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[casi] News, 16-23/7/03 (3)

News, 16-23/7/03 (3)


*  US administration reaches out to communists, low-paid Iraqis
*  Pretender to throne marks anniversary of fall of monarchy
*  Iraqi Governing Council is inaugurated: a look at the first week
*  Bad blood lingers after strange days in Kurdistan
*  Iraq Council Fails to Choose President
*  New Iraqi Council Makes Debut at U.N.


*  Al-Da'wah official discusses party, split
*  Resistance groups continue to issue threats against coalition
*  As other group claims it has halted attacks
*  Iraqi archbishop condemns US
*  US confused by Iraq's quiet war    
*  Iraqi uprising gathers pace
*  10,000 Iraqi Shiites rally in Najaf against US occupation


Yahoo, 16th July

BAGHDAD (AFP) - Promoting communists, doubling the salaries of the low-paid
and banning the death penalty might not sound like the work of a US
Republican administration, but then welcome to topsy-turvy post-war Iraq
(news - web sites).

Among the more surprising choices made by the top US overseer in Iraq, Paul
Bremer, known for his neo-conservative leanings, was to allow communist
Hamid Majid Mussa to sit on Iraq's new Governing Council.

"He has two main concerns: preventing extremists taking the key positions
among the Shiites and keeping the economy going," explained one of the
international advisors involved in the selection process.

"He hesitated at first but became convinced that the communists could prove
a counterweight to the imams," he added, asking not to be named.

Iraqi Communist Party official Numan Suhayel explains how the selection was
made: "The Americans and the British sent a delegation to see us and then
Hamid Majid met personally with Paul Bremer," he says.

He insists the party's seat on the council has nothing to do with power
brokering but reflects the communists' standing in Iraq.

Another peculiarity is the abolition of the death penalty.

While US President George W. Bush (news - web sites) is a known advocate of
capital punishment, with Texas under his governorship singled out by human
rights groups for its level of executions, US authorities in Iraq have
banned the practice.

Other surprising decisions include reducing inequality in pay scales for
civil servants.

Bremer arrived in Baghdad on May 12 to be confronted by thousands of public
sector workers unpaid and out of work. One of his first decisions was to
double the minimum salary to 50,000 dinars (around 40 dollars) per month.

At the same time he cut the top salaries for senior management from 1.2
million dinars (960 dollars) to 500,000 dinars (400 dollars).

But one decision that backfired was an attempt to get rid of Iraq's
400,000-strong army with a one-off termination payment.

Under threat of armed insurrection, the coalition agreed to pay monthly
salaries to former soldiers not in the top tiers of Saddam Hussein (news -
web sites)'s Baath Party.

"Bremer's becoming an Iraqi. He's distancing himself more and more from the
Bush administration," one international advisor said with a broad grin when
asked to account for the top US official's recent "eccentric" decisions.


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

Sharif Ali bin al-Husayn, cousin of King Faysal II, the Iraqi king
assassinated in a coup led by Abd al- Karim Qasim on 14 July 1958, marked
the day with a memorial at his party's headquarters in Baghdad, according to
an announcement issued by the Constitutional Monarchy Movement (CMM) in
"Al-Ra'y al-Amm" on 12 July. Sharif Ali's CMM has refused to join the
fledgling Iraqi Governing Council on grounds that it was appointed by U.S.
administrator L. Paul Bremer rather than elected, and because Bremer holds
veto power over council decisions. Al-Husayn told Al-Jazeera on 13 July that
the council will not achieve the Iraqi people's goal of an independent
government. "Of course we will support this council," he said. "But based on
weeks of continuous negotiations and dialogue with the occupation
forces...there has not been any sign that they will give any additional
powers to any council at this time." He told the BBC the same day that
de-Ba'athification was a mistake in Iraq because he claims it "dissolved
entirely the [Iraqi] national institutions." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


by Kathleen Ridolfo
RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

The long-awaited U.S.-backed Iraqi Governing Council held its inaugural
meeting in Baghdad on 13 July to much media fanfare and Iraqi anticipation
of a democratic future.

The council, which will wield executive and legislative powers in the
interim phase before a new government is formed, is seen as the first step
toward democratic Iraqi self-rule in the wake of the U.S.-led operation to
oust Saddam Hussein. "The establishment of this council is an expression of
the national Iraqi will in the wake of the collapse of the former oppressive
and dictatorial regime, thanks to the struggle and brave sacrifices of our
people and the intervention of the international coalition forces,"
Al-Jazeera quoted a 13 July statement by council members as saying. "The
building of Iraq shall remain among the first priorities of the good Iraqi
people. It will require the participation of all Iraqis from all political
and social trends who are willing to help accomplish this historic task," it

The Governing Council issued its first resolution at the 13 July meeting,
canceling all official holidays associated with the deposed leadership and
the defunct Ba'ath Party, and named 9 April as an official holiday marking
the fall of the Hussein regime. Council members include 13 Shi'ite Muslims,
five Sunni Muslims, five Kurds, one Assyrian Christian, and one Turkoman
representative. There are three women on the council. Sixteen of the 25
members are Iraqis from the diaspora and autonomous Kurdish areas. Of the
major opposition groups based outside Iraq that returned following the
downfall of the Hussein regime, only the Constitutional Monarchy Movement
(CMM) refused to join the council (for details see this issue). A complete
list of council members is available on RFE/RL's "Post-Saddam Iraq" webpage

The council's members tried to dispel doubts as to the potency of the
fledgling body as they met with reporters following their inaugural meeting
on 13 July. Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) scoffed
at a reporter's suggestion that the council's role will be limited,
Al-Jazeera reported the same day. "The council enjoys a relatively good
number of powers," he said. "These include appointing ministers, supervising
ministries, [approving] the budget, security, reestablishing the armed
forces, and appointing heads of diplomatic missions abroad. Except for one
or two things, the council almost enjoys all government powers." Regarding
U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer's power to veto council decisions, former
Iraqi Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi told the press, "We do not expect
vetoes because the administration...stressed that it will fulfill all the
demands of the Governing Council. If there is going to be any differences of
opinion...such differences can be settled through discussion."

