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News, 2-9/7/03 (4) FRIENDS AND ALLIES * Talibani in Damascus: occupation prevents fighting * Iraq's square pegs in round holes * US building a motley posse to keep peace in Iraq * Halting elections in Iraq * Coalition tells Turkoman front to disarm * Israel to amend law on exports to Iraq * Iraqis Grapple With Fears Of Israeli Infiltration * Delhi having second thoughts: officials: Sending of forces to Iraq * Kurds 'find Saddam-era mass grave' * Kurdish woman acquires high position in Iraq * Iraqi Governing Council Taking Shape * U.S. Frees Some of Turkish Special Forces * Shiite holy city battles with US-appointed governors swap * Iraq to get governing council with "real executive powers" * American's Suleymaniyeh operation was broader than just Turkish Special Forces * Iraqi groups agree to interim role BEYOND IRONY * Iraqis face painful certainty FRIENDS AND ALLIES http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030702/2003070201.html * TALIBANI IN DAMASCUS: OCCUPATION PREVENTS FIGHTING Arabic News, 2nd July The leaders of the Kurdistani National Federation Jalal Talibani yesterday in Damascus said that the American occupation forces have to stay in Iraq in order to avoid disorder and to prevent inter- fighting and the regrouping of partisans of the former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. He described the wave of attacks carried out against the American forces in Iraq as "individual behaviors" carried out, in most cases by Iraqi criminals. He said "I think there is an exaggeration in what is called the wave of violence (against the occupation forces)." He added "sometimes incidents take place because of mistakes by soldiers. I think there is no resistance. These are individual incidents which have connection to the 'Iraqi criminals' who were released (from prisons)." He continued "these are crimes against the Iraqis, and not against the USA." Talibani defended the American occupation of Iraq. He said "the existence of the American forces is a need for preventing disorder and internal sectarian fighting and to prevent regrouping of Saddam Hussein's supporters." He added "I think when a democratic government is established in Iraq, then we will ask the coalition forces to leave." Talibani denied news reported recently on that there is Israeli intelligence in Kurdistan Iraq. He said "these reports are categorically incorrect. They are lies repeated frequently. We were asked to come here ( to Syria ) to confirm that there are no agents for the Israeli intelligence" in northern Iraq. http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EG03Ak02.html * IRAQ'S SQUARE PEGS IN ROUND HOLES by Charles Recknagel Asia Times, 3rd July PRAGUE - United States officials in Iraq have not given many details as to why they arrested al-Najaf mayor Abdul Munim Abud, locally known as Abu Haydar, except to say that he is guilty of misuse of power. A spokesman for the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) told reporters after the US appointed mayor was detained on Tuesday that he would be charged with pressuring government officials to commit financial crimes, attacking a bank official, and theft. He is also accused of kidnapping. The mayor was detained along with 61 members of his entourage. The unidentified CPA spokesmen said that - given the mayor's behavior - it was "clearly a mistake to appoint him". He also said such developments were to be expected as some people handed power by Washington may prove unsuitable to the job. As the spokesman expressed it, "We've said all along we would make mistakes in this process." Correspondents say that Abud was a controversial figure for many people in al-Najaf from the moment of his appointment in early May. A former colonel in the Iraqi army, he is a Sunni Muslim in a city that is a leadership center for the Shi'ite community, which makes up some 60 percent of Iraq's population. Mohamed Ali Haidari, a broadcaster with RFE/RL's Radio Free Iraq, has been closely following the situation in al-Najaf. He says that people in al-Najaf resented Abud's appointment because he was seen as an outsider with no connection to the city. "Al-Najafi people weren't happy with his appointment two months ago. The first reason for this unhappiness was because he is Sunni, not Shi'ite, and al-Najaf is one of the holy cities for the Shi'ites in Iraq and the whole world. And people there were expecting that someone from their city would be their mayor. So they were very disappointed when the [US] administration decided to [appoint him as] the mayor of al-Najaf without any election and without consultation with the religious or political leaders of the city," Haidari said. Haidari says that the second reason al-Najaf residents were upset at Abud's appointment was that he had been accused of being a member of the former Ba'ath Party in Iraq. "And they don't want to see someone who looks like a symbol for the former regime," says Haidari. Al-Najaf "was one of the cities where a lot of clerics and religious leaders, in addition to some Shi'ite political activists, were either arrested or killed or executed under the former regime." The Washington Post reported in early May that US officials had appointed Abud because he had prior experience in the administration of al-Najaf. Abud was reported to have told US military officials he also was a leader of a little-known militia group - the National Unity Coalition - dedicated to overthrowing former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and that his militia had joined with the Americans in liberating the city. The newspaper also reported that Abud had impressed US authorities with his work ethic and calm, decisive manner. As US troops trained a new 1,500-man police force for the city, Abud was allowed to maintain his armed militia as his personal bodyguards and often said that they would disarm several other militias protecting key Shi'ite religious leaders in the city. Rivalries between those leaders have at times threatened to create unrest and are believed to be behind the murder of one prominent cleric - Sheikh Abdel Majid al-Khoei - shortly after he returned to al-Najaf from London in April. The popular resentment of Abud set off several street protests and frequent complaints to the city's judicial authorities. The mayor was arrested this week at the request of an Iraqi judge and a locally-appointed special prosecutor. He is to be tried under Iraqi law. The problem now facing US authorities in al-Najaf is how to replace Abud. The CPA last month canceled plans for a general election to popularly select a mayor from some 19 declared candidates, including Abud himself. US military spokesmen said at the time that the plans were put off indefinitely due to security concerns and a lack of voting lists. Now, with Abud's arrest making the issue pressing, the CPA is expected to set up a 22 member civic council to name his replacement. Until it does, the deputy interim governor in al-Najaf will take over. The creation of a civic council would follow a successful model already used by the CPA to choose a mayor in Mosul and some other Iraqi cities. In Mosul, more than 200 delegates from that city's Arab, Kurd, Christian and Turkmen communities gathered at a social club in early May to choose a new mayor and city council. US officials have said the new leadership in Mosul is meant to hold power until an open election for a permanent civil government can take place in a year or two. By arresting al-Najaf's US-appointed interim mayor this week, coalition officials underlined an increasing readiness to move on from their early reliance on the local powerbrokers they adopted immediately after the war to help keep the peace. The record of those powerbrokers so far has been mixed, with London previously sacking its appointed governor of Basra after he was rejected by tribal chiefs. Announcing Abud's detention, the CPA said that the move would serve as a warning to Iraqi officials that - whether they are appointed by the allies or chosen by popular councils - they