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Here's an addition to Dirk's piece on the Iraqi opposition, which I came across last week. Unfortunately, I don't remember the exact date it first appeared. I am also including a piece from the same source on Turkey's position. According to this article, Turkey is opposed to extending the US's ridiculous war on terrorism to Iraq. URLs at end of articles. Salwa de Vree, Leiden, The Netherlands. IRAQ, UNITED STATES: WASHINGTON MEDIATING BETWEEN RIVAL KURDISH FACTIONS Amid intense speculation the United States will next target Iraq in its war on terrorism, the State Department has said it has begun mediating a long-running dispute between rival Kurdish groups in Northern Iraq. Deputy spokesman Philip Reeker said a high-level US team led by Ryan Crocker, deputy assistant state for Near East affairs, was in Northern Iraq to further Washington’s efforts to oust Saddam Hussein by bringing the factions together. Crocker was meeting members of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) in the first direct US attempt to mediate between the two at their request, Reeker said. “This delegation is the first step in that mediation process”, he said, adding that PUK leader Jalal Talabani and KDP leader Masoud Barzani had asked for State Department help in overcoming their differences. Reeker noted, however, that US consultations with both groups was longstanding. The last consultive mission was in February, he said. Crocker and his team would also meet with Turkish officials as part of their trip. Crocker’s mission was aimed at demonstrating “continued US engagement with the Iraqi opposition, consult with key players on issues in Northern Iraq provide for direct discussions on the status of reconciliation among the Iraqi Kurds and to evaluate implementation of the oil-for-food program in the North”, he said. Baghdad has reacted angrily to US officials meeting with Kurds and late last month, Saddam repeated an offer to engage the factions in dialogue but was rebuffed. Washington has long sought to build up the Iraqi opposition -- including the PUK and KDP -- in order to topple Saddam but has had little success thus far in finding a military force with the ability to move against him. Advocates of targetting Iraq next in the anti-terror war have noted the key military role played by the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance in Afghanistan. They have urged President George W. Bush and his Administration to back various Iraqi opposition groups so they might play a similar role. Iraqi Kurds rose up against the regime in the aftermath of the 1991 Gulf War over Kuwait, leaving the three provinces of Arbil, Suleimaniyeh and Dahuk outside Baghdad’s reach. The KDP today controls an area along the Turkish border, while the rival PUK administers areas close to the Iranian border. http://www.mmorning.com/article.asp?Article=3590&CategoryID=6 TURKEY, IRAQ: SEZER: SUPPORT FOR IRAQ’S TERRITORIAL INTEGRITY Turkish President Ahmet Necdet Sezer last week reaffirmed his support for Iraq’s territorial integrity during talks with visiting Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani. Sezer told a press conference here that “Turkey gives utmost importance to the territorial integrity and national unity of Iraq”, which is under the threat of becoming the next target in the US-led anti-terror drive, a move Turkey opposes. He urged Baghdad to cooperate with the United Nations and the international community in a bid to end the “suffering of the people of Iraq”, which has been under an international embargo for its 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Sezer and Sheikh Hamad also appealed to the Israelis and the Palestinians to end spiralling violence in the Middle East and return to the negotiating table. Since the events of September 11 in the United States, Turkey, the only member of NATO with a mainly-Moslem population, has opposed extending the US-led war against terrorism especially to Iraq, its southern neighbor. Turkey says destabilizing Iraq could create on its border an independent Kurdish state in mountainous Northern Iraq, which has been under the control of two Kurdish factions since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. Such a state would in turn fan separatist-minded tendencies among Kurds living mainly in Turkey’s Southeast, which borders Iraq and Syria. The banned Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) fought Ankara for 15 years for Kurdish self-rule in the Southeast until 1999 when it said it was abandoning its armed campaign for a democractic solution to the Kurdish question. In late November, Turkey’s Defense Minister Sabahattin Cakmakoglu said that Ankara could re-evaluate its position in the case of evidence linking Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein with terrorism. But in remarks to the media last week, the chief of the Turkish army voiced strong opposition to extending the US campaign to Iraq on the grounds that it could create a Kurdish state. Generak Huseyin Kivrikoglu also warned that a military intervention in Iraq would have far graver economic consequences for