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[casi] News, 20-27/9/02 (4)

News, 20-27/9/02 (4)


*  U.N. nuclear sleuth Baute set for Iraq mission
*  Defector warns of 'human germ carriers'
*  Scientists question Bush case against Iraq
*  'African uranium not in Iraq'
*  India objects to Iraq missile charge
*  IAEA Denies US Claim It Knows Iraq Rebuilt Nuclear Program, According to
*  Agency disavows report on Iraq arms
*  Iraqi palaces are stumbling block for inspectors
*  Saddam is only part of the problem


*  Exiles lay groundwork for an Iraq transition
*  Blow to campaign for war on Saddam
*  History of betrayal costs Washington a powerful ally


*  What's Happening In Northern Iraq?
*  Northern Iraq Kurds Agree on Draft Constitution
*  Iraq Kurds Say Qaeda-Linked Group Near Collapse
*  FBI questions Iraqi Kurd militant


by Louis Charbonneau, 20th September

VIENNA (Reuters) - Mild-mannered French physicist Jacques Baute, the U.N.'s
top nuclear arms inspector, is ready to lead his team of inspectors back to
Iraq to hunt for clues of a secret atomic weapons programme.

Under threat of military action by the United States, Iraqi President Saddam
Hussein agreed this week to the unconditional return of U.N. arms inspectors
after a four-year hiatus.

The 43-year-old Baute is ready to leave for Iraq to begin his detective work
as soon as the United Nations Security Council gives the signal.

"We will be going back there much better prepared than we were last time,"
Baute told reporters on Thursday during a tour of his offices at the U.N.'s
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna.

He said his new detection and analytical devices and software were much more
sophisticated than before.

High-quality digital video and photographic imagery will be crucial in the
hunt for nuclear weapons.

An important device -- developed after the IAEA left in 1998 -- will be a
yellow machine the size of a chainsaw called "Alex", which analyses the
composition of metal samples to detect traces of suspicious nuclear

The team will also randomly swab walls, doors and floors and gather soil and
water samples -- all of which will be analysed in their field laboratory or
back in Vienna.

"It's quite difficult to erase all the traces when you're dealing with
significant amounts of nuclear material," Baute said.

Baute is no stranger to Iraq and knows he will be operating in conditions
that are often harsh and uncomfortable.

"We put up with everything imaginable," he said, recalling the 20
inspections he led between 1994 and 1998 in Iraq.

U.N. weapons inspectors and Iraq's top arms experts are meeting in Vienna on
September 30 and 31 to work out the details of the inspectors' return.

If all goes well, they should be on the ground in Baghdad by around October
15, almost four years since they left in December 1998 hours before a U.S.
and Britain bombing campaign.

When the inspectors left, they concluded that while there was no indication
Iraq had produced a nuclear weapon, it had taken many major steps on the
path to constructing one.

Iraq has repeatedly denied it was developing nuclear weapons.

When Baute returns to Iraq, he will go there with a deceptively small team
-- just one-third of his 18 staffers.

The number of people on the ground may be small, but the 2,200 people
working at the IAEA's fortress-like headquarters on the outskirts of Vienna
will provide all the technical and administrative support the team needs.

Baute will also have the assistance of UNMOVIC, the New York-based U.N.
Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission under Hans Blix, who will
be searching for biological and chemical arms and missile technology
alongside Baute's team.

Sydney Morning Herald (from AFP), 20th September

Washington: Iraq could unleash a biological attack on the West by using
unsuspecting people travelling abroad as carriers of deadly germs, a
prominent Iraqi defector has warned.

Nuclear scientist Khidhir Hamza, who left Iraq in 1994 and now lives in the
United States, told the US Congress last night he suspected the Iraqi
security service, which runs the country's biological weapons program, had
already used people travelling abroad to reunite with relatives to infect
exiled dissidents with the deadly AIDS virus.

"An angle rarely reported - and I found extensive incidents regarding it
when I left Iraq and worked in Libya from Iraqi expatriates - was the use of
humans as disease carriers," Hamza told the House Armed Services Committee.

He said he knew of Iraqi dissidents living abroad, who suddenly got word
from Baghdad that their families had been allowed to leave Iraq and reunite
with them.

Under Iraqi public health procedures, people going abroad must be vaccinated
against several standard infectious diseases before they can obtain

Hamza said some of these inoculations may have been used by the Iraqi
security service, Mukhabarat, to infect people with viruses like HIV in the
hope that they would be passed on to targeted dissidents.

"There were many incidents of whole families infected this way with HIV and
other diseases," he said.

People in Iraq with AIDS are sent to a remote facility in the western desert
called Salman Hole, presumably for treatment, the scientist said.

But he said nobody had ever come back from the camp and he suspected the
patients were being used by Mukhabarat for biological experiments and virus

"If smallpox is to be sent abroad from Iraq, one should expect unwitting
carriers being sent to the destination targets, possibly not even Iraqis, to
achieve deniability," Hamza said.

by Andrew Buncombe
The Independent, 22nd September

One of the key pieces of "evidence" in the Bush administration's case for
military action against Saddam Hussein is being questioned by a number of
leading US scientists. It is also alleged that the administration is
silencing dissent among its own analysts who have raised questions.

Two weeks ago the administration heralded the discovery of shipments of
thousands of high-strength aluminum tubes to Iraq as proof that President
Saddam was secretly trying to develop a programme to produce nuclear
weapons. Such tubes can be used in the production of enriched uranium, vital
for such a programme.

The discovery of the tubes  which were intercepted en route to Iraq  was
leaked to a leading American newspaper. Vice-President Dick Cheney went on a
television talk show to say the tubes were evidence that President Saddam
was "actively and aggressively" trying to develop a nuclear programme.

