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News, 10-17/8/02 (3) NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Kurdish guerrillas poised to fire first shots in war on Iraq * Iraqi Kurds feel the brunt of Saddam's 'Arabization' * Kurds offer territory for Iraq attack * Jalal Talibani rejects attacking Iraq * Jalal Talabani denies offering US use of territory for Saddam attack * Logistical problems prevented US visit by Iraqi Kurd leaders * Kurd chief shuns talks on deposing Saddam * Turkey threatens to cut Iraqi diesel imports * The US must democratise Turkey before Iraq * KDP: Mr Barzani does not need Turkish passport * KDP is 56-year-old today IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS * Fadlallah Issues Decree Banning Muslims From Helping U.S. to Strike Iraq * Syria's Assad met Saddam on border: Account * U.S. Base in Qatar Seen Central to Any Iraq Attack * 4000 U.S. troops arriving in Jordan for major exercises * Jordan opposition fears U.S. troops will stay * Iraq to return Kuwaiti loot * US attack against Iraq bound to fail: Palestinian official * US intelligence says Israel could nuke Iraq if attacked * 125 Iranian Refugees Return Home from Iraq * Sabah: US secret delegation to East Turkey relating to Iraq * Israel Says Delaying US Strike on Iraq is Dangerous NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://observer.co.uk/iraq/story/0,12239,772585,00.html * KURDISH GUERRILLAS POISED TO FIRE FIRST SHOTS IN WAR ON IRAQ by Tim Judah The Observer, 11th August The Kurds of Iraq are girding for war. Guerrillas, known as peshmergas, are working day and night hauling sandbags, digging trenches and bulldozing mountain roads to their front lines. In what may be the opening battle of the war for Iraq, the Kurds are preparing to crush an Islamic fundamentalist group which has seized territory on the Iraqi-Iranian border and which some claim provides evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Iraqi Kurdish sources say they need to move quickly to crush the Taliban-inspired Islamists known as Ansar al-Islam because, if a US-led attack on Saddam begins, all peshmerga forces will be needed to surge southwards into government-controlled Iraq. They do not want to face a war on two fronts. Kurdish sources say Ansar al-Islam is backed by an unlikely coalition of al-Qaeda, Iran and Saddam's Iraq. The peshmergas say Saddam's intelligence services are providing money and other backing to al-Ansar. None of these three has any ideological sympathy with the others, but both Iran and Saddam have an interest in weakening the Kurds. >From fortifications above the village of Darashish it is possible to see al-Ansar's bunkers and, with binoculars, their turbaned fighters. Many are known to have fought in Afghanistan and about 70 are believed to be Arabs and Afghan al-Qaeda members, many of whom have found sanctuary here since the fall of the Taliban. Over the past few weeks the 1,000-strong peshmerga force belonging to the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has been bolstered by 2,000 peshmergas from elsewhere in the Kurdish safe haven that was set up beyond Saddam's control in 1991. The haven is guarded by US and British warplanes, but the area lies well beyond the Iraqi no-fly zone. According to Lt Col Ahmad Chekha Omer, a senior peshmerga commander, positions overlooking al-Ansar were visited just over two weeks ago by nine US military intelligence officers. They were preceded by three British officers. He believed his high command had requested air strikes in support of a peshmerga attack. According to Omer: 'If the Iranians don't interfere we can finish them easily.' He says Iranian military trucks were spotted in the area two months ago, that Iran has supplied the al-Ansar fighters with three truck-mounted Katyush multiple rocket launchers, and that Iranian officers give them maps and weapons training. In the past, Iran has supported the PUK and it was the Iranian-peshmerga capture of nearby Halabja in 1988 that resulted in Saddam's chemical attack on the city which killed 5,000. Now the Iranian regime does not want to see a democratic and pro-Western Iraq replacing Saddam's regime. A worse scenario for Tehran is a federal Iraq with a prosperous Kurdish unit, leading to similar demands from Iran's eight million Kurds. Al-Ansar's connections to Saddam's regime raise the possibility of linking the Iraqi dictator and the 11 September attacks. PUK sources say prisoners have attested to a link between al-Ansar and Iraqi intelligence. Their leaders and many men fought in Afghanistan. According to Akbar San Ahmed, the peshmerga commander for Halabja, documents found on the body of an al-Ansar fighter after a battle last September, when 42 peshmerga prisoners were massacred, included the words: 'This is a gift to bin Laden.' In jail in Sulaimaniya, the PUK holds a man convicted of being an Iraqi agent. An Iranian Arab, he has told them he smuggled arms from Baghdad to bin Laden in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and drugs from al-Qaeda that were used to buy more arms. The man, Muhammed Mansour Shahab Ali, 27, talks nervously. In an interview with The Observer , he said he met bin Laden four times and carried out three murders for him. The interview was conducted in the presence of PUK officials and there is no way of checking its veracity. Apart from armaments, Shahab Ali claims that in 2000 he smuggled 30 refrigerator motors, which he believes were filled with a gas, from Iraq to bin Laden. Given Saddam's use of chemical weapons in Kurdistan, and during the Iran-Iraq war, this raises speculation that Iraq was supplying bin Laden with materials for chemical weapons. Shahab Ali gave no reason why Saddam would want to support al-Qaeda, which has publicly blasted Arab regimes like his. Shahab Ali's stories, if true, provide an insight into the murky connections between al-Qaeda and Iraq and back US claims of such a link. http://www.iht.com/articles/67488.html * IRAQI KURDS FEEL THE BRUNT OF SADDAM'S 'ARABIZATION' byJohn F. Burns International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 13th August BARDA QARAMAN, IraqWhen Saddam Hussein's men came for them, Omar Osman Siddiq and his family went quietly. With his wife and eight children, Siddiq silently loaded the family's possessions onto a truck waiting to carry them away from the home in Kirkuk, a city rich in oil, where his forebears had lived for generations. Then, at a police station, Siddiq surrendered all the personal documents Iraqis need for daily existence, including