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[casi-analysis] The Beneficiaries of Saddam's Oil Vouchers

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Dear List,

The publishing of the “List” alleging to contain names
of persons, parties, organizations and companies to
whom the former Iraqi regime paid “bribes” has
generated a lot of interest in the media, amid denials
and ridicule by some of those whose names were in that

It does not surprise me (nor bother me) that MEMRI was
among the first to post the article in English.
Knowing MEMRI’s agenda and that it is a tool for
Zionist propaganda should suffice to understand their
motives. After all, MEMRI only translated an article
published in Arabic in Baghdad by an Iraqi independent

However, MEMRI does add its biased views to the
article. It alleges, without proof or evidence, that
these vouchers may have been issued to pay for goods
that may have included military equipment or military
parts, luxury automobiles that Saddam distributed as
gifts inside and outside Iraq, and general luxury
goods for the benefit of high-ranking officials in the
Ba'ath party and government. MEMRI further alleges
that the sold oil was collected from the Syria
pipeline terminal, which was operating in
contravention of the Security Council sanctions. No
evidence supporting those allegations is given. These
allegations are part of MEMRI’s standard policy aimed
at discrediting anyone who opposes Israel’s policies
in the area.

But how independent is “Al Mada” newspaper?

To understand that, we have to understand who is
behind it.

The founder and Chief Editor of “Al Mada” is Fakhri
Kareem (who used to use the family name ZANGANA
before, but has dropped it recently). Kareem was a
member of the Politburo of the Iraqi Communist Party
and a deputy to 'Aziz Muhammad (then Party Secretary
General). It is worth noting that both Muhammad and
Kareem are of Kurdish origin.

At the end of the 1970s Kareem was subjected to a
Party tribunal after it was disclosed that he had a
relationship with agencies of the Iraqi regime. His
Party membership was suspended. But on the basis of an
individual order from Aziz Muhammad, Kareem was
elevated to membership in the Political Bureau and put
in charge of the Party's finance, propaganda, and
security apparatus. In the 1980s, the party
transformed itself, under the leadership of Muhammad
and Kareem, to a mouthpiece for the chauvinist
tendency within the Kurdish movement.
Fakhri Kareem is accused by his party comrades of
taking possession of the Party's resources, bank
accounts, and propaganda institutions all of which he
registered as his own personal property. With that
money he founded a political magazine in Syria called
“an-Nahj” (the path) in 1983.

In September 1991, Fakhri Kareem accompanied Jalal
Talabani, Secretary General of the Patriotic Union of
Kurdistan (PUK) to the US. The delegation included
Hoshyar Zebari , personal emissary of Mr. Massoud
Barazani (KDP), Rassoul Mamaned, Secretary General of
Kurdish Socialist Party (KSP), Brusk Shaways,
Politburo Member, Kurdistan People’s Democratic Party
(KPDP), Yacoub Yousif, Politburo Member, Assyrian
Democratic Movement (ZOWAA) and  Muzafar Arslan,
Secretary General, Iraqi Turkman People Party. The
group was invited by the U.S. State Department to
Washington, D.C. to “commence a dialogue and establish
a better understanding of the objectives of the
Kurdish opposition to Sadam’s regime in Iraq.” At that
time, Fakhri Kareem made a statement to the Voice of
America radio in which he asked George Bush Sr. to
intensify sanctions against the Iraqi people.