But a report from the Institute for Science and International Security
(ISIS) says such claims cannot be made. The report  a draft of which has
been obtained by The Independent on Sunday  concludes: "By themselves these
attempted procurements are not evidence that Iraq is in possession of, or
close to possessing, nuclear weapons. They do not provide evidence that Iraq
has an operating centrifuge plant or when such a plant could be

Washington says that in the past 14 months it has seized two separate
shipments of tubes to Iraq. While it refuses to say where the seizures took
place, it has been reported that at least one of the shipments originated in
China and was intercepted in Jordan. There is no evidence that any of the
tubes actually reached Iraq.

The shipments sparked concern among the US intelligence community because of
the use of such tubes in the centrifuges employed to make enriched uranium
for nuclear bombs. Because these centrifuges rotate up to 1,000 times a
minute, it is essential to use high-strength, heat resistant metals.

But the report produced by ISIS, an independent group that studies nuclear
and other security issues, questions this conclusion on several technical
grounds, suggesting that, based on information released by the government,
the tubes were of a thickness that would make them difficult to weld. It
also says that by the time Iraq's nuclear weapons programme was destroyed by
coalition forces during the Gulf war, it had abandoned aluminum for
specialised steel and carbon fibre.

David Albright, the director of ISIS and a scientist with first-hand
experience of Iraq's nuclear weapons programme as a member of the
International Atomic Energy Agency's inspection team, said there was a
debate within the US scientific community about the government's claims but
added that the Bush administration had clamped down on such discussion. "I
don't know why there is not more debate. I have heard that a lot of people
are expected to remain silent. [The Bush administration] has certainly
scared people," he said. "I met one government scientist who said his phone
was being monitored."

Despite such alleged tactics, there are signs of dissent in the scientific
community. A report in the current edition of the Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientists, published by the Educational Foundation for Nuclear Science,
also questions the tubing "evidence". It says: "The aluminum tubing story --
and others to come -- may be taken at face value by an insufficiently
sceptical press, but the decision to go to war is simply too important to
let the administration 'wing it' in presenting its rationale.",3523,1185904-6080-0,00.html

Business Day (South Africa), 26th September

VIENNA (AFP): An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spokesman has
minimised the possibility that Iraq could have obtained uranium from Africa
to use in making nuclear weapons.

"We have safeguards in Africa on nuclear material and know when it goes
missing," IAEA spokesman Mark Gwozdecky told AFP at the agency's
headquarters in Vienna.

He was reacting to British Prime Minister Tony Blair's saying in the House
of Commons in London Tuesday that Iraq has sought "significant quantities of
uranium from Africa."

UN arms experts, including IAEA representatives, and Iraq officials are to
meet at IAEA headquarters Monday and Tuesday to discuss resuming inspections
in Iraq for weapons of mass destruction.

The question of Iraq's obtaining uranium from Africa is but the latest
wrinkle on the issue of how active Baghdad has been in trying to develop
nuclear weapons.

In 1988, Italian police arrested 13 men trying to sell an irradiated fuel
rod to the Mafia that had been stolen from a nuclear reactor in Kinshasa,
capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The Financial Times on Tuesday quoted nuclear industry sources as saying
that a second uranium fuel rod that went missing from the Kinshasa reactor
has never been found.

Gwozdecky said these rods were in any case "low enriched uranium of no use
in making a weapon. They would be a poor choice even for a dirty bomb."

"The content of a single fuel element is minuscule, not the significant
quantity that is alleged in the Blair dossier," Gwozdecky said.

He added that there is very little enriched uranium, the highly reformed
type used in making atomic bombs, in Africa and that what there is, is
"under safeguards. If it goes missing we know of it in a short amount of

He said these safeguards covered the Kinshasa reactor.

Gwozdecky said the IAEA had "no information either way" on reports that
members of al Qaeda, the Islamic extremist organization of Osama bin Laden,
had tried to buy uranium from South Africa, which had an advanced program to
produce enriched uranium but dismantled its weapons capability in 1991.

The talks in Vienna will take place despite the United States pushing for a
tough Security Council resolution on inspections.

Gwozdecky said that while the United States was "not entirely comfortable
with the talks (in Vienna) going forward, I think they understand that the
talks have to go forward before inspections can begin."

He said the Iraqis had not yet confirmed they will be coming to Vienna but
have "agreed in principle" to the preparatory discussions.

Hans Blix, the chief UN arms inspector for Iraq, told the Security Council
in New York last week that he hoped to have an advance party in Iraq on
October 15.

Gwozdecky said it would take "weeks" once the UN experts arrived in Iraq
actually to begin inspections.

He said the talks in Vienna would focus on practical details, such as visas,
office space, landing rights and providing security for the inspectors.

The IAEA provides an "action team" to check for nuclear weapons programs
while the UN Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC)
which Blix heads, checks for chemical and biological weapons as well as

Blix and IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei will head their delegations to the
Vienna talks, Gwozdecky said.

BBC, 26th September

India has objected to an allegation in a dossier published by the UK
Government that an Indian firm helped Iraq develop its missile programme.

The 50-page dossier unveiled by the UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, on
Wednesday, named NEC Engineers, a chemical engineering firm, as one of the
companies that provided Iraq with material for its missile programme.

The Indian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Nirupama Rao, said it was
unfortunate that Britain had singled out an Indian firm as the object of its

She added that Delhi was in touch with London over the issue.

The spokeswoman said the Indian Government had already suspended the firm's
export licence, on charges of violating local regulations.

Business Wire, 27th September

VIENNA: According to the Platts publication NuclearFuel, the United Nations'
International Atomic Energy Agency denies US assertions - made in a "talking
points" memo for US diplomats to use in confidential talks with other
national governments or background discussions with the media - that the
IAEA has proof Iraq's nuclear weapons program has been reconstituted.

The IAEA has no such proof and has drawn no such conclusions, IAEA officials
told Platts. Platts is the energy information, consulting, research and
marketing services division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP).

