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[ This message has been sent to you via the CASI-analysis mailing list ] [ Presenting plain-text part of multi-format email ] A Man for all seasons.. Hassan Zeini June 1, 2004 Amid the depressing and horrible daily reports coming out from Iraq about torture, rape, murder, kidnappings, chaos and the complete collapse of order, the news of the possible appointment of Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani as Iraq’s new Prime Minister came as a welcome diversion, at least from the point of view of the media; a change from the dreary routine. However, no sooner had we started reading about the nomination, than we were told that Dr. Shahristani has declined the offer. The latest news speak of a unanimous decision by the Governing Council to nominate Dr. Iyad Allawi for the Premiership. The GC, we are told, met in a secret place for security reason!! Whether or not Dr. Shahristani becomes Iraq’s interim Prime Minister is a matter that is of no concern anymore. If Dr. Shahristani were to accept the nomination (for whatever justifications he may give!), it would be a turn-around from his side and a contradiction of his previous views on the occupation, the interim constitution and the situation in Iraq generally. On February 14, 2004, Dr. Shahristani wrote in the Scotsman an article titled “The Iraqi people's dream of stability starts with free and fair elections “. In it he wrote: ”Iraqis are told by the CPA that the reasons for delaying elections are the absence of voter registration lists and the security situation. However, in mid-2003 the Iraqi Central Bureau of Statistics, the body responsible for preparing voter lists, issued a report concluding that it could prepare lists and arrange for elections before the end of 2003. The CPA and the transitional Governing Council chose to ignore this report, and together signed an agreement that would allow them to handpick transitional assembly members through a complex caucus process. The 15 November agreement gave no role to the United Nations and set a timetable for a handover of sovereignty to these handpicked Iraqis by 30 June.” In an interview given to Aljazeera.net on March 25, 2004, Dr. Shahristani said the following: “The Americans are denying the people of Iraq their democratic rights… What we have is a hand-picked Governing Council composed of exiled opposition groups, while local Iraqis have been deprived of a voice. The Americans can't establish security in the country because of this… The former expats don't have the right understanding of local conditions. They are there to please the Americans. For local Iraqis it is as if aliens have come down from another planet and taken over their country." Commenting on the Iraqi people’s views of the occupation, Dr. Sharistani went on to say: “After the invasion there was a lot of goodwill and cooperation. But now people have seen that America plans to mould the government to their liking and to take it out of the control of the locals… The recently signed Interim Constitution is undemocratic because it ensures a three person presidential council can have veto power over decisions. Iraqis believe the Americans want to get economic and security agreements signed before direct elections so that they cannot be vetoed." If Dr. Sharistani were to accept to become the US appointed Premiere, he would accept becoming part of an undemocratic process that aims at pleasing the Americans, and would himself belong to the same aliens to which he referred. In an article he wrote for the Wall Street Journal published on April 29, 2004, Dr. Shahristani criticized the US for failing to win the trust of the Iraqi people and for allowing the country to slip into turmoil. In his opinion, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) made a cardinal mistake by appointing a Transitional Governing Council (TGC) that overstepped its legitimacy by promulgating laws that should have been left to an elected body. He explained that the root of crisis is in the interim constitution that was negotiated secretly between the CPA and the without any public debate. Would Dr. Shahristani then agree (under the guise of serving his countrymen and people) to work against his own convictions and the edicts issued by Ayatollah Sistani? My gut feeling tells me: YES. He has already hinted that he may accept the nomination by saying things like “If they consider my participation essential, I'll try to convince them otherwise. But if they're not convinced and they ask me to take a role ... I cannot refuse. I must serve my people." Ayatollah Sistani had himself swallowed his words and accepted what his edict considered unacceptable: that a non-elected government be appointed by the occupiers. But then again I may be mistaken… It is now clear that Dr. Shahristani was more than ready to accept the nomination, but that his name was rejected by several groups in the TGC, and the pressure he was put under made it impossible for him to do anything else but to withdraw with dignity. The reason given by Intifadh Qanbar, spokesman for the INC, to al-Arabiya satellite channel on May 28, 2004 was that their group opposed a government of technocrats and wanted the politicians to rule the country. Intifadh Qanbar, it is worth mentioning, has been for some time in the US and will soon be joined by Ahmad ach-Chalabi. All indications point to the possibility that they do not intend to return to Iraq, now that their role has ended!! All ach-Chalabi's men are also out of the new cabinet formation announced today.. Allawi’s group, al-Wifaq, also opposed the nomination of Shahristani, as did al-Hakim’s SCIRI, for the same reasons and because Sharistani is considered the Dawa party’s nominee!! The Americans might also have had their reasons to reject the nomination of a man who had openly criticized their policies in Iraq. According to the story which the Guardian ran on May 27, 2004, Dr. Shahristani is portrayed as a strong opponent of Saddam and his weapons’ program, which led to his arrest in 1979 until his escape in 1991. The story does contain part of the truth, but it again contradicts facts given by Dr. Shahristani himself in July 2000 and recently