Moreover, council members openly criticized the Arab League, Arab states,
and their satellite networks for their apparent support for the deposed
Hussein regime. Muhammad Bahr al-Ulum told reporters that Arab satellite
channels "betrayed [Iraqis] and did not stand by us," adding, "These
channels are awaiting Saddam's return." Nasir al-Chadirji, secretary-general
of the Movement of National Democrats, added, "I have an appeal for Al
Jazeera and other Arab satellite channels. I tell them: Enough incitement
for the Iraqi people to carry out acts of violence against the coalition
troops." Al-Jazeera broadcast the criticisms of council members.

Council member Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i went a step further in the press
conference, lashing out at the Arab League for not supporting the Iraqi
people, saying, "We wished that the Arab League had taken a stand towards
the crimes of the Hussein regime," adding, "The Arab League's stand toward
the Iraqi people should demonstrate more sympathy and understanding." He
called on the Arab League to recognize the Governing Council. Regarding Arab
states, Ahmad Chalabi from the Iraqi National Congress (INC) told reporters,
"We ask them to understand that the Saddam regime is finished, and that they
should deal with the Iraqi people...Arabs, Kurds, Turkomans, Assyrians,
Shi'a, and Sunnis.... They should help us in all fields."

As the council assembled to conduct its first full day of meetings on 14
July, a blast destroyed a car parked outside the Baghdad compound that
houses the new Iraqi Governing Council. The origin of the blast was not
initially determined, although some international media reported a grenade
as the cause. The car bore diplomatic license plates, according to Reuters.
The council did not let the blast prevent them from carrying out their
mission, however. Instead, it voted to send a delegation to the United
Nations on 22 July, when UN Special Envoy Sergio Vieira de Mello is slated
to brief the Security Council on the UN role in postwar Iraq. A three-member
delegation is expected to lobby the Security Council "to assert and
emphasize the role of the Governing Council as a legitimate Iraqi body
during this transitional period," "The Washington Post" reported on 15 July.
The delegation may also request a seat on the UN General Assembly during
that meeting, international media reported. Vieira de Mello hailed the
formation of the council and pledged full UN support when he addressed the
council on 13 July.

One item on the first day's agenda was postponed indefinitely: the election
of a council president. Iraqi National Accord (INA) head Iyad Allawi told
Al-Jazeera a day later that the council was working on an internal by-law.
"We have to discuss this before deciding on the form of presidency or who is
going to be the president," he noted. He added that the council was working
on more pressing issues, such as establishing a police force. The council is
pushing for a police force with a ratio of one policeman for every 300-350
Iraqis, Allawi said. That ratio is half of the world ratio. Allawi also said
that the selection of ministers would not be based on any kind of ethnic or
religious formula.

In its second day of official business, the governing body announced that it
would establish a judicial commission to try members of the ousted regime
who are charged with war crimes against the Iraqi people, Reuters reported
on 15 July. Defendants from among the U.S.-led coalition's 55 most-wanted
Iraqis will apparently be among the first to be tried by that commission.
"The Governing Council will take it upon itself to try [senior members of
the deposed Hussein regime] and to punish them according to law," Iraqi
National Congress (INC) spokesman Entifadh Qanbar told reporters. He did not
say whether deposed President Saddam Hussein would be tried in absentia,
Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, international rights groups were cautious in their praise of the
decision. Human Rights Watch (HRW) welcomed the establishment of a judicial
commission as "a positive step" in a press release dated 15 July, but the
group called for international jurists to serve on the commission. "The
Iraqi judiciary, weakened and compromised by decades of Ba'ath Party rule,
lacks the capacity, experience, and independence to provide fair trials for
the abuses of the past," the press release stated. "Few judges in Iraq,
including those who fled into exile, have participated in trials of the
complexity that they would face when prosecuting leadership figures for acts
of genocide, crimes against humanity, or war crimes," HRW stated.

HRW said in its 15 July press release that "bringing about accountability
for the crimes of the past two decades in Iraq will be a massive undertaking
for the Iraqi people." According to HRW, the most heinous crimes to be
investigated and prosecuted include: the 1988 Anfal campaign against the
Iraqi Kurds, in which some 100,000 civilians were reportedly killed and
4,000 villages destroyed; the "disappearance" and execution of hundreds of
thousands of Iraqis; the purported use of chemical weapons against Kurdish
civilians and Iranian troops; the decimation and repression of the Marsh
Arabs; and the forced expulsion of ethnic minorities in northern Iraq during
Hussein's Arabization campaign.