Fakhri Kareem is also accused by his comrades of
cooperating with the rulers of Kuwait and the Central
Intelligence Agency in publishing a newspaper under
the title "Sawt al-Kuwayt ad-Dawli" (The International
Voice of Kuwait) which was one of the strongest
advocates of the 30-nation aggression against Iraq in
1991. It was this newspaper that published the
theatrical story of the young Kuwaiti girl Nayirah
under the headline "The Iraqis steal incubators from
the children of Kuwait." As the battles raged, this
newspaper printed stories under huge headlines like
"Coalition forces demolish Baghdad" and "Allied
aircraft exterminate Iraqi military formation near
Basra." Finally the Kuwaiti government got tired of
this newspaper and considered the money allocated to
it a waste of public funds and finally shut it down.
Thus in 1993, Kareem expanded his activities in Syria
and founded a publishing house “Al-Mada Publishing
House” and, together with some of his editors from the
Kuwaiti paper, established a new magazine in Syria
called “al-Mada”. The activities were eventually moved
into luxurious premises in the rich district of
Al-Hamra in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Iraqi Communist Party has, since the 1990s,
splintered into four groups: the ICP Central Committee
and the Kurdistan Communist Party (both of which
support the occupation), the ICP General Command and
the ICP Cadre (both of which oppose the occupation).
The ICP Central Committee’s newspaper "Tariq
ash-Sha'b" reported in July 2002 that the Deputy
Consul in the American Embassy in Damascus visited the
offices of the Iraqi Communist Party in Syria and
discussed recent developments with Party
representatives. In June 2002 the Party's internal
publication, "Munadil al-Hizb"  reported on a special
meeting of the Party Central Committee to study how
the Party would take part in the coming events, which
they termed "the liberation of Iraq." During the
invasion battles in 2003, the Party openly
acknowledged that it had fighters on the front lines
together with the "Coalition Forces."

This background should serve to show the pattern of
behavior. Al Mada is thus seen by Iraqi Communists
opposing the occupation as a CIA financed newspaper,
whose owner has been working for the CIA for over 20
years and is responsible for recruiting other
communists for the agency.

Whether or not the “List” is real or fabricated
remains to be seen, though the history of the US and
UK in Iraq since 1990 has been nothing but a series of
lies and false allegations, causing the deaths of
hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis, without even
an admission of guilt. The incubator story and the
WMDs are only small examples of the campaign of

But the timing of publishing the “List” is no
coincidence. It seems to serve several objectives: to
divert the attention from the horrendous crimes
committed by the occupation forces in stark violation
of international laws and conventions; to divert the
attention from the scandals being exposed related to
the stealing of Iraq’s wealth by US companies and by
members of Iraq’s Governing Council; and to tarnish
the reputation of those opposing the illegal war and

Saddam Hussein was the President of the sovereign
state of Iraq; a founding member of the United Nations
and the Arab League. He had the full legal authority
to decide which party should benefit from its
relations with Iraq, based on the principle of
reciprocity, whereby political stands are rewarded.
This is exactly what George Bush Sr. and Jr. did with
countries that supported their illegal wars and
sanctions, and what every leader in the world does.
It is also wrong to consider those payments as bribes,
since the oil vouchers were not given as gifts, but
those receivers (provided the list is authentic)
received the right to sell Iraqi oil under the MOU and
the income from the sale would have been deposited
into the UN supervised escrow account. In return they
would make a profit. That is a normal business

The names of some in the “List” raise questions.

One would understand that awarding vouchers to certain
states or influential parties or organizations would
be logical in order to gain their political support to
the demands for lifting the sanctions. And that would
also suppose that those awarded the vouchers would
have a real influence. But what would Iraq gain from a
group like the 8th of October Movement, which is a
Brazilian Communist group, or Myanmar's Forestry
Minister, or Chad's Foreign Minister? What influence
does any of the above have over the US or inside the
UN to justify the awarding of the vouchers? Wouldn’t
Iraq have better given vouchers to some official in
the Brazilian government than to an obscure communist
group in opposition that has no power nor influence?

These questions, and the denials by a large number of
those named makes one wonder, once again, if the
“List” even exists outside the minds of the Chief
Editor of “Al Mada” and his controllers in Langley..
If the “List” comes from the same sources that
supplied the “45 minute” dossier or the Niger Uranium
documents or the Galloway bribes, then we don’t need
to worry about them. They will end up like the lies
before them and those who invented them in the garbage
bin of history.


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