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Kurdish Supplement, 12-18/8/01 * Our enormous lie [Several good reasons, going back to 1975, why the Kurds should not trust the West] * Kurds reap sanctions' rewards [Is it surprising to see David Hirst writing for the Washington Times? The article gives what seems to be quite a good account of the labyrinthine procedure the Kurds have to go through if they want to buy anything - legally¹ that is] * Wired world of Iraqi Kurds [rosy picture from the BBC of life among the cyber-kurds] * Iran stages war games in western borders [ie in Iranian Kurdistan, against Iranian Kurds operating from Iraq] * Signs of peace in the opening of a gun market? [on the state of the armaments market in Kurdistan] * Though controlled, business flourishes in northern Iraq [on the opportunities Northern Iraq/Southern Kurdistan offers for Turkish businessmen: In a memorandum released by the prime minister's office and leaked by the local press on May 13, the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq was described as casus belli¹. There is a note which suggests that all is not well with the Kurdish economy: Turkish truck traffic has gone down almost 60 percent in the past year-and-a-half due to political concerns ...¹ * Saddam Hussein's Call to the Kurds For Dialogue and the Difficult Kurdish Choice [a long, rather convoluted but, I think, important article on the unattractive longterm options open to the Kurds, explaining the apparent moderation¹ of the parties¹ joint response to recent calls for dialogue from Saddam] * Saddam Wages Terror Campaign In Kurdistan [a number of recent bomb attacks are ascribed to Baghdad] * Interview With Nasreen Sideek [Minister of Reconstruction and Development, Kurdistan Regional Government in Arbil. A last contribution from M.Rubin. Although presented as a paean of praise to Oil for Food, Nasreen Sideek points out that Oil for Food money goes to the highly inefficient UN administration. The Kurdish administration is funded through smuggling: the extensive main road network and the digital telecommunication system that the UN uses to implement 986 projects and programs were all done by the KRG with its own funds. If smart sanctions severely restricted the diesel border trade, which is a primary source of KRG revenue, much of my work on KRG-funded projects would not be possible.¹ Rubin who has a great and of course entirely disinterested sympathy for Iraqi Kurds persecuted by the Iraqi government, seems to have less sympathy for Turkish Kurds persecuted by the Turkish government, referring to the violent separatist campaign waged by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey¹.] NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://observer.co.uk/comment/story/0,6903,535545,00.html * OUR ENORMOUS LIE by Nick Cohen The Observer, 12th August 'Our movement and people are being destroyed in an unbelievable way, with silence from everyone,' wrote Mustafa Barzani, a Kurdish leader, to Henry Kissinger in 1975. 'We feel, your excellency, that the United States has a moral and political responsibility towards our people, who have committed themselves to your country's policy.' The poor simpleton didn't understand that 'moral' and 'responsibility' were not words Kissinger could register. He had encouraged the Kurds to revolt against Saddam Hussein when the Iraqi dictator was menacing the Shah of Iran. The Shah was also a dictator, but one who was eager to be an American client and to push bribes into Richard Nixon's back pocket. The Kurds rose. Saddam acknowledged US pressure and reached an accommodation with the Shah. Kissinger pulled the CIA out of northern Iraq and left his allies to be slaughtered by a Saddam who had proved that he, too, was ready to comply with his wishes. When the betrayals of 'statesmen' lead to mass slaughter, they are invariably excused as realpolitik. Kissinger's policy didn't seem realistic in 1990 when Saddam, his control of Iraq secure, invaded Kuwait. George Bush Senior called on Iraqis to rise up. He didn't mean it. Popular government in Arab Iraq would bring the pro-Iranian Shia majority to power, which would terrify the oil-producing Gulf states and Saudi Arabia. A successful uprising in the north would create an autonomous or independent Kurdish state, which would terrify Turkey, a Nato partner that is always repressing the national aspirations of its Kurdish minority. What first British and then American neo-colonialists have always wanted in Iraq is pro Western recruits from the Sunni Arab minority who will run the country as a monarchy or military dictatorship. The Kurds are encouraged to rebel whenever the local Sunni hardman gets ideas above his station, but their rebellions are never allowed to succeed. The detectives investigating Lord Archer's alleged pilfering from funds for the Kurdish victims of Saddam should extend their inquiries to the Ministry of Defence and the Pentagon. Their fraudulence has been greater than anything a third-division conman in the Archer mould could contemplate. Evidence is abundant; the dullest copper couldn't miss it. Older readers may remember a shock at the end of the Gulf War. The public had been assured that coalition forces were fighting for freedom against a new Hitler. Yet no sooner was victory ours than the new Hitler was allowed to crush the freedom of the Kurds and Shias. General Schwarzkopf accepted the surrender of the Iraqi generals on 3 March 1991. He surprised his defeated enemies by informing them they could continue to use helicopter gunships. These were duly deployed, along with artillery and infantry, to crush popular rebellion. General Sir Peter de la Billiere, Britain's Gulf War hero, told the Washington Post that the Iraqis 'were responsible for establishing law and order. You could not administer the country without using the helicopters'. The peoples of Iraq, whose repression helped justify the war against the monstrous Saddam, were reduced from the victims of great crime to common criminals who had to be disciplined in the name of 'order'. No great effort was made to hide the Anglo-American belief that the difficulty with Saddam wasn't that he was a military dictator but that he was a military dictator who upset the West. John Major, whose reputation as a decent man continues to astonish those who watched him in office, put it with characteristic meanness: 'I don't recall asking the Kurds to mount this particular insurrection. We hope very much that the military in Iraq will remove Saddam Hussein.' The torturers who enforced Saddam's terror were to be the alternative to terror. The Major and Blair administrations have defended their acquiescence with the failed American blockade of Iraq by claiming that the no-fly zone in the north has the noble intent of protecting Kurds. Eric Herring of Bristol University, whose help I acknowledge with gratitude, describes this 'playing with popular humanitarian sentiment' as 'perhaps the most repulsive aspect of the policy'. The no-fly zone is not policed to protect Kurds but RAF and USAF flights deeper into Iraq. Nor