The confidential memo was drawn up within the US State Department for use by
diplomats trying to persuade other countries or the media to back President
George W. Bush's option to invade Iraq. One of the Bush Administration's
rationales for invasion is to enforce UN resolutions, voted after the Gulf
War, on disarming Iraq. From 1991 to 1998, the IAEA dismantled Iraq's known
nuclear infrastructure. IAEA inspectors have been barred from Iraq since

The State Department memo claims the IAEA now has satellite photos proving
Iraq's nuclear program has been put back together, Vienna sources told
Platts. The IAEA says it has only commercially available photos, which are
not of sufficient quality for the agency to make such conclusions, nor has

by Joseph Curl
The Washington Times, 27th September

The International Atomic Energy Agency says that a report cited by President
Bush as evidence that Iraq in 1998 was "six months away" from developing a
nuclear weapon does not exist.

"There's never been a report like that issued from this agency," Mark
Gwozdecky, the IAEA's chief spokesman, said yesterday in a telephone
interview from the agency's headquarters in Vienna, Austria.

"We've never put a time frame on how long it might take Iraq to construct a
nuclear weapon in 1998," said the spokesman of the agency charged with
assessing Iraq's nuclear capability for the United Nations.

In a Sept. 7 news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Mr.
Bush said: "I would remind you that when the inspectors first went into Iraq
and were denied  finally denied access [in 1998], a report came out of the
Atomic  the IAEA that they were six months away from developing a weapon.

"I don't know what more evidence we need," said the president, defending his
administration's case that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was building weapons
of mass destruction.

The White House says Mr. Bush was referring to an earlier IAEA report.

"He's referring to 1991 there," said Deputy Press Secretary Scott McClellan.
"In '91, there was a report saying that after the war they found out they
were about six months away."

Mr. Gwozdecky said no such report was ever issued by the IAEA in 1991.

Many news agencies  including The Washington Times  reported Mr. Bush's
Sept. 7 comments as referring to a 1998 IAEA report. The White House did not
ask for a correction from The Times.

To clear up the confusion, Mr. McClellan cited two news articles from 1991 
a July 16 story in the London Times by Michael Evans and a July 18 story in
the New York Times by Paul Lewis. But neither article cites an IAEA report
on Iraq's nuclear-weapons program or states that Saddam was only six months
away from "developing a weapon"  as claimed by Mr. Bush.

The article by Mr. Evans says: "Jay Davis, an American expert working for
the U.N. special commission charged with removing Iraq's nuclear capability,
said Iraq was only six months away from the large-scale production of
enriched uranium at two plants inspected by UN officials."

The Lewis article said Iraq in 1991 had a uranium "enrichment plant using
electromagnetic technology [that] was about six months from becoming

In October 1998, just before Saddam kicked U.N. weapons inspectors out of
Iraq, the IAEA laid out a case opposite of Mr. Bush's Sept. 7 declaration.

"There are no indications that there remains in Iraq any physical capability
for the production of weapon-usable nuclear material of any practical
significance," IAEA Director General Mohammed Elbaradei wrote in a report to
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair on Sept. 7 cited an agency "report" declaring that
satellite photography revealed the Iraqis had undertaken new construction at
several nuclear-related sites. This week, the IAEA said no such report

The IAEA also took issue with a Sept. 9 report by the International
Institute for Strategic Studies  cited by the Bush administration  that
concludes Saddam "could build a nuclear bomb within months if he were able
to obtain fissile material."

"There is no evidence in our view that can be substantiated on Iraq's
nuclear-weapons program. If anybody tells you they know the nuclear
situation in Iraq right now, in the absence of four years of inspections, I
would say that they're misleading you because there isn't solid evidence out
there," Mr. Gwozdecky said.

"I don't know where they have determined that Iraq has retained this much
weaponization capability because when we left in December '98 we had
concluded that we had neutralized their nuclear-weapons program. We had
confiscated their fissile material. We had destroyed all their key buildings
and equipment," he said.

Mr. Gwozdecky said there is no evidence about Saddam's nuclear capability
right now  either through his organization, other agencies or any

by David Usborne in New York
The Independent, 27th September

The prospects of a swift agreement at the United Nations on a new resolution
on Iraq dimmed further yesterday with the issue of access for weapons
inspectors to Saddam Hussein's palaces emerging as a key stumbling block.

Britain and the United States are determined to abrogate a deal negotiated
by the UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, and the Iraqi regime that accords
special treatment to eight different sites labelled presidential by Baghdad.
They cover about 20 square miles and include more than 1,000 buildings.

Undoing that agreement will be difficult, however. The understanding reached
by Mr Annan with Iraq in early 1998, which meant that inspectors could only
visit the sites if they were accompanied by teams of foreign diplomats, was
later enshrined in a UN resolution.

While President Saddam agreed early last week to the return of weapons
inspectors without conditions, he later insisted that he expected it to
happen on the basis of UN resolutions already agreed. Russia and France are
also opposed to any unravelling of existing UN texts on Iraq.

London and Washington had been hoping for a new, toughly worded, resolution
on Iraq by this weekend. With Washington still agonising over what the
resolution should contain, it seems unlikely that anything will emerge from
the UN Security Council before next week.

Making matters worse was yesterday's declaration from President Vladimir
Putin of Russia suggesting that Moscow was opposed to the adoption of a
council resolution of any kind.

Meanwhile, the timetable for getting the inspectors back to Iraq continues
to slide. This raises problems for Hans Blix, the chief UN weapons
inspector, who is scheduled to meet Iraqi officials in Vienna on Monday to
discussarrangements for the return of his teams. Ideally, any new council
resolution on Iraq would have been adopted before those talks.

It remains possible that the council, or Mr Annan, will ask Mr Blix to
postpone his meeting until after the muddle is resolved. But a spokesman for
Mr Blix said nothing had changed and that the talks were still expected to
take place in Vienna on Monday and Tuesday.

No one could predict, meanwhile, how divisions in the Council on the
presidential site matter could be settled. The 1998 agreement reached by Mr
Annan is viewed by the US as a symbol of the UN's willingness in the past to
give Iraq too much rope and allow inspections to become almost useless.

The Iraq dossier released by Tony Blair says the reluctance of President
Saddam to give unfettered access to sites is "an integral part of Iraqi
counter-measures designed to hide weapons of mass destruction".

It is not as if Mr Blix expects to find weapons or laboratories at any of
the sites. They do suspect, however, that the facilities may have served as
venues for the management of Iraq's weapons programmes and that they may be
the hiding place for important documents.

On the other hand, Britain and the US will be reminded that they were
present  as two of the permanent five members  when the Council endorsed
Mr Annan's deal later in 1998.

If the Council gets hung up on this one question, it may be enough to block
agreement on a resolution altogether and give the US the excuse to turn its
back on the UN and forge ahead with plans for unilateral action, presumably
with Britain still at its side. Washington is adamant that without free
admission to the presidential sites, any return of the inspectors would be

Diplomats said last night Mr Blix would have plenty to talk to the Iraqis
about on Monday, even without a new resolution. He is expected to focus on
organisational matters, such as facilities for his helicopters and how
interpretation difficulties will be handled. Assuming a new resolution is
finally pushed through, Mr Blix will then be free to resume talks with the
Iraqis on points arising from it.

But officials warned that even if an Anglo-American text surfaces in New
York as early as Monday, it will be many days before the Council will have
the chance of adopting it.

It may be that only Iraq could solve the problem by making clear that it is
ready to hand over the keys to the sites. So far, it has been giving
contradictory signals on the issue.

Last weekend, Iraq's state radio said that it will not co-operate with a new
resolution if it is different from what was agreed upon with the (UN)

This week, however, an adviser to President Saddam took a more conciliatory
note. "The UN weapons inspectors would have unfettered access and [can go]
wherever they want to go," Amir al-Saadi saidon Wednesday, adding that he
expected them to be in Iraq in mid October.

by Michael Levi
International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 27th September

WASHINGTON: Saddam Hussein's nuclear potential is repeatedly cited by the
Bush administration as the one unassailable reason why the American people
should support an invasion of Iraq. Yet if it removes the threat of Saddam
Hussein while leaving the rest of U.S. nonproliferation policy unchanged,
America will achieve only a marginal improvement in security against nuclear
terror. To make an invasion of Iraq worthwhile, a new investment in nuclear
security is urgently needed.

Leading experts and many in the intelligence community agree that Saddam
still needs several years to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a
nuclear bomb. When Vice President Dick Cheney warned that Iraq could quickly
obtain nuclear weapons, he implied that Iraq might acquire the crucial
fissile material it needs abroad, through theft or on the black market.

How much security can be bought by removing just one customer for this
supply? Certainly, Saddam's nuclear potential is greater than that of
terrorists working without state support. Intelligence reports suggest that
Iraq has the implosion technology needed to make a bomb from 20 kilograms of
highly enriched uranium.

Al Qaeda, for example, probably does not have such technology and would need
three times as much for the simple Hiroshima-type weapon it could master.
Other sources indicate that Iraq could make a bomb from plutonium; terrorist
groups like Al Qaeda most likely could not. For these reasons, Iraq poses a
special threat.

That said, focusing narrowly on Iraq is woefully inadequate for reducing the
nuclear threat. The same uranium that Iraq seeks abroad might be bought by
terrorists and fashioned into bombs. A terrorist group like Al Qaeda, if it
were to obtain a nuclear weapon, would be more likely than Iraq to use it.
Responsibilities in securing nuclear materials are being ignored. Last month
Ted Turner and the Nuclear Threat Initiative had to pitch in $5 million to
evacuate two bombs' worth of poorly secured uranium from Belgrade. House
Republicans are pushing for a provision in next year's defense bill that
would block the president from spending nonproliferation money outside the
former Soviet Union.

Despite inadequate funding, programs have been very successful. The United
States has secured uranium that might have made thousands of bombs and has
kept numerous Russian nuclear scientists from going to work for rogue

A new investment in nonproliferation would help convince a skeptical world
that America is serious about nuclear proliferation - that the obsession
with Iraq is about weapons of mass destruction, not domestic politics or oil
or revenge.

An extra billion dollars spent on nonproliferation would be a tiny fraction
of the cost of war in Iraq. If nuclear terrorism visits America, will it be
any consolation that the bomb was not Saddam Hussein's?

(The writer is director of the Strategic Security Project of the Federation
of American Scientists. He contributed this comment to The New York Times.)


by Anthony Shadid and John Donnelly
Boston Globe, 22nd September

WASHINGTON - Scores of Iraqi exiles are quietly planning the future of their
homeland after Saddam Hussein - from war-crimes trials and a transitional
ruling council to specific projects like rejuvenating the marshes in the
south that are home to a fading, 5,000-year-old culture.

The work on the marshes, which were drained under Hussein's orders to
disrupt opposition Shiite guerrillas hiding there, has even involved a
sympathizer in Iraq covertly gathering water and dirt samples, which were
then smuggled out of the country.

The State Department has financed the exiles' work, which began in the
spring and intensified this month amid the flurry of activity signaling
Washington's determination to oust Hussein.

US officials acknowledge that the planning is designed in part to avoid past
mistakes in places like Afghanistan and the Balkans, where US military
preparation outpaced civilian efforts. Iraqi participants say they are
trying to wrap up initial work by the end of next month, when a broad
meeting of the Iraqi opposition is planned in Europe.

"Everything is on a fast track. That tells us this work is not academic,"
said Muhannad Eshaiker, an Iraqi-born architect who lives in Irvine, Calif.,
and is taking part in a group working on democratic principles of a
post-Hussein government. "We're talking about weeks instead of months."

The effort, which will eventually cost $5 million, is an attempt to address
fears that a post Hussein aftermath could be messy, and that the
administration has done too little to plan for it. Meetings already have
taken place in Washington and Surrey, England, and another gathering is set
for later this week in Italy.

