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The next news digest will include a supplement on recent events in Iraqi Kurdistan (or northern Iraq; or southern Kurdistan, depending on your point of view). This will turn largely on the relations between the Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the (northern Kurdistan/southern Turkey) Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) and the Turkish government. The following article is a useful overview, from a Kurdish point of view (it would be interesting to read the same story from an Iraqi Arab point of view), of the relations between the Kurds and successive Iraqi governments since 1958. It doesn't really go with the other articles, it was published last month, its quite long, so I thought I would send it separately, Peter Brooke http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/25-12-00-lecture-osman-kurds-irq.h tml * Our experience with successive Iraqišs regimes Lecture by Dr Mahmoud Osman, The London School of Oriental and African Studies, 25 March 2000 (Kurdistan Observer, 25th December) This speech is an attempt to explain our bitter experience, be it negotiations or fighting, with the successive Iraqi regimes over the past four decades. Trying to stop at the most important stations, a first hand account will be given by an insider who lived the ups and downs of that interesting experience. Without getting into historical details, emphasis will be given to the [Republican] period in Iraq, after the 14th July revolution in 1958, led by Abd Al-Karim Qasim. The revolution was positive for the Kurdish cause. It recognized Kurdish rights; the most important of which was article 3 of the interim constitution which said that the Kurds and the Arabs are partners in the homeland. Unfortunately, armed conflict between the two sides started the in September 1961 and continued, without any periods of lull or negotiations, until the fall of Qasimšs regime. That conflict which contributed to the overthrowing of Qasim, by the Bašth Party has also caused a lot of casualties and suffering amongst the Kurds. The Bašth party regime, came to power after a bloody coup in February 1963, was, in every aspect, by far worse than its predecessor. The new administration had many rounds of negotiations and fighting with the Kurds. This love-hate practice showed that the new rulers wanted to destroy the Kurdish movement by way of fightings and/or containment - through ŗnegotiations˛. At the beginning of their June 1963 genocide campaign in Kurdistan, and in a tactical move, the government held negotiations with the Kurds for a period of four months. During the negotiations, and on the 10th of March 1963, Baghdad officially declared that they are going to solve the Kurdish problem peacefully on the basis of decentralization. As a result, the Kurdish movement submitted a proposal for establishing an autonomous administration on the basis of the decentralization declaration. The government did not agree to it and did not offer an alternative. In march 1963, when a similar Bašth coup succeeded in Syria, the rulers in Iraq became more reluctant to concede to the Kurdish demands; furthermore, they were trying to put the blame for this on Naser of Egypt who was having talks with the Bašth parties of Iraq and Syria over Arab unity. The allegation was proved unfounded when the head of the Kurdish delegation Talabani with Fušad Arif went to Cairo and met Naser; On the contrary, he was in favour of peace with the Kurds and against any fighting in Kurdistan. On the other hand, the Bašth party was trying to prove to Naser and the Arab nationalist movement that the Kurds are separatists and are a threat to Iraqi unity and the Arab liberation movement. This allegation had no foundation and was not bought by anyone because the Kurdish leadership asked for an entity that safeguards Iraqšs territorial integrity and vests foreign, defense and financial decision-making powers and other central state affairs in the hands of the central government. Surely, the Kurdish side was asking for democracy in Iraq and also to preserve the Kurdish existence and rights from the dictatorial and totalitarian rule of Baghdad. Furthermore, the Kurdish point of view in supporting the Arab struggle for liberation and unity, was made very clear in a memorandum given to the meetings between Egypt, Iraq and Syria in Cairo and also to the Arab world. The memorandum provided: ŗIf Iraq was to become part of a federation with another Arab country, Kurdistan should have its full autonomy within Iraq. But if it enters an Arab unity with one or more states, then Kurds should have their entity and their right to self-determination as another nationality which is friendly to the Arab nation and not as an Arabic oneetc˛. In the memorandum, the Kurdish side did reiterate its full support to the Arab liberation movement and its legitimate aspirations. After gaining time during negotiations to prepare themselves well, the Iraqi government launched a wide, bloody and destructive military campaign in Kurdistan in June 1963. The campaign was mainly on the Hamilton Road and Barzan area where Mustafa Barzani was. It was a war of genocide; ethnic cleansing and scorched-earth policies were used and massacres were committed. Baghdad and Syria were openly cooperating. Syria brought part of its forces to Iraqi Kurdistan to join the Iraqi Bašth forces in fighting the Kurds. Iran and Turkey were also aiding through liaison offices in Kirkuk in order to coordinate military operation. At the time, I was in Barzan area with General Barzani. I saw how the Iranian and Turkish war planes were helping the Iraqi ones in bombing the area. Just because it was against communism, and despite its black record of human rights, the Iraqi government was supported by the west, particularly USA and UK. The Soviets who initially stood strongly in the international arena against the regimešs atrocities in Kurdistan, gradually backed down to a softer position; they even asked Mongolia to withdraw a request submitted to the UN on humanitarian basis to discuss the grave violations of human rights in Iraqi Kurdistan. However, Iraqi regimešs policies were condemned world wide at the public opinion level. Gradually, the regime was drowned in its crimes and internal conflicts. Subsequently, and similarly to how it came, it was overthrown in a coup. An interesting point to note is that while the Kurds were asking for their cause to be discussed at an international level, their demand was rejected because it was ŗan internal issue and limited to Iraq˛. Whereas in reality, it was not at all limited to Iraq. many countries did participate directly or indirectly in the war of genocide in Kurdistan. After the Bašth Party, a new era came about that lasted five years in which Abd-al-Salam Arif ruled till he was killed in a mysterious helicopter crash on 13 April 1966, then his brother Abd-al Raham Arif till 17 July 1968, when the Bašth party came back to power. Both Arif regimes were Arab nationalists and pro Naser. The first was by far more brutal than the second. The Kurds were faced with a lot of fighting during these years, specially in 1965 and almost the first half of 1966, this took place mostly during the regime of Arif the first. Similar to the Bašth rule of 1963, the brutal war was one of genocide in which all weapons were used; as usual, it did not achieve its goals. During that era, there were two periods of cease-fire and negotiations with the regimes. The first one was on the 10th of February 1964, where a very weak agreement that did not contain much was signed by Barzani and Arif. Barzanišs quick acceptance was because he wanted a period of calm on the Iraqi front in order to solve his conflict with the KDP leadership of Ibrahim Ahmed and Jalal Talabani, a conflict that was the cause of the inter Kurdish fighting from which we have suffered a lot and still do. The second period of lull started on the 29th of June 1966 with Abd-al Rahman Arif and the government of Dr Al Bazzaz. This was better than the previous one, but it did not define Kurdish rights as it should. After the failure of the first accord of Februaryu 1964, the government waged a brutal war against the Kurds, whereas after the failure of the second accord of June 1966, a two-year period of no-war-no-peace prevailed until the Bašth Party came to power in 1968. During these 5 years period, from 1963 to 1968, Kurdish demands stayed the same. They were mainly within the framework of achieving Kurdish rights and democracy for Iraq. Although the basic Kurdish demand was autonomy within Iraq, the Kurdish leadership accepted less than that in the two rounds of negotiations in 1964 and 1966. But they still did not reach real peace with the regimes. This failure to reach peace was one of the factors that paved the way for the return of the Bašth Party to power in a coup on 17 July 1968. This change was unfortunate for the Iraqi people in general and the Kurds in particular because they had a bitter experience with the Bašth in the past. The new Bašth regime did not seem to have learned from the past. They adopted a policy of strengthening the ex-political-bureau group of Jalal Talabani and Ibrahim Ahmed who were in Baghdad and encouraged their fighting against the Kurdish movement led by Mustafa Barzani in order to split the Kurdish ranks; at the same time they launched an official military campaign in Kurdistan for few months in 1969 to destroy the Kurdish resistance. When this policy failed, the new regime started contacts with Mustafa Barzani and the KDP leadership, first indirect through Aziz Sharif, prominent Iraqi figure and an active member of the World Peace Movement; the Soviet Union through Yevgini Primakov, who was then representing Pravda newspaper in the Middle East. When the Kurdish response was positive, direct talks began at the end of December 1969. First their official delegation came to Kurdistan carrying a letter from president Al-Bakar to Barzani on 31st december 1969. In these direct negotiations which lasted three months, I was leading the Kurdish delegation while Sadam Hussain was supervising the Iraqi side. After a very difficult period of talks and dialogue, in which we had a lot of ups and downs, the historical accord of 11th March 1970 was signed by Mustafa Barzani and Sadam Hussain. The accord contained, in its declared articles, important points like; recognizing the right of autonomy for the Kurds; cultural rights; reconstruction and development of Kurdistan as well as compensating the Kurds who lost properties; the participation of the Kurds in the central government and other points. The aforementioned points were to be implemented alongside the process of normalization of the situation and removal of the traces of war and Arabization. The agreement also had seven secret articles. They were about licensing the KDP; dissolving Kurdish mercenary forces; withdrawing some army units from Kurdistan; redeployment of the peshmarga forces into border guards and police forces; conducting census in the disputed areas within one year of the announcement of the accord to decide whether they should be included in the autonomous area or not; establishing a high committee for peace that comprises leading members of both sides to implement the accord; the return of all Kurds to their original jobs with compensations; and the reshaping of the flag and the motto of the Iraqi republic in a way that reflects the Kurdish presence in Iraq. This agreement was a historical and a very useful one for the Kurds and also for the whole of Iraq. The negative aspect of the agreement was that the regime in Baghdad was a cruel dictatorship with whom dealing and cooperation was very difficult. They were not ready to include any article in the accord concerning freedoms for the Iraqi people and democracy in the country. On the contrary, the regime continued its policy of terror and oppression against the Iraqi population. This was a source of real embarrassment to the Kurdish side who was supposed to be their partner. Unfortunately, and after four years of signing the 11th March agreement, it was not implemented as planned. Only a few months after the initial declaration, problems and disputes started and as time was going by, these problems were increasing and accumulating. It was apparent with time that the Bašth party had made the agreement in order to contain the Kurdish movement after failing to crush it. When they saw that it was not possible to contain the Kurdish question and Kurds were not ready to follow their policy and accept their leadership, they started to take steps that jeopardized the agreement. In December 1970, they made attempted to kill Idris Barzani in Baghdad and in September 1971 they sent a delegation of Sunni and Shiši religious figures in order to kill Mustafa Barzani. The operation was very well prepared. I was with Barzani at the time of the explosion and we were the only two survivors in the room; all members of the delegation, 11, were killed. On the Kurdish side, two peshmegas were killed and 14 others wonded. One of the two cars that brought the delegation exploded outside the meeting room and the other one was disposed by our engineering units. The regime also continued its ethnic cleansing policy in Kirkuk and other disputed areas. They were also strengthening their intelligence and security networks in Kurdistan and allowing them to oppress Kurdish activities in the disputed areas that were under their control. Some external factors helped the regime in preparing itself for a new war against the Kurds; the cooperation treaty with the Soviet Union in April 1972 and the vast increase in the oil revenues in 1973. The deal with the Soviets and the awarding of the Rumaila oil fields to them led the Iraqi Communist Party to leave Kurdistan and go to Baghdad as a member of the ŗProgressive Front˛ under the leadership of the Bath Party.The regime did not take any steps towards implementing democracy in the country. They expected everyone to accept their leadership, otherwise, they would be considered enemies and dealt with accordingly. This applied to the Kurdish movement too. As far as the Kurdish side was concerned we did not cut our relations with Iran and Israel but only decreased them. In 1972, relations with the USA were also added and the Kurds thought that by having relations with these states especially the USA, they could find a solution for their cause. Obviously, the evaluation was wrong and our people paid a heavy price in the set back of 1975. The Kurdish external relations led to more tension with the regime and was also a factor in the deadlock, in the implementation, that led to the war of 1974. After one year of very intense military campaign in which Baghdad used all types of weapons, it was clear that Bakar-Sadam regime can not defeat the Kurds by force. As a result, they gave border concessions to the Shah regime and signed with him the Algiers accord in March 1975 to encircle the Kurdish revolution by cutting its outside exit and relations. This led to the 1975 set back of the Kurdish movement. The Algiers accord was a deal made on the expense of the Kurdish cause. Iran and Iraq had full cooperation between themselves and the USA and many other countries in the world backed the deal. After the collapse of the September revolution and the start of the new revolution, I was working within the ranks of the Kurdistan Socialist Party alongside the PUK, KDP, ICP (Iraqi Communist Party) and other parties. n 1979, when we were once again in the mountains, some major events took place in the region. Khumainy had come to power in February; Mustafa Barzani died on the 1st of March in the USA; and Sadam Hussain had just become president in July. I went to Baghdad on the first of October of the same year and met Sadam Hussain, who was the president, in an attempt to find a way for useful negotiations for peace with him. After two hours of discussions, it was clear that he found himself in a very strong position and was not ready to be flexible for any deal even on the basis of 11th March 1970 agreement. At that time, the Kurdish movement was divided and suffering from internal partisan conflicts. The KDP leadership was with Iran and that party was trying to please the Kumayni regime and be with it by all means. Competing with KDP and thinking that this is the right choice, the PUK was also heading towards Iran. The Iraqi Communist Party which was just expelled from the ŗProgressive Front˛ by the Bašth party and had to escape to Kurdistan was against the regime and trying to cooperate with Iran. Being under difficult conditions and suffering from conflicts imposed by those parties, the Kurdistan Socialist Party did not believe in bargaining on Iran, with whom the Kurds had relations with for decades without getting any results, and preferred to have a deal in Iraq if the regime agrees and the Kurdish parties accept. Neither side was cooperative and our effort ended there. In 1984, the PUK also tried one year of negotiations with the regime but it ended without an agreement between the two sides. According to Sadam Hussainšs adventurous policies, he entered an eight-year war with Iran, in September 1980, after his revocation of the Algiers agreement in 1975 which he signed as a result of the from the war with the Kurds. The Kurds suffered a lot from that war, especialy, when the Kurdish parties cooperated militarily with Iran in the war because of their own fight and struggle against the Saddam regime. They, the parties, were counting on the Iranian victory when they entered into joint operations with the Iranian army. Those operations caused a lot of harm to the Kurdish people when the regime retaliated. At the time, I said to the Washington Post on 30th April 1988 and other newspapers that the joint Kurdish-Iranian operations were wrong and the Kurdish parties should not have been involved in them. Furthermore, the Kurdish expectation about the end of the war was also wrong and costly. During the last six months of the war and after the cease-fire was announced between Baghdad and Tehran, the Iraqi army launched the Anfal campaign in Kurdistan, a series of genocide operations in which 182,000 Kurdish civilians were taken and buried alive in the southern Iraqi deserts. Chemical weapons were widely used in Kurdistan during 1987, 1988 and also during the Anfal campaign. The case of Halabjah is well known to everyone. The Kurds were the victims of the Iraq-Iran war and also of the cease-fire.During the war, large areas of Kurdistan were totally destroyed and its population were forcibly deported to camps near the big towns, where they lived under extremely harsh conditions. Most of them were forced to join the governmentšs mercenary forces, which was the only method of survival for them and their families. This was another set back to the Kurdish people most of the population were either forced to be in camps inside Kurdistan or to seek refuge in Iran, Turkey and other countries. The situation would have been worse if the Kurdistan Front, an umbrella group of the main Kurdish political parties, was not formed in May 1988. The front did not yield to the very bitter realities and was determined to continue its struggle by all possible means. In August 1990, and when Sadamšs forces invaded Kuwait, circumstances changed and it was possible for some of the civilians to go back to the destroyed areas in Kurdistan and try to rebuild some of their houses and work in their farms. The invasion of Kuwait led to the Gulf war. It did not end the regime in Baghdad but it caused great harm to the whole of Iraq, which has been under an economical sanctions by the security council since 1990. After the war, the Iraqi people rose against the regime and liberated most of their country, 14 governorates out of 18, from the Tyranny of Sadam. The uprising was strongly crushed by the regime that was given the green light by the Americans to use armed helicopters in the operations. Sadamšs regime stayed on and retook all the liberated towns and country side in the south. Furthermore, its forces came back to the main Kurdish towns too. Disappointed with the result of the war, the uprising and the American policy, the population had a great fear of the government using chemical weapons again. As a result, millions of them fled to the mountains and the borders with Iran the Turkey living under severe conditions. This tragic mass exodus and its coverage by the media shocked the world. As a result the UN Security Council passed Resolution 688 and the safe haven was established in Iraqi Kurdistan. The Kurdish resistance and the aforementioned two events pushed Baghdad to stop its offensive halfway. After all these dynamic events, and after being contacted by the Iraqi government who expressed willingness to make peace, the Kurdistan Front entered negotiations with Baghdad. At that time I was heading a delegation of the Kurdistan Front abroad touring different countries, including the USA and the Soviet Union, trying to get understanding and support for our cause. The timing of the talks with Baghdad was not right and it would have been better for the Kurdistan Front to concentrate on the international side, especially after all those events and after the Resolution 688, and try to get an international protection and guarantee for the Kurdish people. However, when I returned to Kurdistan in June 1991, the KSP and the Kurdistan Front decided that I should represent the Kurdistan Socialist Party in the talks. I participated in the 4th round of negotiations in Arbil and the 5th and most important round in Baghdad which was the last official round of talks between the Kurdistan Front and the regime which ended on the 21st August 1991. Most people who were not well acquainted with the regime believed that it will be flexible in the talks because of their defeat in Kuwait and at a time when they were in a complete international isolation. In fact, the opposite was the case; despite the fact that the Kurds went to make peace with them in such time and only asked for the points already agreed on in the 11th March agreement of 1970. Not only we could not reach an agreement with them, they were much less flexible than 1970. To summarize and give a clear picture, the points on which we did not reach an agreement on were the following: 1. Contrary to what they agreed on in 1970, the regime was not prepared to discuss the disputed areas or to decide on their future by way of holding census. To them, Kirkuk and some other areas were not negotiable. This was not the only problem; the Arabization campaign and forcing the Kurds out of their homes was continuous in these areas in order to change the demographic nature of the area. This change of nationality by force was part of their policy of ethnic cleansing in order to force the Kurds and also the Tourkomans to change their nationality to Arabic or to expel them to other Kurdish areas which were not disputed. This was, and still is, their stance regarding those areas which they agreed to consider them as ŗdisputed˛ in 1970 2. They insisted on the return of their security and intelligence networks and officials to Kurdistan and that they were to be connected directly to the president in every way. They did not also accept that the Kurdish administration propose candidates for these posts to be appointement by the president. 3. Contrary to what they agreed on in 1970, where they allowed KDP members to go back to the army, they were not flexible on this point. According to them, the Iraqi armed forces are attached to their Revolutionary Command Council and the Bašth Party is the only party that can work within its ranks. No other party, including the licenced Kurdish ones, was allowed to be in the army. 4. In the 1970 agreement, the legislative body in Kurdistan had the right to pass laws for the autonomous region. This time, they said that it should only have the power to submit bills to the central legislative body in Baghdad in order to pass the legislation. 5. One of their main reasons for refusing to discuss the issue of Kirkuk was that it may constitute an economical base for a separate entity. Simultaneously, they refused another demand of the Kurdish side to have a separate budget for the Kurdish region. The proposed budget was to be composed of local revenues and a share of oil revenues to be allocated in accordance with the ratio of the population. . As in 1970, Kurdish participation in the central government remained confined to cabinet members. Key positions like, foreign, defense, finance, oil and interior ministries were not given to the Kurds, and hence, the Kurds were not able to participate in the decision-making process in Iraq, this right stayed to be the Bašth Partyšs Revolutionary Command Councilšs one. 7. As in 1970, they did not agree to establish a constitutional court to settle disputes between the central and the autonomous authorities. Instead, they wanted to give this task to the Iraqi Cessation Court, all the members of which are usually appointed by the Iraqi president. 8. On the question of openness to the Iraqi people, they did not have any flexibility even in making steps like issuing a law for licensing parties or press freedoms. They insisted that their party control should stay as it was and expected us to agree to be their ŗpartners˛. According to them, they represented the Arabs and we represented the Kurds; everyone else did not count for them. 9. Another issue in the talks was the case of tens of thousands of the Fayli Kurds, living in Baghdad and other areas, who were oppressed and discriminated against and also deported to Iran. This was because they were Kurdish and considered to be of an Iranian origin; and did not agree to follow the line of the Bašth Party. The Fayli case was a major point of dispute in the negotiations, much more than 1970. The government was not ready to seriously discuss our demands for returning them to Iraq and compensating them for their loss and giving them full Iraqi citizenship. They said that this point could be discussed later after reaching an agreement. 10. During the talks, we raised the issue of the missing 182,000 civilians taken during the Anfal campaign mentioned above; the 8,000 Barzanis, taken in 1983; and approximately 7,000 Faylis who were taken in different times. We asked about their destiny and whether they were dead or alive. Apart from being a humanitarian tragedy, this issue was creating political, social and economical problems in Kurdistan, especially, for the families of the victims. Not only they did not give a clear answer, they were angered by us raising the issue. These points show Iraqi regimešs mentality and policies which became worse inspite of the defeat they suffered after the Kuwait conflict and the war that followed. One can not be surprised because they call that devastating defeat a victory! After four decades of events with all its ups and downs, misery, tragedies, achievements, disappointments and all the crimes committed against them; as in the past, Kurds are now asking for democracy in Iraq and federalism instead of autonomy in Kurdistan. After all those events, this is a natural development in the Kurdish demands because, unlike autonomy, federalism is a guarantor for the rights and existence of the Kurdish people, especially, when they deal with a dictatorial and a totalitarian regime, like Saddamšs one, which does not respect the rule of law. It is evident from our negotiations and fighting experience with the present regime that it is not susceptible to change. Their actions, measures, mentality and policies have always stayed the same. Since 1991, and the failure of our negotiations with them, there are no indications that this regime will change. They are still dictatorial, oppressive and terrorist. It is very risky and a big mistake for a party or group or even some groups together to think that they could reach a solution with such a regime. If there was no choice but to have dialogue with Baghdad, the Kurdish leadership should conduct the negotiations in a third place and through a third party and in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution 688. The negotiations should not be conducted secretly, it should be under international supervision as in the case of many other conflicts in the world. In conclusion I think that the following lessons should be drawn by the Kurds, the Iraqi regime, or regimes, and the international community if they want to solve the Kurdish question peacefully and on the basis of peace and democracy in the countries where the Kurds live. 1. Keeping Kurdish unity and avoiding conflicts, especially the armed ones and solving all differences and problems in between them only through dialogue, this unity is the main key to the success of our struggle. Through it we can advance our cause and present it to the outside world. 2. To intensify the struggle for democracy in the countries they live in, because democracy is an important guarantor for our cause to reach its goals. Without having a democratic system and the rule of law, even if the Kurdish national rights are recognized, they will not be implemented as they should. A clear example of that is the 11th March 1970 accord. 3. The Kurdish parties should observe democracy in their actions and also in the Kurdish society and strengthen their political struggle. At the same time, keeping their armed forces to defend themselves and the Kurdish cause. 4. There should be continuous lobbying outside for our cause aiming at the international protection of the Kurdish people and discussing our cause in the Unite Nations and gaining an international guarantee for a solution to our problem, which could be reached with Baghdad. 5. The Kurdish leaderships should carefully analyze the events of the past and try not to repeat the same mistakes and benefit from them for the sake of advancing our movement. 6. The Iraqi regimes and the Iraqi people in general should know that force can not solve the Kurdish problem and all weapons including the chemical ones could not end it. It is a question of a people seeking recognition. In fact, if we are aiming at building a new Iraq with prosperous future, freedom of choice for all the people Arabs, Kurds, Tourkmans, Asyrians and others should be respected and accepted so that the Iraqi unity, built on the free choice of the people, can be strong enough to last. Violence could only produce violence and complicate the Kurdish question more and more. What happened during the rule of the present regime is a clear evidence of that reality. 7. The international community should understand that the Kurds are the largest stateless nation that lives in many countries and have no rights. Their question remained without a solution. What the various regimes did against the Kurds is a clear violation of international law, human rights, the Geneva Conventions and the UN Charter. As long as this question is not solved on just and fair basis, there will be no complete peace, security or stability in those countries or the region. Finally I would like to conclude by saying that an international conference is needed for discussing and finding a final solution for the Kurdish issue, similar to the one held for the Palestinian cause.Until this is achieved, our people in Iraq and all other parts of Kurdistan need international protection because they are always threatened by the non-democratic regimes, that view our issue as a threat to their national security and unity. Thank you, for your kind attention. Dr Mahmoud Osman -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com Full details of CASI's various lists can be found on the CASI website: http://www.casi.org.uk