must obey the law. A spokesman said, "This will send a message to all the governors that they are to be held accountable for their actions." Copyright (c) 2002, RFE/RL Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036 http://www.jordantimes.com/Fri/news/news14.htm * US BUILDING A MOTLEY POSSE TO KEEP PEACE IN IRAQ Jordan Times, 4th July BAGHDAD (AP) ‹ Poland is sending 2,300 soldiers. Ukraine promises 1,800. Small bands of Macedonians and Albanians are already here. And Sri Lanka says it's ready to consider requests for help. A posse of nations is materialising to help keep Iraq's peace, but big powers like France, Germany and Russia are showing little inclination to join. After invading Iraq over the objections of some allies and spurning a major UN role after the war, the United States ‹ whose troops are increasingly coming under attack ‹ has begun to seek help. Many hope a larger international presence could reassure Iraqis that they are not being colonised and help get Americans out of the line of fire. For now, the occupation of Iraq is overwhelmingly American, with about 150,000 US troops in the country. There are 12,000 other occupation troops, mostly British. "The more (foreign troops) there are, the fewer of US troops we have to have," US Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said this week. By the end of September, the non-US contingent is supposed to rise to around 20,000, led by Britain and Poland, said Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff. In Washington, US President George W. Bush said Wednesday that American troops aren't about to pull out despite a recent escalation of attacks against them. "We'll stay the course in Iraq," Bush said, offering no timetable for the withdrawal of American forces. "We're not leaving until we accomplish the task, and the task is going to be a free country run by the Iraqi people." The British foreign secretary also played down concerns that the US-led occupation risks descending into a Vietnam-style quagmire, saying loyalists of Saddam Hussein's regime will be crushed. "A quagmire? No," Jack Straw told reporters at the British mission in Baghdad. "These actions against the coalition forces won't succeed and will be dealt with." The United States has asked 70 countries to contribute troops. Just 24 have promised to do so, and some are sending as few as two dozen. Military analysts say NATO allies such as France and Germany are much better equipped to help the US military than an assemblage of armies from small countries. "The coalition does need bigger players, and we need the military help, not the political or symbolic help," said Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institution. Germany turned down a request last month to participate in Poland's peacekeeping mission. Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov said Tuesday that Moscow has no intention of sending troops. And France hasn'tbeen asked to participate, a French diplomatic official said Wednesday. Some say US officials decisions ahead of the war are coming back to haunt them. "It's one reason why promoting solidarity would have made sense, instead of dissing our allies," said Dana Allin of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies. "Now they don't feel particularly eager to join us." More international participation could help show Iraqis that the occupation isn't aimed at taking Iraq's oil. Iraqis bristle at US forces, who are deemed too supportive of Israel, while Britain is spurned as a former colonial master, said Anthony Cordesman of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "I think psychologically, if the Iraqis see the international community is involved, not just the Americans, they may feel better about the occupation of their country," said Ahmad Fawzi, spokesman for the UN liaison in Iraq. Poland, which sent an advance force of 250 soldiers Wednesday, is one of America's more eager partners. By September, the Poles will command one of three military sectors in Iraq, which includes the Shiite holy cities of Karbala and Najaf. The Poles will lead a stabilisation force of 9,000 soldiers from 15 countries, including Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Spain, Ukraine, the Dominican Republic, Honduras and El Salvador. Poland is supposed to deploy 2,300 soldiers and the Ukrainians are sending a mechanised unit of 1,800 soldiers. Both asked Washington to foot part of the bill. Other contributors include Denmark, with 367 soldiers near the southern city of Basra, and 43 Lithuanians under their command. The Czech Republic's military has 306 personnel ‹ mainly doctors and nurses ‹ operating a field hospital near Basra. The Netherlands is sending 1,100 troops. Italy has sent 800 soldiers and Carabineri police, who patrol Iraqi streets in shiny black vans. Some missions are too small to be of military significance. Macedonia has 28 soldiers in northern Iraq. Albania has 100 in the same region. Latvia sent 36. Estonia pledged a few dozen soldiers, mine divers and cargo handlers. Portugal promised 120 police officers. The Philippines plans to send 175 personnel, including soldiers, police and medics. Allin, at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said real legitimacy comes with the blessing of the United Nations, which is slipping into a larger role ‹ taking over humanitarian aid and police training duties from the US military. "It's a no-brainer that you should have a prominent UN role in Iraq," Allin said. The United Nations, he said, "has a legitimacy that the United States disdains but the rest of the world takes seriously." But the United Nations won't send peacekeepers without a new Security Council resolution, an unlikely event in the near future, Fawzi, the UN spokesman, said. Critics say many nations sending troops are more interested in currying favour with Washington than attending to Iraqis' needs. "The countries involved are mostly small, poor, weak and struggling," said Richard K. Betts, director of the Institute for War and Peace Studies at Columbia University. "Any crumbs of attention and approval they can get from the sole superpower are useful to them, and worth symbolic participation in the American enterprise." RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * HALTING ELECTIONS IN IRAQ RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003 The Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) has halted all local elections in Iraq and self-rule in provincial cities and towns, opting instead to appoint mayors and administrators, "The Washington Post" reported on 28 June. Many of those to be appointed are former Iraqi military leaders, according to the daily. CPA head L. Paul Bremer was reported to have recently said in an interview that there is "no blanket prohibition" on self-rule, adding, "I'm not opposed to it, but I want to do it [in] a way that takes care of our concerns...Elections that are held too early can be destructive. It's got to be done very carefully." Some critics have said that the CPA decision is an attempt to prevent Shi'ite clerics such as Muqtada al-Sadr from coming to power. Al-Sadr is a young cleric who reportedly enjoys tremendous support from his followers -- known as the Sadriyun -- who have been linked to the 10 April killing of Iraqi cleric Abd al-Majid al-Khoi (see "RFE/RL Iraq Report," 19 April 2003), who was killed soon after his return to Iraq after several years exile in London. "In a postwar situation like this, if you start holding elections, the people who are rejectionists tend to win," Bremer said. "It's often the best organized who win, and the best-organized right now are the former Ba'athists and to some extent the Islamists," he added. The CPA head said that soon after an Iraqi constitution is in place and a national census is taken, local and national elections will follow, "The Washington Post" reported. (Kathleen Ridolfo) RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * COALITION TELLS TURKOMAN FRONT TO DISARM RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003 The Kurdish weekly "Jamawar" reported