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Stratfor analysis: diplomatic manoeuvres in Iraq?

Another report from Stratfor, again asking questions about an Iraqi
diplomatic offensive.

Colin Rowat                            
Coordinator, Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq

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Global Intelligence Update
August 26, 1999

Iraq: The Leopard Changes His Spots, But Not His Stride


Diplomatic sources in Amman, Jordan, have confirmed that Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein has given new roles to his son, Qusay, and
Iraqi Vice President Taha Yashin Ramadan.  While the moves may have
been made due to Izzat Ibrahim's deteriorating health, there
appears to be a deeper meaning.  Saddam has also replaced a number
of ambassadors in an effort to present a new face to the
international community.  The changes are likely cosmetic, aimed at
repairing Iraq's international image so that the UN will lift
economic sanctions.


A report by the London-based Arabic newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat on
August 22, citing diplomatic sources, confirmed an earlier report
that Qusay Hussein, Saddam's son, has been appointed deputy
commander of the Iraqi army and commander of the Northern Military
Region.  The posts were previously held by Izzat Ibrahim, one of
Saddam's most trusted aids.  Vice President Taha Yashin Ramadan
took over Ibrahim's position as deputy chairman of the
Revolutionary Command Council.

Saddam may have divided up Ibrahim's posts due to his poor health.
Ibrahim was rushed to Austria for emergency cancer treatment but
had to flee before the treatment was administered.  Reports
indicate that Ibrahim was about to be "Pinocheted," arrested for
human rights abuses committed in his own country while abroad to
receive medical attention.  Unwilling to face the international
legal process, he fled.  At last report, he was at a Baghdad
hospital continuing his cancer treatment.

The attempt to present a new face to the world began with the
appointment of a new Iraqi ambassador to the UN in February.  Since
then, Iraq has moved to solidify support for lifting sanctions in
the UN, working to enlist international investment in its oil
infrastructure as soon as sanctions are lifted.  These changes were
made in the hopes that the international community would discuss
the Iraqi sanctions regime in a new light.  A light that shows
Saddam is willing to share power.

The UN Security Council is currently debating the future of
sanctions against Iraq, which cost the country up to $20 billion
annually.  [ ].
China and Russia want to immediately lift the sanctions without
ensuring that the UN resurrect its monitoring of Baghdad's
suspected weapons of mass destruction.  France has called for a
similar plan but will likely support a token weapon monitoring
team.  Both the U.S. and Britain have called for only a partial
lifting of sanctions - after Iraq agrees to a reformed UN
monitoring team.

Saddam's maneuvers do not imply that he is preparing to retire to
one of his many elegant palaces.  What they do imply, however, is
that Saddam wants the sanctions lifted with him still in power
while appearing to prepare a transition.  We do not believe he
needs them lifted to export oil.  As we have said before, in almost
every sense the sanctions are virtually irrelevant at this point
[ ].
Additionally, Iraq is currently pumping oil at close to its
capacity, although the lifting of sanctions would allow Saddam to
use the Saudi pipeline to increase exports.

Saddam's goal in this apparent redistribution of power, and the
real reason he wants sanctions lifted, is to be able to receive
direct foreign investment.  He cannot do that with sanctions in
place.  He needs them lifted in order to develop new wells and
rebuild his military, whose conventional might has suffered since
the 1991 Gulf War.  Many units are suffering for lack of spare
parts.  Iraqi armored divisions have been slashed in their
effectiveness.  And the daily battering by the U.S. Air Force -
while lacking any larger strategic impact - is taking its toll on
the country's air defense network.

The U.S. and Great Britain have held up the sanctions debate by
continually underscoring Saddam's leadership.  Their argument,
though, is increasingly falling on deaf ears in the international
community.  European companies are regularly breaking the sanctions
while black market trade allows Iraq to continue to export oil
along both overland and Persian Gulf routes.

Washington and London are in precarious positions.  They have
essentially given up on UN-led arms regime inspections; Operation
Desert Fox in December effectively ended the work of the United
Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM).  The United States has
taken half-hearted steps this year to increase enforcement of
economic sanctions.  But even increased Maritime Intercept
Operations (MIO) by Special Operations Forces and the U.S. Navy
have yielded only moderate results.

Instead of changing the nature of his government, Saddam is merely
trying to undercut the final U.S. and British-led support for the
final set of sanctions - the economic ones - in the hope of
reviving his economy on a broader scale, and rebuilding his
military might.



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