The State Department believes the six Iraq working groups can lay the
groundwork for everything from humanitarian and environmental issues to
potentially explosive questions such as amnesty for members of the current
government. The groups also are working on the legitimacy of a transitional
government and the outlines of a decentralized, federal government - a
principle the majority of the Iraqi opposition has already embraced.

More than 80 Iraqis are taking part in the planning. They include academics,
physicians, former members of the Iraqi military, and leaders of different
opposition groups, some of whom could play leadership roles in a future
Iraqi government.

The most worrisome day-after scenarios revolve around the bloodletting that
might ensue as Iraqis settle scores from more than two decades of Hussein's
rule. Other concerns involve ethnic Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in
the south, which may seek to pull away from the Sunni Muslim-dominated
center of Iraq. There are concerns, too, that a power vacuum could invite
another strongman to seize control, a development some exiles fear the US
government might accept to forestall chaos.

State Department officials have been careful to reserve a role in such
planning for Iraqis inside the country. Even Iraqi exiles acknowledge that
the opposition abroad represents only a portion of Iraq's substantial ethnic
and religious diversity.

"Although there are many Iraqis overseas and there are representatives of
various groups, there is a huge constituency inside the country," said one
US official, speaking on condition of anonymity. He said participants were
"acutely aware not to disenfranchise their fellow countrymen."

One Iraqi-American participant agreed the groups had to be careful not to
impose their ideas.

"This needs to be addressed by Iraqis all over," said Dr. Hatem Mukhlis, a
surgeon in Binghamton, N.Y. "Who are we to say this is really the way it is
going to be? We really can't say that right now."

The exiles are grappling with tough questions. Emanuel Kamber, a professor
of physics at Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, decided to focus on
political rights and minority rights. He is of Assyrian descent, a community
that numbers about 1 million in Iraq. Along with Aiham Alsammarae, who runs
an engineering firm in Chicago, Kamber has written a draft of what he hopes
will become an Iraqi Bill of Rights. He drew inspiration from the US Bill of
Rights as well as United Nations documents.

He read from his document: "The right to life and to be protected by law;
the right to equality before the law; the right to freedom of thought and
religion; the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right of a
citizen to change their government."

Kamber paused. In the United States, he said, most Americans take these
rights for granted. "But they don't have these rights in Iraq," he said. "I
think it is very important to get them written down."

Tougher still would be the transition after Hussein's fall, especially any
attempt to hold officials who served under Hussein accountable for war
crimes and abuse of human rights.

Feisal Istrabadi, a 40-year-old attorney in the Chicago area, has taken the
lead on writing a report on post-Hussein justice. He said he opposes a
general amnesty, the death penalty, and an international tribunal like that
trying former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic.

"There needs to be truth and there needs to be reconciliation, but I am
damned niggardly on the amnesty," he said.

Besides, he said, any amnesty should await a permanent government that
participants believe could be elected anywhere from six months to three
years after Hussein's fall. As for a tribunal to try Hussein, his sons, the
ruling Revolutionary Command Council, and others in the leadership,
Istrabadi is pushing for a court that is recognized as Iraqi but set up
under the auspices of the United Nations, possibly with internationally
appointed staff.

Many of those questions touch on the nature of the transitional government.
Eshaiker, the architect, said he envisioned a council of five to seven
members drawn from the exiled opposition and sympathetic generals or
ministers still inside.

Some projects are surprising. One is rejuvenation of the wetlands that
straddle the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in southern Iraq.
Home to a culture that dates to Sumerian times, the marshes suffered from
dams upriver, then were devastated by the government's massive drainage
schemes that transformed much of the land into salt desert. Most of the
500,000 marsh Arabs are believed to be refugees or displaced inside Iraq.

With US funds, Psomas, a California-based engineering firm, is designing a
model to study how to reintroduce water and decide what areas can be best
restored. Technicians are gathering satellite imagery. For the past 25
years, the Iraqi government has kept data on the area secret.

Inside Iraq, an opposition group managed to recruit an Iraqi to collect soil
and water samples that were then smuggled to neighboring Jordan this summer,
said Azzam al-Wash, a 44-year-old Iraqi-born engineer who is involved in the

The group hopes to have a preliminary plan by mid-January, and a working
plan by March. The cost, he believes, may run to $10 million.

"I'd be surprised if it hits more than that," he said. "Nature is beautiful.
All we need is political will to allow nature to do its thing."

But some participants are skeptical about what comes next.

Istrabadi, the attorney, said he doubts the US government is committed to a
democratic Iraq - suspicions confirmed, he said, in meetings with senior
Pentagon officials. "That's a good day when I'm skeptical," he said. "There
are some days when I'm cynical."

Others worry about the participants themselves. Mukhlis, the surgeon whose
father was killed by Hussein's forces after a coup plot was uncovered in
1993, acknowledged that some of the exiles may just want key jobs in a
post-Hussein Iraq.

"There is really no trust left among people because of Saddam," he said. "I
keep reassuring people [that] to build up trust we need time - and this is a
good time to start."

Federalism is potentially the most divisive issue since it will determine
what degree of autonomy is given to Kurds in the north and Shiite Muslims in
the south, as well as Iraq's numerous minorities. Both US officials and
other participants say the details will have to await a new government. At
least one Kurdish group wants to gives the Kurdish region the right to elect
a president and conduct its own foreign relations.

Mukhlis, who sits on the task force for democratic rights, believes the
United States would be a good model for Iraq, which has 14 provinces now
tightly controlled by Baghdad. He thinks Turkey would never allow a Kurdish
state in northern Iraq because of the destabilizing effect on its
substantial population of Kurds. But he also believes that Kurds will see an
advantage to federalism.