on 30 June that the CPA has told the Iraqi Turkoman Front that its members must disarm or seek permission to operate from the Kurdistan Regional Government. Citing "well-informed sources," the weekly reported that the Turkoman leadership was reminded by CPA authorities that decisions promulgated by the Kurdistan regional parliament remain in force in Kurdistan and that the front is obliged to abide by the laws on political parties that are related to disarmament. (Kathleen Ridolfo) RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC * ISRAEL TO AMEND LAW ON EXPORTS TO IRAQ RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 29, 4 July 2003 [now that Iraq is free] Israeli lawmakers are reportedly working on an amendment that would permit Israeli companies to export goods to Iraq, Reuters cited Israeli Finance Ministry officials as saying on 2 July. Iraq is currently classified as an enemy state. According to Reuters, the "Ma'ariv" daily newspaper reported on 2 July that Israeli exporters would be able to begin trading with Iraq within days, once the law is amended and approved by Finance Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The change would be subject to review after one year and Iraq would not be immediately removed from the list of enemy states. Israeli citizens would also not be permitted to visit the country, according to "Ma'ariv." According to Reuters, Israeli companies have already begun exporting goods to Iraq using Palestinian and Jordanian companies as middlemen. (Kathleen Ridolfo) http://www.arabia.com/article/english/0,13821,401523,00.html * IRAQIS GRAPPLE WITH FEARS OF ISRAELI INFILTRATION Additional Reporting by Aws al-Sharqy Islam Online, 25th June BAGHDAD - Reports were rife in the Iraqi capital Baghdad that Israeli companies and intelligence elements were being housed in the famous Baghdad Hotel which was rented by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and some American reconstruction firms. "We were surprised that some people rented the whole hotel and were later told they were from the CIA and that the building would be devoted for them and other accompanying agents," a hotel employee told IOL Tuesday, June 24, on condition of anonymity. He said that hotel employees noted Monday that more foreigners and armed civilians "were seen roaming the hotel, with increasing whispers that they were here to protect Israeli companies working that rented several rooms in the hotel. "The light guns they were carrying were not U.S.-made but rather appear to be the well known Iraeli Ouzi machineguns," said the hotel employee to IOL correspondent outside the heavily guarded hotel. Ousting all guests from the Baghdad Hotel, the U.S. forces even prevented the shop owners from entering the hotel and refused to pay them compensations. "I was told to vacate my shop, which I have rented 26 years ago, in two hours time," complained Hamid Al-Izawi, expecting the decision to extend to other shops located in the hotel vicinity. "They even refused to compensate us for the rent money we had paid for the whole of this year, " he lamented. IOL correspondent tried to enter the hotel, but was banned by U.S. and Iraqi security members, who also prevented him from taking any photos. "The hotel is now rented by U.S. reconstruction companies," they told the reporter. The incident coincided with the circulation of an anonymous leaflet in Baghdad this week urging Iraqis to shun that hotel, because it was used by Jews and Israeli intelligence elements. Signed by "a sincere Iraqi Muslim," the leaflet sounded the alarms that some people were buying houses from Iraqis at sky-high prices for the interest of Jews. The warning found credit among mosque preachers and Iraqi citizens, with reports that Israelis were seeking to lay their hands on key buildings in sensitive areas of the capital. "Jews will try to lure Iraqis into selling their homes at whatever prices, and control the media in order to spread corruption and immorality," asserted Muhanad Abdullah, Imam of Omar Ibn Al-Khatab mosque. "But we will fight them, and will never allow a rerun of the Palestine episode," said Sheikh Muhanad, in reference to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. On Friday, a Sunni Muslim prayer leader charged that U.S. forces occupying Iraq were opening up the country to "Jews" and chided Iraqis he said were working as "brokers" for the Jewish infiltrators, Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported. "The Jews, civilian and military people, are now entering Iraq ... buying property, factories and companies while Iraqis work for them as brokers and guides," Sheikh Mahmud Khalaf told the faithful during weekly Muslim prayers in Baghdads Sheikh Abdul Kader al-Kilani mosque. "It is a sin for Iraqs people to sell their lands to the Jews and to deal with the Jews in this way," he said. The warnings came few days after U.S. Deputy Treasury Secretary John Taylor invited Israeli companies to join hands in the reconstruction of Iraq. Taylor said in an interview with the Israeli daily Yediot Ahoront Saturday, June 21, that the Iraqi market would be always open to Israeli products. Grapping with news of Jewish infiltration of the U.S.-occupied country, Iraqi press joined in with a flurry of reports about acquisitions of Iraqi estate by Jewish interests. "A hotel in the city center hosts a group of Zionists seeking to buy homes and palaces that belonged to officials of the former regime," the daily al-Dawa wrote last week under the headline, "The secrets of a Karrada hotel." "Jews are coming and buying as they did in Palestine," echoed Al-Hilal, while another newspaper, citing Baghdad residents who were offered big money to sell their homes, wondered if "Jews were about to reclaim property confiscated (when they left) in 1951." Israeli public television reported on Saturday that a representative of the Jewish Agency had visited Iraq to check on the safety of Jews since Saddams ouster. Some 100,000 Jews were living in Iraq before the creation of Israel in 1948, but most left to the Jewish state and only around 40 Jews remain in Iraq now. The tiny Jewish community lives in Baghdad, chiefly around a synagogue in the Batawin district. http://www.dawn.com/2003/07/05/int1.htm * DELHI HAVING SECOND THOUGHTS: OFFICIALS: SENDING OF FORCES TO IRAQ Dawn, 5th July NEW DELHI, July 4: India is growing more reluctant to join any international peacekeeping force in Iraq because of increasing attacks on US troops there and lack of consensus at home, officials said on Friday. Fears of Indian troops getting sucked into combat have dimmed hopes of any agreement on the thorny issue, as Indian political parties on Friday reiterated warnings against acceding to requests of the United States to deploy personnel. "We are now given to understand that our government has not made up its mind and is looking around because it is just not keen on sending troops to Iraq," a highly placed source from Defence Minister George Fernandes' Samata Party said. "Fernandes too is not particularly keen and it seems the government is marking time because of the lack of a national consensus on sending troops," the party source said. The Samata Party is a key component of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's government, which through a parliamentary resolution in April deplored the invasion of Iraq. The importance of a national consensus on the issue was also underlined by Indian Foreign Secretary Kapil Sibal in talks in Washington this week. "India is a democratic country. We have public opinion in our country ... Any decision that is taken by us must have political consensus and the US understands that position," Mr Sibal said on Thursday in Washington after meeting National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. Mr Sibal also spoke about "grey areas" such as the command and control structure of such a force, the role it would play and the areas of deployment. In New Delhi, the Congress party, which opposes military deployments on principle, echoed Mr Sibal's worries. "The issue is not of modality. It