Amnesty International echoed Human Rights Watch, saying trials "must be fair
and seen to be fair, conducted by an impartial and independent court fully
in accordance with international human rights standards," in a statement
issued on 15 July ( The organization recommended
that Iraqi judicial experts work alongside international experts to assess
the Iraqi judicial system "including its capacity to ensure fair trials in
the short term," and to "explore options for bringing perpetrators to
justice," including the possible participation of non-Iraqi judges and

by Ed O'Loughlin
Sydney Morning Herald, 19th July


But with the influence of Iraqi Kurds hugely increased by their active
alliance with the US in the present war, Turkey is very unhappy. And nothing
makes it more unhappy than the situation in Kirkuk.

Home to the world's sweetest, richest oil field, this city lay just outside
the Kurdish autonomous zone until April, when thousands of Kurdish guerillas
swarmed in on the heels of Saddam Hussein's fleeing army.

Since then the Kurds - with US backing - have been the real powers in the
town, much to the chagrin of its sizeable Arab and Turkoman (ethnic Turks
living in Iraq) populations. All three ethnic groups claim to be the
majority in the area, and Kurds and Turkomen both claim the city for their
historic capital.

At stake, they seem to believe, is control of the precious oilfield. In a
little-reported incident in April, US soldiers stopped a Turkish convoy
carrying humanitarian aid for the Turkoman population of Kirkuk and arrested
a number of armed Turkish special forces in plain clothes. They too were
quietly returned home.

When the US succeeded in brokering the setting up of a new, ethnically mixed
Kirkuk city council last month Turkomen did not get the majority of seats
that they feel they deserve. The man elected to govern the city was
Abdurrahman Mustafa, an ethnic Kurd.

Logically, then, the next step was for the disgruntled Turkomen to get the
Turkish Army to murder him.

"They wanted to assassinate him mainly because he's a Kurd," said an
official of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, one of two main Iraqi Kurdish

"They claim the Turkomen are a majority in Kirkuk, which is not true. They
want an ethnic conflict there, to create enmity between the Kurds and
Turkomen and Arabs to give them an excuse to intervene."

One of many problems with this scenario is that it is hard to believe Turkey
would set itself up for the apocalyptic recriminations that would follow
such meddling in the US's new fief - and in an oil town at that.

While one can never rule out military adventurism, another explanation for
the raid also presents itself: the Americans were naive, and the Turks were
set up by the Kurds, who are increasingly unhappy about the lingering
Turkish military forces inside their borders.

These include not only the regular formations in the north but also a small
Turkish monitor team with US forces in Kirkuk and a Turkish-officered "Peace
Monitoring Force" established by general agreement in 1996 to keep apart the
then warring Kurdistan Democratic Party and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.

Although the Kurdish regional Parliament has called for both forces to be
removed or disbanded, Turkey has so far paid no heed. That the Peace
Monitoring Force draws its rank and file from the Turkoman Front party has
reinforced Kurdish perceptions that the Turkoman Front is merely a tool for
Turkish interests inside Iraq.

The Kurds are particularly suspicious of a Turkoman Front office and radio
station in Sulaimaniya, an eastern Kurdish city with no indigenous Turkomen.

Not only that, but the Turkoman Front's Sulaimaniya office is back-to-back
in the same block with the Turkish "interest office" where the special
forces were arrested on July 4. It too was raided, and several firearms were
reportedly seized. Both offices were open again this week, although neither
could furnish anyone who would speak to a visiting reporter.

Whoever sparked the July 4 raid, there is no doubt that many Kurds were
delighted to see Turkish soldiers - and several Turkoman Front members -
arrested in Sulaimaniya by the Kurds' US protectors.

So sensitive are US-Turkish-Iraqi relations that it is difficult to get
anyone to comment on the matter on the record.

Professor Sadaddin Ergec, leader of the Turkoman Front in Kirkuk, would say
only that he believed the raid had been set up by "a very selfish man, who
wants to exploit the situation to his own advantage". For Turkomen, he said,
the incident was only another example of what they see as increasing US bias
towards the Kurds.

"I don't think the Turks would try to do such a silly thing. Turkey is a
great country and wouldn't belittle itself in that way," he said.

"Besides, our governor is a peaceful man, an independent man and a good man.
We've seen no partiality from him towards any nationality. We are proud of
him and have nothing against him. His father is Kurdish but his mother was

by Steven R. Hurst, Associated Press Writer
Yahoo, 20th July

BAGHDAD, Iraq - Iraq's American-backed administration failed in its first
week to choose a president, abandoning that mission in favor of a weak,
three-man rotating leadership. The top U.S. official in Iraq  who
hand-picked the Governing Council  returned to Washington while an
insurgency killed another American soldier Saturday.

The council, agonizingly shepherded into existence by L. Paul Bremer, the
U.S. administrator for Iraq, was announced last Sunday, saying its first
order of business was the election of a president. When that did not happen
after six days in session, officials of the Iraqi government told The
Associated Press on Saturday that it would share the leadership job among at
least three of 25 members.


Bremer had given Shiites  who were harshly oppressed by Saddam's
Sunni-dominated regime  a slim majority on the governing council. But most
of the Shiite members are secular figures or moderate clerics.

The U.S. administrator left Baghdad unannounced Friday and was expected to
be in Washington for about a week. His Baghdad office said the 61-year-old
former diplomat and counterterrorism expert would visit the U.S. capital for
consultations. He also was scheduled to appear on three weekly U.S.
television interview programs Sunday.

In Baghdad this week, Bremer nearly disappeared from public view after the
council was announced, an apparent bid to diminish the widely held
perception among Iraqis and the rest of the world that the new Governing
Council was an American puppet.

