TIDES World Press Reports

 

DARPA TIDES

Iraq Reconstruction Report

No. 275, 3 August 2004

 

 

In this issue:

 

Top Stories

Ø       Association of Muslim Scholars Official: Al-Dari's Arrest US 'Punishment', Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 1305 GMT, 02 Aug 04

§         Iraqi Islamic Party Statement Denounces Arrest of Al-Dari, Demands his Release, Dar al-Salam Radio (Baghdad), in Arabic, 1000 GMT, 02 Aug 04

§         Iraqi Scholar Interviewed on Arrest of Muslim Scholar Muthanna al-Dari, Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 1105 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Ø       Concurrent with rising heat wave, Al-Basrah suffers from humanitarian crises in the fields of drinking water, electric power, and gas, Al-Mu'tamar (Baghdad), in Arabic, 28 Jul 04

Ø       Group To Consider Any Arab, Islamic Troops Sent to Iraq 'Enemy Troops', Al-Manar Television (Beirut), in Arabic, 0438 GMT, 02 Aug 04

§         Click here to see video of masked man reading and surrounded by masked men carrying RPGs

Ø       Indians lured into the jaws of terror, Asia Times Online (Hong Kong), 04 Aug 04

 

Hostages & Kidnappings

Safety & Security

Al-Sadr

Al-Fallujah

Baghdad & Central Iraq

Northern Iraq

Security Forces

Iraqi Security & Police Forces

Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners

Neighboring Countries

Governance

Iraqi National Government & Ministries

Political Leaders, Parties & Organizations

Religious Leaders & Organizations

Elections

Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein

Human Rights

Opinion

International Reaction

Local Reaction

Economy

Oil Industry

 

Disclaimers & Other Information

Articles

 

Please send feedback, suggestions or comments to tides@carebridge.org

 

 

TOP STORIES

 

Association of Muslim Scholars Official: Al-Dari's Arrest US 'Punishment'

Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 1305 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, the official spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, said that the arrest of Muthannah Harith al-Dari, son of the association's president, is a punishment by the United States for the association's nonparticipation in the Iraqi National Conference that will be held in the middle of next month to elect a national assembly. In a news conference in Baghdad, Al-Faydi called for the immediate release of Muthannah Harith al-Dari. The US forces had arrested Al-Dari and two of his escorts before his return to headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars at Umm al-Qura Mosque and after he had conducted a television interview. The reasons for Al-Dari's arrest and two of his escorts have not been clarified yet. I have with me from Baghdad Dr Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, the official spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq.

 

Ø      Iraqi Islamic Party Statement Denounces Arrest of Al-Dari, Demands his Release

Dar al-Salam Radio (Baghdad), in Arabic, 1000 GMT, 02 Aug 04

The US occupation forces have arrested Dr Muthanna Harith al-Dari, member of the General Secretariat of the Association of Muslim Scholars and son of Dr Harith Sulayman al-Dari, secretary general of the association. This was just upon his return to the offices of the association at Umm al-Qura Mosque. The Iraqi Islamic Party has issued a statement denouncing the arrest. The following is text of the statement issued in Baghdad on 2 August 2004: In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate. This is how the United States peddles its false democracy. This is how it gages mouths and buries the other opinion. This is how the United States builds new Iraq. How similar is today to yesterday! The occupation forces yesterday dared to arrest one of the symbols of the Islamic religious authority; namely, Dr Muthanna Harith al-Dari, member of the Shura Council of the Association of Muslim Scholars, which is considered the religious authority for more than half the Iraqi people, including Arabs and Kurds. In fact, it enjoys the big respect of our Shiite brothers.

 

Ø      Iraqi Scholar Interviewed on Arrest of Muslim Scholar Muthanna al-Dari

Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 1105 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Interview via satellite with Jawad al-Khalisi, secretary general of the Iraqi Constituent Conference, in Baghdad, by anchor Tawfiq Taha, in the Doha studio: [Al-Khalisi] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. The Iraqis are no longer surprised by the actions of the US forces against those working for the independence and unity of Iraq. Every Iraqi confronting the occupation and speaking out against it, as our brother Dr. Al-Muthanna did, particularly in his latest television interview, he will be subject to such measures. They call them democratic measures, but in fact they mean nothing but tyranny, repression, and dictatorship. The majority of the Iraqi people have been affected by such measures. Once we got rid of the rule of the dictator [Saddam Husayn], we came under the rule of his masters. They practiced all forms of direct and indirect repression. The arrest of Al-Dari is one of the forms of repression, regardless of the hollow claims or justifications they make for such arrests.

 

Concurrent with rising heat wave, Al-Basrah suffers from humanitarian crises in the fields of drinking water, electric power, and gas

Al-Mu'tamar (Baghdad), in Arabic, 28 Jul 04

Concurrent with a rising heat wave, Al-Basrah province is witnessing acute and unprecedented humanitarian crises, especially in the fields of drinking water, electric power, and gas. Provincial Council member, Salah al-Batat, pointed out that the coalition forces, especially the so-called American Bechtel company, are fully responsible for the suffering of the people because this firm is imposing its hegemony on everything. It is setting exorbitant prices without consulting the quarters concerned with water, electricity, and oil. This company is awarding contracts as it wishes and at astronomical prices to unspecialized and fictitious companies and contractors. The British ambassador, however, put the blame on the security situation for all these problems. Salah al-Batat said that during his field trips he discovered that the foreign maintenance companies did their work during the summer season when they should have done their work in winter. He said that they accomplished only 25 percent of their work, especially regarding water projects. He stressed that Bechtel suddenly suspended the operations of 14 stations. The suspension of operations, he said, led to acute shortages of water throughout Al-Basrah.