identity cards, a booklet for weekly food rations, even the registration for the family car. Flanked by armed guards, he faced one last indignity, signing a paper attesting that everything had been in accordance with law, and voluntary. By nightfall, the truck reached its final destination: a plot of ground in the arid desert 130 kilometers (80 miles) east of Kirkuk, just outside the 90 percent of Iraq that is governed by Saddam and inside a self-governing Kurdish enclave that leads a precarious existence under Western air protection. To finance their new life as refugees at Barda Qaraman, the Siddiqs had savings of $30. The family's deportation in July followed their rejection of Decree 199, a presidential order issued by Saddam to reinforce a population policy that is Iraq's equivalent of ethnic cleansing. The Siddiqs are Kurds, the predominant ethnic group in northern Iraq, and Decree 199, proclaimed last year, lays down a procedure known as "nationality correction." It gives Kurds and other minorities the chance to avow that they "mistakenly" registered themselves as non-Arabs and that they wish to reclaim their Arab origins. The policy has been used primarily against Iraq's Kurds, who make up as much as 25 percent of the country's population of 23 million, by far the largest minority. But it has been used against Armenians, Assyrians, Chaldeans and Turkmen, too, among other groups. Creating an Arab majority on the great Mesopotamian plain north of Baghdad is not a new policy for Iraq. Nor is it an innovation by Saddam, who, like all Iraqi leaders since the state's founding in 1921, is an Arab from the Sunni sect of Islam to which most Kurds belong. But Saddam, especially since his 1991 Gulf War defeat and the creation of the Kurdish enclave, has accelerated efforts to drive minorities out and bring Arabs in. To resist Saddam's enforcers is to risk severe punishment, including execution, according to Kurdish refugees and human rights organizations. So the Siddiqs took care to say nothing provocative when the men with the truck arrived. The children were coached not to cry or ask questions, and above all to say nothing derogatory about Saddam. "If you say anything, they will shoot you," said Siddiq, 38, an electrician who owned a repair shop in Kirkuk. "All I told them on the day they came for us was 'O.K., we'll leave, there's no need for any violence.' But my nerves were so taut that if I had had a Kalashnikov rifle, I would have shot every one of them." The Kurds, as a group, have suffered much more than deportation under Saddam. During the Iran-Iraq war that ended in 1988, when Kurdish separatist groups allied themselves with Iran, his warplanes dropped poison gas on Kurdish towns and villages, killing thousands. Kurdish accounts say that thousands more Kurdish men were arrested and never seen again. Many thousands more Kurds have disappeared since 1991, when Iraq's defeat by U.S.-led forces in the battle for Kuwait was followed by a Kurdish uprising in the north that was brutally suppressed by Saddam. That, in turn, led the Western powers to declare the no flight zone north of the 36th parallel that created the Kurdish enclave. Many families in the territory have stories about relatives in the areas around Kirkuk and Mosul, another oil city under Saddam's control, who have been led away by the Iraqi secret police since the 1991 uprising and have not been heard from since. Their offense, the families say, was usually that they were related to somebody who joined in the uprising. But even families that took no part in the political upheavals have been affected by Baghdad's drive to change the ethnic composition in the oil fields. According to U.S. figures, more than 800,000 people have fled north into the Kurdish enclave since 1991, nearly a fifth of the enclave's population of 3.6 million. But Kurdish refugee organizations say that about 250,000 of those who have moved were forced out after rejecting "Arabization," like the Siddiqs. Rizgar Ali, a Kurdish official responsible for helping the resettlement of Kurds in the enclave, cited official Iraqi figures showing that Kurds constituted 54 percent of the population of Kirkuk Province in 1954, compared with only 25 percent now. Meanwhile, he said, Arabs have risen to more than 50 percent of the population from less than 10 percent. Even if minority families agree to accept Arab nationality, their compliance is often only a prelude to further persecution. Human-rights reports cite cases of families that have signed the conversion papers being prosecuted afterward for having "falsely" claimed to be Kurds. Some were then stripped of all property and moved from the northern area into the Arab heartland of Iraq. Other families have been told that their changed status makes them only "second-class Arabs," and that their homes and jobs are to be given to "genuine Arabs" who are moving north under policies that provide subsidies to Arab migrants. In Siddiq's case, Iraqi officials visited his home three times, starting last summer, offering the family a new start as Arabs. Siddiq refused. "I know the history of Saddam against the Kurds," he said. "So I told them, 'I was born a Kurdish man, and I will die a Kurdish man.' On the third visit, they said: 'O.K., you've had your chance. Now you'll have to leave.'" Ali, the Kurdish official, carries the wistful title of governor of New Kirkuk, which is a broad area south and west of Sulaimaniya, a Kurdish-governed city about 65 kilometers from Barda Qaraman. But Ali, whose family was forced out of its ancestral home by Iraqi forces creating a belt of Arab-only villages east of Kirkuk in the early 1960s, believes that the deportations are laying the ground for major strife, even if the government in Baghdad changes. If President George W. Bush succeeds in his repeated vow to use U.S. power to oust Saddam, Ali said, any future Iraqi government that wants to reintegrate the Kurds peacefully into a united Iraq will have to meet Kurdish demands for the restoration of lost property. "We shall not surrender any of our rights, not ever," he said. In the meantime, at the Barda Qaraman refugee camp, more than 100 Kurdish families struggle to get by without sanitation, and some, like the Siddiqs, without even a tarpaulin for shelter. They say they wish only that Bush will make good on his pledge to get rid of Saddam. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/08/13/iraq.opposition/index.html * KURDS OFFER TERRITORY FOR IRAQ ATTACK CNN, 13th August WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A prominent Iraqi Kurdish opposition leader said Tuesday U.S. military forces would be "welcomed" at areas in Kurdish-controlled northern Iraq to stage attacks against Saddam Hussein's regime. Jalal Talabani, founder and secretary-general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that after weekend meetings with top Bush administration officials, he and other Iraqi opposition leaders are convinced the United States is now serious about ousting Hussein. "I explained to the United States officials here that the Iraqi opposition, Kurds included, ... have tens of thousands of armed people," Talabani said. "We have more than 100,000 (Kurdish resistance fighters), and Syria also has tens of thousands. These forces can liberate Iraq with the support of the United States, with cooperation and coordination with American forces. This is all second, of course, with allowing the United States and facilitating any work that the United States wants to use our area until we stay there." The opposition leaders met with Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as other top officials. Talabani said that despite rumors to the contrary, "The American army will be very warmly welcomed in Iraqi Kurdistan." "Believe me, the United States is very popular now in Iraqi Kurdistan," he said. A U.S. official told CNN the Bush administration is assessing the offer. The official said the Iraqi opposition has previously made similar offers in private, but this is the first time they have gone public with an offer to use areas in northern Iraq. Turkey -- a staunch U.S. ally during the 1991 Persian Gulf War -- has expressed concern that military action could lead to the creation of an independent Kurdish state on its border and encourage Kurdish separatists in Turkey. Turkey has been fighting a 15-year civil war with Kurdish militants in the southeast of the country. At Tuesday's Pentagon briefing, Rumsfeld was asked if he was aware of the offer and if it was helpful that it was made publicly. The secretary said he doesn't recall hearing the offer in the meetings, which he described as "constructive." "If I said, 'My goodness, that's a big help,' it suggests that we plan to go use them. And that is a decision the president has not made," Rumsfeld. Talabani said he expected Hussein to respond to the Kurdish offer by attacking with chemical or biological weapons. He said Iraqi opposition groups have asked the United States for equipment to protect against chemical or biological attacks. "They promised to help and to protect us. Even Dick Cheney was clear when we asked him about the protection of the Kurdish people. He said he would do it," Talabani said. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020813/2002081313.html * JALAL TALIBANI REJECTS ATTACKING IRAQ Arabic News, 13th August The leader of the Kurdistani national federation Jalal al-Talibani has rejected any attack that damages the interests of the Iraqi people or inflecting destruction on its economic infrastructure. He stressed the need of "cooperating with the Iraqis in order to have a liberal and democratic Iraq and to work together in order to reach fundamental solutions to all problems." Talibani, who is currently in Washington expressed his optimism over the results of his talks together with an opposition delegation with the Bush administration. He indicated that the talks included important strategic issues and that it was "the first time in which the US administration showed interest in the Iraqi issue up to this level." On his assessment to the results of Washington's talks, Talibani put his view point saying "for the first time all sides share with the American administration and at this level of negotiations, and secondly; all of the American administration have this time united their decision towards Iraq and towards the Iraqi opposition, while in the past there used to be different decisions to this effect." http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=2789 * JALAL TALABANI DENIES OFFERING US USE OF TERRITORY FOR SADDAM ATTACK KurdishMedia.com, 15th August AFP -Aug 14, 2002- A prominent Iraqi Kurdish leader distanced himself Wednesday from comments made in an interview with CNN Tuesday, denying he had offered the use of military bases controlled by his group for a possible US attack on the regime of Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, told the Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite television channel that his remarks to CNN on Tuesday had been "misinterpreted." "I was asked about the position of the Kurdish people if US forces were deployed in Iraqi Kurdistan and I replied that the Kurdish people, to whom the United States has offered aerial protection, will favourably welcome the presence of US forces to protect them against foreign intervention and any chemical attack" by Baghdad, Talabani said. Talabani said that his PUK party, "like the rest of the Iraqi opposition, thinks that change (in Baghdad) is an Iraqi task that must be undertaken by Iraqi opposition forces with the goal of total democratic change." "These forces are not opposed to getting international help, including American, to realise this goal," he said. But he warned the Kurds would not simply serve as a tool or "Trojan horse" for foreign troops to strike Saddam. In the interview with CNN, Talabani said: "The American army will be very warmly welcomed in Iraqi Kurdistan, in contrary to the rumors ... It will be welcomed and believe me the United States is very popular now in Iraqi Kurdistan." [.....] http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/national/ap_kurd08152002.htm * LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS PREVENTED US VISIT BY IRAQI KURD LEADERS Boston Herald, from Associated Press, 15th August WASHINGTON - A top Iraqi Kurd official did not join colleagues from the Iraqi opposition for high-level meetings here last week because of logistical problems, the White House said Thursday. Spokeswoman Claire Buchan said U.S. officials tried to make travel arrangements for Kurdistan Democratic Party head Massoud Barzani to come to Washington but the effort was unsuccessful. "He was invited to the meeting. He wanted to come," Buchan said. The KDP was represented by its second ranking official, Hoshyar Zabari, who joined dissident leaders from five other Iraqi groups for talks with Vice President Dick Cheney and State Department officials. They also had brief encounters with Secretary of State Colin Powell and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The Iraqi delegation met