The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
News, 13-20/8/03 (2) LIFE UNDER THE OCCUPATION * 'It was punishment without trial' * UN moves to legitimize Iraq's interim regime * Coroner calls on MoD to stop using cluster bombs * Iraq's cleric who would be heard * US troops shoot Iraq cameraman * Iraqi kids toil in Dickensian desperation * Mass graves to reveal Iraq war toll * 12 Ex-Soldiers Dead in Iraq Ammo Dump Blast * Iraq's SCIRI, caught between Tehran and Washington OLD IRAQI ORDER * Iraq: US running with the enemy * Saddam 'made sex slaves' of Kurd women * Saddam's vice-president handed over to US forces after he's found hiding as a peasant FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS * Turkey wants more of the Iraqi action LIFE UNDER THE OCCUPATION http://www.guardian.co.uk/g2/story/0,3604,1019096,00.html * 'IT WAS PUNISHMENT WITHOUT TRIAL' by Jonathan Steele The Guardian, 15th August It was a warm spring evening in a Baghdad suburb when American troops stopped the car in which 11-year-old Sufian Abd al-Ghani was riding close to his home with his uncle and a neighbour. They were ordered out and told to lie face down on the road. Sufian's father heard the commotion and rushed out to find the soldiers pointing their rifles at his son and the others. Claiming the uncle had fired at them, they started beating the three captives with their rifle butts, according to the father. A neighbour confirms that a shot had been fired, but it was part of a row between the Ghanis and another family. "In Iraq this is normal. Almost every household in Baghdad owns a weapon. One man was drunk. The Americans must have heard the shot as they were passing. It was not directed at them," says the neighbour, who prefers not to be named. The American soldiers searched the Ghanis' house, but found nothing. For three hours Sufian was kept on the ground with the two adults. Then the Americans put hoods over their heads, tied their hands with tight plastic bracelets, and drove them away. "Why are you taking my son?" a desperate Abdullah Ghani pleaded. "Don't worry. As he's a child, we'll send him back in a couple of days," a Sergeant Stark assured him. The three were driven off to Baghdad airport, where US forces have set up a makeshift prison in large tents. Around 500 Iraqis are held in miserable conditions, sleeping on the ground, with inadequate water rations and not enough blankets to go round, according to former detainees. Sufian spent eight days in a tent with around 20 adults. They were given yellow packets of ready-to-eat meals, the standard US army fare, but no change of clothes. Then the hood went back on and Sufian was taken to the Salhiyeh detention centre for women and juveniles - a holding facility in a police station just outside Saddam Hussein's Republican Palace, which has become the headquarters of the coalition authority. A woman prisoner spotted Sufian and realised he was much younger than the other inmates. On her release she went to see the Ghanis, who had been searching frantically for their son. It was now June 17, almost three weeks after his arrest on May 28. They brought the boy food and clean clothes, and four days later obtained an order from Mohammed Latif al-Duleimi, a US-approved investigating judge, for Sufian's immediate release. Sufian's father took it to the US military police who run the detention centre. But they told him that orders by Iraqi judges had no legal authority. Ghani turned for help to the new US-founded police academy. He met a Captain Crusoe, who took up the case and rang a US army lawyer at the airport. The lawyer ordered the boy's release on June 21 - but still the military police refused to act. Ghani went back to Crusoe, who made more phone calls, to no avail. Finally Crusoe went to the detention centre with Ghani, and brought Sufian out himself. "Take your son," he said. After 24 days the boy's ordeal was over, but he regularly has nightmares. However, his case is not the worst in the four months since the Americans occupied Iraq. Several children have been shot dead, some as passengers in cars which fell foul of American checkpoints, some mistaken at night for adults. But if those deaths were the result of accidents, how is it that an 11-year-old could be held for over three weeks without anyone in authority asking questions? The answer is: easily. Sufian's detention highlights the problems faced by hundreds of Iraqis: arrests followed by incompetent interrogation, or none at all; the lack of an efficient trial-or release system; shocking prison conditions; constant buck-passing; and sloppy paperwork by the coalition authorities. The result is that in almost every case families take weeks or months to find out where their loved ones are being detained. Ahmed Suhail, a final-year high-school student, was with his father, a well-known Baghdad vet, when they were stopped at a checkpoint on May 15. His father had a pistol (the coalition banned the carrying of weapons outside the home from June 14, but at the time it was not an offence). Both were hooded and taken to Baghdad airport. "We were in a tent for 150 people. We only got 25 litres of water a day for everyone, which means about a cupful per person, in temperatures of over 40C," Ahmed recalls. "There was a small ditch in the open for a toilet, which meant you were naked in front of everybody. There was no shower. We slept on the sand. My father could speak some English and two soldiers gave us overalls as a change of clothes." After three weeks, for no apparent reason, Dr Suhail was taken to Abu Ghraib, Saddam's notorious Baghdad prison, which has been pressed back into service by the Americans. A week later he was released, but Ahmed remained at the airport. "Then I was told I was being taken to a prison camp at Umm Qasr. No reason was given." Umm Qasr is close to the Kuwaiti border, about 400 miles from Baghdad, and Ahmed said he was taken with 21 other men, lying on the floor of an American army lorry for 11 hours, with a stop for the night in Nassiriyah. Conditions in the camp in Umm Qasr were much better than at Baghdad airport, and the prisoners had regular access to showers. After 33 days there, and 66 of detention in all, Ahmed was brought back to Baghdad and released. "At no time was I questioned or interrogated, or charged. It was just punishment without trial. When the Americans first came to Baghdad I was happy, but I don't want to speak about my feelings towards them now," he says. One reason for Iraqi suspects' lengthy stays in the tented camps at Baghdad airport and Abu Ghraib is the coalition authority's decision to award itself 90 days before a detainee needs to be brought before a magistrate or judge. Amnesty International, which has produced a detailed memorandum of concern about the coalition's handling of law and order, points out a bizarre double standard: suspects held by the Iraqi police have to have their case reviewed by a magistrate within 24 hours. Amnesty also reported that the coalition's rules require that suspects should be allowed to consult a lawyer within 72 hours of "induction" into a detention camp. In practice, there is no deadline for induction and "detainees appear to be invariably denied access to lawyers, sometimes for weeks," it said. Another reason for the chaos is the coalition's failure to keep an accurate central list of detainees, with names in Arabic, to which searching families can refer. In her home in al-Mansour, a suburb of Baghdad, Eftekhar Medhat relates the arrest of her husband, Zakariya Zakher Sa'ad. He is a gardener and nightwatchman at the home of the Russian consul. The consul had left during the American bombing and the house remained an obvious target for looters and burglars long after the first turbulent days of the occupation. Alerted one night by a neighbour, Sa'ad went out with a Kalashnikov. He ran into an American patrol and was thrown to the ground and arrested. The neighbour tried in vain to tell the soldiers he was not a thief. "At first we went to Abu Ghraib," says Medhatas, her 19 year-old daughter, Huda, sitting nervously beside her. "The Americans told us to go to the airport. At the airport they told us to go to the International Committee of the Red Cross. We went to the ICRC but got no help." They then turned to the 101st Airborne's civil military operations centre, located in a disused supermarket. Here they found two unusually sympathetic officers, Major Hector Flores and his sergeant, Paul Holding. Their work was in sharp contrast to the behaviour of most US troops, who patrol in vehicles in conditions of increasing tension as attacks on convoys show no let-up. Flores and Holding present a different face: "I'm the happiest man in the US army. We are in contact with ordinary Iraqis and we can really help them. We call them customers," says Holding. Their job includes processing claims by