Bremer's office did not respond to requests for an assessment of the
council's first week in business, but a spokesman for one council member
issued a short statement.

"There is a general agreement that the presidency should be on a rotational
basis because each political group in the council should shoulder an equal
role and equal responsibility," said Ali Abdul-Amir, spokesman for
council-member Iyad Allawi of the Iraqi National Accord.

The three likely members of the rotating presidency will be a leading Shiite
politician, a highly respected Shiite cleric and former Foreign Minister
Adnan Pachachi, a council source told the AP, speaking on condition of

The 80-year-old Pachachi, a Sunni Muslim, served in the government that
Saddam's Baath Party ousted in a 1968 coup. He will be joined in the
leadership troika by 78-year-old Mohammed Bahr al-Uloum, a cleric who
returned from London after the 1991 Gulf War. He served as the council
president during its first week in session.

The leadership group will be rounded out by Abdel-Aziz al-Hakim, who is in
his early 50s, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in
Iraq and also a Shiite cleric. He opposes the U.S. presence in the country
but has close ties to U.S.-backed Kurds and Ahmad Chalabi's Iraqi National

Chalabi, who left Iraq as a teenager, has been touted in some U.S.
government circles as Iraq's likely first post-Saddam leader. But many in
Iraq are distrustful of his close ties to Washington.

A Western diplomat who works closely with the council said the decision to
establish a rotating presidency did not reflect political divisions among
members of the governing body, whom, he said, were cooperating despite their
religious and ethnic differences. The diplomat, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the move to a joint presidency meant the job would be
largely symbolic.

The move clearly reflected an unwillingness among council members to vest
too much authority in any one of them.


by Peter James Spielmann
Las Vegas Sun, 22nd July

UNITED NATIONS (AP): The fledgling Iraqi Governing Council made a cautious
debut before the international community Tuesday. Protesters in the Security
Council gallery denounced it as "illegitimate," and the U.N. chief welcomed
it - but only as "an important first step towards the full restoration of
Iraqi sovereignty."

The 25-member Iraqi Governing Council is broadly representative of the key
constituencies in Iraq - Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds - but it was appointed
just nine days ago by the U.S.-led occupation force in Iraq.

It is a transitory body that everyone stresses must give way to a true Iraqi
government, and is viewed with some suspicion. Many Sunnis worry that it
gives Shiites a slim majority in its deliberations; and some Shiite clerics
have already denounced it because it was set up by America.

The Iraqi Governing Council will be able to pick ministers for a new
administration and hold other powers, but U.S. administrators will have
ultimate say.

Secretary-General Kofi Annan gave the three-member visiting delegation a
warm welcome, but made it clear that they shouldn't get too comfortable with
their role.

"Our collective goal remains an early end to the military occupation through
the formation of an internationally recognized, representative government,"
Annan told the Security Council after welcoming the visitors.

"Meanwhile, it is vital that the Iraqi people should be able to see a clear
timetable with a specific sequence of events leading to the full restoration
of sovereignty as soon as possible."

On Monday, Annan delivered a toughly worded report to the Security Council
in which he warned the United States that "democracy cannot be imposed from
the outside."

That rhetoric reflects lingering resentment over the way the United States
and Britain turned their back on the United Nations earlier this year and
attacked Iraq to depose Saddam Hussein's government when it became clear
they could not muster enough support from the Security Council for a
resolution authorizing the war.

Now the United States finds itself overextended as it tries to quell
guerrilla attacks in Iraq that are killing about one American a day. Other
nations are declining to send relief troops that would be put under U.S.
command; India and France have refused to send troops unless their
responsibilities are defined in a new Security Council resolution.

Annan's special representative for Iraq, Sergio Vieira de Mello, presented
his recommendations Tuesday based on his recent visits to Iraq --
underlining the breakdown in security, both common criminality and attacks
on the U.S.-led occupation force and Iraqis cooperating with it.

In the midst of Vieira de Mello's report, two women in the visitors' gallery
rose to shout denunciations of the Iraqi Governing Council as
"illegitimate." They were hustled out by uniformed U.N. security guards.

The U.N. spokesman's office said they had gained admission to the Security
Council gallery on a one-day visitor's pass obtained for them by Occupation
Watch, a San Francisco-based political group that monitors and criticizes
the U.S. and British occupation of Iraq.

The Iraqi governing Council delegation was circumspect about its own role.
It includes Ahmad Chalabi, who was once favored by the Pentagon to be Iraq's
next president.

But he had took a back seat at the Security Council to Adnan Pachachi, a
Sunni and a former Iraqi foreign minister in the government deposed by
Saddam's Baath party in 1968.

Chalabi sat next to the third IGC delegate, Akila al-Hashimi, one of three
women on the Iraqi Governing Council. A Shiite and diplomat, she led the
Iraqi delegation to the New York donor's conference for Iraq.

Pachachi gave the Security Council an introduction to the massive task of
reorganization facing Iraq. He said the Iraqi Governing Council has decided
to employ at least 30,000 police, open at least 1,500 schools and clinics,
pay back salaries to government employees and retrain more than 200,000
demobilized soldiers.

"Our primary goal is to shorten the duration of the interim administration"
so that an elected government serving under a constitution endorsed by the
people can take power in Iraq, he said.

The new constitution would "consolidate personal freedom," grant full rights
to women and place the armed forces under the command of civilian
government, he said.