under the umbrella of the Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of groups opposed to President Saddam Hussein. Francis Brooke, a Washington adviser to the INC, said Barzani was willing to fly here from his semi-autonomous Kurdish stronghold in northern Iraq but did not want to use a third country to make the trip. Brooke said Barzani would have been willing to travel aboard a U.S. government plane but that arrangements could not be worked out. http://www.iht.com/articles/67849.html * KURD CHIEF SHUNS TALKS ON DEPOSING SADDAM by Patrick E. Tyler International Herald Tribune, from The New York Times, 16th August WASHINGTONThe most powerful Kurdish chieftain in northern Iraq, Massoud Barzani, refused an invitation from the administration of President George W. Bush to attend the meeting of Iraqi opposition figures at the White House last week, Kurdish and administration officials said. The absence of Barzani, whose father, Mustafa Barzani, led the largest Kurdish rebellion of the last century and died in exile in the United States, was a blow to Bush administration officials who had orchestrated the meeting in part to demonstrate that Iraqi opposition forces were unified behind a new campaign to depose Saddam Hussein. In a feverish effort to entice Barzani to leave northern Iraq and travel to Washington, the administration offered to send a private airplane to southeastern Turkey to pick up Barzani, according to Kurdish and American officials. In an additional inducement, American officials said that if Barzani would travel with his longtime rival, Jalal Talabani, on an American aircraft, it was likely the two Kurdish leaders would be treated to a meeting with President Bush. In the end, Talabani came by himself and the conference was hosted by the Vice President on video link from Wyoming. "Barzani, really more so than anyone, is the elder statesman of the Iraqi opposition and we did try to arrange for him to be here, and obviously we did not succeed," an official said. Barzani's decision to stay in Iraq indicates that a crisis may be looming with Turkey, administration officials said. Turkish officials, in meetings with senior administration officials and with Kurdish leaders, have warned they are prepared to go to war to prevent the Iraqi Kurds from declaring a kind of Kurdish mini-state within Iraq. The Turkish government fears that such a state with control over key oil resources around Kirkuk might incite Turkey's repressed Kurds to rebel. "We are by no means finished discussing things with the Turks," one official said. Kurdish officials said the American dialogue with Ankara about the prospect for an American-led military campaign against Iraq has been more contentious than the Bush administration has conveyed publicly. In Barzani's absence, Talabani has been more receptive to joining with the United States in a war against Baghdad. He caused a stir Monday when he offered in one television interview to turn the Kurdish region of Northern Iraq into an American military base against Baghdad, and then retracted his statement saying his remarks had been misinterpreted. Pentagon planners have identified the Kurdish fighters as a credible force to work with U.S. special operations forces, much as the Northern Alliance did in Afghanistan, to attack Iraqi troops, identify targets for American aircraft and conduct other guerrilla operations. Last month, a Pentagon team secretly visited Northern Iraq to inspect the Kurdish Army and evaluate them for training, one official said. Washington's effort this month to assemble the anti-Saddam coalition was designed to demonstrate to reluctant European and Middle Eastern allies that the United States has recruited Iraqi opposition leaders who command military forces on the battlefield and could participate in an American attack on Baghdad; they could also, along with other opposition groups, step in to create a viable and democratic political structure to replace the current government. Instead of flying to Washington, Barzani sent a representative to tell the Bush administration that it had failed to follow up on a number of promises made last April when Barzani was spirited into the United States on a Central Intelligence Agency flight for a meeting with top officials of the CIA, Pentagon and State Department. The officials had been courting Barzani for months in hopes of recruiting 70,000 Kurdish fighters under his control, and those of Talabani, for any military assault on Baghdad. Chief among the broken promises, Barzani said, was the failure of the United States to address the possibility that Saddam might launch a preemptive strike on the Kurds before the administration built up its forces in the region. Cheney reiterated Saturday the American position that if Iraq attacked the Kurds, the United States would respond at a time and place of its choosing, according to administration officials and opposition leaders. The Kurds want a more immediate response to protect the 3 million civilians in their towns and villages. http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c =StoryFT&cid=1028185825584&p=1012571727172 * TURKEY THREATENS TO CUT IRAQI DIESEL IMPORTS by Roula Khalaf in London and Leyla Boulton in Ankara Financial Times, 16th August Turkey is threatening to ban unofficial cross-border diesel fuel imports from Iraq, in a move designed to put pressure on an Iraqi Kurdish faction that it accuses of supporting anti Turkish militants. Tunca Toskay, the Turkish minister of state, announced this week that the cabinet planned to ban the imports, which are trucked from central Iraq through the area of northern Iraq controlled by the Kurdistan Democratic party (KDP), from next month. The dispute could be a complicating factor for the US, which needs the co-operation of both the Kurds and Turkey in its campaign to overthrow the Iraqi regime. Political sources in Ankara said the move was a result of Turkish armed forces' discontent at the KDP's alleged support for anti-Turkish Kurdistan Workers' party (PKK) militants operating out of northern Iraq. But according to Kurdish officials, the ban reflects Turkish anxieties about a possible US attack on Iraq and suspicion of Kurdish intentions in a post Saddam Hussein era. Turkey fears that a federal state in Iraq would encourage the yearnings for independence of its own Kurdish minority. More than 500 trucks have been carrying diesel fuel every day from Iraq to Turkey in recent years. The trade, worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year, is outside the United Nations-approved