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I have no idea about the reliability of this information, but it's interesting nonetheless. --seb ---------- Forwarded message ---------- Date: Wed, 10 Mar 1999 20:04:08 -0600 From: firstname.lastname@example.org Subject: Iraq _________________________________ Listen to Stratfor Analysts discuss the latest in World Affairs Visit http://www.stratfor.com _________________________________ Global Intelligence Update Red Alert March 11, 1999 U.S. Iraq Strategy Apparently Working, Despite Incoherent Policy Summary: Shiite forces in southern Iraq have reportedly begun substantial attacks, following the reported killing of a top Iraqi commander and the creeping U.S. bombing campaign. The potential outcome remains debatable. Analysis: Iraqi Shiite opposition forces have reportedly launched a major military operation in the southeastern Iraqi provinces of Maysan and Basrah, according to a statement issued March 10 by the Iran- based Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). SCIRI claimed that the operation, launched in retaliation for the February 19 assassination of Iraqi Shiite cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr, has resulted in heavy losses among Iraqi troops. The Shiite forces reportedly pummeled a tank battalion between Talha and Uzair with rockets and mortar fire, and destroyed an additional eight tanks along a road from Hamayon to Suwayb. The reported offensive, for which there has been no independent confirmation, comes only a day after the also unconfirmed report of the assassination of Saddam Hussein's commander for southern Iraq. The Kuwaiti newspaper Al-Watan on March 8 cited Iraqi opposition Al-Intifadah Television, broadcasting from the Iranian border, as reporting that Iraqi Southern Region commander General Ali Hasan al-Majid had been killed by his aides in the southern city of Nasiriyah. Al-Watan added that the same story was being reported by SCIRI leader Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim's Voice of Rebellious Iraq radio, as well as by Iraqis in the south. Al- Majid was reportedly traveling to Qurnah District, near the Shatt al-Arab in northern Basrah province, when he was attacked. According to sources at Al-Hayat, SCIRI's London office has categorically denied that Baqir al-Hakim had made such a claim, and Stratfor has been unable to otherwise confirm the death of al-Majid. If, in fact, al-Majid has been either executed or assassinated, it would be a highly significant development. Al-Majid, known as "Ali Chemical" for his use of chemical warfare agents against the Kurds, was Saddam Hussein's cousin and one of his closest and most trusted commanders. Al-Majid was made governor of Kuwait during the Iraqi occupation. He was placed in charge of southern Iraq last December 16, during the reorganization of Iraq's armed forces that took place immediately preceding Operation Desert Fox and which, we believe, was in reaction to a foiled coup plot [http://www.stratfor.com/services/giu/010699.asp]. In fact, Al-Majid reportedly personally ordered the executions of General Ali Maaruf al-Saidi and Lieutenant Colonel Sabah Dhiyab al-Khalidi, from the Iraqi 3rd Corps, during Desert Fox. The 3rd Corps appears to have been central to the failed coup plot. Al- Majid also commanded the reportedly brutal suppression of Shiite uprisings that swept southern Iraq in the days following the murder of Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr and his two sons in Najaf. The crackdown reportedly resulted in the deaths of 25 to 300 Shiites, depending on the source, as well as the execution of eight Iraqi officers. Interestingly, Al-Majid's aide and deputy commander for the Southern Region, Lieutenant General Kamel Sachet al-Janabi, was reportedly among those killed for involvement in yet another failed coup plot. The plot was allegedly foiled in late January, when two Iraqi generals reported to Saddam Hussein that they had been contacted by exiled officers. The Iraqi generals were to have built support among divisional commanders and to have moved to take control of key installations under cover of a future confrontation with the U.S. and Britain. Multiple Iraqi opposition sources reported on February 25 and 26 that Sachet, eight of his aides, and Lieutenant General Namiq Hassan, commander of the Iraqi 3rd Corps, were arrested on January 26 and executed shortly thereafter on charges of treason. SCIRI reported on March 9 that a total of 24 officers, including Sachet, Hassan, and former Baghdad air defense commander Major General Ghadaban Abed al-Ghriri, whose clan controls the highway south of Baghdad, were executed on February 8 for involvement in the coup plot. Sachet's reported execution does raise the question of whether al-Majid, if killed, was assassinated by his anti-Saddam aides, or was executed by his pro-Saddam aides for his own involvement in the coup plot. Either possibility suggests serious security breaches in Saddam's inner circle. Events in southern Iraq point to the inadvertent success of U.S. military strategy in Iraq, despite the apparent chaos paralyzing U.S. policy toward the country. U.S. policy makers, while agreeing on the need to remove Saddam from power, apparently remain divided over how exactly to effect his overthrow, with whose assistance, and with what outcome. Top U.S. commander in the Persian Gulf, Marine General Anthony Zinni, last month told a Senate committee, "I don't see an opposition group that has the viability to overthrow Saddam at this point." Despite generating a list of eligible recipient opposition groups, the Clinton administration has yet to distribute any of the $97 million approved by Congress last year for use in funding the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. This has drawn the ire of Congressional hawks who argue that the Clinton administration is moving too slowly in Iraq. American policy is not only stalled by lack of a suitable contender for power in Iraq, particularly among the preferred Sunni minority, but also because the most viable groups, Shiites and Kurds, have post-Saddam goals not altogether palatable to Iraq's neighbors. As we reported in the March 2 Global Intelligence Update, newly appointed U.S. coordinator for transition in Iraq, Frank Ricciardone, effectively ruled out cooperating with Iraq's Shiites and Kurds for the overthrow of Saddam, instead proposing a coup by Sunni military officers [http://www.stratfor.com/services/giu/030299.asp]. Ricciardone explicitly ruled out a division of Iraq into a northern "Kurdistan," southern Shiite entity, and Sunni central Iraqi rump state. Turkey opposes a Kurdish state that could stir up unrest among eastern Turkey's Kurdish population. Persian Gulf states are concerned about a Shiite state in southern Iraq that would effectively be an extension of Iran. Yet according to the Bahrain newspaper Akhbar al-Khaleej, which cited "well informed diplomatic sources" in Doha, U.S. Defense Secretary William Cohen was attempting to drum up support for an Iraqi partition plan during his recent tour of Gulf states. Under the alleged plan, ongoing air strikes would intensify and cut off northern and southern Iraq from Baghdad's control. Iraqi opposition forces, protected by U.S. air cover, would then enter the "liberated" territories, their governments would be recognized, an they would begin launching attacks on Baghdad. The Akhbar al-Khaleej argued such a plan is already being implemented. "The aim is both to gradually destroy Iraq's defensive capabilities and try to establish the principle that such attacks are a routine matter, thus getting public opinion accustomed to them ahead of stage two," the paper claimed. While U.S. policy is clearly divided within the administration, Congress, and the military, evidence suggests that U.S. miliatary strategy of gradually eroding Iraq's defense capability and tightening a noose around Baghdad through continuous air strikes is proceeding effectively. U.S. aircraft have struck more targets since Operation Desert Fox than were hit during the December operation itself. The attacks have reportedly destroyed more than 20 percent of Iraq's air defense capability. But though specifically aimed at Iraq's air defense system, targets have extended to coastal defense missile batteries, communication facilities, and command and control bunkers. The U.S. has all but acknowledged that the air strikes, officially acts of self defense for aircraft patrolling the "no fly" zones, are more of a creeping war of attrition. One senior State Department official described the strikes to the Washington Post as a "mini undeclared war." U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Walter Slocombe was cited by the International Herald Tribune as saying, "What we are working to do is to help create the political and military conditions that will permit a successful change of the regime." The International Herald tribune also cited a senior administration official as saying, "We think we see Mr. Saddam flailing. We are working toward a slow whittling- down of his power, his authority, and his nerves. There are reports of military guys perhaps not following orders." The "mini undeclared war" last month may have just missed a major victory. According to "travelers from Baghdad" in Jordan, cited by the Egyptian news agency MENA, the February 24 air strike in the suburbs of Baghdad was, in fact, targeted at Saddam Hussein. The "command bunker" that was struck in the attack was reportedly the Radwaniyah Palaces, near Baghdad International Airport, and the attack allegedly occurred minutes after Saddam left the area. According to the unidentified travelers, the U.S. had information that Saddam was inspecting the facility. As with much news out of Iraq, this report too is unconfirmed. While the air campaign may have missed the big one, it still appears to be succeeding. However, in the absence of coherent or at least realistic U.S. policy, it is not succeeding exactly according to plan. Repeated attempts to foster a military coup have been thwarted by Saddam. But the Shiite opposition seems ready to take full advantage of the destabilizing effect of the U.S. air strikes. SCIRI claims to have moved some 20,000 fighters into southern Iraq from Iran in mid-February, and is now claiming to have launched an offensive against Iraqi forces in southeast Iraq. If they have also managed to decapitate the Southern Region command, they may see some success. However, the Shiites do not have what it takes to capture Baghdad and control Iraq. Neither do the Kurds. So whether a U.S. policy preference or not, the success of U.S. air war strategy combined with the failure of the U.S. to coordinate the ground war against Saddam, could inadvertently create a divided Iraq. ___________________________________________________ To receive free daily Global Intelligence Updates, sign up on the web at http://www.stratfor.com/mail/, or send your name, organization, position, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address to email@example.com ___________________________________________________ STRATFOR, Inc. 504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025 Internet: http://www.stratfor.com/ Email: firstname.lastname@example.org -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email email@example.com, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html