is a matter of principle," senior Congress MP Ashwani Kumar said on his return from Washington, where he met senators and congressmen to press with India's stand on the issue. "If the parliament of India by unanimous vote deplored the war on Iraq, how can the government commit its troops to a post-illegal war in Iraq. It will be an outright negation of that resolution. "Also, today American soldiers are facing bullets every day in Iraq and the casualties are far greater than being reported," said Mr Kumar. "If Indian troops go on a peacekeeping mission and if they are seen as allies of the occupation force they too might suffer attacks," he added. Retired major general Afsir Karim, a former member of India's National Security Board, too sounded a warning of the possibility of Indian troops getting bogged down in a conflict situation. "If we must send the military then we should send technicians, engineers, doctors and not just combat forces, which can only fight and today from what we see is fresh combat resurfacing and the US forces are under fire," Karim said. Retired Air Vice Marshal Kapil Kak, one of India's key military analysts, said New Delhi will have to consult Iraq's neighbours before committing troops to a US-sponsored stabilization force. "The new situation in Iraq, where fighting has begun, presents both challenges and opportunities and this is a defining moment for India to come to the assistance of the people of Iraq by offering humanitarian stabilisation. "But we must step in only after consultations but with neighbouring nations such as Jordan, Iraq, Turkey and Kuwait and we must also consult community leaders of Iraq in regions where India may be involved," he added. Reports in the Indian media on Friday said Russia, China, France and many Arab nations had all warned India against committing troops to Iraq. The Indian military, which already has a blueprint for deployment, wants its troops to be posted in "non-conflict" zones like Kurdish-dominated northern Iraq, a highly-placed defence ministry source said. "But we first need a comprehensive consensus. We will not fight someone else's dirty war," the source added. -AFP http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,6703679%255E40 1,00.html * KURDS 'FIND SADDAM-ERA MASS GRAVE' The Australian, 5th July A MASS grave containing the remains of Iraqi Kurdish victims of the regime of deposed president Saddam Hussein has been discovered near the northern city of Mosul, a Kurdish TV station said today. KTV, which acts as a mouthpiece for the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) that controls the Kurdish city of Arbil, said the mass grave had been found by Kurdish residents with the help of US forces controlling the region. It said that so far the remains of 30 Kurds had been unearthed in al-Hadar, south-west of Mosul, and aired footage of fragments of torn up clothing purporting to show that the victims were women and children. KTV quoted residents of al-Hadar as saying the mass grave dated back to 1988 and that there were other mass graves in the area. Some 300 Kurdish civilians were buried in mass graves in the region in 1988, they claimed, alluding to the anti-Kurd campaign of 1988-1989, which Kurds refer to as Anfal and which included the infamous chemical attack on Halabja. Kurds have reported discovering several mass graves in northern Iraq. The pits are among the dozens of mass graves uncovered all over Iraq since Saddam's ousting by invading US-led forces on April 9. http://www.arabicnews.com/ansub/Daily/Day/030704/2003070404.html * KURDISH WOMAN ACQUIRES HIGH POSITION IN IRAQ Arabic News, 4th July In a remarkable development, Mubeira Abu Baker has assumed her post as a governor for Doukan district to the north of Iraq, to be therefore the first Iraqi Kurdish woman to assume this administrative post since the foundation of the modern Iraq in 1921. In a press conference she held at the governorate's headquarters, 62 Km from the city of al Suleimaneyah, Mubeira said she seeks to provide best services for the citizens of the district and its affiliated villages and housing complexes. She vowed to spare no effort to honor the law within the administrative borders of the district. Doukan, however, is one of the administrative districts which affiliates to al-Suleimaneyah province. It is situated on the small al-Zaab river in a touristic area where in 1975 a dam and a lake of Dukan were established. A hydro-thermal station was founded, feeding for the time being parts of the governorates of al-Suleimaaneyah and Irbil and part of Karkouk with electricity. http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/stories/w-me/2003/jul/05/070505145.html * IRAQI GOVERNING COUNCIL TAKING SHAPE by Paul Haven Las Vegas Sun, 5th July BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP): Shiite Muslims, long oppressed by Saddam Hussein's Sunni dominated government, will hold a commanding majority on a political council U.S. authorities will set up this month as a forerunner to a new Iraqi government, The Associated Press has learned. The governing council of 25-30 leading Iraqis will be the first step in a 12-to-15 month process that will likely involve a constitutional referendum followed by the first free elections in Iraq in decades, according to a senior Western diplomat who laid out the blueprint of Iraq's path to democracy. The panel will return some control back to Iraqis, though its composition is a sensitive matter. While Shiites are clamoring for a prominent role, Sunnis worry that an Iran-style Shiite theocracy could take hold and push them to the fringes of power. The U.S.-led provisional government is anxious to get an Iraqi council in place in order to dispel a common perception here that America's mission amounts to colonization rather than liberation. U.S. troops have been the target of a growing insurgency - and officials say an Iraqi administration could help stabilize the volatile security situation. A Shiite-dominated government would be a sea change for Iraq, which has been ruled by the Sunni minority since the days of Ottoman Turkish rule. Shiites, who make up at least 60 percent of Iraq's population of 24 million, have often rebelled against Sunni rulers, but never successfully. In the last Shiite uprising - after the 1991 Gulf War that left Saddam in power - Shiite leaders were hanged from lamp posts and thousands were killed. The diplomat, who spoke on condition his name not be used, said Britain and the United States would never allow a fundamentalist Shiite government in Iraq. At the same time, he said the council should reflect the demographics of the country, with Shiites in the lead role, and minority Sunnis and Kurds evenly represented. "There will be a slight Shiite majority, something like 60-20-20," he said, referring to the percentage of council members coming from Shiite, Sunni and Kurdish groups. L. Paul Bremer, Iraq's U.S. civilian administrator, had promised to set up the council by July 15. He said it would be consulted on all major decisions and given the power to name ministers and fill other senior positions. But on Saturday, he left open the possibility the date could be pushed back. "In the next two weeks I expect to see an Iraqi governing council established. This council will have real power and real responsibilities from the very start," he said. Political and religious leaders have sharply criticized delays in setting up an Iraqi government. Officials close to the process say the timetable was moved back at the behest of local Iraqi leaders who felt they were being overshadowed by the likes of Ahmed Chalabi, leader of the Iraqi National Council, and former foreign minister Adnan Pachachi, heavy-hitters on the international stage who spent most of the Saddam years abroad. "All of these external parties will have a representative, but the majority of the council will be internal," said the diplomat, referring to Iraqis who remained in the country rather than go into exile during Saddam's reign. The council will also give a prominent voice to women, and include representation