oil-for-food programme, the exemption from sanctions on Iraq. But the UN and the US have turned a blind eye to the flow of diesel because it helps the Turkish economy and provides the only source of cash revenues to the Iraqi Kurds. Although the Baghdad regime receives the bulk of the income, the KDP, the largest of two Kurdish factions, levies taxes on the trade. The tensions between Turkey and the KDP have already significantly reduced the fuel trade over the past six months. "The Turks are paranoid about the prospect of regime change in Iraq and they cannot oppose it, but they believe we have established a viable self-rule entity and they see the possibility of the emergence of a Kurdish state," said Hoshyar Zebari, a senior KDP official. "We're trying very hard to convince them that we can't afford to have a Kurdish state but they confuse the idea of independence with the idea of federalism." Turkey is believed to be most concerned about the future status of Kirkuk, the oil-rich city in northern Iraq that remains under the control of the central government. Ankara fears that Kurdish control over Kirkuk in any future redrawing of boundaries would reinforce the capacity of the Kurds to declare an independent state. Two Turkish newspapers on Friday quoted Massoud Barzani, the head of the KDP, as telling a visiting delegation of Kurds that Kirkuk was historically and non- negotiably Kurdish. Such statements suffice, as one newspaper put it, to make Turks' hair stand on end. Political analysts noted that such reports, prominently displayed in two establishment dailies, were readily seized upon in Ankara as "proof" justifying deep- rooted fears of the Turkish military and officialdom. The KDP has long maintained that under a future federal structure Mr Hussein's policy of Arabisation in Kirkuk must be halted, a joint administration established and oil reserves shared, with funds going to the development of the northern regions. Mr Zebari said Kurdish concerns about Turkish intervention in northern Iraq were expressed to US officials in Washington in meetings with the opposition last week. It is believed that the trade dispute was a factor in Mr Barzani's decision not to attend the Washington meetings. He sent Mr Zebari to represent him. http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=2790 * THE US MUST DEMOCRATISE TURKEY BEFORE IRAQ London (KurdishMedia.com) 15 August 2002: Turkey has become an obstacle in the US-led formation of a democratic Iraq. Turkey made it very difficult for Mr Barzani, the KDP president, to attend the recent US based Iraqi oppositions meeting with the US administration. This was an important meeting to develop consensus amongst the Kurdistani and Iraqi opposition. Earlier this month Turkey withdrew Mr Barzani¹s diplomatic passport and prevented American military officials at the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey from providing air transport to Mr Barzani. (New York Times - 14 August 2002). Mr. Barzani¹s aides said that an increasingly bitter dispute with Turkey was one of the reasons that caused him to stay home (New York Times - 14 August 2002). Last time, Mr Barzani travelled via Syria to meet the US administration and this time he could have done the same. But Mr Barzani, by staying at home, has made a point to the US administration: if the US is serious about removing Saddam¹s regime, they first must discipline Turkey. We are experiencing serious difficulties with Turkey; they are using the classic method of divide and conquer, Mr. Zebari, Head of KDP International Relations Bureau, told the New York Times (14 August 2002). Kurdish observers believe that Turkey is trying to divide South [Iraqi] Kurds in order to weaken them. Recent media reports have suggested that the PUK has some sort¹ of agreement with Turkey. The recent expansion of the Turkoman Front, Turkish regime¹s mercenaries in Sulemani and the PUK stronghold may confirm these media reports. The KDP has recently undermined the Turkoman Front for not recognising Kurds and Kurdistan. Kurds would make yet another historical mistake if they try to sustain in the vacuum of the regional conflicts. They must behave like a democratic Kurdistan state in the heart of the Middle East. Kurds must have one voice and must impose Kurdish terms in removing Saddam. If Mr Barzani could not attend the Washington meeting, Mr Talabani, the PUK General Secretary, should stay at home too. This is a historical test waiting for the two main political parties, and their future is at stake. They should unite, not only for the benefit of the Kurdish nation, but for their own survival. There is a conspiracy by the regional powers to get rid of them, which represents itself in the regional support for the Islamic and Turkmen fanatics. It is only so long that Kurds can wait for the PUK and the KDP to represent Kurdish interest in the international arena. It comes a time when enough is enough and Kurds will establish another politcal force. http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=2793 * KDP: MR BARZANI DOES NOT NEED TURKISH PASSPORT Arbil (KurdishMedia.com) 16 August 2002: A spokesperson for the KDP rejected the media reports that stated Turkey prevented Mr Barzani, the KDP president, to travel to Washington in order to take part in US-sponsored Iraqi opposition talks, regarding the removal of Iraqi regime. ³Mr Barzani neither asked Turkey to allow him to travel nor needs the Turkish passport,² the KDP spokesperson said. http://www.kurdmedia.com/news.asp?id=2796 * KDP IS 56-YEAR-OLD TODAY Arbil-Kurdistan (KurdishMedia.com) 16 August 2002: The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) is 56 years old today. The KDP held its first congress in Baghdad on 16 August 1946. The 32 delegates elected a central committee with Hamza Abdullah as secretary-general, late Malla Mustafa Barzani as president (in exile) and late Shekh Latif, the son of late Shekh Mahmud Barzingi, and Mr Ziyad Agah as vice presidents. During this period, the KDP has had two presidents, late Mustafa Barzani and his son, the current leader, Mr Masud Barzani. The name of late Mustafa Barzani has become synonym of the Kurdish struggle. Since its establishment, the KDP has become one of the major Kurdistani political and military forces in the history of modern Iraq and the region. It was the first politcal force to address the South [Iraqi] Kurdistan Kurdish issue, giving up the concept of Kurds as one nation in all parts. Today the KDP is one of the main Kurdisani forces, which administrates one of the two Kurdish Regional Governments and the Kurdistan Parliament, in the Kurdistan de facto state. The KDP also administrated South Kurdistan, to substantial level, from 1970 to 1974, during the peace agreement with the Iraqi regime. No any other Kurdish political party has as much as experience in running government administration. The KDP on 1st July 2002 issued their 12-page constitution for post-Saddam Iraq, not only plans for Kurdistan but also plans for Iraq. This constitution undermines the current Iraqi regime, replacing it with that proposed by the KDP. The constitution states: ³We [KDP] must start by limiting the deficiencies in the current [Iraqi] constitution and changes in the nature of the Iraqi political System, which is based on simple state with strong centralisation into a federal state based on federalism and division of power between the federal and the regional governments.