does it provide a safe haven. The Turks are allowed to enter the sanctuary and exterminate Kurdish guerrillas. The useless and sectarian Kurdish political factions have fought and killed each other and innocent bystanders. The CIA allied itself with one faction in 1996 as it tried and failed to overthrow Saddam. A rival accepted the 'my enemy's enemy' doctrine and briefly allied itself with Baghdad, a pact which allowed Iraqi troops to ravage Kurdistan. No nation recognises Kurdish claims for a state in Iraq, let alone in Turkey or Iran. When Saddam goes, Iraq will be free to occupy the region, a prospect which unsettles the inhabitants even when there's a lull in the fighting. I accept there isn't a competition, but with the possible exception of the Palestinians and Tutsis, no people in recent history has been as abused as the Kurds. One would at least expect them to have a fair claim to be genuine refugees. The social gap between the mandarins of the civil service and Sighthill slum-dwellers appears uncrossable. Salary, breeding, accent, education and a certain indefinable tone create a dizzying gulf. The foul atmosphere in Glasgow is manufactured nevertheless in a Home Office which treat Kurds with the same perfidy as the Foreign Office and MoD. We'll have to wait to see what motivated the murderers, but don't be surprised if they believed the politicians and journalists who told them asylum-seekers were economic migrants bogusly posing as refugees. The case of the Kurds illustrates the enormity of the official lie. Until last year, most Kurds were allowed to stay in Britain: the danger of persecution in Iraq, Iran and Turkey was too blatant to be ignored. Kurdish asylum claims increased and the Home Office, acting in concert with interior ministries in the rest of the European Union, turned vicious: 70 per cent of Kurdish applications are now rejected. There has been no change in the dismal facts on the ground in Kurdistan. The Home Office doesn't want genuine Kurdish refugees. It is, however, very keen on the economic migrants it affects to deplore. In January, Whitehall said that in the next 20 years Britain will need three million immigrants from outside the EU to keep the economy moving in a country with an ageing work force. Newspapers that incite hatred of asylum-seekers - the Murdoch press, Daily Mail - realised that labour shortages produce high wages and strong unions and praised the Government's foresight. When the US Congress put Mustafa Barzani's cry for help to Kissinger, he sneered: 'Covert action should not be confused with missionary work.' That's not a mistake any Kurd might make today. http://www.washtimes.com/world/20010815-81813631.htm * KURDS REAP SANCTIONS' REWARDS by David Hirst The Washington Times, 15th August DOHUK, Iraq -- In "liberated" Kurdistan's two other main cities, Suleimaniyah and Erbil, public parks have replaced the army barracks. In Dohuk, the Mazi supermarket has taken the barracks' place. Top Stories Vast, gleaming and air-conditioned, its shelves abound with all one could possibly need, and a good deal more. From cheap clothing to the trappings of middle-class affluence, the store features Hitachi fridges and Moulinex mixers, peanut butter and soy sauce, inflatable garden swimming pools, lawn mowers and grandfather clocks. At the checkout counter, uniformed young women scan bar codes with infrared scanners. Judging by a large warning sign, affluence has bred shoplifting: "High-quality monitors are in operation, so please beware not to fall into an embarrassing situation." It can't be said that prosperity has come to Iraqi Kurdistan -- it would take three months of a teacher's salary to buy the pair of Italian women's shoes on display -- but it's obvious that these northern provinces, which until 1990 were the most backward, deprived and oppressed of President Saddam Hussein's domains, are now much better off than those where his writ still runs. The local currency -- still the pre-1990 Iraqi dinar -- buys 100 times as much as it would elsewhere in Iraq. All perks included, a university professor here earns the equivalent of at least $250 a month; in Baghdad he might get a tenth of that. There are Mercedes, even an occasional BMW, on newly paved highways. Hotels are opening, and open-air restaurants flourish beside mountain streams. There's a tourist industry too, mainly summer visitors from the Kurdish diaspora, or Iranians who cross the border for a weekend's dancing, drinking and veil-free relaxation. "This area," said Jamal Fuad, a minister of reconstruction, "is achieving a revival surpassing all countries in the region." The Kurds date their mini-boom from 1996 and the passage of Security Council Resolution 986, the "oil-for-food" program. It contained the provision that 13 percent of all U.N. authorized humanitarian resources should go separately to the north. Although under the U.N. program the Iraqi government decides how the goods and services should be distributed throughout the country, in the Kurdish north it is the United Nations that distributes material and pays for the operating costs. The money involved in "oil-for-food" in Iraq, including the north, is more than the entire U.N. budget for the rest of the world. As for Iraqi Kurdistan, its mountains and valleys are blue with the signs of nine U.N. implementing agencies that are not even present in the rest of Iraq -- and for each of them, this is their largest operation in the world. The sums at the disposal of the United Nations are vast, and the way it spends them often hugely wasteful. "The attitude is, 'so what?'" said a former U.N. official now working in the north, "It's Iraq's money [from oil exports], after all." Shafiq Qazzaz, Kurdish regional government (KRG) minister for humanitarian affairs, said: "It was 986 that saved us." Overnight, every inhabitant had a free, 10-item monthly food basket that would previously have cost a whole family's monthly income, or more. The World Food Program (WFP) distributes it, with the willing collaboration of the KRG which, officially, the U.N. does not recognize. But the WFP is the only U.N. agency able to spend all the resources at its disposal, for food manifestly qualifies as "humanitarian." What Kurdistan now needs is development -- sustainable, income-generating growth. "We're not an Afghanistan or Somalia anymore," said Azar Barwari, a Kurdish Democratic Party official. "We're a potentially rich country." It could do great things with its 13 percent of Iraq's oil revenue -- if only it could spend it. As Iraq's oil revenues have risen, the proportion of it going for food has fallen to less than a third. But the rest is not going for "development," for under sanctions that remains a forbidden word in the U.N. vocabulary -- though "reconstruction" and "rehabilitation" are often euphemisms for the same thing. "When the U.S. and Britain formulated the Memorandum of Understanding" governing implementation of Security Council Resolution 986, said Nasreen Sikeek, minister of reconstruction, "perhaps they assumed that the U.N., being in charge in the north, would make things work properly. But the truth is that we are still at Baghdad's mercy." And the Iraqi capital objects to anything that smacks of development or real progress in the Kurdish north, from which the government is excluded by a U.S. and British-imposed "no-fly zone." Since Baghdad doesn't have to approve of any U.N.