of Iraqi Christians and other religious minorities. Officials will not disclose specific names of council members, saying negotiations are delicate and ongoing. Shiite leaders have been among the most vocal critics of the proposed governing council, saying a council made up of elites hand-picked by Bremer would have no more legitimacy than the current provisional administration. Last week, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, one of Iraq's most influential Shiite leaders, issued a fatwa, or religious edict, denouncing plans for any council picked by the Americans. Another leading Shiite voice, Hamid al-Bayati of the powerful Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, told AP from his London office that the council will be "weak and illegitimate" and "have no credibility whatsoever." According to the diplomat, Iraqis will have some say as to the makeup of the council, but he acknowledged participants must be willing to accept the coalition's main goals for Iraq. "It is a fine line we are treading. If we take too much control and hand pick the council, everybody will say they are coalition puppets," he said in an interview Friday. "But if the Iraqis discuss it among themselves ... you might find there are elements that just aren't interested in constructing a democratic system." A spokesman for Pachachi, an elderly former Sunni politician who recently returned from exile, told AP his movement was prepared to see Shiites take the lead on the council. "We think that Iraqi Shiites should play a major role and we have no objections to that," said the spokesman, Bassil al-Naqib. "We should rise above sectarian differences, which are wrong and are part of the legacy of Saddam." Two to three weeks after the governing council is established, a separate committee will be given about six weeks to form a 200-to-250 strong constitutional convention, which will decide what form of government Iraq should have. With little infrastructure and no accurate Iraqi voter records, a popular vote for the convention is out of the question, officials say. One idea being floated is an "electoral college" that would allow regions and groups to nominate representatives. If all goes well, the constitutional convention will be in place by mid- to late-September and have nine months to a year to draft a new constitution - that would in turn be approved in a popular referendum. Many Iraqis are hoping the process will provide a role for Sharif Ali bin Hussein, the long exiled cousin of Iraq's last monarch. His supporters are calling for the 45-year old London investment banker to be installed as king in a constitutional monarchy, with a Shiite as prime minister. http://www.sanluisobispo.com/mld/sanluisobispo/news/world/6239694.htm * U.S. FREES SOME OF TURKISH SPECIAL FORCES by Esra Aygin Associated Press, 5th July ISTANBUL, Turkey - The United States released some of a group of 11 Turkish special forces whose detention by U.S. troops in northern Iraq angered Turkey and threatened to further strain already tense ties between the longtime allies. U.S. officials remained silent over why the Turkish troops were seized in a Friday night raid by American forces on an office in northern Iraq. A Turkish newspaper said the detentions aimed to foil a Turkish plot to kill a senior official in the oil-rich city of Kirkuk. Turkey closed a key border crossing into Iraq and its powerful military reportedly considered further steps to protest. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Saturday evening that some of the soldiers had been released, but he did not say how many. "Some of the soldiers have been released. Some of them are still in their hands. Efforts (for their release) are continuing," Erdogan said during a visit to the northern Turkish city of Samsun. The detentions came as Turkey is still trying to repair relations with the United States, at a low since the Turkish parliament's refusal in March to allow U.S. troops to use the country as a staging ground to invade Iraq. The detentions also reflected the frictions between the two NATO allies' differing interests in northern Iraq. U.S. forces have been working closely with Kurds in the area, while Turkey - facing a longtime separatist movement among its own Kurds - greatly fears an increase in Kurdish influence in Iraq. Erdogan said earlier that Turkey wanted its troops released "as soon as possible." "This is an ugly incident. It should not have happened," he said. "For an allied country to behave in such a way toward its ally cannot be explained." In Washington, a State Department spokeswoman said U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell discussed the detentions with Turkish Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul in a phone call. Powell advised Gul that a total of 24 detainees, including the Turkish soldiers, were taken to Baghdad, the Anatolia news agency reported. Powell also said some of the detainees were released, without giving any numbers, Anatolia added. Aside from the Turkish soldiers, U.S. troops also detained security guards and staff working at the office, reports said. Anatolia said Gul relayed to Powell that the issue could harm relations between the two countries, stressing that the Turkish public opinion was "sensitive" to the issue. Lt. Cmdr. Nicholas Balice, spokesman at the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla., would not comment on the detentions, saying only, "We are certainly aware of incident, and at the moment we're investigating it." Turkish government officials said about 100 American troops raided a Turkish special forces office in the town of Sulaymaniyah, detained 11 soldiers, and took them to Kirkuk. The Hurriyet newspaper said the detentions followed reports that Turks were planning to kill a senior Iraqi official in Kirkuk. While there was no word on the identity, the city recently elected a Kurdish lawyer, Abdulrahman Mustafa, as its mayor amid concerns that the new administration may favor one ethnic group over another. The city is divided between Arabs, Kurds, ethnic Turks and Christians and has been the scene of ethnic tensions. Turkey rejected any suggestion of a plot. After the arrests, Turkey closed down its border gate with Iraq at Habur, officials at the border said. The Habur crossing is used to ship U.N. aid as well as gas and other supplies to U.S. troops in northern Iraq. After the closure, trucks formed 6 mile-long queue at the border gate. Private NTV television said Turkey's powerful military was discussing possible measures to take if the soldiers were not released - including closing Turkish airspace to U.S. military flights, stopping the use of the southern Incirlik air base and sending more troops into northern Iraq. U.S. diplomat Robert Deutsch, who had been called to the Foreign Ministry to discuss the detentions, told reporters afterward that Turkish and U.S. officials were working for the soldiers' release, Anatolia reported. Turkey has long maintained a military presence in parts of northern Iraq in a campaign to suppress Turkish Kurd rebels operating in the region. At the onset of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, Turkey threatened to send in troops, fearing Iraqi Kurds would establish an independent state in northern Iraq, which could encourage Turkish Kurd separatists. Kurdish rebels fought a 15-year war against Turkish troops for autonomy in Turkey's southeast, which has killed some 37,000 people. The rebels declared a unilateral cease-fire in 1999 after the capture of their leader, Abdullah Ocalan. The military rejected the cease-fire and sporadic fighting continues. Turkey sent a team to Sulaymaniyah to meet with officials about the detentions. "I hope there will be an outcome by this evening," Erdogan said. It was the second time that U.S. forces detained Turkish soldiers in northern Iraq. In April, the U.S. Army's 173rd Airborne Brigade caught a dozen Turkish soldiers, dressed in civilian clothes and trailing an aid convoy. U.S. forces suspected that the Turkish team was sent in to inflame local ethnic Turks, who already