"I want my Iraq back. I want a unified Iraq," he said. "Maybe in 20 years
time, it will be feasible to have a Kurdish president in Iraq, or an
Assyrian president of Iraq, if we have a united Iraq that is democratic.
Everybody should feel that they are an Iraqi - not feel that we are Arabs,
or Kurds, or Shias, or Sunnis, or Turkomans, or Assyrians. We are Iraqis. We
have to be together."

Anthony Shadid can be reached at; John Donnelly can be
reached at

by Jason Beattie
The Scotsman, 23rd September

A SENIOR Iraqi defector has challenged Anglo-American policy towards Saddam
Hussein, warning military action is not the best route to "regime change".

General Nizar al-Khazraji, a former Iraqi chief of staff, said that
President Saddam was more likely to be toppled by a western-backed popular
uprising with "moral and diplomatic support" than through military
intervention. An occupation by foreign forces could backfire by dampening
the Iraqi people's desire to take on President Saddam, he said.

"As an Iraqi and a man who believes in the armed forces, I think the Iraqis
must do it, not others," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme. "If the
Iraqi people and the armed forces believe that things will change after the
fall of Saddam Hussein, they are going to do it.

"The moral and diplomatic help is more effective than the military help, I
am sure," he said.

The intervention by Gen Khazraji, who defected in 1996, will be a blow for
the United States and Britain as they seek support for a fresh resolution
from the United Nations against Iraq.

Fellow Security Council members, Russia, France and China, are sceptical of
the need for a new resolution and wary about the hawkish stance adopted by
London and Washington.

Gen Khazraji, touted as a potential interim leader if President Saddam
falls, also criticised maintaining sanctions against Iraq. "If the armed
forces and the people inside Iraq believe that the West will help Iraqis in
lifting the sanctions, promising too to help the Iraqis in the future, to
keep the country unified, that will encourage us to overthrow the regime.
"The most important thing is that the Iraqis must be sure that a democratic
regime will be there after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and that Iraq
will be an independent country," he said.

General Khazraji, who is now living in exile in Denmark, offered his own
services to lead any Iraqi rebellion against President Saddam, but appeared
to rule out a political role for himself. He insisted that he had no
interest in heading a new government, saying that President Saddam should be
replaced by a civilian regime. "I am military man, I prefer to stay on this
side," he said.

Asked if an occupation of Iraq by US troops would be dangerous, he replied:
"It will be a very dark future for all."

Speaking at his home, the general said that he had warned the Iraqi leader
to no effect during the Gulf war that he stood to lose not only Kuwait, but
Iraq itself. "This guy has to be gone. All real Iraqis want to overthrow
this regime and I am one of them," he said.

His comments contradicted previous remarks when he said it was a "sacred
duty" to replace President Saddam. However, his new found reticence may stem
from allegations that he was involved in the use of chemical weapons against
the Kurds in 1988. His failure to attend a recent gathering of opposition
groups in London was allegedly a result of his fear of being arraigned for
war crimes.

The general defected in 1995 and is now living under police protection in
Denmark. He has denied any involvement in the use of chemical weapons,
claiming that he is the victim of a smear campaign by the Iraqi intelligence

Iraqis living in Denmark are pressing the authorities to deny Gen Khazraji
the right to asylum on grounds of his crimes.

by Borzou Daragahi in Tehran
The Scotsman, 24th September

Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Baqir al-Hakim has plenty of reason to join the
United States in its plans to crush Iraq's president, Saddam Hussein.
Spiritual and political leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic
Resistance in Iraq (SCIRI), Mr Hakim has been fighting the Iraqi regime
since at least 1972, when the Baghdad government jailed and tortured him.

Saddam Hussein imprisoned him again five years later. Over the years, Iraq's
government has killed five of Mr Hakim's brothers, seven of his nephews and
35 other relatives.

President Saddam has drained the southern marshes of Iraq, turning the
ancient home of Mr Hakim's Shia Muslim followers into a desert. But Mr
Hakim, a key member of the Iraqi opposition with as many as 8,000 warriors
operating in both northern and southern Iraq, says that he will not take
part in American plans to topple the Iraqi strongman.

"We get no support from America. Neither in the past nor nowadays," the
white-robed 63 year-old cleric, who is based in Iran, said at his Tehran
compound, guarded by half a dozen of his soldiers. "If the US offered help,
we would refuse it."

Indeed, in 1998 Bill Clinton offered to support the SCIRI, which has been
financed, armed and supported by Tehran since its was founded. Mr Hakim
turned him down.

The failure to recruit Mr Hakim into an anti-Saddam coalition shows how the
poor relations between the United States and Iran have complicated the drive
to replace the Iraqi government.

"Hakim is a very serious and influential actor in Iraqi politics," said
Nader Hashemi, a Middle East specialist at the University of Toronto. "If
because of his ties to Iran the Bush administration chooses to ignore him in
their deliberations on a post-Saddam Iraq, they will do so at their peril."

US-Iran relations worsened this year after President George Bush named Iran
as part of an axis of evil supporting terrorism. But the bad blood stems
from the seizure of the US embassy in Tehran after the 1979 revolution and
Iranian accusations of US interference in its domestic affairs. Iran also
accuses the US of aiding Iraq during the bloody and costly eight year
Iran-Iraq war, in which Mr Hakim played a role.

Iraq, which is dominated politically by Sunni Muslims, feared that its 60
per cent Shia population would take up the Islamic revolution of the
Iranians, who are 90 per cent Shiite. Throughout the war, Mr Hakim's
organisation acted as an Iranian fifth column.

Mr Hakim said that his group would could continue its fight against the
Baghdad government. "We're working against Saddam now," he said. "We've
always been fighting against the Iraqi regime. We were doing it before
America. America's just arriving."

Indeed, America stood by and did nothing while President Saddam's forces
crushed a Shiite uprising in southern Iraq after the 1991 Gulf war. "The
Americans have only worked against us in the past," Mr Hakim said. "They
teamed up with Iraq against us."