Iraqis for damage when American troops shoot at vehicles or homes, or when Iraqis are wounded by unexploded bombs. Trawling through lists of thousands of badly transliterated Arabic names, Flores finally found a reference to an "Ahmed Mahjoub Zakariya, born in 1948". "I think it is your husband," he told Medhat. "I'm going to fax a photo of him to Camp Bucca, and I hope they will then let him out." A system which requires an individual act of kindness by an American officer to locate a detainee, or in Sufian's case to insist on implementing a release order made by an Iraqi judge, is clearly inadequate. The coalition authorities are aware of the problems. In addition to Amnesty, the coalition has also come under pressure from the UN and the ICRC. Sergio Vieira de Mello, the secretary-general's special representative in Iraq, recently reported that he had told the US administrator, Paul Bremer, and his British counterpart, John Sawers, about his anxiety over "searches, arrests, the treatment of detainees, duration of preventive detention, access by family members and lawyers, and the establishment of a central prison database". He said he found them "receptive", and they had explained what was being done to address the problems. The ICRC is also alarmed by the lack of a proper database. "The lists provided by the coalition are not comprehensive and far from complete. The process needs to be improved. They are willing to improve it and are really trying to help", says ICRC spokesperson Nada Doumani. In their defence, coalition spokespeople point to the appalling legacy of the Saddam regime. "In his time people had to scrawl their names on cell walls to get remembered. There was no list of any kind," says Charles Heatly, a spokesperson seconded from the Foreign Office. Work was almost complete on repairing cell-blocks at Abu Ghraib so that medium-security prisoners could move from tents into proper buildings "comparable to UK prisons," he adds. A large prefabricated building for several hundred other detainees should be ready at Abu Ghraib in a week's time. The tents at Baghdad airport would then be emptied and its 500 prisoners transferred. Mobile teams of magistrates were being trained to handle cases faster. He acknowledges that US military lawyers sometimes overruled Iraqi judges' release orders. "That's probably true. It shows the difficulties in getting systems to match", he says. The message is that things are getting better. But the occupation forces' shocking handling of civilian prisoners will not be forgotten quickly by the victims. They are one more example of how badly those who planned the war on Iraq failed to plan the peace. http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/world/archives/2003/08/16/2003063966 * UN MOVES TO LEGITIMIZE IRAQ'S INTERIM REGIME Taipei Times, from AP, 16th August Over Arab objections, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution welcoming the Iraqi Governing Council, a move the US hopes will lead to international engagement with the US appointed body. The US-sponsored resolution approved Thursday also authorizes a new UN mission to oversee the world body's efforts to help rebuild Iraq and establish a democratic government. The vote was 14-0, with Syria saying it abstained to reflect the Arab League's position against any endorsement of the 25-member Iraqi council. "Syria and all Arab states believe in the necessity of ending the occupation of Iraq and in the formation of a national and a legitimate Iraqi government as expeditiously as possible," said Syria's UN Ambassador Mikhail Wehbe. "Only the people of Iraq can give legitimacy to the Governing Council." Nearly five months after the deeply divided Security Council refused to authorize the US led war on Iraq, the occupation of the country by the US and Britain remains a sensitive issue, especially for Arab nations. But the nearly unanimous approval of the resolution showed a broad acceptance of the Governing Council as a transitional body. The council is broadly representative of the key constituencies in Iraq -- Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds -- and was created as a transition to a more permanent government. The US reached agreement on the text with the four other permanent Security Council members -- Russia, China, Britain and France -- before the draft was presented Wednesday to the 10 non-permanent members. Seven countries signed on as cosponsors of the resolution -- Britain, Spain, Cameroon, Guinea, Bulgaria, Chile and Angola. "This resolution hastens the day when the people of Iraq are in full command of their own affairs, a condition they have not known for some three decades," said US Ambassador John Negroponte, expressing satisfaction at the vote. "It also sends a clear signal to those who oppose the political transformation under way in Iraq that they are out of step with world opinion." Negroponte said the Security Council's welcome for the Governing Council "is a reaffirmation of the fact that the Governing Council is an entity with which the rest of the international community and the United Nations can engage." Last week, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan chided the Security Council for failing to say anything about the Governing Council after three of its members addressed a meeting of the UN council on July 22. "It doesn't send a very good message," Annan said. Annan also urged the council to formally establish a mission in Iraq to provide a structure for UN operations. Last month, he proposed that the mission include more than 300 civilian staff dealing with humanitarian, political, reconstruction and other issues. Negroponte said Washington drafted the resolution in response to Annan's call for action. The resolution "welcomes the establishment of the broadly representative Governing Council of Iraq on July 13, 2003, as an important step towards the formation by the people of Iraq of an internationally recognized, representative government that will exercise the sovereignty of Iraq." The resolution approved Thursday makes no mention of a broader UN mandate in Iraq. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml;$sessionid$43YQO2WNI1BZPQFIQMGSFF WAVCBQWIV0?xml=/news/2003/08/16/wirq16.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/08/16/ixnewstop .html * CORONER CALLS ON MOD TO STOP USING CLUSTER BOMBS by Stewart Payne Daily Telegraph, 16th August A coroner is demanding a review of the use of cluster bombs after hearing how a British expert died trying to make safe unexploded devices dropped by American forces and gathered up by Iraqi peasant farmers. A unexploded 'bomblet' from a cluster bomb lies in a field in northern Iraq After hearing how villagers implored Staff Sgt Chris Muir, 33, to help them to clear their fields of explosives so they could harvest crops, Nicholas Gardiner, the Oxford coroner, said it was "unacceptable" that 30 per cent of the "bomblets" contained in each cluster bomb failed to detonate. The bomb disposal expert was approached by a group of farmers, as he was en route to make safe a bombed Iraqi tank in southern Iraq during the second week of the war. They urged him to follow them to their fields where he saw more than 400 cluster bombs on the ground. Many of the M42 cluster bombs, dropped in a recent Amercian air raid, had failed to explode, having hit soft ground, and the farmers were attempting to harvest their tomatoes by stepping around them. Some had gathered up the devices and started to pile them up in a well. Sgt Muir, assisted by a corporal, decided to help the villagers by detonating the bombs. Each cluster bomb contained 60 bomblets and many had failed to explode. Sgt Muir, a married man from Southam, Warks, had made safe 100 devices when one exploded in his hands, killing him instantly. The coroner recorded a verdict of death by misadventure. He said: "It is unacceptable that 30 per cent of these bomblets fail to detonate, falling in areas where the local population are not likely to understand the dangers. "I propose to use my powers to report to the Ministry of Defence and urge them to investigate devices which do not fail 30 per cent of the time, or to use different devices altogether." Cpl Glen Roberts told the Oxford inquest that Sgt Muir was leading a small team when they were stopped by the farmers. "We communicated by sign language and they were clearly trying to tell us something," he said. "Suddenly we saw hundreds of bomblets and they all looked recent. I called HQ for an interpreter. We understood the situation and needed to convey that the villagers had to evacuate the farm." He said Sgt Muir showed him how to defuse the bomblets. They divided up the task between them. "I took one side, and Sgt Muir went towards a large well," he said. "Two hundred bomblets had been placed there. At about midnight I heard a large bang. I knew it wasn't good." Dr Nicholas Hunt, a Home Office pathologist, said the injuries suggested that Sgt Muir had been kneeling over a bomblet when he died. The inquest was told that the Army had launched an independent inquiry into the death, which discovered that up to 30 per cent of M42s fail to detonate upon impact. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH16Ak01.html * IRAQ'S CLERIC WHO WOULD BE HEARD by Nir Rosen Asia Times, 18th August BAGHDAD - The young cleric in black robes and white imama, or turban, dragged the older shop keeper to the door of Muqtada al-Sadr's barani, or office in Najaf. The barani is in an alley just before the Tomb of Ali, the holiest place for the world's 100 million Shi'ites after Mecca and Medina. Across from a store selling religious books, CDs and watches with pictures of Muqtada, his father and brothers on their faces, is an unmarked door identifiable only by the crowds that stand before it, earnestly making their case for entry and a meeting with Muqtada to an indifferent young cleric who peers down at them from behind the barely-opened door. The shop keeper was ordered to wait as the cleric entered to inquire whether it was permitted to sell shirts bearing the image of Muqtada's father, Muhamad Sadiq al-Sadr. Although he is probably the single most powerful individual in Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr does not convey confidence. He is chubby, with the unkempt beard of the not entirely mature. He tries to maintain a permanent scowl to give himself more gravity. He sits hunched over, with arms folded, and his gentle feminine fingers intertwined. He has a lisp that might be caused by his broken or rotten front teeth. Unlike other Shi'ite leaders, whose education and age bestows on them a rich vocabulary and an eloquent fus-hah, or classical Arabic, Muqtada speaks in a strong amia or colloquial Arabic, replete with slang and street expressions. His associates are all young like him, and have the same arrogance when dealing with others, as if acknowledging that they do not deserve all the attention they are receiving. Muqtada has recently taken to claiming that he is 30, but his real age is probably more like 23, according to most people who have associated with him, including a former bodyguard. He punctuates his points with a dismissive puff, "eh" and sneers. He is very aggressive, which is highly unusual in the labyrinth of rumors, hints and innuendoes that typically make up a conversation with a Shi'ite leader. He is the young upstart of the Shi'ite world, taking on the establishment, showing no respect for his elders, or his betters. In the eyes of the Shi'ite establishment embodied in the Hawza, or religious academy based in Najaf, Muqtada is just an arrogant street punk benefiting from his father's reputation and universal admiration. But he cannot be so easily ignored. In July, Muqtada visited Baghdad for the first time since his father's death in 1999, on Monday June 23. He visited the Kadhimiya and Shaala neighborhoods before arriving in Thawra, where tens of thousands greeted him with tribal flags as well as Iraqi flags. Before Muqtada took the stage, a speaker read the "victory verse" from the Koran: "If you receive god's victory and you witness people joining Islam in great numbers thank your god and ask him to forgive you for god is very merciful." People chanted: "Muqtada don't worry we will sacrifice our blood for the you!" A melody for a song that had once praised Saddam Hussein now carried a song praising Muqtada. Witnesses said that Muqtada cried and then he said, "I visited this city when my father was alive and I will visit this city on this day every year ... do not believe in rumors, verify them with us first." Muqtada spoke of the memory of the martyrs and promised the Iraqi people that the unemployment problem would soon be solved because companies will return to Iraq. He spoke for seven minutes and then the crowds of adulators would not let him leave. Hazem Saghiyeh, an Arab intellectual and writer, was disturbed by this phenomenon and in al-Hayat last week described the sight of Muqtada surrounded by excited young men as a "neurotic mass, furious in its refusal of modernity". Clashes erupted between communists and followers of Muqtada after the communists called Muqtada "the turbaned statue" and said his photos everywhere resemble those of Saddam. Muqtada's followers have also recently begun once more to threaten and attack ideological opponents. Most observers and residents of Najaf believe that Muqtada was involved in the murder of Abo Majid al-Khoei, a moderate Shi'ite cleric who returned from exile in April and was murdered his first day in Najaf outside the tomb of Ali. Muqtada followers then surrounded the house of conservative Shi'ite clerics, including that of the highest ranking cleric, Ayatollah Ali Sistani, and gave him 24 hours to leave Najaf. This provoked 1,500 tribesmen loyal to Sistani to descend on Najaf in his defense. Muqtada controls thousands of fiercely loyal armed followers in key Shi'ite cities and neighborhoods, many of whom view him as the Mahdi, or the revered Shi'ite leader who supernaturally disappeared in the 9th century and will return like the Messiah. Immediately after Saddam's regime fell, Muqtada dispatched young associates to take over key mosques throughout Iraq and to provide security and social services, thereby establishing a rival authority to the US-imposed government, and one with more legitimacy in much of Iraq. He has also recently called for the establishment of a Mahdi army of loyal followers and he described it recently as an "organizational army" and not an "armed one", its objective is to "protect Iraq and the Marja'iya [Shi'ite clerics] when necessary". He also accused the Americans of besieging his house, but added that they could not prevent him from going out to see his people because of the Mahdi army. "Americans dispersed," he said, after knowing that they would face a "grave test called the Shi'ites". He also reiterated that the American appointed Iraqi government council is the best "agent for Americans" and that services were much better under the old regime. He said that the new governing council was not representative and that "a people's council should be formed instead". "When America attacked Iraq it neglected world opinion," he said. "The whole world stood against America and the US ignored it. Likewise, the US will ignore the opinion of the Iraqi people and it will compose the new government according to its own desires." He does not thank the US for freeing Iraq, he thanks god. Muqtada denied any ambitions to lead Iraq. "I don't want the chair of the government because it will be controlled by the US and I don't want to be controlled by the US." Muqtada dismissed the traditional Shi'ite leadership and singled out Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, for particular ridicule. "The Badr corps have 10,000 or 12,000 supporters, while three quarters of Iraq are soldiers of Sadr. The Iraqi people don't follow any Marja but my father. The followers of Sadr don't like Hakim because he betrayed the people of Basra and the south when he urged them to fight [in the 1991 intifada] and didn't come in to help them, causing the intifada to fail. The Badr forces came from the outside and do not represent the people." Muqtada also dismisses Sistani, who was born in Iran and has a slight Iranian accent, for being a foreigner, although US military intelligence believes that Muqtada himself receives money from Iran, though it is not clear whether it is from the government of from religious leaders. When asked if he wanted to attack America, Muqtada snorted and replied in a very colloquial expression that means "why would I want to f... myself," implying that if he answers the question he will only get into trouble. He said only, "I will fight America when Muhamad al-Mahdi [the 12th leader of the Shi'ites who disappeared and will return to save them] will appear because this is the land of Muhamad al-Mahdi and they occupy his land." http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/3159019.stm * US TROOPS SHOOT IRAQ CAMERAMAN BBC News, 18th August The Pentagon has confirmed that US troops have shot and killed a cameraman working for Reuters news agency in Iraq. The shooting happened at Abu Ghraib prison, west of Baghdad, where six Iraqis were killed in a mortar attack late on Saturday. The US military said that soldiers had mistaken Mazen Dana's camera for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. The 43-year-old Palestinian was described by Reuters as one of its finest cameramen. His death brings to 19 the number of journalists and their assistants who have died in Iraq or have gone missing since the conflict began. The incident took place in daylight on Sunday afternoon. Mazen Dana's last pictures show a US tank driving towards him outside the prison walls. Several shots ring out from the tank and the camera falls to the ground. His sound engineer, Nael al-Shyoukhi, said that the pair had spoken to a US soldier near the prison shortly before the shooting. "They saw us and they knew about our identities and our mission," he said. Two shot were fired from a US tank. Mr al-Shyoukhi said that the cameraman was hit in the chest. He was taken to a US military hospital but pronounced dead on arrival. Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Ken McClellan said that it "was not apparent in the beginning that it was a reporter". "Obviously this coalition is not in the business of targeting reporters ... if he was shot there was something mistaking his identity," said the spokesman. Reuters Chief Executive Tom Glocer said he hoped there would be "the fullest and most comprehensive investigation into this terrible tragedy". Dana was married with four children, and won an International Press Freedom Award in 2001 from the Committee to Protect Journalists for his work in the West Bank town of Hebron. He is the second Reuters cameraman to be killed since US-led troops invaded Iraq. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/chronicle/archive/2003/08/13 /MN242619.DTL * IRAQI KIDS TOIL IN DICKENSIAN DESPERATION San Francisco Chronicle, 18th August Baghdad -- Karar Ali works each day in the molten 125-degree heat of Baghdad's summer amid a giant mound of discarded ammunition. He starts his job most days about 6 a.m. and often works until 5 p.m. Karar is 9 years old. For more than six weeks, he and his diminutive colleagues have chipped away at each bullet until the copper casing comes away from the lead. A large sack of copper chips fetches 3,000 dinars -- about $2.80. "I can fill half a sack if I stay here for a long day," Karar says, one pudgy hand clutching a Kalashnikov bullet that is searing hot to the touch. "My mother says this is a good job. I give her all my earnings." Hundreds of thousands of live bullets and spent shells have been gathered from the military camps of Iraq's crushed army and from the war litter strewn on Baghdad's sidewalks. The sight of small boys in shorts and sandals squatting over piles of ammunition recalls the rigors of a medieval factory. But these working conditions are not startling in Iraq these days, according to child-welfare experts in Baghdad. The war's end has brought not only a seemingly bottomless supply of battlefield junk, it has lured perhaps thousands of children into arduous, and sometimes dangerous, jobs. For years under Saddam Hussein's rule, many poor Iraqis suffered from the results of economic mismanagement and international sanctions. But experts say that the government's implosion on April 9 has knocked poor Iraqis flat. Hundreds of thousands of people in the extensive civil service lost their jobs, stripping support for numerous relatives of each employee. Others have lost homes or been affected by the months-long shortages in food distribution and social services. "Parents are saying to their children, 'Go out and earn some money. One thousand dinars, 2,000 dinars, we don't care where it comes from,' " said Mohammed Ghazi Saber, a social worker who runs a drop-in center for children in Baghdad's Karrada district. The center opened last month, with funding from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the French aid organization Children of the World. "A lot of the children who come in here are working day and night," Saber said. "Now we are offering them clothes and food. Maybe that will be enough to stop them from working." International treaties, which Iraq has signed, forbid children under 15 from working at all. Children under 18 are banned from doing hazardous jobs. But in dozens of countries, such well-intended laws fall victim to the rules of survival. Across Baghdad, working children say they feel lucky to have jobs. Without them, their families might well be evicted from their tiny apartments or left without enough food. In an earnest tone, 11-year-old Wisam Mohammed explained that he is now the major breadwinner in his family, with a daily wage of 1,500 dinars, about 94 cents. "I have my mother and two brothers to support," said the lean boy in a red baseball cap. Wisam's father died a decade ago. The boy made it to fourth grade two years ago. "Then I dropped out because the school started asking us for money," he said. This summer, Wisam's job is to toil over a hunk of aluminum, dismantling a piece from a defunct Iraqi military plane with a hammer and wrench. His friend Ali Faleh, 13, spends his days hauling bits of the plane to an open fire, where the first stage of the melting process begins. Acrid fumes rise from the smoke, while Ali stands watch over the pit. With an entire Iraqi military plane to melt into metal bricks, the boys have been busy for weeks. Scores of blasted Iraqi tanks, mortar shells and armored vehicles were hauled into the scrap yards of Saba' Ksoor, a hardscrabble neighborhood on the eastern outskirts of Baghdad, by local contractors hired by the American military in Iraq. As summer has worn on, children have flocked into the yards, looking for a windfall. The adults have mostly applauded their efforts. "I brought Wisam to work in the scrap yard so he could learn some skills," said Abbas Abed, 32, Wisam's neighbor, who said he has helped care for the boy since his father died. "It's better than him spending time on the streets. It's not really dangerous, and he can earn money." Wisam's small hands make the work slow going, as he taps on the metal with minimal effect. Much of the plane has already been transformed into bricks of molten aluminum, for sale to a metals dealer. The pouring of the metal is left to older teenagers. Some child-welfare analysts believe the children are better off spending their summer at work than on the streets. "This is a very tough environment for kids, but it's still better than them sniffing glue," said Ban al-Dhayi, an Iraqi spokeswoman for UNICEF in Baghdad. "My whole family's jobless. We really need this money," said Amar Sayed, 15, who works with Karar amid the mounds of bullets and shells. With swifter fingers than the children, Amar said he can fill an entire sack with copper in a long day. That brings 3,000 dinars, about $1.88. The boys' factory is a patch of dust on the roadside in Baghdad's sprawling Shiite enclave known until recently as Saddam City. The children's school year was cut short by the war. Many schools were destroyed by bombs or looters. Officials say they intend to reopen schools in late September, three weeks past the normal date. But in numerous interviews with children working in Baghdad, almost all said they intended to keep their jobs rather than go to school. Their income has become indispensable to their families. Amar was the only boy who expressed a desire to return to the classroom. "I know I have to learn. I know this isn't a good job," Amar said, holding out seven live bullets whose copper shell he was extracting that afternoon. "It's very long hours, and there is a lot of dust and dirt. But for us, there are no other opportunities at all." http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,3604,1021384,00.html * MASS GRAVES TO REVEAL IRAQ WAR TOLL by Jamie Wilson in Baghdad The Guardian, 19th August The task of identifying thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians who died during this year's war has begun with the exhumation of a mass grave at one of Saddam Hussein's former palaces in Baghdad. The Iraqi Red Crescent, the Islamic version of the Red Cross, which is coordinating the exhumations, said 45 bodies had been recovered since vthe palace beside the Tigris river, now used as the coalition headquarters. Nobody knows exactly how many Iraqis died in the war, but an Anglo-American research group, the Iraq Body Count, has estimated the number of civilian fatalities at between 6,000 and 7,800. The number of military casualties is between 10,000 and 45,000. "It is very important for the families to get the bodies back, but this has to be done in an organised, respectful and scientific way," said Nada Doumani, of the International Committee of the Red Cross, who estimated that there were between 10 and 15 mass graves in Baghdad. The volunteers carefully remove the bodies, which are checked for anything that may identify them. If that fails they are taken to the Medico-Legal Institute in Baghdad, where they are forensically examined. Those that remain unclaimed after 10 days will then be reburied in a marked temporary grave at a public cemetery, until somebody comes forward to claim them. Many places where retreating Iraqi troops or arriving Americans buried the dead are known to locals, but the Red Crescent has urged people not to disturb the graves in order to avoid the destruction of identification