-run project it doesn't like, Kurdistan has now accumulated in excess of $2 billion in unspent Iraqi oil revenues. It is partly the fault of U.N. officials, the Kurds say. These officials are very deferential to Baghdad. They risk harassment or expulsion if they rock the boat, and self-interest dictates caution for those on a tax-free salary of $10,000 a month instead of the few hundred dollars they might be earning at home. The 200 foreign U.N. officials in Kurdistan refuse to talk to reporters "unless you have a visa from Baghdad," they add, knowing that the reporters never do. "It's hardly surprising," said one foreign U.N. official who was about to resign over the whole "sorry story" of the United Nations in Iraq, "that the government, so anxious to discredit sanctions, should try to prevent the Kurdish economy from taking off in spite of them -- and thereby showing up its own performance." The procedure is for the KRG to propose projects, "developmental" or otherwise. They go first to the U.N. office in Erbil, which passes them to its headquarters in Baghdad, which submits them to the Iraqi government, which ignores them. Having cut off all electricity supplies to the north since the early 1990s, the Iraqi government now seeks to prevent it becoming self-sufficient in this area, either by building of dams for hydraulic power or through oil- and gas-fired generation. Vast swaths of the country depend entirely on private generators. In government-controlled territory, Baghdad supplies sprinkler systems to Arabs newly installed on formerly Kurdish farmland but denies them to Kurds in Kurdistan. It impedes the growth of agro-industry -- weaving or fruit and vegetable canning -- in a region where 70 percent of the population is directly or indirectly dependent on the land. It withholds authorization for bridges, road extensions, hospitals, a slaughterhouse, spare parts for an existing cement factory and, of course, a drilling rig to raise output from the Taktak from the 14,000 barrels per day it now yields to the 500,000 bpd of which it might be capable. Because under sanctions the United Nations is forbidden to buy locally, the Kurds buy their "oil-for-food" wheat at $200 a ton, using U.N.-withheld Iraqi oil revenues. The Kurds themselves grow a better-quality wheat, and more of it than the 500,000 tons a years they consume, but smuggle it to Turkey and Iran for less than $100 a ton. Nor can the Kurds persuade the United Nations to spend some of their huge surplus of "food-for-oil" money to, say, raise the salary of teachers to $50 a month to boost the local economy. The Kurds may not like sanctions, but they do love their 13 percent of Iraq's oil revenues. "Are you surprised," asked Mr. Barwari, the KDP official, "that every time the U.N. discusses the possible lifting of them we get nervous?" This is not just for economic reasons, but for what they signify as a measure of the 10-year old Anglo-U.S. political commitment to Kurdistan. Would a weakening of sanctions imply a loss of other ingredients in the "containment" of Saddam Hussein -- above all the northern "no-fly zone"? Lifting them, without compensating guarantees for Iraqi Kurds, would instantly raise the specter of another 1991 -- another panic flight to the frontiers by an entire people fearing the tyrant's return and his long-delayed vengeance. http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/middle_east/newsid_1484000/1484164.st mWednesday, 15 August, 2001, 07:28 GMT 08:28 UK * WIRED WORLD OF IRAQI KURDS by Hiwa Osman BBC, 15th August In the vibrant city of Sulaymaniyah, I was able to easily check my e-mails and surf the web on a state-of-the-art computer, all for the moderately inexpensive rate of $1.50 per hour. "For $50 a month, I can have unlimited access to the internet at home, once we get a digital line", said a student in the centre, who was holding an audio and video chat with his sister in Canada. This would have been unheard of less than 10 years ago. The Gulf War in 1991 left the region's communications infrastructure in tatters. Contacting other Iraqi cities and the outside world was virtually impossible. But Iraqi Kurds have managed to break out of their isolation by entering the digital world. Making an extraordinary leap, they have turned to satellite communications and the internet to replace the local network. Sulaymaniyah, a city of 500,000 people, has more than 20 satellite-linked centres for telephone, fax and internet. The Kurdish region's three universities, two of which were established after the UN-backed sanctions on Iraq, are also connected to the internet. Exchanging email addresses is the latest fashion in cities where it is not unusual to see a herd of sheep scrambling across a major roadway. We have benefited a great deal from globalisation. We just have to strike a balance between being part of the modern world and keeping our identity. Sulaymaniyah also has a mobile telephone network that covers the city and its suburbs. There are plans to expand the network's coverage and install similar networks in other cities of the region. International phone calls are easily made from mobile phones, using the UK dialling code and with a flat rate of 30 cents per minute. The call-card-operated phones will soon have text messaging services as well, according to an engineer at KurdTel, the company that provides communication services for Sulaymaniyah. The Kurdish authorities, which have been in power since 1991, have adopted a free-market economy approach. Shops in the Kurdish region are stacked with goods brought from Turkey, Iran and the Gulf states. Computers, scanners, digital cameras, DVD players and other electrical goods are widely available across the Kurdish region. Kurdish music is now available on on CDs, DVDs and even as MP3 files. Playstation games are a big hit with children. The latest design and desktop publishing software is used to produce a huge array of daily, weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines. Most are also available on the internet. Satellite TV is becoming a basic necessity in every Kurdish house. The long-isolated Kurds now keep up-to-date with not only world news but with news from nearby cities that is not available through small local television stations. "You can bring the whole world to your living room for only $200" said Nawzad from Nawpirdan, a five-family village in the mountains near the Iranian border. Kurds at home and in Europe stay in touch with Kurdish events through Kurdistan TV and KurdSat, which broadcast from Arbil and Sulaymaniyah respectively. The two satellite stations broadcast in Arabic and English in addition to two dialects of Kurdish. "Satellite TV and the internet are the new weapons in our struggle" said Adnan Mufti, the deputy