latest step in the Faith Campaign that was launched five years ago and which included teaching the Koran and Islamic traditions in schools… He mentioned that Iraqi judges, state employees, and party members were also required to take a similar test, and that their positions were conditional [on their passing the test]… He stressed that although the religious experience created a revolution in the lives of Iraqis, it was implemented peacefully and smoothly because the Iraqis were convinced that our decisions were not meant to serve personal goals, but the will of Allah…" [6]

The Internet in Iraq
"Currently there are thirty Internet service centers [café's] across Iraq, seven of them in Baghdad. It is expected that new centers will open so that each province will have at least one center by the end of this year. The National Information Company, which uses phone lines, still faces many restrictions and the centers that are open to public use are few and subject to constant supervision by security personnel. People who visit the centers say that they are crowded and that the accessible [Internet] sites are limited… Many of those who need to use the Internet have to do so in northern Iraq [the Kurdish self-rule region]… The Internet was introduced in Iraq two years ago on a limited basis, and is managed by a government company." [7]

Iraq's Free Trade-Zones
"Hamid Shukr, Director General of Iraq's Free Trade-Zone in the Finance Ministry, said that the establishment of free trade-zones had a positive effect on the country's economy…it facilitated the import of advanced technologies and the establishment of contacts with specialized companies… as well as created work opportunities and resources for income of foreign currencies…" [8]

An Iraqi Five-Year Plan to Deal with the Sanctions
"…Considering thepossibility that sanctions may continue indefinitely, Iraq decided on a five-year plan (2001-2005) encompassing all social and economic sectors… The plan encourages innovative initiatives, finding alternatives, decreasing expenditures and costs, improving variety and production, decreasing imports and increasing exports, and encouraging savings and investments…" [9]

Iraqi Official: 400 Billion Dollars Needed to Re-Build Iraq
"The Iraqi Minister of Labor and Social Affairs said that Iraq needs about 400 billion dollars in investments to re-build itself…" [10]

An Islamic Edict to Boycott American and Jewish Products
"An Islamic clergy assembly in Mosoul issued a new religious edict [Fatwa] forbidding any business transactions and purchases of American products, and [boycotting] all the Jews financially and morally…" The Iraqi magazine reporting this Fatwa said that it "noticed that many people refrained from buying these products… which resulted in a drop in their prices due to their abundant availability in the markets…" [11]

Senior Iraqi Officials Continue their Military Training
"Under the directive of President Saddam Hussein… leaders of the Ba'ath Party and cabinet ministers continued their military training for the third consecutive week. They received theoretical and practical instruction on the use of light weapons… and combat techniques… The Ministry of Defense developed a special instructional program for this purpose." [12]

80% of the Second Oil Pumping Station to Turkey has been Rebuilt
"…The station, which is located 65 km. (40.3 miles) from Mosoul had stopped operations since the 1991 attack on Iraq. However, employees of the oil sector were able to overcome the initial hurdles and to use available local parts in order to repair the station… It is expected that the station, which is second in importance along the oil pipeline from Kirkuk/Iraq to the port of Jihan/Turkey, will be reopened in July…" [13]

V. Voices from the Iraqi opposition
Excerpts from an interview published by Al-Nahar [Lebanon] and reported by [Iraqi opposition] with Dr. Nuri Abd Al-Razaq, an Iraqi dissident who was a leader in the Iraqi Communist Party, and who resides now in Cairo, Egypt:

Q:"What is your opinion about the [prospective] American strike [against Iraq]?"

A: "…Since the September events, the American administration has been following an unprecedented policy of strong handedness and international confrontation… In the past, the Americans aimed at containing [the Iraqi regime], but now the goal seems to be to introduce political change… The American political style is offensive and incriminating, because it does not take into account the welfare of others, and the devastation that may befall them… All this does not concern the present regime [in Iraq] which brought about the current crisis…"

Q:"Are there beneficiaries from the U.N. sanctions?"

A: "There is a new class in Iraq called "The Sanctions Class," which amassed wealth and palaces from the black market and from smuggling oil. This class supports the political decision to undermine lifting the sanctions…"

Q:"Do you think that a change in the regime will solve Iraq's problems?"

A: "The change will give the Iraqis a respite, but solving the internal problems will depend on the future leadership… and there are many fears that [await us] in the future…"

Q:"Some opposition leaders maintain that fear from the unknown future has been the cause of the status quo since1991."

A: "No. In the past, some people expected an American action to change the regime, but America had no such intentions, which confused the situation and prevented the opposition from coordinating its efforts… The U.S. focused the limelight on the [Iraqi] National Congress [based in London] and by doing so distorted the image of the Iraqi opposition… and helped the Iraqi regime to remain in power…" [14]

VI. The Kurds in Northern Iraq: News and Opinions

Ankara is worried about the "secret dialogues" between Washington and the Iraqi Kurds
"Informed Turkish sources told Al-Hayat that there is a feeling of uneasiness in the Turkish army about the news that several secret meetings took place between Iraqi Kurdish factions and the American administration… Ankara has been following with great interest the Kurdish initiatives, especially the proposals of the Democratic Kurdish Party (headed by Mas'oud Al-Barazani) concerning the future of Iraq… And although Ankara is convinced that it would be impossible to implement any plan in northern Iraq without its support, the Turkish army is trying to avoid the necessity to intervene in the area to prevent a Kurdish plan that may conflict with Turkey's interests…" [15]

A Kurdish Call to Investigate the Disappearance of 180,000 Kurds in Iraq
"More than 100 Kurdish organizations and 300 personalities asked several countries and major international organizations to investigate the fate of more than 180,000 Iraqi Kurds who disappeared since they were arrested by Iraqi troops between 1987-89… Previous reports had indicated that they were killed and buried in mass graves in the desert in western Iraq… It seems that this is the beginning of a campaign to pressure the U.N. to send a special commission to northern Iraq to investigate the aftermath of the military operations there… to brand this issue an ethnic cleansing problem… and to compensate its survivors, morally and financially." [16]

The Kurds Prepare a Constitutional Draft for Iraq
"An informed Kurdish source in Irbil [northern Iraq] said that the Democratic Kurdish Party, headed by Mas'oud Al-Barazani, prepared a draft of a new constitution for Iraq. Accordingly, Iraq will be a Federal Republic with a multi-party parliament and will be called The Iraqi Federal Republic…" [17]

VII. Iraq's Relations with its Neighbors


Iraq accuses Turkish Intelligence of Attempting to Fragment Northern Iraq
"Al-Iraq daily newspaper accused Turkish intelligence of playing a ‘suspicious role' in ‘undermining' relations between Baghdad and Ankara by intervening in northern Iraq and by supporting terrorist organizations, fronts and parties that do not honor the common interests of the two countries… The paper said that the Kurdish citizens in Irbil realize the nature of the conspiracy against their present and future because the smokescreens that Turkish intelligence has been using are no longer enough to hide the nakedness of those who supplicated themselves to the foreigner…" [18]

Iraq will Continue Oil Exports to Turkey in All Circumstances
Iraq's Oil Minister Amir Muhammad Rashid was asked by a Turkish reporter whether Iraq would stop exporting oil to Turkey in case Ankara allows the U.S. to use its territory for American military bases. Rashid responded: "The Iraqi regime is determined to strengthen economic, trade and strategic relations with Turkey…[therefore] Iraqi oil exports to Turkey will continue unconditionally." [19]

The Turkish Army Wants to Stop Oil-Smuggling from Iraq
The Turkish daily Milliyet reports that, "The office of the Turkish Chief of Staff sent [on February 5, 2002] a secret report to Turkey's prime minister requesting … an end to smuggling diesel and crude oil from Iraq to Turkey. According to the report, 120,000 tons of crude oil were smuggled into Turkey in 2001, and the PKK members and their terrorist organizations refined it. The report estimates that this operation nets the PKK 330 billion Turkish liras [$200,000 in today's exchange rate] a year and allows it to generate more money from investments." [20]


Uday Saddam Hussein: Iran is Part of the Conspiracy against Iraq
Babil daily summarized an article written by Uday Hussein, Saddam's eldest son, under the pen-name Omar Al-Kadhimi and published earlier by the same paper at an: "…One of the main goals in launching a strike against Iraq is not to topple the regime, but to force it to reach an agreement with the U.S…. The writer recounted Iran's positions towards Iraq and accused it of committing widespread acts of plunder and looting in 1991 after the war ended. The writer renewed his accusation against Iran, saying that it was part of the new conspiracy against Iraq and that the Iranians were ready to cross the border at any moment to materialize their ambitions [in Iraq]…" [21]

Iraq to Iran: The calls for an Oil Embargo are Not Enough
Published by Al-Thawra, this commentary reacts to Iran's most recent appeal to Islamic countries to stop selling oil to Israel and its allies, in support of the Palestinians. The commentary says: "… Several Iranian officials have issued a similar call in the past, among them Khamenei, Khatemi, and Kharazi. So let us ask …wouldn't it have been better if Iran actually took such a step, and just like Iraq, imposed an embargo on oil sales, rather than issue such appeals repeatedly…? The situation requires concrete action… therefore, Iran's call will not be effective nor serious unless it is accompanied by deeds… It is what the Arab and Muslim masses are waiting for." [22]


Kuwait asks Syria to ensure Baghdad's Peaceful Intentions
"Diplomatic sources in Damascus informed Al-Hayat [London] that Syria has been transferring official messages between Iraq and Kuwait to ensure that Iraq implements the agreements reached in the last Arab Summit in Beirut.…" [23] The Kuwaiti ambassador to Damascus, Suleiman Ibrahim Al-Murjan, denied that Syria was asked to be an intermediary. [24]

VIII. Saddam Promises the Fatah and PLC Member: Palestinian Martyrs Have Same Entitlements as Iraqi Martyrs
"Abbas Zaki, a member of Fatah's Central Committee and the Palestinian Legislative Council, said that President Saddam Hussein - despite Iraq's hardships – guaranteed [the families of] Palestinian martyrs that they will have the same entitlements as Iraqi Martyrs." Zaki said that in addition to the direct financial rewards to families of suicide bombers, Saddam promised to "contribute to paying off the Palestinian Authority's debts to Jordanian hospitals… to assist injured Palestinians, and those whose homes were demolished…" The Iraqi President told Zaki: "Convey our greetings to Arafat and tell him that he can use Iraq's resources as if they were Palestinian resources…" [25]

"In a meeting of the Iraqi Cabinet, Saddam Hussein ordered to budget $25,000 for every house in Jenin that was destroyed by the criminal Zionists." [26]

IX. Weapons of Mass Destruction

Another Iraqi Denial of Possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction [WMD]
Al-Thawra, the official daily of the Iraqi Ba'ath Party, criticized Tony Blair's statement that he had a "wealth of evidence" that Iraq had WMD. The paper said that "this was an outright lie with no basis in reality…Blair was blowing empty bubbles in compliance with the mission that George Bush had assigned him to do… By doing so, [Blair] turned Britain into a tool in the hands of the Pentagon…" [27]

[1] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia) April 25, 2002.

[2] Babil (Iraq), May 1, 2002.

[3] (Iraqi Opposition), April 29, 2002.

[4] Iraq Press (Iraqi Opposition), April 27, 2002.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 28, 2002.

[6] Babil (Iraq), April 27, 2002.

[7] (Iraqi Opposition), April 29, 2002.

[8] Al-Iktisadi (Iraq/weekly), April 28, 2002.

[9] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), April 5, 2002.

[10] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 23, 2002.

[11] Nabdh Al-Shabab (Iraqi magazine,) May 12, 2002.

[12] Al-Thawra (Iraq), May 21, 2002.

[13] Al-Iraq (Iraq), May 18, 2002.

[14] (Opposition), April 30, 2002.

[15] Al-Hayat (London), May 4, 2002.

[16] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), April 27, 2002.

[17] (Iraqi opposition), April 25, 2002.

[18] Al-Hayat (London), May 5, 2002.

[19] Hurriyet (Turkey), May 4, 2002.

[20] Milliyet (Turkey), April 24, 2002.

[21] Babil (Iraq), May 5, 2002.

[22] Al-Thawra (Iraq), May 2, 2002.

[23] Al-Hayat (London), April 30, 2002.

[24] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 5, 2002.

[25] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 22, 2002.

[26] Iraqi News Agency, April 22, 2002.

[27] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 1, 2002.

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