The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

Iraq - Opposition's Global Intelligence Update - 20 July 2000
Know your world.

Warning: Chechen Terrorist Threat in Russia Rises

Milosevic Gets His Way - Again

The Iraqi Opposition Falls on Hard Times


Iraqi opposition groups are claiming that they are increasingly the
targets of operations by Baghdad's intelligence service. Reports in
Arabic-language newspapers and by individual opposition figures
claim that colleagues are being assassinated in Iran, in
particular, with the approval of the Tehran government. The reports
themselves seem to reflect only a fragment of the truth: Sponsors
in both Washington and Tehran have cast the opposition adrift,
feuding has probably turned to infighting and Baghdad's security
services are taking advantage of increasing targets of opportunity.


Iraqi exiles are claiming that Iraqi intelligence agents are
mounting significant operations against opposition groups in Iran,
with the apparent approval of the Tehran government. Reports of
these operations cite apparent assassinations, including one case
in which several opposition figures were poisoned. The reports have
been aired both by individual opposition figures and the newspaper,
Al-Zaman, an organ of the London-based Iraqi opposition movement.

These reports are among many signs that the Iraqi opposition - once
viewed by Tehran and Washington as key to overthrowing the regime
of Saddam Hussein - is falling apart at the seams. It now appears
increasingly unlikely that the opposition can pose a credible
threat to the Iraqi regime. Credit, ironically enough, goes chiefly
to the United States and Iran, whose support has flagged
significantly. The Baghdad regime is likely taking advantage of the
fragmented state of the opposition.
Would you like to see full text?

The Iraqi opposition has always been a colorful mix of political,
ethnic and religious groups: Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Arabs,
Turkics, Assyrians, monarchists, communists, liberals and former
military officers. Most of these groups meet and coordinate through
the umbrella Iraqi National Congress (INC). The opposition was
moderately successful immediately after the Gulf War, when rebels
reached the Baghdad suburbs. But since then they have been limited
to defending territory covered by the northern and southern no-fly-
zones enforced by the United States and Great Britain.

Generally prone to feuding and without a coherent strategy by
either of its most important sponsors, Washington and Tehran, the
opposition has fallen on excruciatingly hard times in the last
month. One of the most active militant groups was the Supreme
Council of the Islamic Movement in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shiite group
backed by Iran that claimed responsibility for Katyusha rocket
attacks against the Iraqi presidential palace in May.

But Iraqi intelligence services are allegedly acting against the
SCIRI inside Iran. The exiles claim that the Iranian government
approves of these operations. The claim may be a little far-
fetched; Iraq and Iran have a long history of animosity. But
someone does appear to be cracking down on the SCIRI. It is
entirely possible that Iran is suppressing the Iraqi Shiites in
order to gain greater control over the opposition groups. Al-Zaman
reported June 10 that the rank-and-file of the SCIRI is pushing the
Iranians to allow the group to select its own leader without
Iranian interference.

Kurdish forces in the north of Iraq - perhaps the most militarily
capable of all the opposition parties - are also facing problems.
The three strongest Kurd factions have spent as much time fighting
each other as they have fighting Iraqi forces. Besides historic
clan-based rivalries, the main bone of contention is the tens of
millions of dollars in customs fees that comes from control of the

For more on Iraq, see:

U.S.-sponsored talks between two of the factions, the Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP),
ended on July 3 - without an agreement between the two. Admittedly,
the American-sponsored effort got off on the wrong foot after
reciprocal car bombings in early June. KDP forces were blamed for
killing two in a July 12 attack on the headquarters of the Iraqi
Turkmen Front, a smaller opposition member. And one of the few
remaining PUK members of the KDP-dominated Kurdish parliament was
shot July 18.

The umbrella organization, the Iraqi National Congress isn't faring
much better. Representatives of the INC met with U.S. officials in
Washington before traveling to a July 7 meeting in London. They got
some support from Congress and Vice President Al Gore, but weren't
able to shake loose any of the $97 million authorized by the Iraqi
Liberation Act. Once in London, more than a third of the Central
Council boycotted the meeting.

Some cited the INC's lack of democratic process while others, such
as the former military and security officers of the Iraqi National
Accord (INA), were frustrated with the INC's inability to act. The
remaining members spent much of the rest of the meeting arguing
over resources and admitted that much of the next year would be
spent forming an administrative backbone - not toppling the regime
in Baghdad.

Although the INC isn't much of a threat, Al-Zaman reports that
Iraqi intelligence operatives were finishing a plan, nicknamed
"Hawk-1" to assassinate dissidents with car accidents and poison.
Baghdad has also reportedly directed supporters who had been lying
low in Europe to start working in support of the regime, according
to the Iraqi Communist Party. Both stories are unconfirmed, but
plausible. Iraq has assassinated dissidents in the past. The
alternative explanation is even worse; that the dissidents are
plotting against each other and blaming the government.

This much is clear: Iraq's opposition certainly appears to be
unraveling, and is doing so in the midst of a transitional period
for Iraq and for the Middle East. Three of Iraq's longtime foes are
in a state of flux. New leadership has arisen in Syria; Baghdad and
Damascus have made cautious entreaties toward one another.

The United States is hardly supporting the opposition at present,
and is unlikely to do so for the next six months. The current
administration wants to deflect attention away from Iraq, and the
next president is unlikely to put the issue at the top of his
agenda. Meanwhile, Iran is preoccupied by its own political and
economic instability, and has even cooperated with Iraq - helping
it smuggle oil out of the Gulf. In the absence of oversight by
outside sponsors, the Iraqi opposition appears to be breaking up
under its own internal pressures - and Iraqi security services may
be hastening their demise.

If their leaderships so desire, the United States and Iran can use
this pause to officially withdraw support from the opposition and
make a gesture of some kind toward the Baghdad regime. Saddam may
reject any gestures, or the United States may decide to redouble
its efforts at toppling the regime. In both cases, the opposition
will receive renewed support - but only much farther down the road.

Things will get worse for the opposition before they get better.

For more on the Middle East & Africa, see:

(c) 2000 Stratfor, Inc.
SUBSCRIBE to the free, daily Global Intelligence Update. Click on
UNSUBSCRIBE by clicking on
504 Lavaca, Suite 1100 Austin, TX 78701
Phone: 512-583-5000 Fax: 512-583-5025


This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq
For removal from list, email
Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]