Pachachi said the Governing Council considered that other pressing issues in
Iraq include appointing ministers and administrators, reopening Iraq's
embassies, amending laws passed under Saddam Hussein's rule, and
establishing tribunals to try members of the former regime for alleged

John Negroponte, the U.S. ambassador, told the Security Council that for the
first time in almost 50 years in Iraq, "There is no limit on freedom of
expression in that country."

He hailed the visiting Iraqi delegation, telling them: "Your presence here
is a powerful symbol of that freedom," and noting that the Governing Council
"reflects the rich mosaic of Iraqi society."

"The role of women in Iraqi political development should not be overlooked,"
he added.

But Negroponte also recognized the transitory role that the Governing
Council is to play in preparing Iraq "for the restoration of full

Before the Security Council meeting, the trio met with staffers at Iraq's
U.N. mission to discuss the finances of the mission and other administrative

Ever since Saddam's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Al-Douri, left New York on
April 11, Iraqi diplomats have kept a low profile at the United Nations.
Al-Douri did not resign and Iraq's U.N. Mission remains open, with the
former third-ranking diplomat, Said Shihab Ahmad, in charge.

When asked whether his group would attempt to present credentials as the new
legitimate government of Iraq, Chalabi said the purpose of their visit was
just to brief the Security Council on the state of Iraq.

"Part of the purpose of the Governing Council is to represent Iraq
internationally and in international organizations," he said.



RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

Khudir Ja'afar from the Islamic Al-Da'wah party discussed the status of his
party following reports of an internal split between those members inside
Iraq and those in the diaspora, in an interview with the London-based
"Al-Hayat" daily, published on 15 July.

Ja'afar indicated in the interview that while differences exist between the
two groups, it should not be interpreted as a split within the party,
saying, "We called ourselves the internal organization because we aimed our
activity toward inside Iraq. We are two branches of the same party and are
in agreement on almost all matters." He added that the differences that
exist "are not of a political nature but of an administrative dimension,"
and said efforts were under way to settle them.

Asked which religious leadership the group follows, al-Ja'afar stressed that
Al-Da'wah's "understanding of political action doesn't call for a religious
leadership." He said that the party is supported by Ayatollah Kazim
al-Ha'iri, but cautioned that it does not subscribe any one person to a
single leadership role. "Some of us follow [Muqtada] al-Sadr, while others
follow [Muhammad Baqir] al-Hakim or [Grand Ayatollah Ali] al-Sistani," he
added. Regarding the position of the Al-Najaf Hawzah (religious seminary)
vis--vis other hawzahs he said, "The Hawzah is one; there is no Hawzah that
is mute while another speaks. We believe that Muhammad Baqir al-Sadr, the
founder of Al-Da'wah Party deepened Islamic thought, while Muhammad Sadiq
al-Sadr expanded the horizon of the Islamic movement and turned it into a
popular current. It is the Sadr school in its two branches."

Regarding the Vilayet Al-Faqih (rule of the jurists), Ja'afar told
"Al-Hayat," "We call for upholding the Vilayet Al-Faqih," but, he added, "it
is not necessary that the Faqih who rules in Iran should be the same to rule
in Iraq or Lebanon. We support the multiplicity of the Vilayet Al-Fakih.
Ja'afar said that the Al-Da'wah would participate in a coalition government
in Iraq, as long as that government draws its legitimacy from the Iraqi
people. He called on the U.S.-led coalition forces to remain in Iraq until
order is established, saying, "If the Americans withdraw, the regime will
immediately be restored to power." (Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

The 1920 Revolution Brigades, the military wing of the Iraqi National
Islamic Resistance Group, has issued a statement threatening continued
attacks on coalition forces, Al-Jazeera reported on 14 July. The group said
it is coordinating its attacks with other resistance factions, and it
claimed the brigades recently downed a large U.S. transport plane in Al
Mahmudiyah, south of Baghdad, according to Al-Jazeera.

The group sent its first communique to Al-Jazeera earlier this month, the
news channel reported on 10 July. It has claimed that it is not linked in
any way to the deposed regime of Saddam Hussein but seeks to liberate Iraqi
land from the coalition "occupiers." Meanwhile, Al-Arabiyah Television
reported on 14 July that leaflets were distributed in Baghdad announcing the
formation of the so-called Iraqi Liberation Army. The leaflet claims that
Iraqis from all ethnic and religious groups are members, and it purports to
have the support of the Al-Najaf Hawzah. The leaflet threatens attacks
against newly opened embassies in Iraq and addresses UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan, declaring that it refuses to recognize 9 April as a day of
liberation. The group called on Arab states and the Arab League to support
the resistance.

Meanwhile, a group identifying itself as the Armed Islamic Movement of the
Al-Qaeda Organization-Al-Fallujah Branch, issued an audio statement dated 10
July to Al-Arabiyah Television claiming responsibility for attacks against
U.S. forces in Iraq, the satellite channel reported on 13 July.

The speaker in the tape claims that the deposed Hussein regime and defunct
Ba'ath Party have not had a role in attacks on U.S. forces. "I urge the
Muslims and the people of Iraq not to believe what the deposed ruler [Saddam
Hussein] has said [in recently released audiotapes].... None of his
followers carried out any jihad operation as he claims. They were [carried
out] by the...patience of our mujahedin brothers," the speaker claims. "The
end of the United States will be at the hand of Islam," he adds.