prime minister in Sulaymaniyah. After overcoming the communication obstacles created with the switch to a digital phone system, I met Sherko Bekas, the eminent Kurdish poet and the head of the Sardam publishing house, to get his views on the impact of globalisation on the Kurds. "We have benefited a great deal from globalisation," Bekas said. "Our enemies will not be able to oppress us as before. We just have to strike a balance between being part of the modern world and keeping our identity." http://www.irna.com/newshtm/eng/25201044.htm * IRAN STAGES WAR GAMES IN WESTERN BORDERS Sanandaj, Iran, Aug 16, IRNA [Iranian news agency]: Iran's volunteer Basij forces staged war games in the western city of Qorveh in Kurdestan province on Thursday. Codenamed Nasr (victory) 9 and staged with the participation of more than 1,900 forces, they were aimed to prepare Basij forces for confrontations with probable enemy plots. The commander of the resistance Basij forces in the Kurdestan province, Allah-Nour Nourollahi warned against the "plots hatched by the hegemonic powers and the Zionists" and called for the total preparedness of Basij forces in dealing with them. Opposition elements, belonging to such outlawed cliques as the so-called Kurdestan Democratic Party and Mujahedeen Khalq Organization (MKO), occasionally invade Iran's borders in the west and southwest and carry out terrorist attacks. A Tehran criminal court began Tuesday trial of a dissident Kurdish leader accused of masterminding the massacre of some 43 Iranian military forces in the western border province of Kurdestan in the 1980s. Abdullah Amini, the officer-in-charge of the Kurdish Democrat Prison, appeared in the Bench 1601 of the Tehran Criminal Court after formal charges were filed against him. According to press reports, Amini gave the order to round up some 205 prisoners in "Al Watan" prison in Kurdistan four years after the Islamic Revolution amid outbursts of Kurdish banditry. Seventeen of the 205 prisoners died in the 1982 prisoner carnage in a region known as Goureh-Shir. The MKO, officially outlawed in Iran because of a long record of political assassinations, bomb blasts and terrorist schemes committed by its members in Iran since 1979, was forced to move its headquarters to neighboring Iraq from where they launch sporadic attacks against the Islamic Republic with Baghdad's connivance. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/12-8-01-report-Kilkenny-gun-market .html * SIGNS OF PEACE IN THE OPENING OF A GUN MARKET? by: John Kilkenny, Programme Manager, Mines Advisory Group, Northern Iraq The Kurdistan Observer, August 12 On first sight the opening of a new gun market just outside the town of Dyana might not be the most optimistic sign for a more peaceful future for this previously strife ridden corner of Kurdish controlled northern Iraq. However, when one looks more closely at the recent past it represents a significant improvement in the control of a trade that reflects a long-standing strain of gun culture in Kurdish history. When the Kurdish population of northern Iraq was encouraged to rise up against the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein in the aftermath of the Second Gulf War, few could have guessed that the consequences of this action would still be unresolved ten years later. Back in 1992 the town of Dyana, wedged between the borders of Turkey and Iran, became a magnet for the people returning from the sanctuary they had sought on those borders from their own government. As people flooded in markets sprang up to meet their needs. Among the first to flourish was the arms bazaar that quickly established itself in the heart of the town fed by the breakdown of authority, fear of what might happen next and a ready supply of weapons looted from the retreating Iraqi government forces. The picture was reminiscent of a modern wild-west town where the six-shooter was replaced by the far more deadly rocket propelled grenade (RPG) launcher and the heavy machine gun. Since then the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil has gradually developed its authority over the area and begun to exercise a degree of control over this once unregulated trade. Over the years the sale of larger scale weapons, such as RPGs, has been banned. The use of explosives (often TNT salvaged at great risk from landmines and munitions) in fishing is no longer permitted and the hunting of animals with guns has been banned. The leadership in both political zones of the region has even endorsed the provisions of the Ottawa Mine Ban Treaty outlawing the use of anti-personnel landmines; something the Baghdad government has steadfastly refused to do. As the local authorities have exerted increasing control over the area so security has improved and the size of the market has shrunk. The local authorities in Dyana have spent the last two years negotiating to relocate the now regulated market from a courtyard of small breeze-block built shops right behind the busy main street of restaurants, clothes shops and tailors, to a new site outside the town. The clean-up operation for the old site was entrusted to an international mine action agency present in the area, the Mines Advisory Group, working to remove the deadly legacy of landmines and unexploded ordnance left over from the years of conflict in the region. This operation yielded almost 1,200 items of dangerous munitions ranging from rounds of ammunition to hand-grenades. The removal of the market has indirectly improved the safety of all 30,000 of Dyana¹s population, while the town thrives in a building boom fuelled by families returning from Iran, many of which had fled the country following the failed Kurdish uprising of the mid 1970s. The new market opened in March of this year operates under the watchful gaze of local security officers and although the range of automatic pistols and rifles on display is as potentially lethal as ever, it contains nothing that the average member of the American National Rifle Association would not view to be his constitutional right. The good news is that the dealers in the market report that business is slow and some even speculate that if only they could buy up the two shops adjoining the old gun market in the centre of town they might be able to build a supermarket and get out of the gun business altogether. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/15-8-01-opinion-tdn-business-flour ish.html * THOUGH CONTROLLED, BUSINESS FLOURISHES IN NORTHERN IRAQ Kurdistan Observer (from Turkish Daily News), 15th August [by Lale Sariibrahimoglu?} It was less than a year ago that the Turkish civilian and military bureaucracy encouraged Turkish businessmen to enter northern Iraq's developing market. The reason behind Turkey's decision to encourage Turkish businessmen to explore the business opportunities of northern Iraq came at a time when its southern neighbor Iran became commercially active in the region, threatening Turkish commercial as well as political interests. When Massoud Barzani, the leader of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two rival factions of northern Iraq, visited Turkey last October, Turkey declared its readiness to make use of the flourishing market in the region, thanks to the oil-for-food program concentrating now more on construction projects rather than relief. This program brings a revenue of $500 million on average every six months (about 13 percent of the whole revenue with the remaining being spent for Iraqi-controlled areas) to the northern Iraqis. But its distribution and the determination of the needs are strictly controlled by various U.N. agencies to make sure that the money goes to the right projects. Active commercial involvement in northern Iraq by the Turks has not yet removed concerns in Ankara that the commercially developing region would increase its political leverage to further encourage the Kurds for an independent Kurdish state. According to Kurdish sources, however, the idea that more investment in the region would bring political support for a Kurdish state was not true. In a memorandum released by the prime minister's office and leaked by the local press on May 13, the establishment of a Kurdish state in northern Iraq was described as casus belli for Turkey. Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit, speaking to the press on his way back to Ankara from Antakya, southern Turkey, on May 16, admitted that a defacto Kurdish state in northern Iraq has been established. "This is a concern [for Turkey]," Ecevit noted. Turkey and its main ally the United States have a deep divergence of opinion on the policies pursued both on northern Iraq as well as on handling Saddam Hussein, Iraq's president. Turkey believes that the Washington Process launched in 1998 by the United States to reorganize the Iraqi opposition to topple Saddam Hussein -- despite the United States' earlier failure to this end -- is an element for further encouraging the Kurds of the region to set up a Kurdish state. Northern Iraq has fallen under the control of the U.S. and British forces, as has southern Iraq, since 1991 after the Iraqi invasion forces were eradicated from Kuwait, to protect the ethnic groups from Saddam's aggression. But this protection of Kurds in northern Iraq on the north of the 36 parallel paved the way for the Kurds to hold local elections for the first time in 1992. Turkey seeks closer trade relations with Baghdad and seeks to ensure that Iraq's territorial integrity should be preserved. The United States, which has recently advised Turkey not to open a second border gate with Iraq that would be controlled by Iraq itself on the grounds that this would encourage Saddam to open a second front, again disputed the Turkish policies. The United States however agrees at least in statements made public on the preservation of the territorial integrity of Iraq. Until two years ago the United Nations spent the money coming from limited oil revenues flown by Iraq to a pipeline passing through Turkey on relief. But since then more money is reserved for the development of the infrastructure in northern Iraq including construction. Some 13 percent of the oil-for-food program is allocated for the Erbil, Suleymaniye and Dohuk regions, which fall under the control of both the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) lead by Jelal Talabani. The United Nations is responsible for the implementation of the projects prepared jointly by KDP and PUK, provided that those needs should not be for military purposes. Kurdish sources recall that in Iraq's history the oil wealth of the country has never been used for the region until the oil-for-food program. Northern Iraq has already $2 billion accumulated in the U.N. accounts that have not been spent by the U.N. bureaucracy. Since Turkey's encouragement of the businessmen to get involved in the trade business of the region, the Ankara Industrialists' and Businessmen's Association (ASIAD), representing 15 companies, has already opened offices both in Erbil, controlled by the KDP, and in Sulemaniye, controlled by the PUK. There are also several relatively smaller construction projects financed by KDP and the PUK. Turkey's concern that northern Iraq will become independent politically as trade improves has also had effects on the diesel transport taking place at Turkey's Habur border gate directly opening to the KDP-controlled region. A source from the region said that Turkish truck traffic has gone down almost 60 percent in the past year-and-a-half due to political concerns as well as increased bureaucracy, discouraging tanker drivers from queuing at the border region. Now both the PUK and the KDP are seeking a common ground for the proper functioning of parliament established after the 1992 local elections and to which PUK has refused to participate in in the past few years. If A Parliament is convened, the Kurds plan to announce a date for another election, an idea not liked by Ankara. Backed by Turkey's military aid, the Talabani-led PUK forces fought the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) earlier. But Teheran's influence on the PUK, of whose areas are close to Iran border, have seen ups and downs in PUK's resolve to fight against the PKK. Located on the KYB and the Iranian border region, the Qandil mountains give sanctuary to about 3,500 PKK terrorists. In the Hakurk triangle that lays between Turkey, Iran and the Iraqi border, there are estimated to be about 700 PKK militants. According to well-informed sources, Iran and Baghdad actively support the PKK. The residents of the Atrush camp, which has been dismantled, in the KDP-controlled region, are now residing at an Iraqi-controlled camp called Mahmur, below the 36th parallel, 80 kilometers south of Erbil. Kani Yilmaz, the PKK's leading figure, is one of the residents of the camp where there are about 7,000 civilians controlled by the PKK. The camp houses a publication house as well as a hospital and is guarded by Iraqi forces. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/7-8-01-hayat-report-kurds-saddam invitation.html * SADDAM HUSSEIN'S CALL TO THE KURDS FOR DIALOGUE AND THE DIFFICULT KURDISH CHOICE by Ghassan al-Atiyah (Washington Kurdish Institute) Kurdistan Observer (from Al-Hayat, August 2, 2001), 7th August The scene chosen by Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to invite the Kurds to a dialogue is an example of surrealism in the Iraqi message. Though the contacts of Kurdish leaders, especially Mas'ud Barzani and Jalal Talabani, with Baghdad were never severed, particularly during the past few years, the Iraqi president insisted on personally announcing the invitation to the dialogue and chose as the stage for this scene his meeting with members of the Baghdad-based "Legislative Council of the Kurdistan Autonomous Region" that was established by the government. If Saddam met the "Legislative Council" members as the Kurdish people's representatives, so what does his invitation to the leaders of Kurdistan to a dialogue mean? The safe haven in northern Iraq was imposed by an international resolution. Yet he says that he has kept "the special situation" in northern Iraq as it is so