19 October 2001, Volume
IRAQ'S ANTHRAX STOCKPILE HIGHLIGHTED. At the outset of the Gulf War a decade ago, Saddam Husseyn was estimated to have 50 anthrax-filled bombs, and 10 missiles loaded with anthrax warheads. According to a report in "The Guardian" of 15 October, this was the fruit of a six-year biological warfare program. A recent book by Paul Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, "Losing Control," refers to an American assessment that "the Iraqis were likely to use weapons of mass destruction if the survival of the regime was threatened."
The main source of information on Iraq's anthrax weapon program was a series of UNSCOM inspection reports issued between October 1995 and October 1997. In May 1989, "The Guardian" noted, large-scale anthrax production began at a factory in Al-Hakam. UNSCOM estimated that the Al-Hakam facility produced 8,425 liters of anthrax bacteria in the course of 1990.
A parallel program started to design weapons that could deliver the anthrax spores. Rockets, bombs, and spray tanks were all tested between 1988 and 1990, prior to the attack on Kuwait. Then the biological weapons program was speeded up.
Other biological killers, the food-poisoning agent botulinum and aflatoxin, a cancer-inducing toxin, reportedly were also tested. After UNSCOM made these discoveries, Iraq prevented further discoveries. Rogers says, "There were credible reports Iraq was continuing work, probably in underground research and development centers." However, none of this proves the latest anthrax scares can be traced to Iraq. (David Nissman)
IRAQ'S NUCLEAR PROGRAM HAMPERED BY SIZE. Michael Eisenstadt of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy says Baghdad is not yet capable of making a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on their missiles, according to a report in "Middle East Newsline" of 16 October. He adds that Iraq's small surviving arsenal of Al-Husseyn missiles is of uncertain reliability, and "a first generation weapon might not be robust enough to withstand the rigors of missile flight." He concludes that Iraq may seek other ways to deliver a nuclear strike. And Iraq is not expected to be able to produce fissile material for a bomb "for years to come." As a result, he concludes that Baghdad will focus on acquiring fissile material from abroad, which will probably limit the size of any arsenal to one to three bombs. (David Nissman)
IRAQ EXPECTS U.S. ATTACK WITH KURDISH, TURKMEN COOPERATION. Iraqi authorities have taken precautionary military measures inside the oil-rich city of Kirkuk in anticipation of a U.S. military strike with Kurdish and Turkmen cooperation, according to a report in London's "Al-Hayat" of 15 October. An informed Kurdish source in Al-Sulaymaniyah has told "Al-Hayat" that Iraqi military authorities have completed the building of 65 large military shelters northwest of Kirkuk. They have also started to distribute light and medium weapons to the Arab tribes living in the Saliyi area, northeast of the city, and have begun crash course to train the newly armed men in the Saqazli Camp near Kirkuk.
The source pointed out that a Special Guard unit executed three officers inside the army's 1st Corps headquarters in Kirkuk. One of the executed officers is said to be Staff Major General Hamad Al-Jamali. Also, the director of the press office in Al-Ta'mim province was arrested. In addition, five military companies from the northern branch of the ruling Ba'th Party have been formed; they have the task of controlling the conditions inside the city in case of sudden disturbances. These companies are directly linked to the office of Qusay Saddam Husseyn. (David Nissman)
INC SAYS IRAQI AMBASSADOR LINKED TO WTC ATTACK TACTIC. An official at the Iraqi National Congress (INC) in Washington said the tactic for the attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon was hatched by Faruq Hijazi, currently Iraq's ambassador to Turkey and a former brigadier general in the General Intelligence Directorate, and its current Brigadier General Habib Ma'muri, according to an article in the "Jerusalem Post" of 14 October. Ma'muri was in charge of special operations from 1982-1990, and at the same time Hijazi lectured on espionage, assassination, and hijacking following the Gulf War.
The INC official said that "the plan of controlling a civilian airplane with full fuel tanks, using teams of five and items that can be easily carried aboard a plane, such as knives, and then using the plane as a guided missile was hatched by Ma'muri and Hijazi at Salman Pak some time before 1995." The "Jerusalem Post" adds that "Newsweek" magazine says that Hijazi met suspected hijacker Muhammad Atta in Prague last April. Hijazi last gained wide press attention when he visited with Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan in 1998. (David Nissman)
IRAQI FM ON OIC MEETING. Iraqi Foreign Minister Naji Sabri Al-Hadithi has returned to Iraq following the meeting of foreign ministers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) member states. He said in an interview on Baghdad Television that the statement issued by the meeting covered many of the elements that Iraq considered necessary and that "the core of the correct Arab and Muslim position is found in the Iraqi position.... One can summarize these elements as follows: Rejection of any aggression against any Arab or Muslim state under the pretext of fighting terrorism. Second, the conferees stressed that the issue of terrorism must be tackled within the framework of the United Nations and according to international law." The OIC called for an international conference to define terrorism and search for ways to deal with it.
The correspondent for Baghdad Television said that "people expected an Arab and Muslim position on the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan. However, analysts reached the conclusion that the conference did not live up to expectations in this regard?" Al-Hadithi answered that the OIC has 56 member states and "the majority of these have certain ties and relations to the United States. Therefore, it was not possible to achieve a clear denunciation of the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan." (David Nissman)
SADDAM CONDEMNS THOSE WHO SUPPORT U.S. ATTACKS ON AFGHANISTAN. Saddam Husseyn said on Baghdad Television of 13 October that the rulers of countries that "do not want to condemn the U.S. aggression against Afghanistan will not gain strength from this weak position. The flood has come. They can survive only by returning to their peoples and the correct national approach." And he added that peoples not side with governments that are supported by the United States. He said: "Violence and instability in the Arab homeland is the result of subservience to the foreigner. It is also the result of the governments' failure to face wrong with right." And he warned, "All those who support wrong over right, do not feel ashamed of wrong actions, and respond to the U.S. and Zionist wishes will lose their people." (David Nissman)
CHINESE COMPANY TO INSTALL IRAQI MOBILE PHONE NETWORK. The Iraqi State Communication and Phone Company has signed contracts with the Chinese Sentik company to install a cellular phone network. The company is to install an expandable network with a capacity of 25,000 lines, according to the Baghdad newspaper "Al-Thawra" of 27 September. A source at the State Communications and Phone Company said that a Chinese delegation had recently visited Iraq to discuss the installation mechanism of the mobile phone network. It then left for New York to submit the contracts to the UN Committee 661. He dismissed as baseless the reports that the French Alcatel company would provide the mobile phones. Contracts with Alcatel only include large-capacity telephone exchanges to facilitate telephone communications. (David Nissman)
IRAQ REJECTS SHIPMENT OF PAKISTANI WHEAT. The Trading Corporation of Pakistan (TCP) shipped 98,000 pounds of super-fine red winter wheat to Iraq. Although one ship was cleared for unloading, the grain loaded in two hatches of the second ship was rejected. Later, Iraqi inspectors rejected the quality of all wheat on the ship. Similarly, Iraq has rejected all grain loaded on a third ship due to the presence of sand. To resolve the issue, a two-member delegation from the TCP and the Export Promotion Bureau has left for Baghdad, according to "Asia Pulse" of 15 October.
According to a report prepared by the Iraqi authorities, there is 0.2 percent sand in the consignment. Rejection of the two shiploads of wheat (62,000 pounds) was a blow to Pakistan, said Masood Alam Rizvi, chairman of TCP, as it had passed a preshipment inspection by Iraq's Inspectorate Pakistan. Although Iraq has extended unconditionally the validity of letters of credit by 90 days and without any penalty to replace the rejected wheat, Rizvi said that unless Iraq changed the terms and conditions for the clearance of the consignment, Pakistan would not reship the wheat. (David Nissman)
ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT ON GOVERNOR OF DIYALA. According to "Iraq Press" of 15 October, travelers have reported that unidentified gunmen fired at the convoy of a senior official of the Iraqi government in central Iraq. They said that the governor of Diyala, Fawzi Al-Kubaysi, was ambushed on his way to attend a funeral in one of the orchards on the outskirts of Ba'quba, north of Baghdad. Troops cordoned off the area in search of the attackers, but it is not known whether any arrests have been made. Al-Kubaysi cut his trip short and returned to Ba'quba. He is said to have escaped unharmed. "Iraq Press" says that the authorities clamp a complete blackout on such incidents. (David Nissman)
KIG LEADERSHIP TO DECIDE ON JUND AL-ISLAM REUNIFICATION. A source close to the Islamic factions in Iraqi Kurdistan said that on 13 October the Kurdistan Islamic Group (KIG), led by Mulla Ali Bapir, convened a special meeting in Ahmedawa to discuss the possibility of the unification of Jund Al-Islam militants with the KIG, according to KurdishMedia.com on 14 October. The meeting follows upon a meeting between Mulla Ali Bapir and Shaykh Muhammad Barzinji of the KIG with Jalal Talabani, secretary-general of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) where the issue of dissolving the Jund Al-Islam and joining it with the KIG was discussed. The KIG was informed about the PUK's views on the matter.
Analysts believe that this may be the last opportunity given by the PUK to the KIG and Jund Al-Islam to settle their problems; otherwise, PUK forces would start a final military operation to wipe out the Jund Al-Islam militants in the Biyara and Tawila areas.
It appears, though, that "reunification" may have been initially an initiative by the Jund Al-Islam itself. The Al-Sulaymaniyah newspaper "Hawlati" of 7 October pointed out that after the military "fiasco" resulting from the PUK attacks at the beginning of October, some of the Jund fighter had left their lines and contacted and joined the Islamic Group or the PUK. A PUK source informed "Hawlati" that "eight of this group's gunmen have surrendered to the PUK forces. Also more than 30 of its fighters have joined the Islamic Group (KIG)." Basically, more than 180 Jund troops have surrendered to PUK forces in Halabcha, and more than 50 have joined the KIG.
As a consequence of the military defeat of the Jund Al-Islam forces, the Jund has held several meetings with both the KIG and the Islamic Movement. The Jund Al-Islam has been insisting that the KIG and the Islamic Movement withdraw from the regional government so that they would unanimously announce an Islamic government in Halabcha and Hawraman provinces. However, the Islamic Group has so far refused this condition. (David Nissman)
KDP FEARS IRAQI MISSILE ATTACK. The Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) has informed its senior officials that the KDP foresees attacks against Iraq as part of the U.S. campaign against terrorism and countries that harbor terrorists, reports KurdishMedia.com on 13 October. The KDP feels that in the events of any American strikes, Iraq may retaliate by attacking the Kurdish region inside the 36th parallel. The KDP informed its senior officials that any attack by Iraq would probably be with missiles. KDP officials were requested to take the necessary precautions to confront any such event. (David Nissman)
KURDISH DELEGATION MEETS WITH U.S. OFFICIALS. A joint delegation of both the KDP and the PUK met with U.S. officials last week, according to "The Kurdistan Observer" of 14 October. Barham Salih, the prime minister of the PUK-controlled region of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), and Hoshyar Zebari, principle KDP officer for international relations, held several meetings with White House and State Department officials. They discussed the latest developments in Kurdistan.
The U.S. officials told the Kurdish delegation that although the United States is focusing on the war on terrorism, it is monitoring the situation in Kurdistan and Iraq very closely. The American officials reaffirmed their pledge to protect the Kurdish region from any aggression, and continued support for the principle of a 13 percent share of the oil-for-food program to be allocated to the region. (David Nissman)
IRAQ OCCUPIES 30 VILLAGES IN KURDISH BORDER REGION. A KDP source told the London-based Arabic newspaper "Al-Sharq Al-Awsat" on 12 October that Iraqi forces had moved into several areas under control of the Kurds in Iraqi Kurdistan, reported "The Kurdistan Observer" on 15 October. The source said that Saddam's forces occupied the village of Sadawa, located 17 kilometers southwest of Irbil, and relocated 30 families of Arab origin into the village.
The source also pointed out that the Iraqi government has forced the population of as many as 30 villages to leave their homes as they faced repeated bombardment by Iraqi artillery. Subsequently, Arab tribes were moved in by Iraqi forces as part of Iraq's ethnic cleansing policy.
In addition, KurdishMedia.com of 15 October reports in Makhmur, near Mosul, the security apparatus has ordered that all shops and public places in the city must change their names to Arabic ones. This order also includes graves. The security apparatus has formed a committee to delete all Kurdish writings and dates on the graves, and rewriting the gravestones in Arabic. (David Nissman)
IRAQI ARCHEOLOGISTS FIND ANCIENT ASSYRIAN CITY. Iraqi archeologists believe they have located the Assyrian town of Belato, which is believed to be one of the sources of the architectural legacy of the Assyrian empire, according to "Iraq Press" of 14 October. The discovery is certain to fill many gaps in the ancient history of Mesopotamia.
Belato is situated on a promontory overlooking the Tigris River. It is located 45 kilometers west of the Assyrian capital of Nineveh, whose ruins are located within the city of Mosul, 400 kilometers north of Baghdad. The find is the most significant since Western teams halted their excavations in Iraq at the outbreak of the Gulf War.
Assyrian monarchs boasted of adorning their palaces and temples with marble statues and reliefs from Belato. Assyrian sources dating from Belato's period mention that the winged bulls were carved in Belato and transported via dinghies to construction sites in Ashur, Nineveh, and Nimrud. The type of local marble in the Belato quarries is identical to that found and the slabs, reliefs and sculptures found in Assyrian cities and temples, the archeologists said. The Assyrian empire collapsed some 3,000 years ago. (David Nissman)
Copyright (c) 2001. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036. www.rferl.org
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