Middle East analysts say that Mr Hakim would be a valuable asset in any push
to remove the Iraqi strongman. "SCIRI taps into Iraq's majority Shia
population in a way that other Iraqi opposition groups do not," said Colin
Rowat, a lecturer on the Middle East at the University of Birmingham.

In addition to his forces in southern Iraq, the ayatollah said that he had
had an undisclosed number of operatives acting in concert with Kurds in
northern Iraq since the end of the 1991 war. Half a million Iraqi refugees
live just inside Iran border, where Mr Hakim's group operates schools and
clinics. "We have military, logistical, social and press co-operation with
the other groups of the Iraqi opposition," he said. "We have military
operations inside Iraq. From time to time we attack important institutions
of the Iraqi regime."

The Iraqi opposition groups have been getting their houses in order in
anticipation of creating a new government for Iraq. In northern Iraq, the
two main Kurdish opposition groups and the Turkoman forces have stopped
squabbling and made peace. Iraqi opposition groups met in Washington last
month. Mr Hakim sent his brother. The ayatollah himself had a meeting with
Kurdish leaders in Tehran last week, said Bahram Veletbegi, a journalist who
heads the Kurdish Institute in Tehran. "The Shiite groups have tight
relations with the Kurds," he said. "We have had relations with these
opposition groups for 30 or 40 years."

But Mr Hakim also remains a guest of the Islamic Republic of Iran as well as
a top figure in the Shiite clerical hierarchy that rules Iran. A portrait of
Mr Hakim with the revolutionary leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and the
current ruler, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, hangs in the waiting room of his
group's headquarters. Mr Hakim has described himself as a follower of
Ayatollah Khomeini. But in contrast to Iran's clerical rulers, who have
fought efforts to reform Iran's theocratic government, Mr Hakim espouses
democracy and secular government. He said that he advocated a non-sectarian
democratic Iraq that would give a voice to disparate religious and ethnic

"We want a republic that takes all the people into account," he said. "The
rule of law should be obeyed. It should be an independent country. And the
Iraqi people must be given a real role in running the government."

Under the rule of Mr Hakim's clerical hosts in Iran, women must abide by
Islamic dress codes and alcohol is forbidden. Non-Muslims are unable to rise
to top positions. But Mr Hakim said that he opposed any type of sharia - or
Islamic law - that accorded secondary status to religious minorities or
women. "We believe that women are part of the Iraqi people and must take
part in the future of Iraq," he said. "As far as rights are concerned, women
are equal to men."

Mr Veletbegi said that Mr Hakim's group would never rise to a position
higher than a small opposition party in an Iraq run on democratic,
parliamentary lines.

Ayatollah Khomeini paid similar homage to democracy and equality before he
took control of Iran and brutally crushed all opponents to his Islamic

But Mr Hakim said he had no political designs. Once his struggle to free his
Shiite and Iraqi compatriots was complete - and he made this world a better
one for his six daughters and two sons - he vowed that he would return to
his real passion: love of God.

"I do not hope to get any kind of role in Iraq," he said. "I want to pursue
knowledge. I do not live for this world. I live for the next world. I am
preparing for the world after."


Turkish Press, 20th September

HURRIYET- Columnist Sedat Ergin writes on recent developments in northern
Iraq. A summary of his column is as follows:

As far as the Iraq issue is concerned, there are many questions that need to
be addressed. The Bush administration is still stepping up pressure for a
new UN Security Council disarmament resolution on Iraq, despite Saddam
Hussein's recent dramatic offer to re-admit UN weapons inspectors. President
Bush is currently trying to persuade the US Congress to pass a White House
draft resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq. Since
there is still a threat of war in the region, the number of questions
calling for answers on Ankara's part is increasing day by day.

One of the most important questions that comes to mind is what kind of an
administrative structure will be established in the post-Saddam period. A
new constitution would determine northern Iraq's status as well as the
borders of the Kurdish groups' territories. Ankara has already conveyed its
concern to the Bush administration that Iraq not be made into a federation
comprised of relatively independent federal states.

Turkey might accept the 1974 autonomy agreement signed between Baghdad and
Kurdish groups, a contract which leaves Iraq as the only country which has
recognized and granted Kurdish autonomy. However, there are signs that
Kurdish groups are currently seeking a solution which is unacceptable to
Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan Democratic Party (IKDP) leader Massoud Barzani and
Iraqi Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (IPUK) leader Jalal Talabani are
gradually increasing their efforts to persuade all opposition groups to
establish a federation in the region. The two leaders agree with each other
on the desirability of a federation, but they've been unable to agree on its
structural characteristics.

While Barzani wants to establish a federation based along ethnic lines,
Talabani prefers one formed according to regional borders. The most
important outcome of this new Barzani Talabani cooperation is their pact
signed on Aug. 6, a treaty aimed at re-establishing the Kurdish National
Parliament (KNP). The KNP was formed in 1992 but then had to be dissolved in
1996 due to an armed struggle between the two groups. However, Barzani and
Talabani are now likely to have more words to say on the future of Iraq.

Washington seems to be stuck in an unpleasant situation since both Turkey
and the Kurdish groups are putting pressure on the Bush administration for
their own separate demands. The Bush administration doesn't want to be seen
dampening the idea of establishing a federation on the one hand, yet is also
afraid of losing Turkey's support during such a critical period on the

by Ayla Jean Yackley, 25th September

ANKARA (Reuters) - Northern Iraq's two main Kurdish factions, who run the
enclave beyond Baghdad's control, have agreed on a draft constitution in the
event a U.S. attack ousts President Saddam Hussein, a Kurdish official said
on Wednesday.

The prospect of a war in Iraq has propelled the rival Kurdistan Democratic
Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), potential allies in
any U.S. attack, to bury their historic tensions and present a more united

A joint committee set up after talks between KDP leader Massoud Barzani and
PUK chief Jalal Talabani agreed this week a set of amendments to a
constitution drawn up by Barzani earlier this year, KDP Ankara
representative Safeen Dizayee said.

"The draft constitution outlines the structure of a regional administration
in the northern region, including legislative, judiciary and executive
responsibilities," he told Reuters.

Barzani's charter also sees a flag, presidency and the oil-rich city of
Kirkuk as regional capital.

The document will be debated at a meeting of the joint Kurdish parliament on
October 4 and will also be presented at a gathering of Iraqi opposition
groups to be held in Europe next month, Dizayee said.

"What is important is the federal structure of Iraq, since the north has to
be in concert with the rest of Iraq," he said. "The overall structure is for
the Iraqi people and the Iraqi opposition to decide."

by Joseph Logan, 25th September

BEIRUT, Lebanon (Reuters) - A militant Islamist group in Kurdish-held
northern Iraq accused of having links to Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda group is
near collapse after the recent arrest of its leader, an Iraqi Kurdish
faction said Wednesday.

The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, which controls the eastern half of the
region that has been out of Baghdad's grip since the end of the 1991 Gulf
War, said fighters from the Ansar al Islam (Supporters of Islam) group had
begun surrendering to the PUK following the arrest of their leader Mullah

"There has been a complete internal collapse since the arrest of their
leader," a PUK official said, speaking by telephone from the Syrian capital,
Damascus. "There were five more yesterday," he added.

Dutch police earlier this month arrested Mullah Krekar, whose real name is
Najmuddin Faraj Ahmad, an Iraqi Kurdish refugee who heads Ansar al-Islam.
PUK officials have accused the group of links to al Qaeda, blamed by the
United States for last year's Sept. 11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The United States has said it believes al Qaeda has a presence in northern

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein lost control of northern Iraq after the 1991
Gulf War when the PUK and a rival faction, the Kurdistan Democratic Party,
revolted and wrested the region from Baghdad. U.S. and British planes
enforce a no-fly zone over the area.

The PUK, which has suggested that Iraq backs Ansar al-Islam, accuses the
group of setting up a laboratory in northern Iraq to develop poisons for
"terrorist" activities and attempting to assassinate the head of the PUK
regional government in April.

Iraq has vehemently denied the allegations, saying northern Iraq is not
under Baghdad control. It also denies the group has links to al Qaeda and
has accused Iran of being behind the group.

The Damascus-based PUK official said the arrest of Krekar was a blow to the
backbone of the group, many of them Arabs who fought in Afghanistan under
the Taliban, which gave bin Laden a base to train fighters and plan
anti-American attacks.

"We are expecting all the Arabs to give up, and there are contacts under way
now for the surrender of the leaders, the ones who came from Afghanistan,"
said the PUK official.

PUK fighters surround the positions of Ansar al-Islam, which they accuse of
slaughtering villagers near the Iranian border, trying to impose strict
Islamic law and defiling Muslim tombs that Ansar al-Islam deem idolatrous.
But it has thus far avoided direct confrontation with Ansar al-Islam.

"The important thing for us is we want the Afghan Arabs to get out, go
wherever they want. What they are doing, cutting off hands and heads, it is
foreign to Kurds. They learned this from Algeria and brought it here," the
official said.

The Kurdish groups, a key to the Iraqi opposition Washington has tried to
unite ahead of a possible strike on Iraq, agreed this month to bury
rivalries over border trade revenue and other disputes to benefit from a
U.S.-led effort to oust Saddam.

by Pam O'Toole, BBC regional analyst
BBC, 27th September

A lawyer representing Mullah Krekar, an Iraqi Kurd arrested in the
Netherlands two weeks ago, has confirmed that his client has been questioned
by the US Federal Bureau of Investigations in his Dutch jail.

Mullah Krekar denies allegations laid against his radical Islamic group,
Ansar al-Islam. They include claims that it has links with al-Qaeda or Iraqi
leader Saddam Hussein and has been involved in testing chemical weapons.

In the summer, US officials were quoted as saying Washington had considered
sending commandos into northern Iraq. Their task would be to knock out a
clandestine chemical weapons laboratory believed to have been set up in a
string of villages controlled by Ansar close to the Iranian border.

Mullah Krekar - whose real name is Najm Faraj Ahmad - was arrested at
Amsterdam's Schiphol airport after being expelled from Iran.

Washington made it clear it was interested in Mullah Krekar as soon as he
was arrested.

The Iraqi Kurd is said to have featured in discussions between US Attorney
General John Ashcroft and his Dutch counterpart shortly afterwards.

Mullah Krekar's Norwegian lawyer, Brynjar Melling, has now confirmed that
FBI agents visited him in prison earlier this week.

Mr Melling said his client had made it clear that he wanted to be questioned
by the FBI or other American agencies, to prove that he had nothing to hide.

He said Mullah Krekar answered general questions on a number of issues, such
as his group's alleged links with Iran, Iraq and al-Qaeda.

He said Mullah Krekar completely denied allegations that Ansar al-Islam has
connections with al-Qaeda or Saddam, whom he describes as an enemy of the
Kurdish people.

As for allegations that it had been involved in testing chemical weapons,
Mullah Krekar maintains that Ansar is a small group which lives in primitive
surroundings and does not have the technological capability to produce such

He says that when he visited the region he lived in a village called Biara
on the Iranian side of the border, and that both Biara and most other
villages under his group's control have no electricity or clean water.

He accuses his political rivals in the region of fabricating the

Mr Melling said that so far the US had not indicated that it intended to
apply for Mullah Krekar's extradition.

But he added that he would wait and see what happened after another meeting
between the FBI and his client, scheduled for next week.

Meanwhile Mullah Krekar is contesting Jordan's application for his
extradition to face drugs charges. He insists that he has never visited
Jordan and that he has no involvement with drugs.

He is also fighting Norway's attempts to revoke his refugee status, which he
has had since 1991, and right of residency there.

Norway alleges that Mullah Krekar appears to have spent substantial periods
of time back in his homeland and is therefore no longer eligible for refugee

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