re-published by Az-Zaman newspaper in Baghdad. Dr. Shahristani, a Nuclear Chemist, holds a Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He had returned to Iraq after his graduation in 1970 and was appointed as a researcher in the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, in charge of a program for Neutron acceleration. He was active in developing the necessary laboratories and participated in research projects whose results were published in scientific journals and presented in international scientific conferences. In 1979 Dr. Shahristani became chief scientific adviser to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission. In a seeming reference to Dr. Shahristani’s 1999 autobiography, the Guardian explains that Dr. Shahristani was summoned by Saddam to a meeting to discuss a secret plan to develop nuclear weapons; that he refused, and was consequently arrested, tortured for 22 days, and taken to Abu Ghraib, until he escaped in 1991. I have not read the said autobiography, but I know what he said in July 2000. In that interview, Dr. Shahristani explained that he was arrested in 1979, tortured and transferred to Abu Ghraib prison. On 5 June 1980, he was visited by Saddam’s brother, Barzan, who was the head of the Iraqi Mukhabarat, accompanied by Abdul-Razzaq al-Hashimi, the head of the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission. Barzan conveyed Saddam’s regrets for Shahristani’s arrest and torture in that way and asked him to go back to work in the Iraqi Nuclear Program to take part in producing the Iraqi Nuclear bomb, promising to provide him with medical treatment, a private plane and an open account in a Swiss bank. Shahristani states that he replied to Barzan that his physical and mental state would not allow him to participate in such a task, adding that his special field was neutron acceleration which had nothing to do with the process of producing a nuclear bomb.. Shahristani, furthermore, denied in that interview that Saddam had talked to him personally in that meeting about the bomb program. Dr. Sharistani explained the reason for his arrest as follows: “When I became chief scientific adviser to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission, I was known for my Islamic inclinations; that I was a religious man, though not belonging to any specific Islamic party. After the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran in 1979,… the regime in Iraq executed a number of my friends and relatives, which left me no choice but to criticize human rights violation in Iraq…. I never openly opposed the Iraqi military nuclear program, but I criticized the violations of human rights in Iraq several times in front of experts working with me… One member of the Dawa party reveled during his detention names of his friends who used to meet in one house to discuss affairs and criticize the regime, and my name was one of the names he gave because I participated in one of those meetings, and I was thus arrested and accused of belonging to the Dawa party”… There remains no doubt, after those statements, that Dr. Shahristani was NOT arrested for opposing the Nuclear program as alleged (because he admits he didn’t), nor for criticizing human rights violations (as he claims), but because he was suspected of belonging to an Islamic political party suspected of relations with Iran and plotting to overthrow the regime. In spite of the fact that Dtr. Shahristani’s wife was a foreigner, he still maintained a very high position in Iraq and was allowed to serve in a very sensitive organization. That was at a time when the Revolutionary Command Council had issued a law whereby Iraqis married to foreigners were dismissed from their jobs, unless they divorced!! How did Hussain Sharistani keep his job as chief scientific adviser to the Iraqi Atomic Energy Commission?? What the media left out from the stories about Dr. Shahristani is worth investigating. In an article on Fox news on February 18th, 2003, Dr. Hussain Al-Shahristani said he believed Iraq’s nuclear program had been dismantled, but that Saddam still had chemical and biological weapons; that such weapons were relatively easy to make, and that Saddam had "mobile" laboratories that roam the countryside, making it hard for U.N. weapons inspectors to find them. He also added that stockpiles of those weapons were located underground and in tunnels. Dr. Sharistani said that Saddam did not have the technological capability to use biological or chemical weapons in attacks on other countries, but that he could give his weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups who can smuggle them into other nations. The New York Post published an article on February 19, 2003 “Saddam's Chem Plot Revealed” in which the same allegations were repeated. Dr. Shahristani was quoted as saying to a conference in the Philippines that there has been discussion within Saddam’s circle to set up what they called a 'chemical belt' around Baghdad using his chemical weapons to entrap the residents inside. He added that Saddam did not have the capability to deploy a nuclear weapon or fire weapons of mass destruction on distant countries, but he said that Iraq has a flourishing chemical and biological weapons program that can be used on invading U.S. forces and the Iraqi people. By saying that the only way the U.N. weapons inspectors in Iraq can find Iraq’s WMDs is “by pure accident", Dr. Hussain Shahristani had played a major role in assisting the US find justifications for its illegal war and occupation of Iraq. Ahmad ach-Chalabi may be accused of misleading the US with his lies, but Dr. Hussain Shahristani’s share of the blame should be equal if not even greater. After all, he is the scientist who knew quite well what Iraq had and did not have. But coming from a man who had lied for 14 years about the reasons for his arrest and about his alleged opposition to Iraq’s nuclear program, these other lies should not be a surprise. One only wonders if Hussain Shahristani is going to be next on the list of those whom the US investigates for lying and misleading it… --------------------------------- Do you Yahoo!? Friends. Fun. Try the all-new Yahoo! 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