evidence. Ali Ismael Ahmed, the Red Crescent official in charge of exhuming bodies at the presidential palace and other sites in Baghdad, thought that the biggest mass graves in Baghdad were likely to be at the airport. But the Red Crescent had not been told when, or even if, it would be allowed to start exhuming bodies from the site. Mr Ahmed said that some families were unlikely to ever get the bodies of their relatives back. "During the war the American soldiers told my volunteers not to go near the bodies in burnt out tanks, because they would almost certainly have been attacked with depleted uranium," he said. "We never knew what the Americans did with these bodies, and we probably never will." Another problem the Red Crescent faces is creating a comprehensive list of those who are missing. They have asked families to register missing loved ones at local offices. Hussein Abdul Razaq, 49, a taxi driver, was one of those at the Red Cross centre in Baghdad yesterday. His son Ala, 21, was in the air defence, based at Deir, near Basra. Mr Razaq has not heard from him since March 18, two days before the warbegan. He said that his son had wanted to desert from the army. "I encouraged him to go. If I had not pushed him to go back they would have executed all of us, his whole family. I did not expect to see him again, I saw death on his own face, I knew he was not coming back." http://www.aljazeerah.info/News%20archives/2003%20News%20archives/August/19% 20n/12%20Ex-Soldiers%20Dead%20in%20Iraq%20Ammo%20Dump%20Blast.htm * 12 EX-SOLDIERS DEAD IN IRAQ AMMO DUMP BLAST Al Jazzerah, from Arab News, Agence France Presse, 19th August BAGHDAD, 19 August 2003 ‹ A dozen former Iraqi soldiers were killed when an ammunition dump they were looting blew up, locals said yesterday. Two other Iraqis were gunned down by US forces after ignoring warning shots in two separate incidents, the military said. The 12 were reported killed in the explosion at a storage dump of confiscated ammunition on the outskirts of deposed dictator Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. "Twelve people were killed in the explosion and they were all unemployed men who had been officers in the army," said Kazem Hassan, 32, a former tank regiment sergeant. The military confirmed the incident but could only confirm that one body had been found in the aftermath. "A team of investigators recovered the remains of one unidentified body," said Col. Bill MacDonald, spokesman for the 4th Infantry Division, which controls northern Iraq. He added that no US troops or equipment were lost in the explosion. The accident took place in two explosions Sunday evening, the military said, but US troops kept the Iraqi police and firefighters away from the scene until the fires and chain-reaction blasts had subsided at 11:00 a.m.yesterday. Qatar-based Al-Jazeera satellite channel said the men had broken into the dump to loot copper from artillery and other shells, which they would then resell. MacDonald also said US troops had shot dead two Iraqis in separate incidents on Sunday in the northern region. One, who the military said was caught looting in southwest Tikrit, was shot after ignoring warning shots. The second died of his wounds after his car was disabled by US military personnel as he tried to run through a roadblock in Han Bani Sa'd, just north of Baghdad. [.....] Food Rations: Iraq's de facto trade minister Yousif Al-Ani said yesterday that the distribution of monthly food rations, which began during the rule of Saddam Hussein, should continue for at least a year. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/opinion/19_08_03_d.asp * IRAQ'S SCIRI, CAUGHT BETWEEN TEHRAN AND WASHINGTON by Mahan Abedin Lebanon Daily Star, 20th August One of the more encouraging features of the occupation of Iraq has been Washington's desire to co-opt the country's Shiites into the post-Baathist polity in a way that reflects their majority status. This has led the US to deal with the most well-organized Shiite force in the country: the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). However, this uneasy alliance has been beset with problems from the start. The raiding of numerous SCIRI offices and safe houses after the fall of Baghdad came amid a general harassment of SCIRI cadres and sympathizers, particularly members of its armed wing, the Badr Corps. Yet there are also strong indications SCIRI will prove to be a reliable partner for the US as it seeks to forge some kind of representative government in Iraq. SCIRI grew out of a breakaway faction of the Al-Daawa Party. Ayatollah Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim led the faction, which left Iraq in 1980 and eventually settled in Iran. Hakim had been a member of Daawa since the 1960s and was imprisoned three times in the 1970s. In Iran, Hakim established the Mujahideen fil-Iraq, which was renamed the Office for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq in early 1981. This in turn metamorphosed into SCIRI in November 1982. SCIRI claimed to be a coalition of Islamic and national forces, but in reality it was little more than a nucleus of old Daawa activists who sought to challenge former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. It modeled itself on a conventional liberation movement, developing both political and military wings. At the beginning it was overwhelmingly dependent on Iranian patronage, but it would be wrong to characterize the link as a patron-client relationship. Influence was mutual as SCIRI gained considerable sway in the commanding heights of the Iranian state. A noteworthy example was Ayatollah Mahmoud Shahrudi, who was a senior leader of SCIRI in the 1980s and is currently the head of Iran's judiciary. On the political front, SCIRI failed to score significant points against the Baathist regime. Its open alliance with Iran during the Iran-Iraq war caused enormous damage to its credibility inside Iraq. Even within the Shiite community, SCIRI came to be seen, undeservedly, as an Iranian quisling. Its lack of a presence in Iraq was debilitating and the Baath regime's intelligence apparatus easily contained whatever influence the SCIRI commanded. Militarily, SCIRI did not perform much better. The problem was rooted in the council's desire to develop a conventional military rather than clandestine guerrilla force. Iran's Revolutionary Guards selected and trained Badr units, and strong ties have persisted between the organizations for more than two decades. Indeed, SCIRI participated in the war against Iraq alongside the guards. Its units were deployed in bases in Iran's western Khuzistan, Ilam and Kermanshah provinces, and its main training center was located in a Revolutionary Guard center outside Dezful. The Badr corps boasted a 15,000-man army, but in reality only 5,000 of these were professionally trained fighters. The uselessness of SCIRI's armed wing was underlined during the March 1991 uprising against the Baath regime: Badr units were unable to participate effectively as they lacked clandestine resources in the southern and central Iraqi Shiite heartlands. Ideologically, SCIRI is committed to the Velayat-e Faquih doctrine prevailing in Iran, which mandates clerical intervention in political affairs. Its strong Iranian links have ensured that some former and current SCIRI leaders and cadres are loyal to the theocratic component of the Islamic Republic. Indeed SCIRI publications, particularly those connected to its armed wing, regularly publish photographs and sayings of Iranian supreme leader Ali Khamenei, and refer to him by the superfluous title "leader of the Muslim umma." Hakim is usually present during Khamenei's important speeches, nodding approvingly from the back rows. Despite such behavior, SCIRI representatives take pains to assert they are not interested in establishing a theocracy in Iraq. Spokesmen have the unenviable task of reconciling the organization's ideology with its practical agenda. Recently, SCIRI pledged its allegiance to a democratic system in Iraq. One of the council's most erudite and articulate representatives, the UK-based Hamid al-Bayati, said in a May 2003 interview that a Shiite-led theocracy was inappropriate as it would not fully represent Iraq's diverse communities. This is likely a genuine reflection of current SCIRI thinking. It must be remembered that despite its clerical core, SCIRI has in recent years developed a professional and technocratic cadre. Moreover its presence in Iraq will likely result in its coming under the influence of the Najaf religious schools - which have historically opposed Velayat-e Faquih. Saddam Hussein's downfall compelled SCIRI and the US occupation administration to work together. The US initially sought to curtail the activities of the Badr Corps by preventing its fighters from crossing the Iranian border. Politically, however, it gave SCIRI free rein, as