June 26, 2002

Iraq News Wire

June 26, 2002
Iraq |

I. Saddam Hussein: The West Admits Defeat
In a meeting with high ranking Iraqi military and government officials, Saddam Hussein commented on Western statements about current economic conditions in Iraq:

"… [They say that] the economic situation and the standard of living in Iraq today, even under siege, is better than that of Egypt, and that Iraq improved and developed itself despite the siege. This is an admission that they were defeated in their efforts to kill the economy as well as the spirit of the Iraqi people… They failed… [because] we rebuilt what was destroyed, and our will was not broken…"[1]

II. Iraq Demands Milosevic Be Freed
"The Coordinating Committee of the Baghdad Conference issued the following statement:

1) The Conference does not recognize the legality of the Special U.N. Tribunal in La Hague because it was established for political reasons and did not have a legal foundation. 2) The Yugoslav people are the only authority with the right to deal with issues concerning their country. 3) Slobodan Milosevic should be freed from illegal confinement because this is the only measure that conforms with international law and the U.N. charter'…"[2]

III. The Kurds in Norther Iraq: News and Opinions

Five Kurdish Parties Unite to Form One Political Front
"Five Kurdish political parties reached an agreement to form a new Kurdish front similar to the one that led the 1991 uprising against the regime in Baghdad… This move was in response to a call issued by the Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani to unite Kurdish political effort in preparation for anticipated developments in Iraq in general, and in the Kurdish area in particular…" [3]Kurds Can Serve as Volunteers in the Iraqi Army
"A high level order was issued recently to exempt Kurds born in 1984 who reside in the self-ruled region, as well as in 'Aqra and Kifri areas, from military services. The order also includes those who presently are exempt from military service. Residents of the targeted areas can join the service (voluntarily) and will be paid as volunteers, according to their ranks."[4]

Kurdish Authorities Confiscate Explosives in Northern Iraq
"An unidentified Kurdish source in northern Iraq revealed that a large quantity of explosives was discovered recently in Klar in the Kirkuk province. The explosives were smuggled from areas governed by the central government in Baghdad … four people have been arrested and are being questioned… There are enough explosives to carry out more than 100 large explosions."[5]

IV. Iraq's Relations with Its Neighbors
Al-Watan (Kuwait): Is Baghdad Managing the Arab League?

Despite commitments Iraq made during the recent Arab Summit in Beirut to honor Kuwait's sovereignty and territorial integrity and to resolve outstanding problems between the two countries, Kuwaiti officials – at the highest level – have been skeptical of Iraq's true intentions and the extent of its compliance. On May 3, Kuwait asserted its refusal to discuss its conflict with Iraq anywhere except in the U.N., and expressed its weariness with the attempts of Amr Moussa, Secretary General of the Arab League, to transfer Iraqi/Kuwaiti issues from the U.N. to the Arab League. An op-ed article published by the Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan cautions Moussa not to trust the Iraqi regime and asks:

"…What makes the Secretary General of the Arab League think that he could succeed [in making Iraq comply with its commitments] where even the U.N. Security Council has failed? … It is no wonder that the Secretary General failed in his attempts to transfer the [Iraqi/Kuwaiti] file from New York to the offices of the Arab League in Cairo, because naturally no one in New York had faith in Iraq's promises and foibles. Twelve years have passed since the criminal invasion took place, and the world is still suffering from the deviousness and trickery of those renegades who reside in Baghdad…"[6]

A few days later, Al-Hayat daily reported that "Kuwait proposed a conference in Cairo, outside the framework of the Arab League, to deal with the fate of POWs and MIAs."[7][8]

Recent news reports contain contradictions regarding the status and direction of relations between Iraq and Iran. Earlier this year it seemed that Iraq and Iran accomplished some progress in resolving outstanding conflicts and normalizing relations. And recently, Iran's President Muhammad Khatemi stated that his country "is determined to settle all outstanding problems with Iraq."[9] However, other news reports indicate that relations between the two countries remain tense:

"The Iranian daily Jumhuri Islami reported [on May 22, 2002] that a patrol of the Iranian Navy in the Gulf exchanged fire with armed Iraqi agents disguised as fishermen… The newspaper also said that Iraqis attacked and robbed Iranian fishermen several times during the last few months."[10]

"Iraq's Foreign Minister Naji Sabri accused Tehran of violating an agreement reached last January to resume air travel between the two countries which had been discontinued since the start of the Iraq/Iran war in 1980… He said that Iraq is awaiting an Iranian initiative to improve relations between the two countries…" [11]

"The Iranian opposition organization Mujahideen Khalq, based in Iraq, denied carrying out security [operations] on behalf of the Iraqi government. The accusation appeared in the report 'Patterns of International Terrorism in 2001,' which said that the organization helped the Iraqi government in the 80's in crushing the uprisings of the Shi'ites and the Kurds in southern and northern Iraq… In its response, the organization said that 'these accusations and new lies are another gift … to the religious fascists who rule Iran …there is no evidence that Mujahideen Khalq acted against the Iraqi Kurds’…"[12]

Iraq/Saudi Arabia
"Unnamed informed sources told the Saudi daily Al-Jazeerah that preparations are being made to open border crossings with Iraq for Saudi exports, in accordance with the 'Oil for Food' program… Previously, the exports went through Jordan, which increased insurance costs, and hence the prices of the products… [Direct export] will make the Saudi products competitive and will increase opportunities for contracts within the 'Oil for Food' program…"[13]

"…Dr. Muhammad Mahdi Saleh, Iraq's Minister of Trade said that trade between Iraq and Saudi Arabia surpassed a billion dollars… He added that the accomplishments at the recent Arab summit in Beirut gave impetus to trade relations between the two countries…"[14]

"Iraq's Minister of Industry said that his office approved the construction of the first plant financed completely by Saudi capital… Minister Shallah hailed the outcome of his discussions in Saudi Arabia during his recent visit there, which was the first of its kind for a high ranking Iraqi economic official since the two countries severed relations after the 1991 Gulf War…"[15]

"Quoting Iraqi sources, the London-based Al-Hayat daily reported that Syrian authorities prohibited 'printing, transporting and distributing' Iraqi opposition newspapers inside Syria, in light of the improved economic and political relations between Baghdad and Damascus… However, the director of the governmental Office for Print Distribution said that he did not receive a written order on this issue… Another source indicated that the order would include any newspaper that criticized any Arab regime …"[16]

"…Iraq confiscated the passports of 25 Turkish truck drivers who delivered shipments of exported paper from Turkey… Iraq claimed that the quality of the paper was sub-standard and that it was owed 124,000 Euros and therefore seized the paper shipments and detained the drivers…"[17]

V. An Iraqi "Halloween" The Kuwaiti daily Al-Watan published a series of three articles quoting the memoirs of a former Iraqi officer who was born and raised in Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, and who had since joined the Iraqi opposition. The newspaper prefaced the articles by saying that "the American people would be astonished to discover that Iraq has its own version of 'Halloween' horror movies." The following are excerpts:

"[In his memoirs], he describes some 'scary social practices' by the leaders of the local clans in Tikrit, the birthplace of the Iraqi dictator… Horrifying customs that are akin to an 'incubator' that breeds snakes… He said that he was five-years old when his uncle asked him to slaughter a chicken as befitting 'a member of the Oujeil clan in Tikrit'… When he was unable to do so, his uncle took the knife from his hand and cut the chicken's neck in such a way that the blood drenched the child's face and clothes … this was the first lesson in what the Tikriti clans call 'hardening [a child's] heart and desensitizing him to the look of blood'…"[18]

"The former Iraqi officer continued to say that when he was six-years old his uncle started training him to use guns… 'He gave me an Iranian made rifle with a very strong recoil and told me to shoot a boulder used as a target. When I missed several times – as expected from a small child – my uncle picked up the 'target' and threw it at me, no matter where it hit me… And even at this early age, if anyone did anything to 'hurt our manhood,' we were not supposed to complain to our elders, but to spray his chest with bullets, then pick up the empty shells and hand them to his relatives as 'blood money'… However, if we killed someone who was not a member of the [Tikriti] clans, like the Kurds, we did not need blood money… We killed Kurds for free…' he said."[19]

"Among the practices of the [Tikriti] clans is [taking] children to graveyards and forc[ing] them to go down into the grave with the dead body, then remove the shroud from the deceased face. The purpose? To honor the dead and to desensitize children to death…"[20]

[1] Al-Thawra (Iraq), May 26, 2002.

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

[3] (Iraqi opposition), May 23, 2002.

[4] Al-Zawra (Iraqi magazine), May 18, 2002.

[5] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 17, 2002.

[6] Al-Watan (Kuwait), May 17, 2002.

[7] Al-Hayat (London), May 20, 2002.

[8] According to Al-Watan (Kuwait), May 20, 2002, "Sheikh Salem Al-Sabbah, Chairman of the National POW's and MIA's Committee said after meeting with President Husni Mubarak in Egypt that …'Kuwait does not trust Iraq because it does not honor its commitments nor international decisions…'"

[9] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 28, 2002.

[10] Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), May 26, 2002.

[11] (Iraqi opposition), May 22, 2002.

[12] (Iraqi opposition), May 25, 2002.

[13] Al-Jazeerah (Saudi Arabia), April 22, 2002.

[14] Al-Jumhuriya (Iraq), May 9, 2002.

[15] Al-Hayat (London), May 22, 2002.

[16] Al-Hayat (London), May 14, 2002.

[17] Hurriyet (Turkey), May 25, 2002.

[18] Al-Watan (Kuwait), May 19, 2002.

[19] Al-Watan (Kuwait), May 20, 2002.

[20] Al-Watan (Kuwait), May 21, 2002.

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