London's "The Sunday Times" reported on 13 July that sources close to a
"nascent anti American resistance movement in Baghdad" have warned
participants in the Iraqi Governing Council against "collaborating" with
coalition forces. "Otherwise they too will become targets of resistance
attacks similar to those being conducted against the Americans," one source
told the weekly. Groups deemed "illegitimate" will be given an unspecified
period of time in which to "repent" or face elimination, the source added.
(Kathleen Ridolfo)


RFE/RL IRAQ REPORT, Vol. 6, No. 31, 17 July 2003

An Iraqi resistance group identifying itself as "Iraq's Revolutionaries --
Al-Anbar's Armed Brigades" issued a statement to "Al-Zaman" in which it
claims it has halted all resistance activities against coalition forces, the
daily reported on 16 July. The group stated that its truce was temporary,
and was aimed at distancing itself from the deposed Hussein regime, which it
claims is taking credit for the Al-Anbar brigades' attacks. "The one behind
the mass graves and the executions wants to employ the struggle of our
people who reject the occupation, hegemony, and guardianship to his own
benefit and the benefit of his regime," the statement noted. The group
claims it has not participated in any attacks on coalition forces since 2
July. "Al-Zaman" also reported on 16 July that a group calling itself the
"Black Banners Organization" has issued a statement to the daily calling on
all Iraqis, Arabs, and Muslims to bomb oil pipelines and oil wells in order
to "deprive" Americans and Europeans of oil. (Kathleen Ridolfo)

by Tom Geoghegan
BBC News Online, 17th July

One of Iraq's most senior archbishops has sharply criticised the US for its
administration of Baghdad.

Severius Hawa, Archbishop of the Syrian Orthodox Church in Baghdad and
Basra, told BBC News Online the electricity shortage was crippling the city
and putting lives at risk.

People were sweltering in temperatures of 50C, with no telephones, no jobs,
food shortages and increased illness and disorder, he said.

Speaking through an interpreter, at the end of a three-week trip to the UK,
the archbishop, who opposed the war, said even supporters of the invasion
were now losing patience.

But he praised the British for getting Basra back on its feet, and said the
anti-war stance of the Church of England had prevented a Muslim backlash
against Iraqi Christians.

His trip to the UK included preparing for the proposed visit to Iraq in
October by his English counterpart, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan

He said: "Since the Americans have been in Iraq, nothing good has happened
for us.

"What we were looking forward to did not happen.

"In Basra, it is better because the British know how to administrate and
know the thinking of the Iraqi people because they share a history."

Fr Dawod, who also acted as translator, blamed the recent death in Iraq of a
45-year-old relative with high blood pressure, on a health system under
chronic strain.

The archbishop said mounting disorder was also preventing some people from
leaving their homes at night.

He said: "My message to Tony Blair and George Bush is to think about us,
about our people, to make peace and security grow in Iraq.

"And to deal with people in a Christian spirit as Christ taught us, not to
punish all the people just because one person may be crazy against the
Americans. Not all Iraqis are against the US."

He said he was unable to say yet whether he was happy to see Saddam Hussein

"There were people suffering under Saddam, but now everyone is unhappy," he

"We cannot say if it will be better or not until power and security are

Saddam Hussein fostered good relations with the Christian Church, giving it
money to restore monasteries, and allowing worship without persecution.

The archbishop said: "Whenever I met Saddam, like anyone else, I met him
with happiness, patience and good spirit. And he gave the help I wanted."

The Iraq leader had a habit of putting a glass of water on the tomb of a
holy person, to bless the water before drinking it, Mr Hawa said.

Baath party laws prevented the use of Biblical names or Christian schools,
and Muslims who converted to Christianity were killed.

But Christianity was allowed to co-exist with Islam and the Catholic
communities, with no animosity between the religions.

Even as the unpopularity of the West increased, there were no repercussions
for Iraq's Christians because of the anti-war stance of Christians in the

"Muslims did not hurt or kill Christians because they understood the Church
of England was against war, and we saw the protests by people in England,
France and the US," the archbishop said.

One Muslim leader who returned to Iraq from exile was thankful to the
Anglican Church for helping his passage back, the archbishop said.

Describing the nightly bombing of Baghdad, Mr Hawa said there were missile
attacks every 10 seconds.

But the fear within the capital did not prevent the churches from being full
for Sunday worship, as people's faith seemed to strengthen in the face of

But since the war, donations have dwindled and the church could lose the
lease on many of its buildings.

In order to ease fears the eventual government in Baghdad could be
anti-Christian, talks have taken place in Jordan between Iraq's religious
leaders to ensure continuing good relations.

Mr Hawa said: "We don't have any problems for the future. The problem is the
people suffering now, with no money, no work and growing illness and

Iraq's Syrian Orthodox Church 100,000 members and 30 churches 60,000 are in
the diocese of Baghdad and Basra It came to Iraq in the 4th century, 300
years after being founded in Antioch Iraq's other Christians include the
Holy Apostolic Catholic Syrian church and the Chaldean Church of Babylon Mr
Hawa met BBC News Online in Croydon, south London, at the rectory of Fr Toma
Dawod, parish priest of the Syrian Orthodox Church in London.,3604,1000367,00.html

by Jonathan Steele and Michael Howard in Baghdad
The Guardian, 18th July


One undisputed fact is that at least 80% of the attacks have taken place in
the so-called 'Sunni triangle' between Tikrit, Baghdad, and Ramadi. Attacks
are rare in the mainly Shia south and the Kurdish north. But even in the
Sunni triangle the truth is more complex than the simple stereotype that the
area has long been pro-Saddam.

Ramadi is a case in point. One of its largest tribes, the Alawani, turned
against Saddam in 1995 after he jailed and executed a prominent hero from
the war against Iran, Air Force General Mohammed Madhlum. Three hundred
people dared to march in the streets after his death, and scores were

"My brother was arrested by the mukhabarat [the secret police] and spent
three months in prison. He then fled abroad," said Ahmed Rajab. He then
pointed angrily at a bullet hole in a shop window. "The Americans did that
because the mojahedin were running about outside last week".

His use of the word 'mojahedin', meaning "soldiers of God", carries an
ominous echo of other Islamic guerrilla movements, and according to Mr
Rajab, the resistance is concentrated in the mosques.

The imam of al-Saleh mosque in Ramadi, Jihad Abed Hussein al-Alawani, says
he was no supporter of Saddam, who put him in jail for three years, but he
is unsurprised about the attacks. "It is wrong to put these attacks down
only to fedayeen, remnants of the Ba'ath party, or former army officers," he
said. "They are coming from ordinary people and the Islamic resistance
because the Americans haven't fulfilled their promises."

The Americans had interrogated him "very politely" for eight hours, he said,
because of the content of his Friday sermons. "I asked them whether they
would not resist if Germans or Fidel Castro occupied Washington, and of
course they said yes," he added.

Comments such as these suggest that though the number of attackers could be
small, their actions are supported by a wider pool of Iraqis in the Sunni


Jordan Times, 20th July
NAJAF, Iraq (AP)  Two of Iraq's most prominent Shiite clerics have issued
duelling assessments of Iraq's new American-picked government  one calling
the Governing Council a US puppet, the other counseling patience while the
body demonstrates its independence.

Speaking in this Shiite holy city, Mohammad Bakir Al Hakim, head of the
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, said during Friday
prayers he had formed no fixed opinion of the council other than it included
"respected personalities." His brother, Abdul Aziz, is on the 25-member
governing body.

But, in the nearby holy city of Kufa, an influential cleric condemned the
council as one made up of "nonbelievers." Muqtada Al Sadr, the son of
prominent Ayatollah Mohammad Sadeq Al Sadr, who was killed by ousted
dictator Saddam Hussein in 1999, declared the council unrepresentative  of
both the people and the Hawza, the 1,300-year-old Shiite seminary there.

Interestingly, the US administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer, took great
pains to see that the council had a Shiite majority to reflect the national

Hakim said he believed the council would show its independence eventually
because it "must be independent and represent the will of the Iraqis and not
the will of the occupiers." Fellow cleric Sadr vowed not to wait but to form
his own ruling council.

"I will do my best to create a Muslim country. I will collect as many voices
as I can to strengthen this council.

There will be two councils: One of wrongdoers and another of righteous
people," he told thousands of the faithful, many bused from Baghdad for
special prayers at the Kufa mosque. Imam Ali, the cousin and son-in-law of
Prophet Mohammad, preached at this holy shrine in the 7th Century.

As Sadr spoke, his followers chanted "Death to America, Death to Israel" and
called for formation of an army to liberate Iraq from American occupation.

At one point, the 29-year-old cleric raised his eyes from the bank of
microphones at the podium and looked directly at the throngs gathered before
him. "If you ignore the Governing Council, you'll be restoring good to your
country." His followers chanted that the council was "Zionist," an
inflammatory Arab catch phrase for Israel's alleged desire to dominate the
Middle East.

The more moderate Hakim said Shiites did not want to dominate Iraq, saying
each of the country's ethnic and religious groups should have full rights.
Saddam and his ruling clique were minority Sunnis.

Sadr spoke no conciliatory words and lashed out at the council for making
its first official action the declaration of April 9  the day Baghdad fell
to theAmericans  a new holiday.

"On this day we replaced a little Satan with big Satan.

Eventually, we'll have a referendum separate from the Americans and, God
willing, elections separate from the Americans," he told the AP.

Sadr did, however, condemn attacks on the occupation forces.

"Right now these strikes are not under the order of the Hawza (the seminary)
and are therefore illegitimate." At the same time, he called for "volunteers
to register for the great army which will take orders from the Hawza.";jsessionid=VYBZP2E41GA4UCRBAEZSFE

by Miral Fahmy, Reuters, 20th July

NAJAF, Iraq  - A group of Shi'ite Muslims in Iraq has threatened violence if
U.S. troops do not quit the holy city of Najaf, where rumours they had
harassed a radical cleric sparked an angry protest by more than 10,000

The U.S. commander in the city, 160 km (100 miles) south of Baghdad, faced
down the demonstrators. He flatly denied talk that his men had surrounded
the cleric's house on Saturday and he deployed troops, arms at the ready, to
get them to disperse.

Leading supporters of the fiercely anti-U.S. preacher, Moqtada al-Sadr, were
dissatisfied, however, and warned of an "uprising" in Najaf if the Americans
failed to pull out within three days. The U.S. commander said he was
concerned about the threat but played down the size of Sadr's following in

"If they don't leave, they will face a popular uprising," said Sayed Razak
al-Moussawi, one of Sadr's aides, after the protesters presented the
soldiers with a list of demands following a demonstration lasting more than
two hours.

Whatever the immediate consequences, the high feelings sparked by an obscure
and minor incident were indicative of problems the Americans face among the
long-oppressed Shi'ite majority. Frequent attacks on U.S. troops since the
fall of Saddam Hussein have mostly been in Saddam's Sunni heartlands.

The U.S. commander in Najaf, Lieutenant-Colonel Chris Conlin, said he
believed Sadr had limited support in Najaf, where other, more senior
religious figures are based.

A young cleric with limited religious authority but a considerable following
among the poor, Sadr denounced the U.S. occupation in a sermon on Friday and
has condemned U.S. efforts to launch self-rule by the Iraqi Governing

"Mr al-Sadr is a young, immature man, who is rapidly losing support in the
city," Conlin said. "Sadr wants to import violence into this most peaceful
city. But the people of Najaf do not want him."

But asked if the threats worried him nonetheless, Conlin said: "Yes, because
Sadr's people are a bunch of riff-raff."

Following reports that troops had surrounded Sadr's house in response to his
sermon, more than 10,000 Shi'ites marched on the Najaf office of the U.S.
administration, though soldiers and barbed wire kept them more than a
kilometre (a mile) away.

At least two armoured personnel carriers guarded the building and U.S.
soldiers were stationed on nearby rooftops.

Emotions ran high as the crowd swelled, chanting support for Sadr and
beating their chests in unison. Protesters held up a sign in English which
read: "This is a warning to America."

There were unconfirmed media reports of injuries. U.S. soldiers said some
protesters had thrown rocks. Shi'ites, reversing their under-representation
under Saddam and earlier Iraqi rulers, account for 13 of the 25 seats on the
new Governing Council and other Shi'ite leaders have either backed the
U.S.-appointed body or at least reserved judgment.

Jordan Times, 21st July
NAJAF, Iraq (AFP)  More than 10,000 demonstrators rallied in the Shiite
holy city of Najaf on Sunday in support of cleric Moqtada Sadr, a fiery
critic of the US-led occupation, leading to a tense stand-off with US

The crowd eventually dispersed under threat of force by US troops after the
two sides nearly came to blows over the young cleric, who was not at the

Chanting "No, no to America! No, no to the arrogant!" demonstrators gathered
outside Najaf's main mosque, the tomb of imam Ali, one of the holiest sites
in Shiite Islam, dressed in white robes and wearing green headbands.

They shouted "We are with Sadr" in a muscular show of support for the
controversial cleric who claimed US troops had besieged his home on Saturday
in the wake of a scathing sermon he delivered lambasting the coalition.

But US Marines dismissed the story as an attempt by Sadr, who has seen his
popularity rocket in the chaos and power vacuum of post-war Iraq, to cause
friction in this religious city.

"This is a lie. Sadr wants to build up his prestige," said Lieutenant
Colonel Chris Conlin who stared down the tide of fuming protesters demanding
US forces apologise to Sadr and leave Najaf, home to the Hawza, the
preeminent Shiite authority in Iraq. "My men did not go there. I know. I am
their commander."

Conlin said Sadr bussed in thousands from Baghdad and Mosul, to the north,
as he sought to discredit the Americans and push them from the city which
they say they have showered with money for schools, hospitals and basic

A sea of Sadr followers marched and hurled stones on the more than two dozen
marines guarding the city hall compound.

Imams in the crowd formed a human chain and tried to calm the protesters, as
the marines kept their guns pointed at the ground.

After brief scuffles with the US troops, a group of clerics and followers
crossed the line of protesters and huddled with the US commander in charge
of the town.

The clerics presented demands, including that the marines withdraw from
Najaf and relinquish control of the local television station.

"Show me whether Moqtada Sadr is a man of peace or of violence," Conlin told
the imams. "I do not want to see violence in the city of Abraham and Adam.
This is a sacred place."

But a young cleric, Sheikh Qais Kazali, snapped: "You have your boss and I
have mine."

One of the older imams, Sheikh Khalid Al Kadimi, told Conlin: "We'll get the
people to go back and pray," then asked the crowd through a loudspeaker on a
US all-terrain Humvee to disperse.

The mob then pulled back for thirty minutes before charging forward again.

"Down, down with America!" they chanted, beating their chests, punching
their fists in the air and carrying banners depicting Sadr's father,
assassinated by agents of Saddam Hussein in 1999.

"Today there are no weapons but in the future there will be," they railed.

Conlin then addressed them through the loudspeaker, warning they would use
lethal force if the demonstrators attacked.

"There are a thousand marines hiding all around this building," his voice
blared at the flood of Sadr supporters.

"You must disband or we'll consider you a threat."

The clerics then announced Sadr had decided to end the protest, although
they still insisted the Americans should leave Najaf.

One man in the crowd, 40-year-old Adnan Husseini, said he was a member of
Sadr's self proclaimed "Mehdi Army" and would become a suicide bomber if

"I'm a fedayeen of the Mehdi. I'm willing to put on explosives and blow
myself up nearby the Americans if I am asked," he said.

"We are waiting for the order of jihad," or holy war, echoed Ali Hillali,
32. "All of these people are willing to die for their religion. We are not

Sadr's spokesman, Mustafa Yaqubi, claimed that demonstrators had met a
senior US officer on Saturday who had apologised for the alleged
encirclement of the cleric's home.

The palpable display of anger sends an alarming message to the US-led
coalition. The Shiites have, until now, accepted the occupation, unlike
Iraq's Sunni minority, blamed for a string of guerrilla-style attacks on US

"We are seeking a peaceful solution with America, so no blood will be
spilled," Yaqubi said, adding that an armed insurrection, or Intifada,
against the occupation was "far away still."

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