 

Group To Consider Any Arab, Islamic Troops Sent to Iraq 'Enemy Troops'

Al-Manar Television (Beirut), in Arabic, 0438 GMT, 02 Aug 04

A group calling itself Salah al-Din Brigade has warned that it will consider any Arab or Islamic troops sent to Iraq as enemy troops and will deal with them as such. [Begin recording of masked man] We appeal to brothers in all Arab and Islamic countries and tell them that we are engaged in a fierce and decisive war to liberate Iraq from the US-NATO-Crusader occupation. Whoever enters Iraq before full liberation is achieved, God willing, is a usurper and occupying enemy because he came to Iraq under the flags of the Jewish and Crusader invaders and came under their command; therefore, he is one of them. Click here to see video of masked man reading and surrounded by masked men carrying RPGs [End complete article].

 

Indians lured into the jaws of terror

Asia Times Online (Hong Kong), 04 Aug 04

Tension over the fate of seven truck drivers taken hostage in Iraq almost two weeks ago has been ratcheted up with conflicting reports over their release - or not. While Kenyan government officials claimed that the hostages had been freed and were in the Kenyan Embassy in Baghdad, the hostages' employer and the Indian government announced that talks were still on to secure their release. The truck drivers, including three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian, are employees of Kuwait Gulf Link (KGL), a Kuwaiti firm that transports supplies to US troops in Iraq. A hitherto unheard-of group that calls itself the Holders of the Black Banners is holding the drivers hostage. Sheikh Hizham al-Dulami, a tribal leader, is mediating with the kidnappers.

 

 

HOSTAGES & KIDNAPPINGS

 

Hostage talks at delicate stage

Gulf News (Dubai), 03 Aug 04

Talks to free three Indian citizens kidnapped in Iraq were at a delicate stage and releasing details of negotiations could jeopardise the situation, India said yesterday. "We are at sensitive and delicate stage of the evolution of the crisis. Narrating details of the nature of our efforts in public can jeopardise the very results we have to achieve," Junior Foreign Minister Edappakath Ahamed said. Earlier, Ahamed said New Delhi was optimistic about the early release of the hostages, among seven people kidnapped 12 days ago by militants, as negotiations resumed to free them. But later in the day, Ahamed urged caution. "The very nature of this crisis demands careful circumspection on our part collectively ... and we must treat changing developments with caution and calm." Ahamed denied reports that talks between the Kuwaiti transport firm that had hired the drivers and Shaikh Hisham Al Dulaymi, the main mediator, had broken off. "The process is on," he said.

 

Iraq abductors' demands 'taken care' of Kuwait company tells PTI

PTI News Agency (New Delhi), 1248 GMT, 2 Aug 04

As negotiations for release of three Indians taken hostage in Iraq resumed, their employer company Monday [2 August] sounded positive on the parleys and hoped the captives would be freed soon. "The negotiations are going on. These are going fine," Rana Abu-Zaynah, spokesperson for Kuwait and Gulf Link (KGL) transport, told PTI over phone from Kuwait. She said the company was waiting for the latest update from Iraq where the abductors' negotiator Shaykh Hisham al-Dulaymi is engaged in the parleys with the KGL's representative Mahdi Saleh. KGL hopes the hostages would be released soon, Abu-Zaynah said. The spokesperson insisted the company had "taken care" of all the demands of the abductors "Islamic Secret Army - Holders of Black Banners" [Black Flags Group], and noted that "no trucks or buses of KGL are being plied in Iraq now."

 

Iraqi Tribal Chief Sets Conditions for Resuming Negotiations With Kidnappers

Al-Arabiyah Television (Dubai), in Arabic, 1405 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic, independent television station financed by Arab businessmen, at 1406 GMT, on 2 August carries a four-minute live interview via satellite with Shaykh Hisham al-Dulaymi, head of the National Association of Iraqi Tribal Leaders, who yesterday decided to stop mediation between the Kuwaiti Gulf Link company and the kidnappers of seven of its employees in Iraq. Al-Dulaymi, who speaks from Baghdad, confirms that he withdrew from mediation upon the request of the kidnappers. On whether he would return to negotiations, Al-Dulaymi said: "I do not mind going back to negotiations; however, there are conditions and regulations. Among these is that the representative of the Kuwaiti Company should first come to Baghdad so that I can negotiate with him. Also, the kidnappers should ask me to intervene again and go back to negotiations." Asked about the nature of the kidnapping group and whether it is highly organized, Al-Dulaymi says he is unaware of who leads this group and how it works. He says his intervention in this issue is for humanitarian purposes. [End complete article].

 

Seventh Jordanian taken hostage in Iraq: ministry

Khaleej Times (Dubai), 03 Aug 04

Another Jordanian has been kidnapped in Iraq, bringing to seven the number of Amman's nationals held hostage in the neighbouring country, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday. “We learnt from the family of Adel Ubeidallah that he was taken hostage in Iraq the day before yesterday (Sunday),” said ministry spokesman Ali Ayed. He had no further details on the man who local media said was a businessman from Ramtha in northern Jordan. Four Jordanian drivers were kidnapped in Iraq last Tuesday and another two seized the day before that. “The Jordanian government is pursuing ceaselessly its efforts to ensure the release of the seven Jordanian hostages and we expect a conclusion soon,” Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher told the official Petra news agency on Tuesday.

 

Turkish truckers stop transporting goods to US forces

Jordan Times (Amman), 03 Aug 04

Turkey's truckers association said Monday it was halting deliveries to US forces in Iraq after insurgents released a videotape of a gunman firing shots into the back of the head of a Turkish captive. The move cuts an important supply route that US forces have used for deliveries of food and fuel. It was not clear, however, how much of an impact the disruption will have. Some 200-300 Turkish trucks, owned by more than a dozen Turkish companies, haul fuel, food and other supplies to US forces every day, said Cahit Soysal, head of the International Transporters' Association. "As of today, those trucks won't be crossing into Iraq," he added. Another 1,800 trucks bring supplies to Iraq, including fuel, electronics and household goods. Those trucks, Soysal said, will continue their work. Soysal said Turkish truckers are hoping that kidnappers will now release two other Turkish drivers that they are holding. Ercument Aksoy, head of the Turkish-Iraqi business council, said he did not expect the cut off in transport to US forces to have a major impact.

 

 

SAFETY & SECURITY

 

Insurgents unleash wave of attacks in Iraq

The Daily Star (Lebanon), 03 Aug 04

Insurgents launched a wave of attacks in Iraq, killing six Iraqi national guardsmen in a suicide car bombing and four US soldiers in separate incidents in Baghdad and the volatile west of the country. A roadside bomb on Tuesday killed a local police chief in the capital while confrontations between Iraqi police and the Mahdi Army threatened the fragile cease-fire in Najaf. The suicide car bomb blast at a checkpoint outside the town of Baquba wounded six other Iraqi guardsmen, said National Guard Lieutenant Mohammed al-Dulaimi, at the scene. The US military said two American soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb blast overnight on Baghdad's western outskirts. Two US marines were killed in action in the violent Anbar province in the country's west. Iraqi police said Tuesday that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia had kidnapped 18 police officers apparently to use as leverage to force authorities to release militants being detained. The recent kidnappings took place as Sadr aides accused authorities of trying to arrest top officials in the cleric's Mahdi Army.

 

Iraqis decry attacks on Christians

Christian Science Monitor (US), 03 Aug 04

A rare display of violence against Christians here may signal that Sunni insurgents are broadening their effort to destabilize Iraq and stir up differences between Islam and other faiths. Bombing attacks against churches in Baghdad and Mosul Sunday night killed at least 11 and injured dozens more. The explosions were a strong show of force and coordination by jihadi elements that the interim government has called the biggest threat to Iraq's stability. Many Iraqis reject these wedge efforts and express frustration with civilian attacks. But there are few signs that terrorist cells have been disrupted. In fact, as the Iraqi government shores up security at police stations and other high-visibility locations, insurgents are increasingly attacking vulnerable targets, like churches and truck drivers.

 

Ø      Christian community shaken following bombings

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva), 02 Aug 04

Members of the Christian community in Iraq said they were shocked and in fear following four separate bomb attacks on churches in the Iraqi capital on Sunday, killing 11 and wounding more than 50 others, according to media reports. Four explosions were detonated around 6:30 p.m. local time as church-goers were attending services in the capital, Baghdad. One bomb left a crater more than six feet deep. Explosions sent black smoke billowing into the air and shattered stained glass windows as bleeding church-goers ran to get away from the carnage.

 

Ø      Frightened Christians try to leave Iraq

The Star (Malaysia), 03 Aug 04

Wissam Sagman has already tried unsuccessfully to leave the country, fearing his Christian family would not be safe in the new, chaotic Iraq. Now, after a series of bombings at churches across the country on Sunday, his fear of his neighbors has grown and he plans to redouble his efforts to get out. "These people, they love blood. They hate humanity. They hate us,'' Sagman said, looking around his wrecked living room, damaged from a car bomb attack on an Armenian church across the street. "They want all the Christians to leave.'' The coordinated attacks hit four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike on Iraq's minority Christians since the U.S. invasion last year. Iraqi leaders condemned the violence Monday, trying to quell Christian fears they were being routed from the country.

 

Ø      Pope deplores violence

Gulf News (Dubai), 03 Aug 04

Pope John Paul II deplored yesterday the attacks on five Catholic churches in Iraq during worship services and offered his solidarity to faithful there.  "The sorrowful news over the tragic attacks yesterday in Baghdad and Mosul against various Catholic communities gathered in prayer in their houses of worship struck me deeply," said the Pope in a condolence telegram sent to the Catholic patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly. "In this hour of trial, I am spiritually close to the church and to Iraqi society, and I renew the expression of my emotional solidarity to pastors and faithful, assuring them of my prayer and of my constant commitment so that as soon as possible a climate of peace and reconciliation can be established in the beloved country," said the pope, who was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq. "At the same time, I hope that all will unite in deploring every form of violence and will cooperate for the return of harmony in the tormented Iraqi land," the Pope added.