² This is a challenge to the Iraqi regime by the KDP. The KDP proposal goes as far as changing the name of the state from the ¹Republic of Iraq¹ to the ¹Federal Republic of Iraq¹ and makes Kirkuk, the Kurdish oil rich city, the capital of the Kurdistan Regional Government. Mr Barzani, the KDP president, in a number of occasions, including in his speech during the anniversary of the party, has reiterated that there is not compromise on the federal part¹ of the KDP¹s proposal. IRAQI/MIDDLE EASTERN-ARAB WORLD RELATIONS http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/13/02&Cat=4&Num=5 * FADLALLAH ISSUES DECREE BANNING MUSLIMS FROM HELPING U.S. TO STRIKE IRAQ Tehran Times, 13th August BEIRUT -- Sheikh Mohamad Hussein Fadlallah, the spiritual guide of Lebanese Shiites, issued Monday a "fatwa", or religious decree, prohibiting Muslims from aiding any U.S.-led strike on Iraq. "It is prohibited to help America and its allies in striking the Iraqi people or controlling their economic capabilities, natural wealth and politics," he said in a statement. "God forbids helping the infidels against the Muslims, the oppressors against the oppressed," said the prominent cleric considered by Shiites to be a "marjaa", or religious authority, AFP reported. Fadlallah urged "Muslims must manage their own affairs, in trying to end internal corruption and lift injustice from all Islamic countries." There is fresh speculation that President George W. Bush's administration is planning an attack against Iraq, which has been under crippling UN sanctions since it invaded neighboring Kuwait in 1990. But Bush's designs have so far been met with a widespread opposition in the Arab world, Iran and also among longstanding European partners like Germany and France. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=18984402 * SYRIA'S ASSAD MET SADDAM ON BORDER: REPORT Times of India (from AFP), 14th August AMMAN: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad met last week with his Iraqi counterpart, Saddam Hussein, on the border between the two countries, an independent Jordanian newspaper reported Tuesday. Al-Hilal, which quotes unnamed sources, said Assad took with him to the meeting his brother, Maher, as well as the head of the Syrian intelligence services. During the encounter, Saddam presented Assad with an ancient rifle taken from the Iraqi museum, said the weekly newspaper, whose report could not be independently confirmed. Relations between Iraq and Syria, which are ruled by rival wings of the Baath party and severed ties in the 1980s, have been on the mend since 1997, fueled mainly by trade links. In July, Assad sent a message to Saddam on the 34th anniversary of his Baath party coming to power in Baghdad in which he underlined his desire to boost the "brotherly ties" between the two countries. http://abcnews.go.com/wire/World/reuters20020811_93.html * U.S. Base in Qatar Seen Central to Any Iraq Attack by Kedar Sharma ABC News, 11th August AL-UDEID, Qatar (Reuters) - If the United States decides to attack Iraq, it is likely to do so from its fast-expanding military base deep within the desert of the tiny Gulf state of Qatar, diplomats and analysts said Sunday. Faced with refusal from key Gulf Arab ally Saudi Arabia to be a launch pad for strikes on Baghdad, Washington has poured money and labor into expanding its $1.4 billion Al Udeid airbase which officials say will be finished by December. Qatar has publicly opposed any attack on Iraq but Gulf-based diplomats say Doha, widely seen as a maverick in this conservative region, has much to gain by currying favor with the world's only superpower. "We cannot say when or how the facilities would be used...but as far as the progress of work is concerned it is almost 80 percent complete and I guess it should be ready by the year end," said a U.S. official who declined to be named. Commander of U.S. Central Command Tommy Franks has said the base was being developed for "times of crisis." Sunday, U.S. Congressman David Hobson, chairman of the House of Representatives military construction sub-committee, visited the base, heightening speculation it could play a central role for U.S. military activity in the region. The United States has several Gulf bases, mainly in Bahrain, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, which alone hosts about 5,000 troops. During the 1991 Gulf War, Saudi Arabia's Prince Sultan airbase was the operations center for U.S. troops taking part in the multi-national coalition which liberated Kuwait from Iraqi occupation. Qatar, like other Arab states, has warned against a military strike on Iraq as a means of carrying out President Bush's stated policy of ousting Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. But diplomats say the Al Udeid base, equipped with command facilities and satellite links that can control thousands of air strikes daily, offers Washington an alternative to its Prince Sultan base. In Washington Sunday, Senator Fred Thompson, a Republican member of the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee, said the United States did not need Saudi Arabian bases for an attack on Iraq. "There are other countries in that area that we can use. We're in the Gulf there already. I don't think we have to have them (Saudi bases) in order to do that." Thompson told the Fox News Sunday program. Construction work at Al Udeid, in sun-scorched sands 45 km (28 miles) west of the capital Doha, started three years ago but was switched into top gear in November after Saudi Arabia refused to let U.S. planes and troops heading to Afghanistan use the Prince Sultan base. Instead, the United States launched attacks from its Fifth Fleet facilities off Bahrain, and Al Udeid -- then a make-shift complex of tents and capable of housing 40 aircraft. The past nine months have transformed Al Udeid into a state-of-the-art facility with one of the longest runways in the Middle East, at 4,500 meters (14,760 ft), and that can accommodate up to 120 fighter jets, U.S. officials say. The airbase has three hardened concrete underground shelters which can each hold 40 aircraft capable of operating even if the base came under biological or chemical attack. Al Udeid stands next to a sprawling arms warehouse, where Central Command has stored tanks, armored personnel carriers and enough weapons to equip a whole brigade. But a drive past Al Udeid, located in a maximum security zone, reveals nothing of the activity going on inside its high, sand-colored walls ringed with heavy barbed wire. Al Udeid's fast-track development has only increased speculation that the United States was planning to shift its regional command center from the kingdom to Qatar, particularly after the September 11 attacks on New York and Washington. The hijacked jet attacks, which Washington says were mainly carried out by Saudis, strained U.S.-Saudi ties with some questioning the "loyalty" of Washington's main Gulf ally. Before that, Saudi Arabia had reportedly grumbled to Washington that its troops had overstayed their welcome. But during a visit to Doha in June, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld played down talk about Al Udeid, saying it would not become the main U.S. headquarters in the region. Al Udeid hosts around 3,000 US troops and 50 planes. Officials say once complete, it will be home to 10,000 troops. NO URL (sent to list) * 4000 U.S. TROOPS ARRIVING IN JORDAN FOR MAJOR EXERCISES AMMAN - Tuesday, August 13, 2002 - Middle East Newsline - Jordan is preparing for the arrival of thousands of U.S. troops for a large-scale military exercise later this month. Jordanian officials said the 4,000 U.S. soldiers are sailing through the Red Sea toward the Hashemite kingdom. They said the first U.S. soldiers arrived on Monday, Middle East Newsline reported. The officials said the exercises would not take place in the eastern areas of Jordan near the Iraqi border. Western diplomatic sources said Jordan has imposed additional restrictions on the media on the eve of the arrival of the U.S. soldiers. They said the closure of Doha-based A-Jazeera television last week was meant to halt unauthorized reports on the U.S. military exercise. Jordanian Information Minister Mohammed Adwan said Jordanian and U.S. troops would conduct a two-week exercise in a training area in southern Jordan. Adwan termed the exercise as routine and said the U.S. troops would leave the kingdom after the exercise. Adwan said Jordan is one of several Arab countries that conduct regular military exercises with the United States. He cited Bahrain, Egypt, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. Jordanian officials said the U.S.-Jordan maneuvers will focus on improving the combat skills of the Hashemite kingdom as well as interoperability between the two militaries. The exercise will include special operations forces from both countries. They said the exercise will not simulate a U.S. military attack on Baghdad nor will U.S. soldiers operate along the Iraqi border. The sources said the Amman government decided to preempt the arrival of the U.S. troops and release details of the exercise. The sources said Jordan and the United States have agreed to hold two ground and air exercises per year and that all U.S. soldiers will leave by Sept. 8, days after the completion of the exercise. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/08/14/jordan.iraq.reut/index.html * JORDAN OPPOSITION FEARS U.S. TROOPS WILL STAY CNN, 14th August AMMAN, Jordan (Reuters) -- Jordan's Islamist-led opposition said on Wednesday they feared U.S. troops training with the country's armed forces in the kingdom's desert terrain were preparing for an attack on Iraq. "We are very concerned about the possibility U.S. troops will not depart and will stay to launch an attack on Iraq," said Sheikh Hamza Mansour, the head of the Islamic Action Front, the country's largest political party. Both the government and Washington said the exercises code-named "Infinite Moonlight" that began this week in a secret army camp in the southern desert were long planned and not linked to any future U.S. military assault against Iraq. Echoing popular views among ordinary Jordanians, Mansour said he was not convinced by official statements saying U.S. troops would leave after the two-week-long exercises. "There is no proof they will depart...we have no guarantees...developments may dramatically unfold and Washington would decide to keep these forces in Jordan," Mansour told Reuters. Diplomats said an estimated 4,000 U.S. troops were taking part in joint training exercises to be followed by another wider scale pre-planned maneuver next October. Jordan, a major U.S. ally in the region, has been rewarded this year by hefty extra military assistance as a reward for its strong support for President George W. Bush's "war on terrorism" and restraining criticism of U.S. policy in the Middle East. U.S. media reports have in recent weeks quoted military planners as saying Washington was considering Jordan as a base for staging air and commando raids against Iraq. But eyeing growing sympathy with Iraq's plight and rising anti-U.S. sentiment mainly over Washington's support of Israel, the government has sought to quell rising public concern. It has vehemently denied that the country was involved in any secret plans to use its territory in an assault on Iraq or that it would allow U.S. troops any ground facilities. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/2193116.stm * IRAQ TO RETURN KUWAITI LOOT BBC, 14th August Iraq is to start returning Kuwaiti national archives looted by its army during the occupation of the Gulf emirate 12 years ago, a United Nations official has said. UN envoy Richard Foran, in Baghdad, said he expected the operation to begin within weeks. Speaking after a meeting with Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri, he said: "The Iraqi officials have been extremely helpful and they have indicated that they would co-operate in every possible way." Kuwait says that during Iraq's seven-month occupation, between 1990 and 1991, its troops took archives from the foreign ministry, the prime minister's office and other government departments. A significant quantity of military hardware and valuable pieces from the Islamic and National Museums are also said to have gone missing. An agreement to return the Kuwaiti archive documents is reported to have been reached at talks in Vienna between Iraq and UN Secretary General Kofi Annan last month. The talks failed in their principal objective - to convince Baghdad to allow the return of international weapons inspectors. [.....] http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow.asp?art_id=19084320 * US ATTACK AGAINST IRAQ BOUND TO FAIL: PALESTINIAN OFFICIAL Times of India, from AFP, 14th August BAGHDAD: Any US attack on Iraq would be bound to fail, top Palestinian official Faruk Qaddumi said here on Wednesday, calling on Arab states to fulfill their duty and support Iraq and the Palestinians. "We (Palestinians and Iraqis) are undertaking the same battle because we coordinate our efforts to face up to the US-British aggression, but I am 100 per cent sure that they will fail, in Iraq and in Palestine," Qaddumi said after talks with Iraqi Information Minister Mohammad Said al-Sahhaf. The Iraqi and Palestinian people "struggle for Arab rights and to preserve national Arab security," said Qaddumi, head of the political department of the Palestine Liberation Organisation. He called on Arab states to "fulfill their duty by supporting Iraq and Palestine." Iraqi number two Ezzat Ibrahim on Tuesday told Qaddumi, who also acts as the Palestinian Authority's foreign minister, that Baghdad pledged its full financial backing to the Palestinian people. "Iraq and ... Saddam Hussein will put its financial resources at the disposition of the Palestinians to guarantee their victory," Ibrahim said. Iraq has backed the nearly 23-month Palestinian intifada in a bid to win popular support in the Arab world as a hedge against any US threat to topple Saddam's regime, which Washington accuses of developing weapons of mass destruction. Iraq has mobilised a 6.5 million volunteer army for "the liberation of Palestine." Within Israel, Iraq has been accused of giving $25,000 to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers and fuelling the region's violence. http://www.hindustantimes.com/news/181_38282,0005.htm * US INTELLIGENCE SAYS ISRAEL COULD NUKE IRAQ IF ATTACKED Hindustani Times, from Press Trust of India, 15th August Israel could respond with nuclear weapons to a non-conventional attack by Iraq, the Israeli daily Haaretz said on Thursday , quoting US intelligence sources. "If Iraq strikes at Israel with non-conventional weapons, causing massive casualties among the civilian population, Israel could respond with a nuclear retaliation that would eradicate Iraq as a country," the newspaper said. "In the worst case scenario," says the US intelligence report presented to US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, "Israel could face an existential threat to important urban areas such as Tel Aviv or Haifa," the daily said. "Under such conditions, it would threaten nuclear retaliation against Iraqi cities and military forces to cease the (Iraqi) attack," Haaretz added. "If the Iraqi attack were to continue, and there was a lethal biological strike on an Israeli city, Israel would certainly respond with nuclear strikes against Iraqi cities that were not yet in the hands of American forces," the report said. "Such an Israeli reaction could destroy Iraq as a state," said Haaretz, quoting the report. Israel fears that if Washington attacks Iraq, part of Baghdad's response will be an attack on the Jewish state, as happened in 1991 when 39 Scud missiles smacked into Israel, killing two people and injuring hundreds. http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=8/15/02&Cat=5&Num=1 * 125 IRANIAN REFUGEES RETURN HOME FROM IRAQ Tehran Times, 15th August KHORRAMSHAHR -- Some 125 Iranians residing in Iraq voluntarily returned home via the southwestern Shalamcheh border checkpoint, in the Province of Khuzestan. The convoy, the fourth returning home, was made of 18 families that had been residing in Iraq during the years of the Iraqi Imposed war on Iran. The return of refugees follows the agreement signed between Iran and Iraq to encourage the voluntary repatriation of nationals from both sides to be performed under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR). The refugees will be kept in quarantine before they are returned to their cities of Domicile. Some 6,000 Iraqi refugees have returned home on a voluntary basis over the past two months, while the Islamic Republic has had 600 nationals back home over the past month, said IRNA. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/020815/2002081504.html * SABAH: US SECRET DELEGATION TO EAST TURKEY RELATING TO IRAQ Arabic News, 15th August The Turkish daily Sabah said on Wednesday that an American technical experts in the field of aviation arrived secretly in Deyar Baker military base to the East of Turkey and held an inspection tour on it in order to follow up all exercises carried out in the base by F-16 warplanes. The paper indicated that small American cargo planes are landing and taking off on weekly basis from Deyar baker base, and that Washington is planning to deploy 2000 troops in the base in case a military operation is launched against Iraq. The paper indicated that the American delegation which is composed of 15 persons had left Turkey on Tuesday and will prepare a plenary report on the possibility of using or not using the base during a likely military operation against Iraq. http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=E154671B-BD01-48A3 A1A0457F455E9BFF&title=Israel%20Says%20Delaying%20US%20Strike%20on%20Iraq%20 is%20Dangerous&catOID=45C9C78F-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C * ISRAEL SAYS DELAYING US STRIKE ON IRAQ IS DANGEROUS Voice of America, 16th August Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres says a U.S. attack against Iraq would be dangerous, but he says delaying such action would be even more dangerous. In an interview Thursday with the Cable News Network, Mr. Peres said he believes it is just a matter of years before Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein has a nuclear weapon, a situation Mr. Peres said would be terrible. Mr. Peres also said Israel would be, in his words, "a good soldier" in a U.S.-led war against Iraq. Mr. Peres said Israel's response to an Iraqi military strike against the Jewish state would depend on what kind of attack. But he said Israel would be very careful and reluctant to use anything other than conventional weapons. [.....] _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk