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Stratfor's FREE Kosovo Crisis Center - http://www.stratfor.com/kosovo/crisis/ The most comprehensive coverage of the Kosovo Crisis anywhere on the Internet ______________________________________ STRATFOR's Global Intelligence Update April 16, 1999 Tensions Rise Along Iran-Iraq Border Summary: Iran and Iraq have reportedly redeployed their forces along their common border. This move, the first since 1991, builds on steadily increasing tensions between the two countries in recent months. Analysis: The London-based "Al-Zaman" newspaper reported on April 13 that both Iran and Iraq have redeployed their troops along their common border. This is reportedly the first time that either country has done so since the 1991 Gulf War. The newspaper's sources stated that the situation along the Iran-Iraq border has been tense since the Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization (MKO), claimed responsibility for the assassination of Lieutenant-General Ali Sayyad-Shirazi. Sayyad- Shirazi, Iran's Deputy Chief of General Staff and advisor to Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, was assassinated in Tehran on April 10. On April 11, the MKO issued a statement claiming responsibility for the assassination of Sayyad-Shirazi. The group said it killed the general as revenge for his role as commander of Iranian ground forces during the 1980-88 Gulf War and attacks against MKO bases in Iraq. The last known such attack occurred on March 17, when a large explosion was reported at MKO headquarters west of Baghdad. On the same day that the MKO claimed responsibility for the attack, the Iranian Foreign Ministry summoned the Iraqi charge d'affaires to receive Iran's "strong protest against the Iraqi government's support for terrorist activities of the terrorist Mojahedin-e Khalq Organization." The Director-General of the Iranian Foreign Ministry's Persian Gulf Department, Ali-Asghar Khaji, told the Iraqi diplomat, "Such events would leave negative and irreparable impacts on Tehran-Baghdad relations." Khaji then demanded that the Iraqi government offer its explanations on the issue. Iraq issued its reply on April 12 in the London-based newspaper, "Al-Hayat." Quoting "an Iraqi diplomatic in Amman," the newspaper reported, "Iraq confirmed its willingness to stop the Iranian opposition from performing any activities on its territory if it encounters from the Iranians a similar commitment to stop their support for the Iraqi opposition present on Iranian territory." The diplomat then allegedly denied that the murderers of the Iranian general had launched their attack from Iraqi territory and said Iraq "hopes that Iran will devote attention to the issue of stopping the actions carried out by a hireling group that is assassinating officials, citizens and clerics." This statement was almost certainly a direct reference to the Iranian-backed Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). SCIRI has been stepping up its attacks on Iraqi forces in the past month, and reports of unrest in southern Iraq continue to pour in. Iraq has blamed SCIRI for the deaths of Shiite clerics in Iraq, a charge the group ahs both denied and denounced as an attempt to divide Iraq's Shiite opposition. The National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), the political wing of the MKO, apparently issued a reply as well. After an eight-day meeting of 542 of the council's 570 members in Baghdad, the NCI issued a statement declaring that the Tehran regime is "in the process of being overthrown." The MKO is reported to have placed their bases in Mansuriyat al-Jabal, near the Iranian border, and Abu Ghurayb, near Baghdad, on alert in anticipation of an Iranian retaliatory strike. Relations between Iran and Iraq have deteriorated recently, with increasing unrest in southern Iraq spurred on by a series of murders of leading Iraqi Shiite clerics -- most recently Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq al-Sadr. Iraqi Shiites suspect Baghdad is behind the killings, and spontaneous civil unrest has been bolstered by targeted attacks by SCIRI. Among these attacks, SCIRI reported that Saddam's son, Qusay, was wounded in the head during an SCIRI attack on Radwaniyah Palace on March 20. Operation Desert Fox was accompanied by a limited Shiite uprising as well, and the U.S. has stated its intention to financially support the Iraqi opposition. Neither Iraq nor Iran are likely to abandon their proxy armies, and Iran may even retaliate directly for the assassination of Sayyad-Shirazi. Iran has, in the past, used planes to strike MKO bases within Iraqi territory. As well, SCIRI has been known to attack MKO convoys and bases in Baghdad with rockets and mortars, and possibly Iranian commandos. With troops being deployed on both sides of the border and proxy strikes raising tensions dramatically, risk of Iranian-Iraqi confrontation is rising. ___________________________________________________ To receive free daily Global Intelligence Updates, sign up on the web at: http://www.stratfor.com/services/giu/subscribe.asp or send your name, organization, position, mailing address, phone number, and e-mail address to firstname.lastname@example.org ___________________________________________________ STRATFOR, Inc. 504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701 Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025 Internet: http://www.stratfor.com/ Email: email@example.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. 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