 

 

Al-sadr

 

Al-Sadr Spokesman on Military Operation Against Al-Sadr's House in Al-Najaf

Al-Arabiyah Television (Dubai), in Arabic, 1905 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Interview via satellite with Mahmud al-Sudani, spokesman for the Baghdad-based Martyr Al-Sadr Office, in Baghdad, by anchorwoman Najwa Qasim in the Dubai studios – live: [Al-Sudani] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. At around 1730 [1330 GMT] today, a US force made up of 10 Hummer vehicles and soldiers, accompanied by Iraqi Army personnel, besieged the house of Al-Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr. They opened intense fire at the area where the house is located, burning a house close to Al-Sayyid Muqtada's house. They fired at the house from a shoulder-borne mortar weapon. A large number of citizens present in the area were wounded and a number of cars were burned … We do not know for sure the aims of the siege. We, however, support the view of our brothers in the nationalist bodies, including the Association of Muslim Scholars, that the US forces and the United States want to escalate the situation with the nationalist currents that are not participating in the Iraqi National Conference.

 

US soldiers clash with Sadr militia

Gulf Daily News (Bahrain), 03 Aug 04

A gunbattle erupted yesterday evening in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf after US and Iraqi troops approached the house of militant Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, witnesses and Sadr's aides said. Shaikh Mahmoud Al Sudani, a spokesman for Sadr in Baghdad, said US soldiers had surrounded Sadr's house and fighting raged for several hours before the troops withdrew. "One woman was killed and we have three injured," said Ajwak Kadhim, director at Al Hakim Hospital in Najaf, south of Baghdad. Al Sudani said six members of Sadr's militia and four Iraqi bystanders were wounded in the clashes. He said Sadr was not at the house during the fighting.

 

 

Al-fallujah

 

Aid agencies ready for Fallujah

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva), 02 Aug 04

Aid agencies are watching to see if recent fighting in the central Iraqi city of Fallujah, which left at least 12 dead and more than 60 wounded in the last few days, will require their help, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said. Fighting on Saturday killed 12 and wounded 39 others, according to Coalition reports. Over the past few days, fighters and US troops have engaged in skirmishes as US troops raided and bombed suspected terrorist sites. The city's hospital main hospital received several wounded people, Ahmed Khalid al-Rawi, an ICRC spokesman in Baghdad, told IRIN.

 

 

BAGHDAD & CENTRAL IRAQ:

 

Interior Ministry official dies of serious wounds after assassination

KUNA (Kuwait), 03 Aug 04

Iraqi Brigadier Muayad Al-Bashar died in Al-Yarmouk hospital here Tuesday after escaping an assassination attempt when a road side explosive device went off while he was driving his car, Iraqi police sources reported. Iraqi police sources told KUNA that the Iraqi Interior Ministry official died due to serious wound which he suffered from due to the explosion. The death toll of Iraqi officials who were killed after the transfer of authority in Iraq, is up to ten officials. [End complete article].

 

 

NORTHERN IRAQ:

 

Key Iraqi oil pipeline blown up

Al-Jazeera.net (Qatar), 03 Aug 04

A major attack on the main pipeline connecting the oilfields of Kirkuk with the Turkish port of Jihan has halted limited exports from northern Iraq, a Northern Oil Company official said. "An improvised explosive device was placed close to a network of pipelines at the level of al-Fatiha, west of Kirkuk, causing a big explosion and huge fires that damaged the main pipeline running to Jihan and stopped exports," said Nasir Qasim, a logistics and security official with the state-owned company. He said the attack occurred at about 6:00am (1400 GMT) in an area 120km west of Kirkuk. The road connecting Kirkuk with the refineries in Biji to the west was cut off as emergency workers battled to extinguish the raging flames, with Iraqi police and national guard units, and occupation troops securing the area. Firefighters for some time could not approach the pipeline due to the heat emanating in the area, our correspondent reported.

 

 

SECURITY FORCES

 

IRAQI SECURITY & POLICE FORCES:

 

Al-Rubay'i Says Investigations Show Al-Zarqawi Involved in Church Blasts

Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 0710 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Telephone interview with Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i, Iraqi national security adviser, in Baghdad, by anchor Hasan Jammul, in the Doha studio – Live: [Al-Rubay'i] All signs indicate that Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, his gang, and the religious extremists carrying weapons against the Iraqi state are behind the incident. They are the ones who carried out this condemned, criminal action. Definitely, the interim Iraqi Government condemns this action and these terrorist bombings targeting civilians in Baghdad and Mosul and both Christian and Muslim citizens. I believe a misled, cowardly clique that wants to harm Iraq's national unity is behind these actions. It wants to drive a wedge between the Muslims and Christians, just as it wanted to drive a wedge between the Shiites and Sunnis. I believe that those who carry out such treacherous acts are not the enemies of God and the homeland only, but the enemies of the Iraqi people. Their treacherous acts are against all religious and human values. The Iraq Government...

 

 

Treatment of Iraqi Prisoners

 

Danish official faces inquiry over prisoners

The Dawn (Pakistan), 03 Aug 04

A Danish army intelligence officer has been sent home from Iraq and is under investigation after colleagues complained about the way he interrogated Iraqi prisoners, the army said on Monday. "Due to a strong sense of justice, Danish soldiers who saw things they thought were out of order contacted their superiors," Danish armed forces spokesman Hans-Christian Mathiesen said. The unidentified official stationed at Camp Eden, southern Iraq, was sent home two weeks before his tour of duty was due to end. His return comes a day before a hearing in the United States on whether a US soldier will be tried for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad. According to a report in the Ekstra Bladet daily newspaper, the officer denied prisoners water and forced them to hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.

 

Iraqis released from detention camp

Kuwait Times (Kuwait City), 03 Aug 04

Waving strips of cloths and whistling as they leaned out bus windows, 128 Iraqis held in Abu Ghraib's detention camp rode past the gates of the prison compound to freedom Sunday. The men were held at Camp Redemption for at least three months each while their cases were evaluated and processed by US and Iraqi authorities, the military said. Many of those fighting the 15-month old insurgency against coalition forces are brought here, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, from the Office of the Deputy Commanding General for Detainee Operations. "They might have been captured because they were involved in attacks on forces, they might have been caught with weapons, they might have been making or planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices), involved in a militant group or supporting it financially," he said during a tour of Camp Redemption, the city of tents where the accused insurgents are held. Abu Ghraib -- site of US military's prisoner abuse scandal -- is a compound that includes a cell block that houses Iraqi convicts and a camp that holds accused insurgents. Men released from the camp Sunday complained about the conditions. "I spent eight months in prison. They didn't allow our relatives to see us. They didn't give us enough food. And we didn't have bathrooms. There are some 65 or 70 year old sheiks in the prison," one man said.

 

 

NEIGHBORING COUNTRIES

 

Bahrain: Bahrain pledges support for reconstruction

Gulf News (Dubai), 03 Aug 04

Bahrain yesterday stressed its "continuing support" for Iraq's reconstruction efforts, the Bahrain News Agency, BNA, stated. The agency said the statement was made during a meeting here between His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Iraqi Prime Minister Eyad Allawi, who had arrived in Bahrain earlier on a brief visit as part of his current tour of Arab countries. "The King affirmed Bahrain's keenness to contribute to the development and stability of Iraq in order to overcome its current crisis and resume its constructive role in the region," the agency said. BNA said the King and Allawi have "reviewed the latest developments in Iraq," and the efforts being made by the Iraqi interim government to restore stability in the war-torn country.

 

 

Iran:

 

Iran To Establish Banks In Iraq: Iraqi official

Tehran Times (Iran), 03 Aug 04

Three Iranian banks have been granted permission by the new Iraqi government's Central Bank to establish branches in that country, Fars News Agency quoted Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hamed AlBayati as saying here Monday. However, the names of these Iranian banks were not detailed. AlBayati also anticipated that other Iranian banks would set up branches in Iraq soon. AlBayati pointed out that Iran was the first state that voiced its readiness to cooperate with Iraq in its reconstruction process. So far, the bulk of trade between Iran and Iraq is in steel and iron. [End complete article].

 

Iraqi Minister Seeks 'Stronger Bonds of Friendship' With Iran

IRNA (Tehran), 2051 GMT, 2 Aug 04

Visiting Iraqi Economy and Treasure Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi emphasized here on Monday the need to broaden the scope of comprehensive cooperation with Iran, arguing, "Baghdad seriously favors strengthening bonds of friendship with Tehran." Abdul-Mahdi made the comment in a meeting with Iran`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi, adding, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has both great capabilities and priceless experience in various fields, and Baghdad hopes those capabilities and that experience would be employed to deepen bilateral ties as far as possible." He said the current era in Iraq is a "new experience in the political history of my country", arguing, Sponsoring the `Conference on Opportunities for Iran and Iraq Economic Cooperation` in Tehran was truly an exceptional spectacle." The Iraqi economy and treasure minister evaluated the talks between the two countries` officials, as well as the dialogue between the representatives of Iran and Iraq`s private sectors, "quite fruitful in banking, transportation, economic, trade, and other fields."

 

 

Jordan: Thailand, Jordan agree to be allies in developing war-torn Iraq

UN OCHA ReliefWeb (Geneva), 03 Aug 04

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday he wanted the two countries to team up to help rebuild war-torn Iraq, a government official said. "Thailand has agreed that Jordan is our ally in rebuilding Iraq as Thailand will join with Jordan in restructuring infrastructure," spokesman Jakrapob Penkair told reporters after the two leaders met in Bangkok. King Abdullah, on a three-day official visit, told Thaksin Iraq was in urgent need of new roads, traffic signals and bridges following the war to oust president Saddam Hussein's regime last year and subsequent insurgency, Jakrapob said. Thailand dispatched a 451-strong contingent of troops to Iraq in a one-year humanitarian mission due to end in September. Thai officials have also indicated the kingdom hoped to win a subcontracting share in some of the multi-billion dollar deals awarded to major US firms to help rebuild the shattered nation.