evidenced by Hakim's historic return in April. Still, the Bremer administration remains suspicious of the council and its allies. These tensions are unlikely to result in a significant rupture. SCIRI's ties with Iran form the basis of US reservations, but this influence is likely to wane as SCIRI finds it expedient to distance itself from Tehran. Moreover, SCIRI has had links with Washington since 1993, therefore is by no means unfamiliar to the US. The US will have to deepen its relations with SCIRI if it is to end the marginalization of Iraq's Shiites. This is largely dependent on engaging the forces representing the community. In the absence of viable alternatives, SCIRI represents a smart choice. Daawa is also currently a US ally, but it is too small, fractured and secretive to play a significant role in Iraqi politics. More ominously, the continuing US presence in Iraq could propel the movement led by the young cleric Muqtada al-Sadr into armed confrontation with coalition forces. SCIRI will be a very useful US ally in the face of such an eventuality. The upshot is that the US and SCIRI are likely to forge an ever closer relationship. Mahan Abedin, a London-based financial consultant and analyst of Iranian politics, wrote this commentary for THE DAILY STAR OLD IRAQI ORDER http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH15Ak03.html * IRAQ: US RUNNING WITH THE ENEMY by Nir Rosen Asia Times, 15th August BAGHDAD - The US Central Intelligence Agency used former members of Saddam Hussein's government to induce regime elements to defect in the prelude to Operation Iraqi Freedom. This has emerged from the admission of two key collaborators with the CIA. One of the men is Faris Sulayvani, who was the commander of the Fursan, the all-Kurdish militia numbering up to 200,000 that fought with Saddam against pro-independence Kurds and in the 1991 first Gulf War against the United States as well. Sulayvani, who is the leader of his 50,000-strong tribe of Kurds, is related to Saddam through marriage. He worked for Iraqi military intelligence and was also involved in business, securing contracts thanks to his close association with the regime. In 1994 he had a falling-out with the minister of defense, Ali Hassan Majid, commonly known as Chemical Ali, and he fled with his family to Turkey, then Ukraine and Germany, finally arriving in the United States in 1998, where he was immediately debriefed by the CIA in a series of 20 meetings. These meetings culminated in Sulayvani being dispatched to Syria, where he met with tribal, military and security officials from Iraq. Unbeknown to the Syrian government, the Iraqis Sulayvani met included Taleb Abdel Jabbar, who was head of security in northern Iraq, Liwa Yasin Saleh Jaheishi, who was head of security for Tikrit, and Muhamad Majid, a high-level General Security Department official. He also induced friend and ally Arshad Zebari to meet him in Damascus and return to Iraq, where Zebari persuaded the Kurdish Surchi tribe and the northern Sunni Arab Shammar tribe to defect. Additionally, in Germany and the Netherlands, Sulayvani met with other leaders of tribes, such as the Muzuris. The officials Sulayvani met in Syria without that government's awareness were cautious. "They said, 'We are afraid the US will betray us like they did in 1991,'" he said, referring to the US call for an Iraqi uprising and subsequent refusal to assist it, "'but we'll work with you.'" He added that the officials he induced to abandon Saddam "helped in the fall of Mosul and Kirkuk", the north's biggest cities. The other collaborator was Arshad Zebari, who had been a minister in Saddam's government for more than two decades. His roles included security positions and governorship of the northern city of Sulaimaniya. Most controversial, however, is his participation in the Anfal campaign of 1988. This military operation, in which Sulayvani's troops also took part, was led by Chemical Ali, and it was here that he earned his nickname for his use of chemical weapons to punish Kurds for rebelling against Saddam's government. Tens of thousands of Kurdish civilians died in what a United Nations report called genocide because of the systematic attempt to wipe out entire Kurdish villages and a way of life. Sulayvani established the Iraqi National Front in 2002, an exile political party that was recognized by President George W Bush in September of that year as eligible to receive US government funds. Late last year he volunteered for the Free Iraqi Forces (FIF), the exile Iraqi militia that the US army trained on a base in Hungary for three months. Sulayvani returned to Iraq with US troops and another controversial member of the FIF named Galub Baradosti, who had also been a member of the Fursan. Their presence angered many FIF members who had joined idealistically to battle the regime that Sulayvani and Baradosti had until recently supported. Zebari's name appears on an August 8 US Department of the Treasury Office of Foreign Assets Control list of specially designated nationals and blocked persons just below the name of al-Qaeda's Ayman al Zawahiri. Zebari, who in 1987 destroyed the village of Barzan, home to the Barzani tribe that dominates the Kurdish Democratic Party, receives protection from the CIA, and carries a card identifying him as a "friend of the United States of America" who is entitled to free travel, as well as armed security. "We are against Barzani," he explained from his home in Mosul. Zebari admired Saddam's intelligence until 1990, "then the man changed", he said. "After 1991 he isolated himself from the people of Iraq. Saddam's advisers told him what he wanted to hear." Anonymous US security officials in Iraq justify the anomaly of Zebari being both listed and courted by the US by explaining that only former regime members had the knowledge and contacts that could be useful to the CIA in its attempt to seduce supporters of Saddam away from his regime. The CIA initially supported Ahmad Chalabi, but allegations of financial irregularities and Chalabi's 50-year absence from Iraq drove the US intelligence agency to find more recent exiles, such as Ayad Alawi, a former high-ranking Ba'athist and leader of the Iraqi National Accord, as well as former Iraqi chief of staff General Nizar Khazraji, who was exiled in Denmark and under investigation for war crimes thanks to his participation in the 1987 gassing of Halabja that cost more than 5,000 lives during the Anfal campaign. The risks of such association, however, are that it may drive the already anxious Kurdish leadership farther away from Iraq and the US effort, since the majority of Kurds still hope for independence and may resent the presence of those who fought against them on the list of US government friends. http://www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=902512003 * SADDAM 'MADE SEX SLAVES' OF KURD WOMEN by Lynne O'Donnell in Istanbul The Scotsman, 17th August WHEN a group of Kurdish women and girls disappeared from their homes in Iraq in 1989, their families assumed they would never see them again. But instead of being murdered during a campaign of mass arrests and summary executions, it now appears that the 18 women and children were abducted to be sold as sex slaves in Egypt. Evidence was uncovered in documents found among the debris of the ransacked Kirkuk offices of Saddam's feared intelligence and security agency. These detail the names of the women, who were aged between 14 and 29 at the time, and state that they were sold to Egyptian brothels. 'Document Number 1601' is dated December 10, 1989, and addressed to the director of intelligence in Baghdad from the general directory of intelligence in Kirkuk. It refers to orders received after the first and second Anfal operations, which were brutal campaigns of suppression against Kurds and other 'enemies of the state'. The document states: "We have arrested different groups of people, among them young girls aged between 14 and 29 years old. According to your request, we have sent a group of these girls to the harems and nightclubs of the Arab Republic of Egypt." The document lists the names and ages of 18 women, 10 of them from the village of Nawjul, the rest from villages in the province of Gemiyan, an area in northern Iraq now administered by the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Kirkuk's newly-established post-war Appeal Court told the families last week that they could not pursue claims against the leaders of the local and national secret service agencies because an amnesty offered by Saddam to all criminals last October remained valid. However, the families have been assured by the mayor's office they can pursue claims through a government-sponsored human rights organisation to be established to help Iraqis take legal action against Saddam's Ba'athist regime. Nazaneen Rashid, a Kurdish women's rights