have tense relations with the city's Kurds and Arabs. http://www.jordantimes.com/Sun/news/news7.htm * SHIITE HOLY CITY BATTLES WITH US-APPOINTED GOVERNORS SWAP by Nayla Razzouk Jordan Times, 6th July Agence France-Presse, NAJAF, Iraq ‹ Although his picture is posted at the town hall, the new governor of the holy Shiite city of Najaf is not wanted, unlike his US-appointed predecessor who was arrested on charges of kidnapping and theft. A computer-printed colour picture of Haidar Mahdi Mattar Al Mayali taped at the front door of the closely-guarded US Civil Military Operations Centre in Najaf reads: "The governor/'mayor' of Najaf." Najaf residents passing through the door look at the sign with dismay. "They had to post his picture and his name for us to know who our governor is," said Ali Hussein, an unemployed teacher. "This is typical of the state of the country. Just like his predecessor who has been arrested, Mayali was appointed by the Americans, he was not elected by us," he explained. In an embarrassing blow to their efforts to rebuild the country, coalition forces in Iraq on Monday removed from office and detained the US-appointed Najaf interim governor, Abu Haidar Abdul Munim. Mayali, who was deputy governor, was named interim governor by the US-led coalition administration. Abdul Munim faces "charges which include: Kidnapping and holding hostages; pressuring government employees to perform financial crimes; attacking a bank official and stealing funds," according to a US coalition official. Civil Affairs Sergeant Holly Malueg told AFP that Abdul Munim "was arrested and indicted. He will face a court case in Iraq under Iraqi law". "About one hundred people were detained on the same case. If found innocent, they will be released," she said. Malueg said Mayali "was temporarily put in the governor's post until there are real elections for a new town council." Asked about the embarrassment the US administration suffered at having to arrest one of its appointed officials, Malueg said: "He was helping when nobody was. Obviously the coalition did not know all about him." More than a month after a heated campaign by 19 candidates, US overseer Paul Bremer annulled in mid-June elections in Najaf which had been due for June 21, and appointed Abdul Munim at the top post. Bremer then said it was too soon to hold polls in postwar Iraq, angering the candidates and most prominent movements in the region. Captain Tom Lachance explained that "once we started learning things, the investigation started and then he was detained." "But there is a positive side to that because the Iraqi people will see that public officials can actually be held accountable. We also gained a lot of credibility," he said. But Najaf residents seemed rather unmoved by the issue, with many expressing anger at not being asked for their opinion. Abdul Munim was not popular because of his shady reputation and due to the fact that he was a Sunni Muslim, like most of the Saddam associates, in the holiest Shiite city in the world. Mayali may be a Shiite, but he is unknown to most Najaf residents. Sheikh Mortada Sadr, one of the most prominent Shiite clerics in Iraq, summarised the feelings of Najaf residents: "America has removed one person and put another in his place. They are both the same." "The Iraqi people should be the one to choose" their constitution, government and leaders, he told AFP. But at the door of the US civil administration, dozens of Iraqis were waiting in line for time to speak with US officers, through translators. They were all seeking jobs with the US administration. http://story.news.yahoo.com/news?tmpl=story&u=/afp/20030706/wl_mideast_afp/i raq_us_politics&cid=1514&ncid=1478 * IRAQ TO GET GOVERNING COUNCIL WITH "REAL EXECUTIVE POWERS" Yahoo, 6th July BAGHDAD (AFP) - US overseer Paul Bremer will unveil in the next two weeks a "transitory governing council" with "real executive powers", marking Iraq's first step toward democracy after Saddam Hussein's 24-year dictatorial reign, UN special envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello told AFP. However Bremer will keep a power of veto despite giving the body more authority than previously announced, Vieira de Mello said. The plan marked a departure for Bremer who previously envisaged the council as serving strictly in an advisory role to the US administration. "He listened to some advice, that we, among others, gave. He has made some concessions and gradually turned this council, which at the outset was only consultative, into a council to which he is prepared to delegate a certain number of powers," the UN envoy said. Those suggestions from the UN included changing the body's name from the Iraq Interim Administration to the Transitory Governing Council, Vieira de Mello said. Bremer is also allowing Iraqi parties to pick their representatives to the council, a European diplomat in Baghdad told AFP. "The members of the governing council, which will number 20, are in the process of being drafted but will not be named directly by the coalition, even if they have a right of course to monitor the process." Bremer told Iraqi political groups June 1 that a future Iraqi interim body, to be set up by mid July, would be led by a 25- to 30-strong political council that would name "key advisors" to government ministries and offer advice to Bremer. The interim body would work in parallel with a separate, much larger convention that would draw up a new Iraqi constitution. But the plan had sparked the ire of Iraqi political leaders who were eager to take the reins of power. Bremer had notably come in for criticism from the top Shiite cleric in Iraq, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani. Sistani, perceived as a moderate and being welcoming to the Americans, last week blasted the US plans to draft a new constitution ahead of general elections. Although the revised government plans do not address Sistani's concerns, it is a major step in pleasing the Shiite community, which makes up more than 60 percent of the population and has been perceived as not being involved in post-war attacks on US forces. Despite the revisions, the new council still holds true to Bremer's original idea that the body should be representative of the entire society. The members will include all Iraqi communities, even its minorities, as well as three- to- four women, although the Shiites will make up the majority, the diplomat said. The council will select ministers and also diplomats to represent Iraq at an international level to negotiate on issues like oil sales, financing loans and joining bodies like the World Trade Organisation, said a global affairs expert involved in the bargaining over the council's final shape. No decision has yet been made on a council president, although the job "will be like that of a moderator and not a true president, someone who knows how to lead debates in a collegial manner for an interim period of 12 to 18 months," the expert said. The position could also rotate among three or four council members. Meanwhile, the US administration has plans for a seven- to 10- member constitutional commission, which will hold consultations with all sectors of society. It would then return within two to three months with several ideas for a constitution to be presented to the transitional council. The council could then choose to elect a constitutional assembly which would draft a constitutional text that would be submitted to a referendum, Vieira de Mello said. The constitutional referendum would pave the way for national elections and bring an end to the US-led occupation of Iraq. The entire process has been described in general terms as taking up to 24 months. Major players in the talks over the council are the Pentagon-backed Iraqi National Congress (INC), one of the main exile groups that opposed Saddam, the two main Kurdish political parties -- the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan and the Kurdistan Democratic Party -- as well as the Supreme Assembly of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SAIRI), the main Shiite Muslim group. http://www.kurdmedia.com/reports.asp?id=1557 * AMERICAN'S SULEYMANIYEH OPERATION WAS BROADER THAN JUST TURKISH SPECIAL FORCES KurdishMedia.com [Translated from Turkish; originally published in Ozgur Politika newspaper, 7 July 2003.] It is reported that the US operation was not directed only at the Turkish Special Forces team, but also at the Iraqi Turkoman Front [ITC], which is organized by Turkish intelligence. US officials have confirmed that a group of Turkish military personnel are still being detained. An American military official who made a statement yesterday in Kirkuk said that there was a raid. The US military is still seeking to determine these peoples identities, but I believe they are all Turkish. The office utilized by the Special Forces personnel was the main coordination center for Turkish activities in Suleymaniyeh and the vicinity. The operation, launched on Friday against the liaison office of the Turkish Special Operations Team in Dar al-Amin Street, was extensive in this context. Accordingly, the ITC headquarters in Suleymaniyeh, the ITCs TERT-2 radio station, a kindergarten, and the Turkoman Culture Center were raided as well. A total of 47 people were detained in the operation. In the first raid, a total of 17 people were taken into custody, consisting of 8 Special Forces personnel (3 officers and 8 non-commissioned officers), a Turkoman woman employed as a cook, her son, 1 Kurdish employee, and 3 peshmergehs [Kurdish guerrilla fighters] serving as guards. The woman and her son were later released. In two raids that followed this one, 13 ITC militants were taken into custody. The number of people taken into custody in the operation carried out against the ITC headquarters in Kirkuk is not clear. All the personnel in the buildings belonging to the Turkomans were detained for four hours. A great many weapons and documents belonging to the Turkish military, Turkish intelligence, and the Turkoman front were seized in the Operation carried out by the American military in Suleymaniyeh. The US soldiers, who took a truckload full of material out of the Turkish Special Operations Teams liaison office and sent it to Kirkuk, then locked up the office. In the Turkoman Front headquarters that was raided, approximately 100 kilograms of TNT, intended to be used in assassinations, was seized, as well as a large number of Kalashnikov infantry rifles and various other assorted firearms. The Turkoman Front had not turned in the weapons, although the United States had earlier made calls for it to do so. The United States had announced that it would not permit anyone, apart from its own forces and those charged with providing security, to carry arms in the region. The Turkoman Front, however, had not obeyed this and, trusting in the protection of the Turkish military, had been keeping the heavy weapons in its possession as an element of threat. It is being reported that the Americans had begun an investigation as well as intelligence work in order to turn up the Turkoman Fronts hidden weapons. It is noted that the Turkoman Front has also hidden a great many weapons outside of its headquarters. The Turkomans whose arms were seized were given permission to re-enter their buildings yesterday afternoon, and the radio then resumed broadcasting. The detention of four Turkoman militants still continues. It is noteworthy that, after the Turkish Special Forces personnel were detained and taken to Kirkuk, they were placed into a military prison that the Americans have previously used to hold pro-Saddam Bathists. Turkeys efforts to create chaos in South Kurdistan by playing the Turkoman card, and its stationing of military and intelligence personnel there for this purpose, have for years occasioned harsh reactions among the people. While the American militarys detention of the Turkish soldiers and its closure of the office were met with joy by the people, the PUK [Patriotic Union of Kurdistan], which has protected these troops for years, is being criticized. It is stated that the lack of coverage given to this large-scale operation in the television and newspaper media of the PUK and the KDP [Kurdistan Democratic Party] derives from the deep ties that these parties have had with Turkey for more than ten years. The office in question had earlier been assigned by the PUK to the Turkish military. PUK peshmergehs had provided its security. People are pointing out that the PUK had allowed the Turkish military to engage in this much damaging activity, and that this force in the end was planning assassinations of PUK leader Jalal Talabani and the governor of Kirkuk. It is not known how this incident that took place in Suleymaniyeh, which is controlled by the PUK, will impact the visit of PUK leader Talabani, who was expected to visit Ankara on Monday. http://www.iht.com/articles/102009.html * IRAQI GROUPS AGREE TO INTERIM ROLE by Patrick E. Tyler International Herald Tribune, from New York Times, 8th July SALAHUDDIN, Iraq: Warning that escalating violence is encouraging the remnants of Saddam Hussein's regime, the main Iraqi political groups that supported the United States and Britain in toppling the Iraqi leader said Monday they would join the first postwar interim government later this month and press for greater powers under the occupation authority. At the same time, several prominent members of the former opposition forces, including Massoud Barzani, the Kurdish leader, and Ahmad Chalabi, head of the Iraqi National Congress, said they were urging United States military commanders in Iraq to allow the creation of an Iraqi national security force to help thwart the increasing number of attacks on allied forces. Iraqi political leaders here said the creation of such a force would allow the withdrawal of heavily armored American troops from Baghdad and other major cities, defusing the growing tension that has undermined the sense of "liberation" in Iraq and supplanted it with a negative image of occupation. "We always told the Americans that the most difficult stage would be after the war and that it is not good for them to be in the forefront," Barzani said after the daylong session. "They should keep their distance and support Iraqi forces as they try to solve the problems themselves." The Iraqi political figures claim to have high-level support for an Iraqi security force from General John Abizaid, who takes over the United States Central Command this week from General Tommy Franks, and in the Pentagon from Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy secretary of defense. Such a force would be separate from efforts to rebuild the Iraqi police and a new Iraqi army, officials said. It would be a paramilitary army trained and equipped by the United States on a crash basis to confront the remnants of Saddam's Ba'athist regime that are believed to be responsible for the attacks that have killed 28 American soldiers since May 1. The decision by the main Iraqi political groups to join an interim government marks the final stage of a two-month struggle by the former Iraqi opposition leaders with L. Paul Bremer 3rd, the American occupation administrator in Iraq, over the scope of power and authority of an Iraqi leadership body. Bremer swept aside plans that Jay Garner, the retired lieutenant general who was his predecessor, had put in place in May to turn over significant powers to an Iraqi provisional government. Such a government would have been drawn from the opposition leaders in the Kurdish north and from exile movements like Chalabi's, as well as from religious parties such as the Shiite Daawa Party and the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, headed by the Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim. The United Nations resolution that recognizes the United States and Britain as occupation powers in Iraq calls for a swift transition to Iraqi rule, but Bremer initially charted a more protracted course, saying he preferred to appoint a "political council" of Iraqis to merely advise the occupation powers on policy, while longer-term plans for writing a constitution and holding elections were implemented over the course of one to two years. Monday's decision comes at a time when Bremer has been under pressure to put an Iraqi government in place to deal with a deteriorating security situation. Small-scale guerrilla attacks on American convoys and bases have engendered high-level concern in the Bush administration about whether postwar plans to build a new Iraqi state are working. Three Americans died Sunday and early Monday in separate attacks. In behind-the-scenes negotiations over the past several weeks, Bremer has made a series of concessions to the Iraqi political groups, most prominently acknowledging that they will have a "governing" role under the still paramount authority of the occupation powers. Bremer now appears to be in a greater hurry and he has promised, the Iraqi political leaders say, to grant extensive powers to appoint and supervise an Iraqi council of ministers, to set oil and other economic policies, issue a new Iraqi currency and send Iraqi ambassadors back out into the world. A "governing council" is expected to declare itself as a leadership body later this month after weeks of negotiations aimed at making it appear that the council will not be directly appointed by Bremer, but rather that it will "emerge" after "consultations" among prominent Iraqi political figures. "We need an Iraqi government and we think now that the Americans realize that Iraqis are the only ones with the experience for maintaining security, administration and for filling the political vacuum," said Adel Abdul-Mahdi, whose grandfather served in the first Iraqi government in the 1920's and who now represents the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, a Shiite Muslim organization headed by the Ayatollah Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim. In a joint statement issued Monday, the seven members of the "leadership council" of the former Iraqi opposition indicated that their negotiations with Bremer are not yet concluded. "The meeting welcomed the formation of a governing council, considering it a step in the right direction towards the formation of a provisional government," the statement said. Several of the Iraqis who attended Monday's meeting said that a decision had been made that they would serve on the governing council, but that they are still involved in negotiations on the names of other Iraqis who will serve with them. Bremer clearly has put forward a number of candidates, including Adnan Pachachi, the elder statesman of Iraq's diplomatic corps from the 1960's, before Saddam arrived on the political scene. BEYOND IRONY http://www.jordantimes.com/Tue/news/news1.htm * IRAQIS FACE PAINFUL CERTAINTY by Till Mayer in Baghdad Jordan Times, 8th July Often it is difficult to find the right words. Sometimes it is impossible. Ali Ismael Ahmed knows this too well. There is nothing more that can be said when a father is searching for his lost son. Especially so when what remains of a boy, raised by his father for 13 years, consists of a black and charred body. Ahmed is a tracing officer for the Iraqi Red Crescent. He appears to be a tall and strong man. But there are things that no man can easily bear. When Ahmad sees the grief in the eyes of a parent, a sadness that cannot find words for the speaking, this 43-year-old aid worker feels utterly helpless. Being a tracing officer at the Red Crescent is a very heavy duty these days in Iraq. "All I can provide is the terrible news about the destiny of a beloved one," explains Ahmed, sitting in his sparsely furnished office in the Baghdad branchbuilding. "My news strikes grief in the heart every time I deliver it, but at least it brings an end, a painful certainty." Certainty. Closure. This is what one young woman has been spending the last two months looking for in the searing and merciless summer heat of Baghdad. She is searching for the remains of her brother, and even digs with her bare hands in the hard brown earth next to the roads. Dust covers her black veil, and sweat drops like silent tears from her face. Someone had told her that some war victims were buried in this place. One more lost soul. There are so many missing persons in this capital of six million people. Sometimes a simple metal shard or a wooden stick or a small pile stones will mark a grave. Like the rusty piece of metal stuck in the earth beside a monument of "revolution heroes." Great iron statues are lined up in rows just ten metres behind this humble grave. Silent soldiers standing all in a row, immortal guards of the unknown bodies that are hastily buried below them. No more bombs are falling down on Baghdad now. Nevertheless, death still awaits a rich harvest in and around this big city. Shootings continue daily between the organised gangs, and between Iraqi fighters and the occupation forces. The morgue is a plain-looking building in the Bab Al Mua'dam district of Baghdad. Flourishing green bushes mark the entrance. With its warm yellow cover of paint, the edifice looks peaceful and serene in the bright sunlight. Yet this first impression is a cruel lie. Next to the building's entranceway, just inside the door, an open wooden coffin leans against the wall. Flies are stuck where the sun quickly dried the blood. Day after day, 20 to 30 dead bodies are delivered here, victims of the violence from the night before. Every night is a night before in these times. Farther inside the building, a sense of hopelessness pervades, and the stench of death steals away the breath. The eyesight of the onlooker slowly adjusts to the dim light inside. And in the morgue's official chamber, in the coldness of the air conditioning, new tasks pile up for tracing officers such as Ahmed, searching for the identity of yet another dead loved one. "Yes, the war is over, but we get fresh cases to follow up every day," Ali says with a sigh. And every case represents a tragedy for some family. Like the "case" of that 13-year-old, who was travelling in one of the ancient and tiny minibuses one sees everywhere in this country, so well-known as the most affordable way to travel. There was no chance for this boy to escape his tragic destiny. A shooting between two rival gangs ended in a fireball as the minibus was being fuelled. The entire filling station blew up in the split of a second. No one was able to extinguish the fire until the next morning. The boy's remains were barely recognisable. So much so that a wrong family claimed him in error as their own, and transported the body to Mosul, hundreds of kilometres to the north of Baghdad. Meanwhile, the true father was looking desperately for the body of his son, knowing he had been in that minibus, to at least give him a dignified burial. "It was difficult to find the family that spirited away the body of that boy," explains Ahmed, "and even more difficult to convince them to give up the body. I will never in my life forget all the pain and the tears." But today's tasks are waiting for this tracing officer. There are still graves of Iraqi soldiers in the compound of the republican palace and elsewhere. Soon, even more families will receive their own painful certainties. Meanwhile, the shadows of an older war are touching the Red Crescent branch in Baghdad. Ashes and bits of bones, being the remains of victims from the Iran/Iraq war of the 1980s, were found in a looted government warehouse. Those remains were carefully packed in named envelopes, but the authorities never informed the relatives, or delivered the envelopes. "Someone gave me a plastic bag withði0 QÄ“|¿15 dead peop‹µ•nside. It weighs less than one kilogramme," laments Ahmed, "but to carry it demanded all of my energy." Till Mayer is working as an Information Delegate at the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. He contributed this article to The Jordan Times. _______________________________________________ Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To unsubscribe, visit http://lists.casi.org.uk/mailman/listinfo/casi-discuss To contact the list manager, email email@example.com All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk