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News, 11-18/10/02 (3) INSIDE IRAQ * British war cemeteries desecrated by Iraqis * Saddam sure of victory in exuberant Iraqi poll * Saddam's man says: it serves you right * Iraq's last Jews wait in fear for war IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ * Iraqi Exiles Nurture Dreams in London * Jews forge ties with Iraqi dissidents NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN * Iraqi Arabs Leaving Kirkuk for Fear of U.S. Offensive: Paper * Turkish premier says Kurds dragging Turkey to war * Turkey has sleepless nights over Kurdish fox, Iraqi hen house * Kurdistan's fighting men feeling abandoned by their protector * Barham Saleh: Iraq is divided ethnically and religiously * Some 10,000 Turkish soldiers deployed in North Iraq, Ankara to establish security belt * Iraqi Kurdish leader makes his case * Kurdish leader wants Turkish troops out of Iraq INSIDE IRAQ http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-447102,00.html * BRITISH WAR CEMETERIES DESECRATED BY IRAQIS by Ian Cobain in Basra The Times, 15th October THOUSANDS of British war graves in Iraq have been desecrated in a reaction to the threat of renewed bombing raids against the country. Headstones have been smashed, crosses vandalised and memorial plaques torn down and smashed in a cemetery holding the remains of the dead from two world wars. One section of a cemetery in the port of Basra, which was set aside for RAF pilots who died in Iraq during the Second World War, has been torn apart and excrement has been smeared across the graves. A spokesman for the Basra Governor said that he regretted the desecration, adding: ³We know that it is a bad thing but you must understand how angry the people here are.² About 2,500 British soldiers who died in the 1914-18 Mesopotamian campaign against the Turks are buried in the cemetery in Hakimayah, on the northern outskirts of Basra, along with a number of Second World War servicemen. A 16ft limestone cross standing at the entrance has been hacked and shots have been fired at a plinth at the far end of the ten-acre plot in an apparent attempt to erase the inscription which reads: ³Their Name Liveth For Evermore.² All of the 60-odd slate plaques inscribed with the names of the dead, which once lined a 200ft wall, have been pulled down and smashed. Local people said that the desecration began after air raids launched during the 1991 Gulf War, when a number of bombs fell on nearby residential areas. There were more attacks when Baghdad was bombed for four nights in December 1998 and, after a series of acts of vandalism in recent weeks, little now remains to record the names of the dead or the sacrifice that they made. A memorial in Basra to 40,000 unknown Commonwealth soldiers was dismantled by the Iraqi Government five years ago and reassembled 30 miles northwest in the town of Nasiriyah. At Basra, however, small children have turned the centre of the cemetery into a football pitch, using rusting oil cans as makeshift goal posts. Weeds are beginning to grow among the shattered headstones but not a blade of grass remains. Laith Hasan, who lives in a small house overlooking the cemetery, described how it had been the scene of one frenzied protest after another. ³In 1990, this was a beautiful place,² he said. ³There was a man who came and pulled up the weeds and brushed the paths every day. Look at it now it is a wasteland.² British and Indian troops seized Basra in November 1914 after the entry of Turkey into the war against the Entente powers. Determined to protect oil supplies from Iran, whose border lies just 12 miles to the east, and to protect India from attack by the Turks, the Mesopotamian Expeditionary Force then pushed north along the Tigris towards Baghdad. The British suffered one of their most disastrous defeats of the war in December of the following year when the 6th (Poona) Division was surrounded at the town of Kut-el-Amara by Turkish forces. After a five-month siege, the British were forced into unconditional surrender. Kut was recaptured in February 1917, however, and Baghdad fell the following month. After the defeat of the Turkish forces in Palestine, Iraq was created under a British mandate. Carefully piecing together the fragments of the shattered plaques at the cemetery in Basra yesterday, Times journalists were able to recreate the memorial to the British regiments that fought in the campaign and to the soldiers who died. The Cheshire Regiment, the Royal Welch Fusiliers and the Black Watch were honoured, along with the Royal Ulster Rifles, the 7th Hussars and many more. A small section of the plaque commemorating the dead of the Highland Light Infantry listed the sergeants who died: Darby R., Kilgour D. and Malloy D.; with a handful of the private soldiers also buried there: Duff T., Findlay A. and McKellap J. During the Second World War, more British, Indian and Polish servicemen lost their lives in clashes with Iraqi troops while pushing north in an attempt to protect the regionıs oil supplies from a possible attack by the Germans and today there are now 54,000 British and Commonwealth dead buried at 13 cemeteries scattered across the country. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission is hoping to send a delegation to Iraq next month to survey each cemetery and to arrange repairs. Although permission for the visit was granted last December by the Foreign Ministry in Baghdad, it is unclear whether the threat of possible attack by American and British forces will cause it to be cancelled by the Iraqis. At Basra, it is clear that the vandals have sought out the graves of British servicemen. One corner of the cemetery which is set aside for European and American civilians, mostly businessmen, missionaries and consular officials who died last century, may be neglected and overgrown but no attempts have been made to damage the headstones. In Baghdad, at the North Gate cemetery, which holds the remains of thousands of British and Indian troops, attempts are being made to cut back the weeds and the foundations are being laid for a new caretakerıs house. Even here, however, there are signs of vandalism: the top of a cross has been lopped off; graffiti covers the mausoleum of General Sir Stanley Maude, who led the Expeditionary Force until his death in November 1917; and, in the centre of the cemetery, are two headstones that have been dragged from their graves. Sapper 580851 T.R. Thomas of the Royal Engineers was 25 years old when he died in 1917, five days before Christmas; Signalman T/S 0011 Abdul Karim of the Indian Signal Corps had been killed eight months earlier, at the age of 31. Today, the only evidence that these men had ever lived, and died, is propped up by bricks, and children kick a football between their names. http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1144682002 * SADDAM SURE OF VICTORY IN EXUBERANT IRAQI POLL by Nadim Ladki The Scotsman, 16th October AMID vows to defend Saddam Hussein to the death, Iraqis cast ballots in a presidential referendum yesterday certain to be declared a landslide victory. Some voters ticked "Yes" for another seven-year term for the Iraqi leader with their own blood. There was no official turnout figure and it was difficult to gauge the extent of public participation despite festive scenes. The nearly 2,000 polling stations closed at 8pm after 12 hours of voting. Ballot counting began immediately. Official results will be released today. But the outcome is a forgone conclusion with the voting process tightly controlled by the government and no independent observers or other candidates. Saddam won 99.96 per cent in a first referendum in 1995. Officials say privately they want an even higher percentage this time, with some hoping for a perfect 100 per cent. The authorities had urged voters to turn out in force to show massive support for Saddam in the face of US threats of military action and President George Bushıs declared desire to remove him from power. "With our blood and souls we defend Saddam Hussein," supporters chanted at a polling station in central Baghdad as voters lined up to cast their vote. Making good on his words, a voter pricked his right thumb with a pin and ticked "Yes" with blood on his ballot paper. "I vote with my blood, not my pen," he said. Nearly 12 million Iraqis are eligible to answer a simple "Yes" or "No" for a new term for Saddam, who has ruled Iraq for 23 years through the tight grip of the military and police. There was no sign of the president, who rarely appears in public, but his eldest son, Uday, did vote. Uday drove in a red Rolls Royce to a polling station in central Baghdad. Surrounded by bodyguards, he got out of his car, marked his ballot paper and gave it to a young boy. The boy was escorted by a bodyguard inside the station and slotted the paper into the ballot box. Uday then drove away without setting foot in the station. Saddamıs supporters began celebrating victory shortly after polls opened, dancing outside polling stations in the capital and bringing sheep to slaughter, a traditional Arab act of celebration. Tea and refreshments were distributed free at polling stations in Baghdad by ruling Baıath Party members. Telephone dialling tones in some districts of the capital were replaced by a recorded message of "yes, yes to Saddam". Displays of enthusiasm for Saddam were strongest in his home town of Tikrit, 110 miles north of Baghdad. Iraqi soldiers, men, women and children danced in the streets. With Saddam stickers on their chests, about 20 soldiers vowed to sacrifice themselves to defend their leader as they flashed the V-for-victory sign. "This is his army, everyone is chanting yes to Saddam Hussein," Captain Iyad Atiyeh told reporters. Children wearing T-shirts with pictures of Saddam gathered outside the polling stations, clapping and cheering. "Saddam, Saddam, we love you," they chanted. "Bush, Bush where do you sleep? Under Saddamıs shoes." Appointed president in 1979, Saddam has led Iraq through two major wars and survived several challenges to his rule. But with the United States determined to disarm Iraq, his toughest test might come in the next few months. Mr Bush, who says Saddam is producing weapons of mass destruction, has pushed ahead with US policy for a "regime change" in Baghdad. He is seeking a tough UN resolution on weapons inspections after obtaining congressional authorisation for the use of force against Saddam. Iraq denies it has nuclear, chemical or biological weapons. Additional reporting by Huda Majeed Saleh. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2002/10/17/1034561219942.html * SADDAM'S MAN SAYS: IT SERVES YOU RIGHT by Paul McGeough Sydney Morning Herald, 17th October A senior adviser to Saddam Hussein suggested yesterday that the Bali terrorist attack served Western countries right because the United States had fostered elements of al-Qaeda in its war against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan in the 1980s. In the Iraqi regime's first public comment on the Bali bombing, Abdul Al-Hashimi, a former Iraqi ambassador and a Saddam confidante, said: "What happened in Bali and what is happening with the attacks on the US in Kuwait is a war that results from the actions of the US. "The US made al-Qaeda when they thought they could use it to fight communism." Dwelling on America's decision to make Iraq the focus of its war on terrorism after the war in Afghanistan, Dr Al-Hashimi said: "The US came up with the idea of using religion to fight communism. They didn't understand that these organisations fought, not because they loved the US, but because the communists were non-believers. "And, when they finished with the communists, they looked around for the next lot of non believers, and that was the US. "So they are fighting an enemy they made for themselves, and Iraq is not the enemy." Asked if he believed the Bali attack served the US and Australia right because of their push for war with Iraq, he said: "I will leave that to you. But for me as an Iraqi? These things happen and it's an indication of how many enemies the US has. "They can't find Osama bin Laden or Mullah Omar and they can't even find a single sniper in Washington." War with the US now seemed inevitable, Dr Al-Hashimi said. Iraq had learnt from history that once the US had decided on a course of action, it would proceed regardless. But there was no case against Iraq. He said: "We have answered them on weapons of mass destruction and, when Donald Rumsfeld claimed that al-Qaeda was in northern Iraq, he was talking about an area of our country that we do not control. The US and British patrol the north and it is they who control it." And, regarding America's claims that Iraq had to be dealt with militarily because it might pass its weapons of mass destruction to terrorists, he said: "We have no interest in giving weapons to any other party. "If a hoodlum attacks you, you will defend yourself, but terrorists know that we have never supported their organisations in the last 30 years. "So they know there is no point in approaching us. Terrorism is not our business." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-450465,00.html * IRAQ'S LAST JEWS WAIT IN FEAR FOR WAR by Ian Cobain in Baghdad The Times, 18th October IN A dirt-poor Baghdad backstreet, where fetid water seeps from shattered drains and urchins dart around piles of rubbish, there stands the last remnant of what was once among the wealthiest and most respected communities of the Jewish diaspora. Protected from prying eyes by a 10ft wall and padlocked steel gates plastered with Saddam Hussein posters is Bataween Synagogue, an anonymous brown-brick building, with no nameplate or symbols to betray its purpose, where the handful of Jews who remain in the city gather discreetly to worship each week. Fifty years ago there were about 350,000 Jewish people in Iraq. When the British marched into Baghdad at the end of the First World War a fifth of its citizens were estimated to be Jewish. Today 38 remain in the capital. In Basra, the once prosperous port in the south, there is just one old woman. In Mosul and Amarah, and other Iraqi cities where Jews had lived for more than two millennia, their communities have vanished without trace. Many of the Baghdad community are elderly. The last marriage was in 1980 and there are currently no children to be bar-mitzvahed. None of the 38 can perform the liturgy, just two know Hebrew, and the rest can barely understand the prayers. With the threat of conflict looming, anti-Zionist banners appearing on public buildings, and high-placed Iraqis increasingly unnerved by Washington's talk of regime change, the dwindling Jewish community of Baghdad is terrified of what the future may hold. "I'm sorry, but I can't possibly talk to you," said Ibrahim Youssef Saleh, a doleful 80-year-old man who has been the leader of the community since the last rabbi died in 1996 and the president of the synagogue left to join his family in London two years ago. "You must have written permission from the Ministry of Information before I can talk to you, and then they will send one of their minders to sit in on the interview." Then, trembling visibly, Mr Saleh opened the door of his small office, where a small number of Hebrew texts had been slipped between the Arabic volumes on the bookshelves, and where the obligatory portrait of Saddam gazes down from the wall. "Will you please leave now?" he begged. At the ministry, bemused officials yesterday refused permission, and some even insisted that the synagogue had closed down years ago. The Jewish community of what was once called Mesopotamia was not only among the wealthiest and most respected of the Ancient World, it was also among the oldest. Its members were descended from the Jews who were taken into exile by Nebuchadnezzar, King of the Babylonians, in three great waves beginning in 597 BC. Among the captives who sat down and wept by the rivers of Babylon was the prophet Ezekiel, who wrote home to Jerusalem that he was living in "a land of traffick" filled with "fruitful fields". When the Jews were allowed to return home many chose to stay, and this is where the Babylon Talmud was produced. Under the Ottoman Turks they worked in commerce and crafts, achieved high public office and, as dhimmis, a protected minority, enjoyed complete freedom of worship. Relations between Jews and Muslims became strained under the British Mandate, however, when many Jews asked for British citizenship, and deteriorated rapidly in the 1930s during Jewish agitation for a homeland. In 1941, after a pro-Nazi coup planned with the aid of the German Embassy in Baghdad, hundreds of Jews were murdered while police officers stood by and watched. After the creation of the state of Israel hundreds of thousands of Jews fled Iraq, at first slipping across the borders in small numbers, then joining airlifts organised by the Israeli Government. Others settled in the Netherlands or Britain, among them the family of Maurice and Charles Saatchi, the advertising men. More persecution after the Six-Day War saw community members accused of being members of "Zionist spy rings" and hanged in the squares of Baghdad, prompting yet more families to flee. Today Iraqi Jews find it difficult to travel abroad and are barred from serving in the army or joining the civil service. A US State Department report says, however, that there is no "recent evidence of overt persecution", and the Jews are free to worship. Saddam even ordered the renovation of Bataween Synagogue 13 years ago and refurbished the tombs of Ezekiel and Ezra the Scribe, which are also sacred to Muslims. Guards protect these sites. Scattered around the rest of Baghdad, however, lie more than 30 other synagogues, all deserted, many dilapidated. As the clouds of war gather above the city, its tiny Jewish community may be wondering whether their last sanctuary will also soon lie in ruins. IRAQIS OUTSIDE IRAQ http://www.voanews.com/article.cfm?objectID=96F394D6-BB15-4926 BCA9F82997513EA4&title=Iraqi%20Exiles%20Nurture%20Dreams%20in%20London&catOI D=45C9C78C-88AD-11D4-A57200A0CC5EE46C&categoryname=Europe * IRAQI EXILES NURTURE DREAMS IN LONDON by Grace Cutler Voice of America, 16th October London has become a haven for members of Iraq's intellectual and business elite seeking refuge from decades of political turmoil. Nearly 200,000 strong and growing, London's Iraqi community is one of the most significant groups of Iraqi exiles in the world. As the talk of a possible American and British-led attack on Iraq dominates the headlines, London's Iraqis are watching developments more anxiously than ever. Saturday night in the Bayswater section of London, diners at a Middle Eastern restaurant keep time to the rhythmic motion of a belly dancer slowly weaving her way among the guests. This is "Baghdad" in name and atmosphere, if not in fact. It's a sleek, modern eatery renowned for its authentic Iraqi cuisine, but even more well-known as a meeting place for the Iraqi diaspora. Iraqis from all religious, tribal and political backgrounds come here to mingle. Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites mix with former members of the ruling Ba'ath party and communist activists. Recently, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's official translator was spotted here, having a quiet dinner. The man at a nearby table was from Kuwait, the country Iraq invaded in 1991, sparking the Gulf War. But even in this festive, diverse atmosphere, the somber tone of politics is never far off. Nowadays the threat of a U.S.-led strike against their country is prominent in people's minds. Many Iraqis here are eager to see an end to political strife back home. Some want the debilitating economic sanctions lifted. Others say it is time for Saddam Hussein to go. The Baghdad restaurant's owner Abdul Ibrahimi says people just want a chance to live their lives in peace. "The general feeling is that people want to have changes in their life," he said. "They are fed up. In the last 22 years they are going to war, from one war to another war." In spite of growing political tensions, Mr. Ibrahimi welcomes all Iraqis in his restaurant, regardless of background or belief. He points out that in Iraq people live in constant fear of expressing their views, but Britain is place where opinions can be expressed freely. This he says is why he has made it his home. "Mainly you look for a system that will respect mankind and human beings. You get it here," he said. "You get your self-respect. That is what I like about Britain. It's a good environment to create your dream." For decades London has given Iraqis a place to live out their dreams and has provided a safe haven from political instability. The first to come were Iraqi Jews in the 1930s and '40s fleeing religious persecution. They were followed a decade later by Iraqis escaping frequent military coups and rebellions in northern Kurdish territories. Most recently, it has been exiles from the Iran-Iraq and Gulf Wars. At the Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University, Professor Nadje Al-Ali, an Iraqi, says her countrymen come to London seeking a freer, more democratic society, and are also lured by the cultural links formed during the three decades that Iraq was under the British Mandate after World War I. "The language that people would learn other than Arabic would be English. They would prefer to come where they would speak the language. Then there is this history, and then there are family ties," she said. "So many would prefer to come somewhere where they have family and friends." As a result, London's Iraqi community is home to academics, engineers, artists, doctors and influential business executives. It's the other side of the Iraq "brain drain" caused by years of repression and instability. More recent arrivals from Iraq are desperate to escape debilitating economic sanctions and tyrannical rule. London is also something of a base for Iraqi exile political activities. Most parties opposed to Saddam Hussein have offices here. And defectors who slipped out of Iraq are known to surface in London from time to time. There are even a few pro-Saddam Baathis who add their voice to the debate. But Professor Al-Ali says even Iraqi political activists in London are not as active as they might be, partly because the opposition parties have a hierarchical structure that was created back home and tends to hinder grassroots creativity. "You have political parties here. But unfortunately many of the political parties, although they are totally opposed to the current regime, in terms of the political culture, in terms of organizing, it is still very much in line with the authoritarian culture. It is very hierarchical," said Prof. Al-Ali. London-based sociologist Falen Jabal, who fled Iraq as a communist rebel nearly 40 years ago, says many of his countrymen are just too disillusioned and war weary to be politically active. "There is a big think tank," he said. "We have many books about Iraq, Iraq society, Iraq tribes, Iraq ethnicity. But we are not consulted, our voice is not heard. We are also lazy. We don't try to reach out for centers of power. And there is a sense of desperation." The desperation can be felt here at weekly cultural lectures given at London's Al Kufa art gallery. The talks are sponsored by the gallery's owner Mohamed Makiya, a renowned Iraqi architect hired by Saddam Hussein to rebuild Baghdad in 1980. After the lectures, conversation often turns to politics. Like many Iraqi exiles, Mr. Makiya targets his frustration at the West. He says the West's history of supporting authoritarian Middle Eastern governments in exchange for reliable oil lies at the heart of the current crisis. And he criticises the United States for failing to depose Saddam Hussein during the Gulf War. "We feel that the western world has been unfair and cruel," said Mr. Makiya. "You have not finished a war in 1991. We have to free ourselves from this monster, which is cruel not to you, but cruel to us. Really to get rid of him is a freedom of the Iraqis, although your priority and your national interests plays all the part." Through the lecture series on religion and art, Mr. Mikaya believes he can introduce democratic concepts to his fellow Iraqi exiles, concepts he says are not understood in Iraq and are necessary to help redevelop the ravaged country. "I feel now we should prepare ourselves for 'Iraqi Development Authority' or 'Iraqi Development Council,' so that the politicians are there and we are there and we try to sort of intervene to get the politicians to get more cultivated to the human value, to the human life," he said. Mr. Makiya and other Iraqi exiles in London speak of the imminent arrival of what they call the "New Dawn" - the end of Saddam Hussein's rule and the end of years of conflict. At the lecture series, and at gathering spots like the Baghdad restaurant, many Iraqis hope this will be a chance for people to put the past behind them and start rebuilding their country. But after years of hardship and pain others have given up any hope of returning to Iraq and say they just want to get on with their lives in exile. http://www.jta.org/page_view_story.asp?intarticleid=11945&intcategoryid=3 * JEWS FORGE TIES WITH IRAQI DISSIDENTS by: Matthew E. Berger WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (JTA - Jewish Telegraphic Agency) The old saying "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" appears to have resonance for American Jewish groups and the Iraqi dissidents seeking to overthrow the government of Saddam Hussein. Jewish groups have privately met with Iraqi opposition leaders in the past, but today some groups are forging a broader, more public relationship. In the last two weeks, two Jewish organizations, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, have sponsored discussions with members of the Iraqi National Congress, a prominent Iraqi opposition group that is financially supported by the U.S. government. With the Bush administration pursuing a policy of regime change in Iraq, both the INC and Jewish groups say they have something to gain from a strong bond. The INC sees a way to tap into Jewish influence in Washington and Jerusalem, and drum up increased support for its cause. The Jewish groups, for their part, see an opportunity to pave the way for better relations between Israel and Iraq, if and when the INC is involved in replacing Saddam's regime. "It's important for Jewish groups to have a relationship with anyone who is a problem for Saddam," said Tom Neumann, JINSA's executive director. Still, the relationship is a complicated one, which some are approaching with caution and others are warning will work against Jewish interests. "It's not too wise to get involved with them," said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. He and others worry that alliances with the Iraqi opposition will revive the notion put forth during the 1991 Persian Gulf War that American military action in Iraq is intended to help Israel. But the Jewish groups that are working with the INC say that they share a common interest removing Saddam from power for the benefit of Iraq, the United States and Israel. The INC was founded shortly after the end of the Persian Gulf War, combining several smaller opposition forces within Iraq. It currently operates a newspaper, television station, regional offices and a center for humanitarian relief. It is based in Salahuddin in Iraq, and lists its external base as London. The United States has given the INC more than $18 million over the past three years and is expected to give the INC another $8 million for the second half of this year, as part of a new cooperative agreement. U.S. aid to the INC was suspended in January because of the INC's mismanagement of funds, but resumed a month later. The United States has also given a smaller amount, $315,000, to another opposition group, the Iraqi National Movement, and $1.5 million to the Future of Iraq Project, which brings together numerous opposition groups, including the INC. Against this backdrop, with the INC finding favor in Washington and seeking more Ahmed Chalabi, the INC president, was invited to a JINSA dinner on Oct. 9 on Long Island. Entifadh Qanbar, the INC's Washington office director, spoke at an Oct. 7 gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in Atlanta. Jewish leaders say they are able to garner a new perspective from their talks with Iraq's opposition leaders. "With so much attention focused on Iraq and its future post-Saddam Hussein, we felt it was important for our members to get some insight in to the prospects for bringing democracy to the Iraqi people," said Josh Block, an AIPAC spokesman. Although there is only a possibility of them being pro-Israel, "they won't be anti-Israel," Neumann said of a new Iraqi government led by opposition forces. "How close they are to Israel is up for conjecture, but they won't be like this government is." For his part, Qanbar says the INC is reaching out to the Jewish community because it is the best avenue to get to the Israeli government, which he believes should be reaching out to the INC and getting more involved in creating political change in Iraq. "The Jewish groups in Washington have some influence in Israel," he said in an interview with JTA. Qanbar told JTA that he believes that good relations with Israel are possible under a new regime because, he said, Saddam is the one who has a problem with Israel, not the Iraqi people. He also said that the INC's platform urged the resolution of all regional conflicts without violence. Chalabi told the JINSA audience last week that Saddam is the source of all terrorism in the Middle East, and a governmental change in Iraq would change the dynamics for the whole region, to the benefit of the United States and Israel. He also said that the United States will not be able to effectively deal with Al Qaida leader Osama bin Laden until it deals with Saddam. Observers say the INC is also trying to tap into the strong alliances that Jewish organizations have with Congress, hoping that highlighting the prospects for Israel under a post-Saddam Iraq will sway more pro-Israel lawmakers to support U.S. action. While JINSA has had a relationship with Chalabi for 10 years, according to Neumann, other groups are supporting him publicly for the first time. Observers say the more public relationship is now possible because Jewish groups are coming out publicly with positions on Iraq. Jewish groups seem to be entering this new relationship with trepidation. Last week, several Jewish organizations were scheduled to appear at a Capitol Hill news conference with Senate Republicans and Iraqi defectors to express support for the congressional resolutions on Iraq. But when Jewish groups realized they would be the only special interest participating, they bailed out. "We shouldn't be the only ones doing it," said Neumann, whose organization was supposed to participate, along with B'nai B'rith International, the Orthodox Union and the American Jewish Congress. "It's not a Jewish agenda, but an American agenda." Some observers worry that a public relationship could work against the mutual interests of Jewish groups and the Iraqi opposition. Michael Amitay, the executive director of the Washington Kurdish Institute, says Jewish groups might run into problems by working only with Chalabi and Qanbar, because the INC is not strongly supported in Iraq, where there are numerous opposition groups. Perceived U.S. Jewish support for Chalabi could "drive a wedge between Chalabi and other forces in the Iraqi opposition," said Amitay, whose father, Morrie, is vice chairman of JINSA's board of directors. Calling the Jewish approach "short-sighted," he said that it would be "much more helpful if Jewish groups reached out to other groups, such as the Kurds" as well. Qanbar disputes that claim. He says Jewish groups have been among the first to form an alliance with the INC because they realize support for his organization is growing within the Bush administration. "Jewish groups have a strong understanding of American politics," he said. "It's an indication that there is a new phase of policy." NORTHERN IRAQ/SOUTHERN KURDISTAN http://www.tehrantimes.com/Description.asp?Da=10/12/02&Cat=2&Num=9 * IRAQI ARABS LEAVING KIRKUK FOR FEAR OF U.S. OFFENSIVE: PAPER Tehran Times, 12th October ARBIL, Iraq -- Iraqi Arabs resettled by the Baghdad government in Kurdish villages of oil rich northern Kirkuk Province have begun returning to their homes in southern and western Iraq in anticipation of a U.S. offensive against Iraq, a newspaper reported Thursday. Birayeti said Arab residents who were moved to the Kurdish villages in recent years have been returning to their home districts without informing the government amid growing U.S. threats to attack Iraq and unseat the regime of President Saddam Hussein. The paper, mouthpiece of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), one of the two main parties controlling a Kurdish enclave in northern Iraq, was apparently referring to fears among the Arab residents that they would be subjected to Kurdish reprisals if Washington's offensive succeeded. The enclave controlled by the KDP and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) has been off limits to the Baghdad government since the end of the 1991 Persian Gulf war. Political parties there have long complained of what they say are attempts by Baghdad to displace Kurds, Turkmen and Assyrians from Kirkuk and replace them with Arabs in a bid to alter the demographic makeup of the area. http://www.cnn.com/2002/WORLD/meast/10/13/turkey.kurds.ap/index.html * TURKISH PREMIER SAYS KURDS DRAGGING TURKEY TO WAR CNN, 13th October ANKARA, Turkey (AP) -- Turkey's Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit said apparent moves by Iraqi Kurds to form an independent Kurdish state in northern Iraq was dragging Turkey into a war. In comments published in Milliyet newspaper Sunday, Ecevit accused the United States of "directing" Iraqi Kurds toward independence after Kurds reviewed a draft constitution for northern Iraq in the event that Saddam Hussein is overthrown. Turkey has deep reservations about a U.S. military operation in Iraq to topple Saddam. There is fear that Kurds who run an autonomous zone in northern Iraq will use the event to carve out their own independent state if Saddam's ousted. Turks are concerned that such a move could, in turn, encourage Kurdish rebels to renew their 15-year war for autonomy in southeastern Turkey. Turkey is outraged by reports that the Iraqi Kurds have drafted a constitution, which prompted Ecevit Saturday to state that Kurds were getting "out of control." "We don't want a war, but developments are pushing us to war beyond our control," he said. "We will do our best to prevent a war, we will try to solve the problem without being dragged into war," Ecevit told Milliyet. Asked if he thought Kurds were being encouraged by the United States, Ecevit told Milliyet: "It is beyond encouragement, (Washington) is directing" them. "We will talk to the United States." The tension over the draft constitution threatens to complicate Washington's efforts to build an anti-Saddam coalition. Both Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds would be key allies for efforts to topple Saddam. In a campaign speech in the eastern city of Kars Sunday, Ecevit said Turkey did not want a war in Iraq and said Turkish officials were doing their best to prevent it. Supporters shouted "No to war" and Ecevit replied: "I hope that your strong voice will be heard beyond the oceans," the Anatolia news agency reported. Ecevit however, stopped supporters who shouted: "Down with the United States!" "No, no," he said. "The United States is really our friend, but we don't have to agree on everything." The United States has been trying to push the groups to work together for years. U.S. officials insist they respect Iraq's territorial integrity. The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the rival Kurdistan Democratic Party -- which together control most of northern Iraq _ discussed the draft during a meeting earlier this week. But Iraqi Kurdish officials have denied that the arrangement amounted to a move toward independence. Most of northern Iraq has been out of Baghdad's control since the end of the 1991 Gulf War. The region is protected by a U.S.-led force that enforces a no-fly zone from Turkey's southern Incirlik air base. Turkey fought Kurdish guerrillas for 15 years in the southeast of the nation. An estimated 37,000 people have been killed in fighting between the Turkish military and rebels. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/14_10_02_b.htm * TURKEY HAS SLEEPLESS NIGHTS OVER KURDISH FOX, IRAQI HEN HOUSE Daily Star, Lebanon, 14th October Three recent events caused Turkey to refocus its attention on the situation in Iraq, especially in the Kurdish north: Settlement of the tug-of-war over its planned Nov. 3 parliamentary elections; swelling support in Congress for a resolution authorizing President George W. Bush to order unilateral US military action against Iraq; and the reconvening of the Kurdish Parliament in northern Iraq. After more than a month of wrangling, the date for Turkey's next parliamentary election has finally been upheld. The elections will be held on Nov. 3 as planned, after attempts to postpone the poll were defeated. Before the date was confirmed, however, appropriate "judicial" steps were taken to ensure that the Islamist camp's leading lights - people like Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Necmettin Erbakan and Murat Bozlak - would not be able to contest the election. Soon after these electoral "arrangements" were put in place, the issue of Iraq again reared its head. The fact that Bush has become assured of lopsided votes in Congress that would authorize unilateral US military action against Iraq caused Ankara to refocus its attention on its southern neighbor. Fearing the uncertainties that might arise as a result of an American blitz on Iraq, Ankara has never hesitated to make public its opposition to such a step. Turkey is still suffering from the consequences of the 1991 Gulf War, which, besides sowing the seeds of Kurdish independence in northern Iraq, cost Ankara at least $50 billion in lost trade. Yet Turkey, whose greatest fear is the possibility of an independent Kurdish state rising on its southern border, might find itself forced to participate in an attack on Iraq if it realized that there was no alternative to war. Nonparticipation would mean that Turkey would be deprived of having a say in post-war arrangements for Iraq and the region as a whole. Turkey's relations with the Arab world will suffer enormously if Ankara decides to take part in that war - especially if no major Arab countries (such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia) endorse such action, and if such a war fails to secure UN backing. President Ahmet Necdet Sezer's declaration that attacking Iraq without a UN mandate will be unacceptable to Turkey should be seen in this light. If, however, the US decides to invade Iraq alone (or with British backing), then that will put Turkey in a very delicate situation simply because Ankara needs US patronage in many foreign and economic issues. The Heritage Foundation pointed out Turkey's need for US support in a report published on Oct. 1. entitled Why America May Not Have to Go It Alone: The Growing Anti-Saddam Coalition. The report stresses the crucial role Turkey is expected to play in any US action against Iraq. The report's author, Dr. Nile Gardiner - a visiting fellow in Anglo-American Security Policy in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation - says "Turkey is faced with a stark choice: either support its closest NATO ally, the United States, or join many in the Arab world in denouncing military action. The former option will win out; the harsh financial realities facing Turkey, with its $16 billion loan package from the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, combined with a $5 billion military debt to the United States, make it unlikely Ankara will wish to jeopardize its relations with Washington." The report points out however, that Turkey most likely will not participate directly in the allied offensive against Iraq. It says Ankara will probably provide strategic and logistical backing for the US-led operation, including use of its air space and air bases. "Turkish participation in a post-war security force should be encouraged," Gardiner writes. "The Turkish Army has gained experience running the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, and the deployment of Muslim forces in Iraq would be advantageous for the alliance." One recent event that raised Turkish concerns more than any other, however, was the Oct. 4 meeting in Arbil of the Iraq Kurdish Parliament - the first such meeting for six years. It is worth noting that Ankara launched a widespread military incursion into northern Iraq - ostensibly to pursue Turkish Kurd rebels of the Kurdistan Workers' Party - when the Iraq Kurdish Parliament first convened in 1992. That thrust was meant to deliver a message that Ankara would not tolerate the creation of an independent Kurdish entity in northern Iraq, and that it was prepared to use force to stop such an entity being established. There is no doubt that Turkey was immensely relieved when the Kurdish Parliament was disrupted in 1996, and when the two major Iraqi Kurdish factions - Jalal Talabani's Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and Masoud Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party - subsequently began fighting each other. Ankara is therefore extremely suspicious of the recent agreement between Talabani and Barzani to reconvene the Kurdish Parliament and declare a new constitution for northern Iraq's Kurdish region. Turkey views this change as indicating that the Iraqi Kurds are contemplating statehood, something Ankara does not want. So concerned was the Turkish government by these developments that an emergency meeting was convened in Ankara on the very day the Kurdish Parliament met. In that meeting, attended by President Sezer, the prime minister, the foreign minister, the army chief of staff, as well as security officials, Premier Bulent Ecevit declared that if the Kurds overstepped certain "limits," Ankara will take "appropriate measures." Foreign Minister Sukru Sina Gurel refused to divulge the nature of these "measures," saying that to do so would allow the other side to conduct itself accordingly. The Turks made it clear long ago that they would occupy northern Iraq if the Iraqi Kurds declared their independence. The objective of such an occupation would not only be to make sure that no Kurdish state is established, but also to prevent oil-rich Kirkuk from falling into Kurdish hands. The Turks assert that Kirkuk is a Turkmen city, and were particularly incensed when Kurdish leaders recently agreed to name it as their new capital. Taking control of Kirkuk - which is now in Baghdad's hands - is also designed to deprive the Kurds of the region's oil wealth. Ankara believes that a Kurdish state would not be viable without Kirkuk's oil. While the reconvening of the Kurdish Parliament caused apprehension in Ankara, the Turks were (temporarily, at least) relieved to hear Barzani declare that the Kurds would not pose a threat to neighboring states and were prepared to give guarantees to that effect. Turkish fears were also eased when they heard Talabani announce that the Iraqi Kurds were not seeking independence, but were working for a federal arrangement within a united Iraq. More importantly, Talabani spoke of Arbil, rather than Kirkuk being Iraq's second capital. And, despite the fact that the new Kurdish Parliament was made up of 100 Kurds and five Assyrians, news reports said that Turkmens might eventually make up 15 percent of MPs, a long-standing Turkish demand. Ankara is closely watching the rapidly unfolding developments in Iraq, fearful that a war might unravel all the arrangements it had worked hard to build over the years. (Mohammad Noureddine is an expert on Turkish affairs. He wrote this commentary for The Daily Star) http://news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=1137002002 * KURDISTAN'S FIGHTING MEN FEELING ABANDONED BY THEIR PROTECTOR by Borzou Daragahi The Scotsman, 14th October THEY try very hard. On a cracked, weed-choked asphalt parade ground, the soldiers of the Kurdistan Army march in circles to martial music. But the band can't keep a beat. The cymbal is cracked and bent. And the soldiers can't help but smile at the handful of visitors. The combined Kurdistan forces total 75,000 men (and a few women) and control three of Iraq's 18 provinces in an area populated by 3.5 million of Iraq's 22 million inhabitants. But on the eve of the apparent US plans to topple Saddam Hussein, Kurdish military officials say they are woefully ill-prepared for any military confrontation. What's more, there has been no co-ordination or communication with the US, which patrols the no-fly zone above this autonomous section of northern Iraq. Even the Kurds' US-made uniforms were bought on the open market. "They haven't given us anything," says Babekir Zebari, commander of the army in the province of Dohuk. "And there has been no communication or any word." Unlike its neighbours, Kurdistan has no conscription; military service is voluntary. Kurdistan has no airforce. Under the rules of the no-fly zone it probably couldn't get have one anyway. It has maybe one or two tanks and a few rocket-propelled grenades, according to military officials. But the Kurds have fought Baghdad on the ground for most of the 20th century. The Kurds have been watching President Saddam for years, and say that he has pulled back his men from positions a few hundred metres from Kurdish villages towards the centre of Iraq, fortifying positions around the oil-rich cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, which the Kurds claim. "Lately, it seems they don't know what they're doing, "said Barzan Ahmad, a Kurdish intelligence officer stationed in the city of Kalak, near the Iraqi front. "Activity has increased. They keep moving their heavy equipment back and forth. Occasionally they fire their weapons into the air." Disappointed by experiences in Afghanistan, US commanders may be shying away from a battle plan that relies on an ethnic minority as a ground force. But Kurdish officials say that it would be helpful if the US shared some of its information regarding President Saddam's arsenal, if only so that they could protect civilians in case of a biological attack. Among Iraqis, Kurds suffered the worst under President Saddam, who allegedly used chemical weapons on the civilian population of Halabja and abducted as many as 150,000 males from Kurdish villages under revolt. Following establishment of the US-British no-fly zone over northern Iraq in 1991, the Kurds began building an autonomous proto-state. A US-brokered truce four years ago between the warring Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) factions has meant a peace has meant a prosperity for Iraqi Kurds that they have never experienced, and publicly they say that they are not prepared to have it all put at risk in a US invasion. In private, however, they are gung ho for a US assault. "Where are the Americans?" says a high-level military official in Erbil, northern Iraq's largest city. "We don't see them. We don't hear from them." The US may also be shying away from the Kurds for fear of upsetting Turkey, which hosts strategic US military bases and will be a key node in any air assault on Baghdad. Turkey fears that the Kurdish entity might inspire its 15 million restless Kurds to rebel. While the world congratulated Kurds earlier this month when the KDP and PUK laid aside their differences and began reuniting their government, Turkish officials threatened war if the Iraqi Kurds declared a new state. Perhaps the US takes Iraqi Kurds' claims that they do not want to take part in any assault on Baghdad at face value. Hamid Afandi, a KDP minister defines his mandate as such: "We don't want to attack Iraq. We want to defend Kurdistan." Although such a stance might preclude an occupation of Baghdad, it doesn't rule out a plan to retake the traditionally Kurdish, oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Kurdish officials smirk when asked about Kirkuk. "We have a million plans to retake Kirkuk," said one. "Whether any of them will work is another question." Unlike Afghanistan's mountainous terrain and narrow passes, which favour guerrilla ambushes, central Iraq's flat deserts make it impossible for the lightly armed Kurdish forces to mount a serious challenge to President Saddam's military might. Kurdish officials acknowledge, that they would be slaughtered by the Iraqis. Commander Zebari sighs when asked about the state of his army's preparedness. "Until 1991," he explains, "we were peshmergas [mountain guerrilla fighters." Then came the civil war, when the peshmergas of two main political parties turned on each other in a conflict that cost an estimated 1,000 lives. Only since 1998, says Commander Zebari, has the army tried to be more professional. "We've been trying to learn military discipline," he says. But even he admits that the Kurds will need more. "We have only three advantages," he says. "Our willingness to sacrifice our bodies, our high morale. And if those fail us, we always have the mountains." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021015/2002101520.html * BARHAM SALEH: IRAQ IS DIVIDED ETHNICALLY AND RELIGIOUSLY Arabic News, 15th October The prime minister of al-Suleimaneyah district in Iraq's kurdistan, Barham Saleh, on Monday held a second round of talks with the Syrian Vice President Abdul Halim Khaddam in Damascus and also other several Syrian officials. Meetings which were not officially declared. Saleh stressed in statements following the meeting with Khaddam the importance of the relations between the Kurdistani national federation party and the Syrian leadership. He called on the Iraqi opposition groups to maintain cooperation with Syria, noting the Kurds commitment to the unity of Iraq. Saleh who arrived in Damascus on Friday said that his discussions with the Syrian officials centered on "the future of Iraq and the developments of the current situation." He added "there is a firm relations between us and Syria and we are seeking greater coordination." He continued that "Syria understands our proposals and we have stressed our commitment to the Iraqi national unity and that Iraq is divided today according to an Arab and Kurdish national base and on Shiite and Sunni religious base and this is so because of dictatorship policies. And we do recall for restoring back the Iraqi national unity." Saleh has also called upon the Syrian company to be involved in building construction and rehabilitation projects of the economy of Kurdistan and to make use of the "oil for food" program. He considered that there will be "good opportunities for cooperation between Syria and Kurdistan." http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/021015/2002101518.html * SOME 10,000 TURKISH SOLDIERS DEPLOYED IN NORTH IRAQ, ANKARA TO ESTABLISH SECURITY BELT Arabic News, 15th October Turkish defense minister Sbah Eddin Oglo said on Monday that Ankara intends to establish "a security belt" in northern Iraq in order to ensure security along its borders in case the US launches a military operation against Baghdad. While Oglo also renewed the threats of a military interference to end the separatist objectives of the Kurds in Northern Iraq, intelligence information indicated that Turkey increased the number of its forces deployed in the area from 4,000 to 10,000 troopers. In an interview with the Turkish NTV network, Oglo said that a large and sufficient "military force can form a security belt in the Iraqi territories in order to ensure the security of our borders." He also stressed that Turkey will receive likely refugees in camps to be installed in the Iraqi side of the borders in case a large displacement movement takes place brought about by an American military operation. On the separatist objectives of the Kurds in North Iraq, the Turkish defense minister threatened of an interference by the Turkish army. He warned that "if we can not reach results by the force of argument, we have then to move to a higher level and then when it is necessary to interfere." He stressed that "Karkouk can never be a capital for a Kurdish movement. It is an unacceptable matter." http://www.dailystar.com.lb/16_10_02/art15.asp * IRAQI KURDISH LEADER MAKES HIS CASE by Hadi Khatib Daily Star, Lebanon, 16th October Northern Iraq's Kurdish community is readying for participation in a federal democratic government following an anticipated US led-attack to displace the regime in Baghdad, a senior Iraqi Kurdish official says. As Iraqis cast their votes in a referendum Tuesday to "endorse" Saddam Hussein's rule for another seven-year term, Kurdish factions have their eyes set on self-rule in a federal system, not the stability of a regime that has treated them as second-class citizens and subjected them to repeated ethnic cleansing, Barham Saleh told The Daily Star in an interview Sunday in Damascus. Saleh, the prime minister of the Iraqi Kurdish administration and a member of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), spoke at length of his people's growing aspirations to participate in the decision-making of a democratic Iraqi government. During a recent trip to Washington where Iraqi opposition groups met with senior US officials - including Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld - Saleh said he was told that "the United States has made the decision for a regime change in Iraq, but that it is not interested in replacing one dictator with another." Saleh said he welcomed Washington's apparent commitment to a democratic, pluralistic Iraq, but added that he wanted to "work hard with my Iraqi compatriots to make sure that we have the right outcome for all of our people." Throughout the interview, Saleh stressed the Kurdish community's commitment not to engage in any separatist activity that would challenge Iraq's territorial integrity. "Ten years ago when we embarked on this endeavor of establishing self-governed territories that we liberated from Iraq, many Iraqi Arabs and many of our neighbors felt that this was a step toward dividing Iraq and Kurdish calls for establishing a federal Iraq were a recipe for the dismemberment of the Iraqi state, but this couldn't be further from the truth," Saleh said. "Kurdish self-government need not be a theme as a separatist proposition; on the contrary, it could be seen as an asset for the Iraqi democratic movement." As for other Kurds in Iran and Turkey, Saleh said that "the Kurdish people are one nation but we have been divided for decades, and I think people have come to acknowledge and realize that this is our fate." Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Ecevit recently reacted angrily to reports that the PUK and the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), the two leading Kurdish factions, had held talks on a federal solution. But Saleh said he believes that despite the rhetoric, more and more Turks are coming to realize that for Iraq to remain united, the Kurds of Iraq, as well as other communities there, have to be given the right to exercise their political freedom within the Iraqi state. "However, we still have work ahead of us in terms of convincing Turkey and other neighbors that our notion of democracy and federalism are consistent with the territorial integrity of Iraq and are prerequisites for stability and peace in that region," Saleh said. According to Saleh, Kurdish self-rule in the northern "no-fly zone" near the Iranian and Turkish borders has undergone a tremendous social and democratic transformation after inheriting a territory with no economic infrastructure and no agriculture following the Gulf War, which led to the UN Security Council's adoption of Resolution 688 to protect the Kurds following the withdrawal of US troops from the region. Saleh said that since 1991, the number of Kurdish schools had increased from 804 to 2,700, and the number of physicians had grown from 549 to 1,800, serving a community of 3.5 million living within a 45,000-square kilometer area. "Something different is taking root in Iraqi Kurdistan, in the de facto middle of the Islamic Middle East, because this is a part of the world with no notion of democracy, where we have been ruled by tyranny," he said. Such laws as "polygamy and honor killing, crimes not punishable before, are now banned and offenders are severely punished," Saleh said, adding that women's movements have been actively calling for more reforms. "A civil society is rising out the ashes of war, but for this to become real, we need a democratic Iraq, and this remains very limited, so long as Iraqi tanks are about an hour away from Sulaymaniyah." He acknowledged, however, that a US attack on Iraq could have dire consequences: "The United States points to the enormity of the task ahead and I hope that the next step concludes with the least destruction to the Iraqi economy." But he also indicated a special interest in the Kirkuk area, whose oilfields Baghdad has tried to secure by force. "Kirkuk has been the scene of the most brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing, or 'Arabization' applied on Kurds, Turkmens, Assyrians and other residents who have eventually been evicted from their homes and lands by the government and replaced by Arab tribes from central and southern Iraq who took possession of their lands and their homes," Saleh said. Iraq cannot be at peace, he added, unless the problems of parts of Iraqi Kurdistan that have been the scene of ethnic cleansing are redressed. So, what type of federal government does Saleh envision? "Certainly, US federalism, Spain's federalism and the British political system are all examples we can draw from, but I think what we would be looking for will have to be unique for Iraq," he said. Kurdish self-government with administrative powers in parts of the territories that are historically Iraqi Kurdistan, the use of a legislative and executive body and authority concerning economic management of the region were the fundamental prerequisites Saleh listed. "Consistent with our Iraqi identity, we need to be part of the decision-making process in Baghdad. We want to be seen as Iraqis and dealt with as Iraqis, and we will not accept to be second-class citizens," he added. Saleh also reiterated the need for Kurds to preserve their strong heritage, but not through nationalism, which he described as "limited and limiting. Nationalism and being a Kurd is not the end game and will not provide food, clean water and electricity in areas subject to genocide." NO URL (sent to list) * KURDISH LEADER WANTS TURKISH TROOPS OUT OF IRAQ ANKARA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - An Iraqi Kurdish leader said on Friday he wanted Turkey to withdraw its troops from northern Iraq, underscoring the tense relations between two potentially crucial players in any U.S. attack on Baghdad. NATO ally Turkey maintains a military presence in neighbouring Iraq's northern Kurdish enclave to pursue separatists from its own Kurdish minority. Ankara has threatened to intervene if Iraqi Kurds use a possible U.S. strike on Baghdad to push for independence, a move that could stir trouble among Turkish Kurds. This was the first time that Kurdistan Democratic Party leader Massoud Barzani has said he wanted to see an end to Turkey's military presence. "They are here for their own duties, and when that is over we are going to sit down and raise this issue with the Turkish authorities. We want these troops to return home," Barzani said in a live interview with news channel CNN Turk. 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