activist based in London, said the documents were the first concrete evidence of what she believes was a widespread campaign against Kurdish women. "I've been shouting in the wilderness about this since 1995. It was a strategy that Saddam used against the Kurds, to turn all their daughters into whores so that their honour was destroyed," said Rashid. "Saddam had Kurdish women raped for this reason. It is not unusual." A founder of Kurdish Women Action Against Honour Killing, Rashid said that even if the women were traced they faced the possibility of being murdered by their fathers or brothers to avenge the dishonour on their families. An Egyptian government official denied that any Kurdish women had ever been trafficked to Egypt and said that the Cairo government would not investigate the documents. http://www.news.scotsman.com/international.cfm?id=913822003 * SADDAM'S VICE-PRESIDENT HANDED OVER TO US FORCES AFTER HE'S FOUND HIDING AS A PEASANT by Margaret Neighbour The Scotsman, 20th August SADDAM Hussein's vice-president - a man nicknamed "Saddam's Knuckles" for his leading role in the dictator's countless purges - has been captured and is in coalition hands, US military officials confirmed yesterday. Taha Yassin Ramadan, No 20 on the US most-wanted list, was handed over to US forces yesterday, Pentagon spokeswoman Diane Perry said. Al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite broadcaster, said Ramadan was captured by troops of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK). He was wearing peasant clothing as a disguise, the broadcaster said. "He was hiding among his relatives or colleagues," said Latif Rashid, a PUK spokesman. Ramadan was high on the list of figures who Iraqi opposition groups say should be tried for war crimes. He served on the Revolutionary Command Council and was considered as ruthless as Saddam himself. Ramadan was said to have presided over many purges carried out by Saddam to eliminate rivals. He headed a 1970 court that executed 44 officers for plotting to overthrow the regime. A native of the Mosul region, he worked as a bank clerk before Saddam's revolution. Neighbouring Jordan had banned the entry of five of Ramadan's relatives at the beginning of the month. Ramadan, a ruthless and long-serving lieutenant who once suggested the US President George Bush fight a duel with Saddam, was handed over to the US 101st Airborne Division a few hours later after a brief interrogation by the PUK. "There were some questions directed to him, but he had broken down and become disoriented and he was unable to answer," said Sadi Ahmed Pire, the top PUK official in Mosul. "But since he was one of the elements closest to the president of the dead regime, and one who had a role in overseeing the acts of sabotage and crime after the regime fell, he must be aware of where figures of the regime are." In Texas, Mr Bush said: "I'm really pleased that we've captured the vice-president. Slowly, but surely, we'll find who we need to find." US officials have said they might be interested in questioning Ramadan about allegations that Saddam had contacts with Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda network. Mr Pire said the PUK had been tracking Ramadan for more than two weeks as he moved between several houses and farms in and around the city. He was captured in a two-storey house in the city. A neighbour, Abu Abed, said: "Two cars came about midnight, full of Kurds, and they leapt out and ran inside. A little while later they came out carrying people, and lots of bags and luggage." Ramadan was one of the most hawkish members of Saddam's inner circle and one of the only surviving plotters of the 1968 coup that brought the Baath Party to power. He is widely accused of crimes against humanity for his role in suppressing a Kurdish rebellion in northern Iraq in the 1980s and a Shiite revolt in southern Iraq in 1991. A man of blunt words, he told Saudi Arabia's foreign minister to "go to hell" during the invasion when the minister repeated a US suggestion that Saddam should step down. "You loser," he said of Prince Saud al-Faisal at a Baghdad news conference. "You are a minion and a lackey." FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS http://atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/EH20Ak03.html * TURKEY WANTS MORE OF THE IRAQI ACTION by K Gajendra Singh Asia Times, 20th August Turkey, after a top-level meeting in Ankara presided over by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer, has expressed its readiness to send troops to help stabilize Iraq, with Prime Minister Recep Tayep Erdogan and Chief of General Staff Hilmi Ozkok in complete agreement. There remains some lingering opposition from Sezer, a former head of the Constitutional Court, but during a two-and-a-half-hour meeting both Erdogan and Ozkok reportedly briefed the president comprehensively on why troops should be sent. They emphasized that Turkey could not ignore developments in its backyard across the border, and that it must take part in the stabilization process to ensure Iraq's reconstruction. The president reiterated his desire for international legitimacy (United Nations), but Erdogan and Ozkok added that the Turkish troops would go to Iraq not to wage war but to ensure peace. Citing UN Resolution 1483 calling on member states to take part in Iraq's reconstruction process and to contribute humanitarian aid, Erdogan and Ozkok said that the Turkish troops could be deployed within this framework. After the meeting, presidential spokesman Sermet Atacanli stated that the leaders had agreed that all relevant groups should work in coordination to determine the content, nature and framework of Turkey's contribution in line with the nation's interests and that a final decision would be made through the democratic decision-making process, meaning parliament. After a vote in parliament, possibly in September, it could take another six weeks for the troops to actually go to Iraq. Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul are now briefing members of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) on how to organize the vote in parliament to avoid a March 1-like embarrassment. On that date, parliament, despite the AKP having a two-thirds majority, refused to sanction the use of Turkish soil by US troops for its war on Iraq. This decision stunned Washington and strained ties between the two traditional allies. Thus Turkey was pleased when on August 14 the United Nations Security Council 's resolution 1500 "welcomed" the establishment of the 25-member Governing Council of Iraq on July 13 as an important step towards the formation by the people of Iraq of an internationally-recognized representative government that will exercise the sovereignty of Iraq. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on August 15 that the resolution coincided with Turkey's approach on the issue. The statement recalled the ministry's earlier statement of July 17, which had said that the establishment of the council was the first step in the process of the formation of new sovereign political structure in Iraq, and it reiterated that Turkey supported the transition period to be completed in such a way that Iraq's sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity would be guaranteed. The ministry also noted that the resolution also established a UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI) which will have an initial one-year mandate to support the UN secretary general to fulfill his mission, which was determined by resolution 1483 of the Security Council. "Turkey has always defended that the UN should play a key role in the transition period and in the rebuilding process of Iraq. Turkey welcomed this role being put on a more definite and concrete foundation by the formation of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq. Turkey will help this mission in fulfilling its duty successfully." Problems and opposition At a meeting on August 14, marking the second anniversary of the foundation of the AKP, Erdogan urged deputies to take a unified stance on the issue of sending troops to Iraq. "We have to be careful about this. Let our statements be in harmony, let's speak with one voice," the premier said. According to the Turkish media, during the high-level meeting at the presidency, Erdogan, Ozkok and Gul also discussed a top secret report received from Baghdad giving information about the likely reaction of Iraqi people to the induction of Turkish troops in south Iraq, and not north Iraq as Ankara had wanted. According to the report, the following groups opposed Turkish troops assisting the US: Sunni Arabs affiliated with the now defunct Ba'ath Party once ruled over with an iron fist by Saddam Hussein; pro-Iranian Shi'ites and monarchists. Also, Kurdish leaders Massoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) leader Jalal