Turkey than the effects of the 1991 Gulf War. Ankara estimates it lost 35 million dollars, mostly from lost sales of oil, since the beginning of the UN embargo against Iraq. Turkey was the second stop of a regional tour which had already taken Sheikh Hamad to Russia. He was scheduled to travel on to Egypt and Algeria. The US weekly Newsweek has said top American officials are studying the possibility of invading Iraq from both the North and the South in order to topple the regime of President, Saddam Hussein. Under heavy political pressure, the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been looking at a study that suggests deploying 50,000 US troops on Iraq’s southern border and another 50,000 on its northern border, according to the report in an issue due out last week. The plan calls for sending the two armies towards Baghdad simultaneously, but strategists doubt that even that force would be enough to take the Iraqi capital, Newsweek said. Lieutenant-General Paul Mikolashek, commander of US ground forces in the region, believes taking Baghdad and overthrowing Saddam Hussein would require forces “at least at the level” of Desert Storm -- when around 169,000 US combat troops were deployed to eject Iraq from Kuwait, according to the report. But President George W. Bush and his national security team have decided that Saddam has to go, said the magazine quoting unnamed US officials. “The question is not whether the United States is going to hit Iraq; the question is when”, the report quoted a senior US envoy in the Middle East as saying. RUSSO-US IMPASSE In a related development, Moscow has said it failed to reach agreement with Washington on a new sanctions regime for Iraq and remained “categorically” opposed to military strikes to oust Saddam. “The Russian side is categorically against conducting a military operation in regards to Baghdad in the framework of the next phase in the fight against international terrorism”, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ordzhonikidze said in a statement. The Foreign Ministry added that Russian negotiators and visiting US Assistant Secretary of State John Stern Wolf had only reached agreement on “certain questions” during two-day talks in Moscow about a new Iraqi sanctions regime. US officials in Moscow issued no comment following the talks and Wolf left Russia without speaking to the press. The impasse -- if only temporary -- over Russia’s Soviet-era ally came amid growing speculation that the United States was on the verge of expanding its target list in the global war on terrorism which has focussed on Afghanistan for the past two months. Russian officials had earlier said that Moscow was willing to listen to US arguments in favor of broadening the terror hit-list before making its own final judgement on the issue. But the two-day talks with Wolf appeared to confirm Russia’s primary desire to secure nearly a billion dollars in Iraqi trade agreements that remain frozen by existing UN sanctions rather than giving its nod to military strikes on Baghdad. Moscow said it “had expressed its concern” that the value of Russia-Iraq contracts frozen by the United Nations had grown to 860 million dollars. The statement noted that Washington had promised to help “unfreeze” contracts worth only a fraction of that sum -- 54 million dollars -- and that a new round of consultations would be held by early February. These were timed to come before the existing UN oil-for-food program for Iraq expires at the end of May. Russian officials responsible for trade with Iraq, which has been characterized as a “rogue state” by Washington, meanwhile expressed dismay at what they described as an arbitrary trade sanctions regime with Baghdad. Yevgeni Yagupets, a spokesman for Russia’s chief committee for economic cooperation for Iraq, said the UN sanctions committee was primarily suspicious about contracts which supplied Baghdad with civilian-use equipment for factories built during the Soviet era. “Russia wants all sanctions lifted once Iraq admits UN weapons inspectors”, Yagupets said. Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Yemen have all been mentioned as possible targets for future US military action. US National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice has opined that “the world and Iraq will live better without Saddam Hussein in power”. After initially refusing to support a UN sanctions review against Iraq, Russia last month said it would support the initiative while stressing the importance of persuading Baghdad to allow the United Nations to resume arms inspections. UN inspectors were withdrawn from Iraq in December 1998, on the eve of a bombing campaign by US and British warplanes, and were not allowed to return. http://www.mmorning.com/article.asp?Article=3637&CategoryID=6 -- _______________________________________________ 1 cent a minute calls anywhere in the U.S.! http://www.getpennytalk.com/cgi-bin/adforward.cgi?p_key=RG9853KJ&url=http://www.getpennytalk.com -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq For removal from list, email email@example.com CASI's website - www.casi.org.uk - includes an archive of all postings.