that the Kurdish citizen could "reach his genuine choice", as if the decision to control Kurdistan depends on his will. The mastermind of the Al-Anfal operation, the displacements, and the repression claimed credit when he said: "The Kurdish leaders would have inflicted the worst punishment on their people were it not for their fear of Baghdad." He described Kurdistan as a "despised small" part and its condition "that of the prodigal son" who has "to back down and repent." He brandished the club of obedience when he said: "When we cannot do this, then we will tackle things in due course." But there are bitter and very realistic facts behind this surrealist and absurd speech. Saddam believes that the situation in Kurdistan after10 years has changed in a way that allows him to act and impose his political will, if not his direct will. The international factor as represented by the United Nations is incapable of taking a decision to intervene in favor of the Kurds in view of the Russian veto and the Turkish refusal. In the absence of a firm US decision to use force directly to bring down the regime, Washington has adopted "containment" as its policy. This has served Saddam more than any other factor. In the name of the fear from the (Shiite or Kurdish) alternative, the Iraqi president has become the least damaging factor. In the absence of a possible resolution of the situation on the ground, the US air strikes have become a media tool that helps Baghdad's ruler gain regional and international sympathy. Saddam sought to defuse the Kurds as a force for political change in Iraq. He scored success in this endeavor, starting with the vacuum created by the decision to withdraw the central administration and its services from the Kurdish north, thus placing the burden of managing and feeding the region on others. With Baghdad's encouragement, the political vacuum also helped turn the political conflict between the Kurdish parties into internecine fighting that reached a climax in 1996 when one of the parties turned to the Iraqi regime for military aid. All this happened in full view of Washington, which did not take any action and was content with observing the Iraqi forces' withdrawal from Irbil after putting an end to the military presence of the Iraqi opposition there. Washington thus launched a new stage in Kurdistan that the then US Secretary of State Madeline Albright consolidated when she told the Kurds: "Do not challenge Saddam and provoke him to attack in return for continuing the air protection." With the central government absent, Iraq's Kurdistan was seen as a vacuum that both Iran and Turkey, and Syria to a lesser degree, sought to fill. This gave Baghdad the opportunity to join the balance of powers' game by backing one party against another. The Kurds' preoccupation with protecting themselves from Iran and/or Turkey compelled them to make concessions and live in constant anxiety.When the two main Kurdish parties overcame many of their differences, Baghdad turned to secondary parties to stoke up the conflicts. It helped the Kurdish Workers Party and other marginal groups and also resorted to terrorism and explosions (a Tunisian UN employee was recently arrested on the charge of transporting explosives in a UN truck). The growing danger that the Kurdish Islamic parties posed to the two main Kurdish parties also served Baghdad. But the oil and financial card remained the most effective one in neutralizing the Kurds. The regime has again linked the region to an economic network whose main activity is oil and smuggling. The Kurdish economy today, especially in Irbil, relies on the trade and oil transport routes to Turkey through Kurdistan. This has created Kurdish sectors that are benefiting from this situation and it is difficult to compensate them for the Iraqi Government's supplies. Baghdad also succeeded in building bridges of cooperation with Turkey and hinted at opening a second crossing point that does not go through the Kurdish area. With this background, Saddam's initiative becomes more of a threat than a dialogue. Yet the Kurds are not in a position to reject the invitation. The Kurdish predicament is represented by the fear of a confrontation with Saddam without a regional or international cover to protect them. Their response came in a very moderate statement. The two main Kurdish parties underlined in a joint statement dated 27 July their peaceful path and Iraq's national unity "which will be consolidated in as much as democracy, pluralism, respect for human rights, and the peaceful and fair solution of the Kurdish issue within the framework of a united and sovereign Iraq are achieved." Regarding the conditions for the dialogue, the statement merely referred to the "need to prepare the appropriate grounds and the requirements for the democratic and open dialogue and to establish confidence building measures." It specified these requirements as "ending the policy of deporting and displacing the indigenous population from their areas and disclosing the fate of detainees and missing persons. The sacrifices, aspirations, and will of the people of Kurdistan should also be taken into consideration in accordance with the resolution of the Iraqi Kurdistan National Assembly of 4 October 1992 that says the legal relationship between the region of Kurdistan and the central government should be based on federalism and respect for the legitimate rights of all ethnic groups and religions." The statement talks here about "taking into consideration" and not commitment to or the actual implementation of the Kurdish National Assembly's decisions while stressing "Iraq's unity and sovereignty." The reference to "respect for the legitimate rights of all ethnic groups and religions" was included to assure the Turkomen and Assyrians. On the other hand, the statement avoided linking the Kurdish issue to the Iraqi opposition or even to refer to the latter in any way. It also dropped the international factor by not demanding an international participation or supervision to guarantee the democratic transition process. The statement totally ignored all the UN resolutions, including Resolution 688 that deals with the Kurds' human rights. It is quite noticeable that, according to informed sources, the first draft of the statement included several conditions, the most important of which were: "The Baghdad Government's acceptance of the federal system declared by the Kurdish Parliament in April 1992; the launch of a dialogue on the basis of establishing a democratic and pluralistic regime; and the holding of general elections under regional and international supervision to ensure the honesty of the electoral process." Another condition called on the government "to disclose the fate of the victims of the 1988 Al-Anfal operation when it arrested more than 150,000 Kurds and moved them from their areas in northern Iraq to unknown destinations." The moderation of the joint statement and its focus on what is possible within the limits of the common Iraqi will has left the ball in the central government's corner. If Saddam's call to a dialogue was merely a card for the consumption of the Arab and international media, then the moderation of the Kurdish response has rendered it useless. If the Baghdad ruler's aim from using the language of threat encased in the call to a dialogue was to ensure the Kurdish leaders' rejection or to provoke them so as to justify an invasion of Kurdistan, then the Kurdish moderation has also rendered this excuse useless. The Iraqi president's need for a "Trojan horse" to re-impose his control on Kurdistan might have prompted him to propose a plan with which he had hoped to split the Kurds' ranks. But the issuance of the joint statement that left the door open for a dialogue has rendered this possibility useless too. Saddam's initiative might however achieve with the Iraqi opposition what it has failed to achieve with the Kurds, especially when non-Kurdish Iraqi opposition elements attack the Kurds for "the dialogue" with the regime. This only increases the Iraqi opposition's divisions and reinforces the Kurds' conviction of its futility. The Kurds have gained some time but the problem of the Kurdish future remains. Kurdish leaders know that the current situation, which has continued for 10 years (and is the best for several decades), cannot remain like that forever and that the fate of Kurdistan will in the end be decided, either positively or negatively, in Baghdad. The Kurdish leaders also realize at the same time that they are incapable of and not allowed to impose the change in Baghdad and that there is no effective Iraqi opposition that is acceptable at the regional and international levels on which it is possible to wager or forge an alliance with. Besides the Kurds, the Islamic number in the equation (specifically the Shiite one) remains the stronger one. But the problem is that this number is unacceptable at the regional and international levels and its policies on the Kurdish affair are not assuring to most Kurds. Apart from Libya, there is not a single Arab country that is sympathetic to the Kurds' aspirations and hopes. The Arab street too sees only a secessionist movement in the Kurds. At the regional level, no neighboring country (Turkey, Iran, Syria) wishes to see a sophisticated Kurdish example established that would attract the Kurds in their countries. The Kurds fear being abandoned by the United States as much as they understand the importance of its protection of their existence. The events of 1975 are still vivid in the Kurdish leaders' memories, especially Barzani. The Kurds' fears are growing today as the US administration is reviewing its policy toward Iraq, particularly in connection with continuing the no fly zones as its planes are coming under more Iraqi challenge there. The most that the Pentagon promised at the last meeting held with the Kurds on 14 July was that Washington "will not allow Saddam to use Iraqi air space to attack the Kurds or threaten his neighbors." Protection from Saddam's aircraft is not a substitute and not enough to protect the Kurds from a military invasion on the ground. Washington's failure to assure the Kurds about their future is not just a political defeat for US policy but also the end of the Kurdish democratic experiment and is, consequently, a victory for the dictatorship and for Saddam personally. In return, Saddam is not willing to make any political concession, not even a temporary one, for the sake of democratic détente in Iraq, especially after having come out of "political healthcare unit" and the "cage" of US containment. Finally, no one knows Saddam's promises better than the Kurds. They have been bitten several times and they therefore need international guarantees. But Saddam does not accept this, arguing that it is a matter of "sovereignty." Nor the party that is most capable of providing the guarantees is willing to do so for fear that this would rehabilitate the regime [sic. Nor is the party that is most capable of providing the guarantee willing to do so for fear etc¹? - and is this criticising the US for failing to encourage dialogue with S.Hussein? - PB] http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/17-8-01-menl-saddam-wages-terror.h tml * SADDAM WAGES TERROR CAMPAIN IN KURDISTAN Kurdistan Observer, 17th August (from MENL, London) Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has waged a terror campaign in the Kurdish autonomous zone of northern Iraq. Kurdish sources said Saddam's agents have placed several car bombs in Kurdistan over the last three weeks. The sources said Saddam's agents have also terrorized Kurdish families in the area of Sulemaniya. So far, three car bombs were found in the area of Suran. The sources said Kurdish authorities have stepped up security measures. Saddam's effort comes as the Kurds appear to be thriving in the absence of Baghdad's control. Both Iran and Turkey have launched projects in Kurdistan with Kurdish partners. The Kurdish region is said to receive nearly $90 million month in United Nations funding that stems from the Iraqi oil-for-food program. Much of the money has gone into infrastructure projects. Turkey has been trying to increase its role in Kurdistan amid government concerns that a de factor state has been established. The government in Ankara sees such a state as a threat to Ankara and a source of insurgency by Turkey's large Kurdish minority. The Saddam regime has also increased support to the Kurdish Workers Party, or PKK, in a campaign to undermine the cooperation between the two Kurdish movements that share control of northern Iraq. In Washington, the Bush administration said the United States is able to repel any attack by Saddam's forces on either the Kurds in the north or the Shi'ites in the south. But they said British or U.S. warplanes are limited in their capability and can stop only a large-scale military invasion by Baghdad. "Our ability to preclude him from doing that is not perfect," Pentagon spokesman Craig Quigley said. "But what we are able to do is to preclude him massing military forces. Now, whether that would be aircraft, armor, large formations of infantry, to move in a very large scale military movement into either the south or the north, that we can see, that we can stop. There are other elements of that -- police, things of that nature -- that are not done in such a large organized way, that clearly, the no-fly zone -- coalition patrols over the no-fly zone do not have an impact." Last week, U.S. F-16 warplanes were reported to have entered Syrian air space during a patrol of the no-fly zone in northern Iraq. U.S. officials said the F-16 intrusion, which lasted 23 minutes, was accidental and did not encounter Syrian interception efforts. http://members.home.net/kurdistanobserver/30-7-01-interview-nasreen-sideek.h tml * INTERVIEW WITH NASREEN SIDEEK (MINISTER OF RECONSTRUCTION AND DEVELOPMENT, KURDISTAN REGIONAL GOVERNMENT IN ARBIL) July 2001 by Michael Rubin Middle East Intelligence Bulletin, Vol. 3, No. 7 Michael Rubin, a member of the MEIB advisory board and a visiting fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, interviewed Ms. Nasreen Mustafa Sideek regarding the United Nations-administered oil-for-food program and her ministry's development activities. This interview was conducted online between Washington and Irbil, Iraq. Nasreen Mustafa Sideek was born in Baghdad in 1967, and became a political prisoner at age 14. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in architectural engineering at the University of Baghdad in 1991. Fleeing Iraq in the wake of the failed Kurdish uprising in 1991, Nasreen returned upon the creation of the safe-haven, finding work as an administrative officer for the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. She continued working in various UN capacities in northern Iraq, eventually becoming head of the United Nations Center for Human Settlements (Habitat) field office in 1997. In 1999, after completing a Master's Degree in Public Administration at Harvard University, the Kurdistan Regional Government appointed Nasreen Minister of Reconstruction and Development. Q. Many argue that UN Security Council Resolution 986, the so-called "Oil-for-Food program" is hurting Iraq, and inhibiting development. Is this the case? Before SCR 986 my ministry did far less than what we are doing today. Even though we had a large technical staff and much heavy machinery, we did not have the funds to address the massive amount of rural reconstruction needed. We did what we could with the very limited funds available . . . SCR-986 brought, and continues to bring, an abundance of resources. Since the program began, more than 20,000 families throughout Iraqi Kurdistan have been provided with accommodation. Hundreds of schools with thousands of classrooms have been constructed and many more are being planned. Hundreds of kilometers of village access roads have been completed along with water systems, health centers, irrigation channels, veterinary centers, and other works. Q. What is the scale of reconstruction in northern Iraq? To answer that, I'll let the figures speak for themselves (see charts below). Q. When you discuss reconstruction, is northern Iraq developing from the same baseline as the rest of Iraq? It must never be overlooked that more than 4,000 of some 5,000 communities were destroyed, flattened, ranging from small hamlets to towns of more than 50,000 people. Since 1975, many families were forced from their communities. Our cities have grown excessively because of forced displacement and destruction, and this has placed an excessive burden on urban services. Even today, according to a UNCHS (Habitat) report, 23% of Iraqi Kurdistan's 3.6 million people are displaced, and many more continue to live in substandard conditions. The Arabization of Kurdish areas in Iraqi government-controlled territory continues to force more families into displacement; more are coming to Iraqi Kurdistan. Reconstructing these communities and rehabilitating lives is daunting but the abundant 986 resources available are helping tremendously. Incidentally, according to UN Office of Iraq Programme Executive Director Benon Sevan's recent statement, nearly six billion dollars have been earned to date for Iraqi Kurdistan from both oil sale proceeds and interest Q. How does the United Nation balance working with the Kurdistan Regional Government [KRG], which controls the three northern governorates, and the regime of Saddam Hussein in Baghdad? [In the presentation this appears as part of the question but it seems more likely that it is part of the answer - PB] A key issue is that UN agencies tend to operate independently of the local authorities. Rather than help strengthen the regional and local government structures that will continue long after they leave the scene, as the UN generally does in virtually all other situations, some UN agencies act as if the KRG need not exist. Some UN agencies take "managing on behalf of the Iraqi government" too far. Too much of the planning process has been ad hoc, hit or miss, shopping list project proposals. This is a function of funds chasing projects instead of well planned programs and projects chasing funds. We need the UN to assist the KRG to upgrade region-wide planning capabilities in order to apply available funds more effectively. Q. Does the Oil-for-Food program in any way hurt the local economy? What many families in rural areas really need is increased income generating opportunities. SCR-986 has not yet paid enough attention to this most important aspect of rural development. Agricultural production is indeed improving under SCR-986 but the fact that the program purchases wheat from Australia and Canada for free distribution instead of purchasing locally produced wheat, which is IK's main crop, has had a very negative effect on rural incomes. Also, the UN hires away our staff with salaries of ten to fifty times local salaries, according to an independent study commissioned by UNCHS (Habitat) and carried out by the Institute of Social Sciences in The Hague. Q. The US State Department has recently been pushing so-called smart or targeted sanctions. How would smart sanctions impact your work? The KRG funds projects and runs programs in the public sector that SCR-986 is not doing. For example, the extensive main road network and the digital telecommunication system that the UN uses to implement 986 projects and programs were all done by the KRG with its own funds. If smart sanctions severely restricted the diesel border trade, which is a primary source of KRG revenue, much of my work on KRG-funded projects would not be possible. The running of my ministry would be adversely affected and I might have to dismantle administrative structures that would be needed to serve the region well into the future after SCR-986 terminated. However, while the issue of restricting the border will impact the KRG financial capacity to fund its projects and run its institutions, there will be more opportunities within 986 for the use of cash component to support civil servants and also will allow international investment and international contracting capacity to enter the region. This could increase the rate of implementation. However all the later issues are subject to the approval by the Iraqi government and visas will have to be granted by the Iraqi government as well. If you consider recent unwillingness of the Iraqi government to grant visas for those working in electricity and demining, I'm not optimistic all the benefits will materialize. Q. How has the violent separatist campaign waged by the Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) in Turkey and its activities in Iraq impacted resettlement in the area? The PKK presence has prevented resettlement of some areas because they have been a very serious threat to security. They have intimidated villagers to leave their communities, caused casualties, destroyed homes and schools, and looted property. More than 100 such communities have been de-settled by PKK presence. Only recently have we been able to seriously consider resettling rural areas vacated due to PKK presence. -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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