Talabani do not want Turkish troops in Iraq. Some Shi'ite groups would flash the green light only if the troops came under a UN mandate. Turkmens on the other hand would welcome Turkish troops unconditionally. The report says that the Shurchi tribe wanted Turkish troops in the region provided that they remained on the side of the US and provided humanitarian assistance. The pro-Iranian Sciri, meanwhile, did not want any other armed force in the region "since they had their own militia force". According to the daily newspaper Cumhuriyet, Haluk Koc, the deputy chairman of the opposition Republican People's Party, made a statement against sending troops to Iraq. "The one that initiated the fire in Iraq [US], is now bogged down in a swamp. There is no need for us to drown in that swamp together with him. No mehmet [Turkish soldier] has any place in the deserts." There have been some other protests in Turkey. Members of nearly 30 political parties and non-governmental organizations forming the Ankara Anti-Military Platform held a demonstration in Ankara's Kizilay Square on August 16. They chanted slogans against the US and a group of representative said, "A total of 22 countries sent 14,000 soldiers to Iraq. However, Turkey was asked to send 12,000 soldiers. It is thought-provoking. Our young people do not intend to be involved in the occupation of Iraq." Apart from sending troops to Iraq, Turkey is also planning to establish a new hospital in Baghdad to help the war-torn country, according to the Anatolia news agency. The Turkish Public Works Ministry will be responsible for the construction of the 50-bed hospital, which will cost around US$4 million. Turkey is also planning to establish a new hospital in Kirkuk, according to Anatolia. About $1 million of the $5 million that Turkey has allocated for humanitarian aid to Iraq has been sent to the United Nations. Turkey has clearly changed tack from wanting a UN mandate to not bothering. It had earlier indicated that an invitation from Iraq's Governing Council would be sufficient to legitimize troop deployment. Now diplomatic sources have told the Turkish Daily News that an invitation was not a precondition, and Turkey would decide according to its own national interests. An Iraqi delegation is due in Ankara to discuss matters. It will comprise representatives of a Sunni tribe from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, and the so-called Sunni triangle around the capital Baghdad. Turkey would discuss with the Ubayd tribe the kind of reception Turkish soldiers could expect. Gul has said that Turkey expected certain conditions to be met. The activities of the Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) in northern Iraq should cease, a joint plan should be drafted with the US on the political and administrative restructuring of Iraq, and Iraqi people should be convinced to welcome Turkish soldiers. The first negative reaction to more Turkish troops in Iraq (several thousand are already in Kurdish northern Iraq to guard against any spread of independence fever to Turkey's own Kurds) came from the PUK's Talabani, who is also a member of the US-appointed Governing Council. Unlike many Sunnis and Shi'ites, who have demanded that US troops leave, Talabani wants the US troops to stay. But he stated on August 15 that he was opposed to the presence of more Turkish troops, saying that the present number was sufficient. According to the Turkish media, during a recent visit to Japan, Talabani discussed the issue of an independent Kurdish state, saying, "Our dream of an independent Kurdish state hasn't died yet. However, it isn't on our agenda right now." Talabani added that Kurdish leaders intended to work for a democratic Iraq, rather than an independent state for themselves. "We need to be realistic. Our supporters need to look at real goals in order for the nation to succeed." He stated that right now, the best option for Kurds is a democratic, federal, pluralist Iraq with a parliament. Talabani explained that for now, the only attainable goal is a federation under one Iraq. "Independence is impossible. I don't want things that are impossible," he said. "We don't want them [US] to leave until they get rid of all signs of dictatorship and until they have created a democratic government. Only then will Iraq show the American forces gratitude," he continued. Talabani is pleased at the prospect of Japanese troops possibly going to Iraq to help with humanitarian aid and the reconstruction of the country. "Iraqi people will be happy with the arrival of Japanese troops. We want to see more international forces in Iraq. But we are against the presence of Turkish troops in Iraq. We don't want troops from neighboring countries. Not just Turkey, but from Iran, Kuwait or other neighboring countries as well." More jihadis enter Iraq According to the Daily News based in Ankara, more than 1,000 al-Qaeda members consisting of Arabs, Afghans and other jihadis from the Middle East have slipped into Iraq through the rugged mountainous border with Iran in recent months, adding to the terrorist threat against US forces. The paper was told by diplomatic sources that dozens of men had been taken into custody by the forces of the PUK in recent weeks, but hundreds had managed to slip deeper into Iraq through mountain passes, which are also used by Turkey's separatist Kurdish terrorists to slip in and out of northern Iraq via Iran. The newspaper has also reported that members of Ansar al-Islam, a staunchly anti American, Islamist group based in northern Iraq, have also slipped into areas controlled by the PUK to assassinate high-level party officials such as Talabani. The Americans and PUK forces launched massive attacks against the Ansar hideouts in the mountains during the war, inflicting heavy damage. Now, new recruits from Iran have reportedly infiltrated PUK areas. Of course, the Turks might have reasons to exaggerate such news to reaffirm Turkey's right to keep a watch on north Kurdish Iraq. US wary of Turkish sensibilities Unlike February and March, when the US leadership and media criticized the Turks for not being "obedient" enough and for haggling like a courtesan over the $26 billion package offered by the US in return for the use of Turkish territory, the Americans are now being more sensitive. They were very receptive during Gul's visit in July. And apart from visits by central command head General John Abizaid and other senior military generals to soothe the Pashas (Turkish military), the US is sending delegations to Ankara later this week. The first will be headed by John Murtha, a senior member of the US House of Representatives allocations committee sub-committee for defense. It will be followed by one headed by US Senate international affairs committee chairman Richard Lugar. Members of the delegations will meet with officials of the ministries of foreign affairs, justice and national defense and of the military's general staff. Meanwhile, the business community is also weighing in. Two other US delegations will visit Turkey in August, from the Washington-based American-Turkish Council and the New York-based Turkish-American Business Forum. Turkey's decision to send troops to Iraq - although the move still has to be endorsed in parliament - is a small victory for the United States. But the latest Security Council resolution welcomed the Governing Council for Iraq and the creation of a modest UN assistance mission is far short of the broad mandate sought by India and Pakistan before they commit to sending troops, despite Washington's persuasive efforts. A report in the New York Times of August 14 said that Washington had ruled out, for the time being, the idea of seeking UN authorization for the presence of foreign troops in Iraq. The report said that although the Pentagon faced an unstable security situation in Iraq, it was reluctant to cede control of military operations. Greater UN involvement, or the deployment of UN peacekeepers, might compromise its freedom of movement. Instead, the Pentagon is likely to continue its efforts to circumvent the UN by enlisting countries that do not object to fighting under sole US military command, said the New York Times. A US official conceded that discussions with India had broken down. "The Indians have said that they preferred a broader mandate," the paper quoted the official as saying. "Our position is that the [UN resolutions] provide sufficient cover for countries interested in contributing, and that has not changed." Any takers, apart from the Turks and the coalition of the willing, starting with Albania? K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. Email Gajendrak@hotmail.com _______________________________________________ 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 firstname.lastname@example.org All postings are archived on CASI's website: http://www.casi.org.uk