 

 

Kuwait:

 

Four ordered held in Jihadis case

Arab Times (Kuwait), 03 Aug 04

The Public Prosecution has ordered the arrest of four new suspects, whose names came up during interrogation in the "Jihadis in Iraq" case. These suspects confessed to have trained youth in the use of arms in a bid to conduct terrorist operations in the country. A reliable security source said, "the Capital Prosecution has summoned some more persons for interrogation." On the possibility of their release on bail after their testimony, the source said, "although the Public Prosecution has the authority to order the release of suspects, after they sign an undertaking, if their detention is no longer necessary, it is unlikely to happen as the suspects have confessed to their crimes." The suspects face several charges, he added. Indicating the suspects will be under temporary detention until the case comes up for hearing in the court, the source said, "the court will have the final say on whether to detain or release them." He also said a security team raided two houses in Rabiya and Ardiya Sunday night and arrested two suspects, identified as M.A. and N.R., adding "the team is hunting for other suspects who are still in hiding." Recently, Syria arrested four suspected terrorists and turned them over to Kuwait.

 

Iraqi Prime Minister: We Abide by and Honor UN Resolutions on our Relations with Kuwait

KUNA (Kuwait), in Arabic, 1519 GMT, 01 Aug 04

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi asserted here today that Iraq abides by and honors the UN resolutions on Kuwaiti compensations due to the defunct Iraqi regime's invasion of the State of Kuwait, the delineation of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders, and the independence of the State of Kuwait. In a meeting with Muhammad Ahmad al-Ujayri, board chairman of the Kuwaiti News Agency, KUNA; Ahmad Bahbahani, head of the Journalists Association; and the chief editors of the local Kuwaiti papers, Allawi said: "With all due respect to the UN resolutions, which we honor, the relations between Iraq and Kuwait are stronger than these resolutions." Allawi added: "We consider Kuwait a brotherly people and a neighborly state. We respect its position and peculiarity. We do not want to interfere in its internal affairs. We only want to build relations and a network of strategic interests linking Kuwait and Iraq and also Iraq and the other states." Allawi said that the relations between Kuwait and Iraq "should be relations of brotherhood, fraternity, and positive ties. This is our request from the brothers in Kuwait. We want to build strong ties based on interests and economic cooperation."

 

 

Pakistan: No troops for Iraq in 'present' situation: It's a 'non-issue' - Pakistan

The Dawn (Pakistan), 03 Aug 04

Pakistan said on Monday it had not sent any troops to Iraq and reaffirmed that under 'present circumstances' it would not send forces to that country where the situation was volatile and unstable. Answering a volley of questions at his weekly press briefing, foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said President General Pervez Musharraf had already categorically stated that Pakistan was not sending troops to Iraq and that no commitment whatsoever had been made to contribute troops to a proposed multinational force for the war-torn country. He urged the media to contemplate that for the last one year or so Pakistan had been pressed by the Americans and its coalition partners to contribute its forces. But, he pointed out, Islamabad had refrained from sending troops to Iraq. Pakistan had even opposed the war and invasion of Iraq without a UN resolution, he recalled.

 

 

Syria: Syrian President, Iraqi Kurdish KDP Official Discuss Security, Bilateral Ties

Kurdistan Satellite TV (Salah-al-Din), in Sorani Kurdish, 1630 GMT, 2 Aug 04

The Syrian President, Bashar al-Asad, received the head of [Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP-led] Kurdistan regional government Nechirvan Barzani this morning at his palace in Damascus. In a brotherly meeting, the current political situation in Iraq and the security issues were discussed. The meeting also focused on the deep-rooted bilateral relations and ways of strengthening them. President Bashar al-Asad expressed his readiness for every support and cooperation with the Iraqi government and people. And stressed that the stability in Iraq was in the interest of all sides and efforts should made to control the terrorist acts, and that the entire Iraqi political spectrum should take part in the political process.

 

 

Yemen: Yemen committed not to have forces alongside U.S. forces in Iraq

SABA - The News Agency of Yemen, 03 Aug 04

Yemen renewed on Monday its commitment to not send peacekeeping troops to Iraq "as long as the occupation is there". Yemen believes the security of Iraq has to be integral with the security of the whole region, hence it rejects dispatching any forces to this country"as long as the occupation is there," said the Ath-Thawra official daily in its editorial. The paper explained that any existence of Arab forces alongside coalition forces in Iraq would mean the they are protecting the occupiers. "The deterioration of security in troubled Iraq has resulted in what somedeem it a real dilemma for the coalition troops," it said, adding thatthe survival in the dilemma won't be through implicating Arab forces in protecting the occupation in such a volatile landscape. [End complete article].

 

 

GOVERNANCE

 

IRAQI NATIONAL GOVERNMENT & MINISTRIES:

 

Allawi denies receving official invitation to visit Iran

Arabic News (Morocco), 03 Aug 04

Iraq's Interim prime minister Eyad Allawi in al-Manam yesterday denied abrogating his visit to Iran. He said he did not receive an official invitation to this effect. In statements to the press in conclusion of his visit to Bahrain, he said that Iran did not extend any written, but a verbal invitation from the Iranian charge de afairs in Iraq, as part of compliments and was not an official invitation. Allawi described the results of his Arab tour as positive, noting that the tour achieved important results at the leval of bilateral relations and the region, as well. Allawi indicated that the elections that are due to be held in Januray 2005 will be held at its due date, adding that conditions in Iraq will not affect this date. [End complete article].

 

 

POLITICAL LEADERS, PARTIES & ORGANIZATIONS:

 

INC Criticizes Allawi's Support of Defense Minister's Remarks Against Iran

Al-Hayah (London), in Arabic, 02 Aug 04

The Iraqi National Congress [INC] party led by Ahmad al-Jalabi has criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's support for the "emotional" remarks of Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan against Iran and said it does not serve Iraq's interests. Mithal al-Lawsi, member of the INC leadership and the director general of the Higher National Council for the Uprooting of the Ba'th Party, told Al-Hayah, "Those involved in the Iraqi security file are more than one regional party; they include Iran and Syria. However, escalating the situation with these parties and leveling accusations against them the way the Iraqi defense minister did will not serve the Iraqi interest." He expressed surprise that "Allawi stood behind and supported these emotional statements." He said that the Iraqi prime minister's decision not to make his anticipated visit to Iran clearly showed his support for these statements. He added, "We must warn (those involved), but away from media escalation and resounding statements."

 

Iraqi Islamic Party Denounces Attacks on Churches, Hails Muslim- Christian Ties

Dar al-Salam Radio (Baghdad), in Arabic, 1510 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Statement by the Iraqi Islamic Party on "the explosions targeting Iraqi churches": In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. "And nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant" [Koranic verse] For over 14 centuries, Muslims and Christians have been coexisting in peace, love, and cooperation. Their ties have never soured throughout this period. Christians in Iraq do realize the depth of ties binding them and Muslims since our Muslim Caliph Umar Bin-al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, made his renowned pledge to Christians and refrained from praying at Jerusalem's churches out of respect for them. Instead, he ordered the construction of a mosque that was later named after him.

 

SCIRI Releases a Statement on the Aggression Against Churches in Baghdad and Mosul

Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution (Internet), in Iraq, in Arabic 02 Aug 04

Statement by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI]: Criminal terrorists targeted Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul yesterday, Sunday, while our Christian brothers were performing their religious rites and worshipping God almighty. These criminal attacks led to the burning down and destruction of churches and the killing and wounding of scores of Iraqis, including a number of our Christian brothers. We vehemently denounce and condemn these criminal acts against our innocent Iraqi Christian brothers, who had suffered all sorts of oppression during the era of tyrant Saddam, who killed, imprisoned, and dispersed thousands of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq.

 

SCIRI's Al-Hakim Calls for Changing Policies of Dealing With Security Situation

Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television (Qatar), in Arabic, 1108 GMT, 02 Aug 04

Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, chairman of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI], has said that the policies employed in dealing with the security situation have proved their failure. In a statement to Al-Jazirah TV, Al-Hakim said that if the government has failed to stop operations carried out by armed groups, then it must open the way for national forces and Iraqi tribes to confront these groups. [Al-Hakim] These groups are known. They are remnants of the [former] regime's henchmen and fundamentalist terrorist groups that are present inside Iraq and that came from outside Iraq. Regrettably, the policies employed in dealing with these persons have thus far been unsuccessful. We are still calling for changing these policies and opening the way for national forces and loyal tribes and Iraqis to confront these criminals and put an end to them.

 

 

RELIGIOUS LEADERS & ORGANIZATIONS:

 

Al-Sistani Condemns Church Bombings, Urges Respect for Minority Rights

Ayatollah Al-Sistani's Office (Qom), in Arabic, 02 Aug 04

Statement by Iraqi Shiite Authority Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, commenting on the recent Church bombings in Iraq, dated 2 Aug: In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate; In the series of criminal acts our dear Iraq is witnessing and which are targeting its unity, stability, and independence, a number of churches in Baghdad and Mosul came under sinful attacks that led to the death and injury of scores of innocent people and caused damage to many public and private properties. We condemn these horrendous crimes and believe there is a need for concerted efforts by all -- government and people -- to put an end to the attacks on Iraqis and crush the assailants. We underline the need to respect the rights of Christian citizens and other religious minorities, including their right to live in security and peace in their homeland, Iraq.

 

 

ELECTIONS:

 

Dr. Husayn Hindawi, Chairman of Independent High Commission for Elections in Iraq To Al-Mada: Iraqi General Elections To Be Held in Time At End of January 2005; We Allocated $250 million From Iraqi Development Fund To Cover Costs; 8 Members Selected Out of 1180 Candidates For the Commission; Elections Process Will Elect Interim National Assembly, Kurdish National Council, Municipal Councils for Governorates; Iraq is One Constituency With 30,000 Voting Centers

Al-Mada (Baghdad), in Arabic, 31 Jul 04

Dr. Husayn Hindawi, chairman of the independent High Commission for Elections in Iraq, has said that elections in Iraq will be held on their set time at the end of January 2005. In an exclusive statement with Al-Mada, Hindawi said preparations for the elections are ongoing intensively in order to prepare for the requirements of the elections process, including preparing cadres among others. There is no thought to postponing the elections until now. Hindawi, who chairs the commission formed by the United Nations on 4 June to hold elections in Iraq, said he found an overwhelming desire among the Iraqis to hold real elections that enjoy transparency and have all the standards used in elections that are held in advanced countries. He added that main sectors in the country, including the religious authorities emphasize these elections and there are wide sectors of the population, who have ties with civil society, that want democracy. In addition, all political forces and officials in the new Iraq have made pledges and want to encourage the democratic process.

 

 

FORMER IRAQI PRESIDENT SADDAM HUSSEIN:

 

The Association of Muslim Scholars denies a statement attributed to it that Saddam Husayn was exposed to sexual assault

Quds Press (London), in Arabic, 1441 GMT, 02 Aug 04

A spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars [AMS] has denied the report that the association issued a statement saying that former Iraqi President Saddam Husayn had been exposed to a sexual assault at prison. In an exclusive statement to the Quds Press, the spokesman said "This statement is the fabrication of Baghdad Al-Shira newspaper, which published the statement and gave it the number 30 although the last statement issued by the association was statement number 50, while statement number 30 was on the Iraqi flag. The spokesman said: This is not the first time that this newspaper publishes such falsehood in the name of the association. The paper has tried more than once to distort the image of the AMS scholars who are known for their efficiency and who are respected by the Iraqi people. He emphasized that the association intends to file a law suit against the newspaper to prevent the recurrence of such actions.

 

 

HUMAN RIGHTS:

 

Human rights minister calls for exhumation of mass graves

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva), 03 Aug 04

Iraq's minister for human rights, Baktiar Amin, is calling for the country's mass grave sites to be exhumed for DNA matching to find relatives who disappeared and were presumed to be killed under the former regime of Saddam Hussein. According to human rights officials who were in the now disbanded US administration in Iraq, some 300,000 opponents of Saddam were buried in 263 mass graves. Human Rights Watch (HRW) put the number at 290,000 people and has been calling for exhumation. "The US-led Coalition must take the lead, not only in securing grave sites, but quickly communicating its commitment to exhume and identify the remains," a HRW statement said. Most of those buried in mass graves are believed to be Kurds killed by Saddam in the 1980s after rebelling against the government and Shi'ites killed after an uprising following the 1991 Gulf War.

 

 

OPINION

 

International Reaction:

 

The Card of Hatred

Il Giornale (Milan), in Italian, 02 Aug 04

The blood of the Christian martyrs which has been shed in Iraq bears the unmistakable hallmark of Al-Qa'ida. In his [Bin] Ladin Epistles, Usama Bin Ladin, with tragic clarity, gave advance announcement of the shift, after an initial phase of political confrontation, to an apocalyptic religious war in which Muslims fight the final battle against "the Crusaders" -- in other words against the Christians -- and "the Jews." This is a primitive, barbarous, and bloody version of the clash of civilizations which even many Islamic fundamentalists distance themselves from. But evoking hatred against those who are not Muslims is aimed at rekindling centuries-old emotions and tensions: the obsessive reference to the Crusades is no chance element. Italy has to view the attack against the churches in Iraq with particular concern. The coincidence in timing between these attacks and further threats against our country might not be a mere chance coincidence. The literature of Al-Qa'ida has always linked the attack against the "Crusaders", against the Christians, with the threats against Rome, the capital of the Christian world. Even before 11 September a worrying fundamentalist literature put Rome close to New York among the targets for attacks against the symbolic cities of the West and of Christianity. The map of anti-Christian hatred is a desperate map, which confirms the fact that terrorism is in difficulty. But it is a map which involves Italy closely.

 

This Muslim Force Is Not What Iraq Needs

The Independent (London), 02 Aug 04

I find no takers among my British Muslim contacts for the latest wheeze coughed up by the Saudis to help restrain the bloody chaos in Iraq. The proposal - approved by Colin Powell - is to import troops from various Muslim countries to attenuate the spiralling violence. Iyad Allawi, the unelected Prime Minister of the interim Iraqi government, is taken with the idea. The people I spoke to are not, not at all. Among more than 50 people across Britain, of different backgrounds and views, including three who supported the war, not one Muslim gave any credence to this strategy. Powell, many said contemptuously, was a Republican "Uncle Tom" and Allawi a "CIA stooge", while the House of Saud was now fearful for its own future and having to make abject gestures to retain US support. Three of the people have family connections to the Chalabi and Allawi clans. They say both men have been actively involved in questionable activities with American blessings. "How can we trust Allawi? He is more American than Iraqi," said one sad chap who says he likes him "as a man but not a leader of our country".

 

 

Local Reaction:

 

Highlights: Iraqi Press 2 Aug 04

FBIS Report (Iraq), in Arabic, 02 Aug 04

Iraqi newspapers dated 2 August highlight the following issues: Political Developments and Comments; Security and Military Developments; Economic and Public Services; Health and Human Rights Issues; Press Comments.

 

I am Flabbergasted When I see What you do!

Al-Nahdah (Baghdad), in Arabic, 01 Aug 04

In a sense, Tehran's quiet diplomatic response by Husayn Ramadan Zadah to the charges by Iraq's Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan that the Iranian side was exporting terrorist acts to Iraq, which is tantamount to hostility between countries, is an attempt to balm feelings with the ointment of moderation, abort tension with wisdom, and move the entire game to the political arena before it is hijacked by the professional war drumbeaters who wager on the slip of tongues, the emotional reactions and the repercussions that follow on this or that. But the Iraqi Minister's statements, if read thoroughly, are not to be considered slips of the tongue and neither are they emotional. Contrary to what the Iranian official said or rather hoped, they cannot be personal either. To observers, they are a reminder to the Iranian leadershipperhaps to an influential camp in that leadershipthat they must be prepared for the danger of continuation of the US arm-twisting policy from the painful Iraqi location. This policy has placed Tehranwhether it wants it or not--in one category with the forces of global terrorism and the remnants of the Saddam Husayn regime. It has also placed itand this is more importantin the position of impediment to the recuperation of Iraq seeking to undo the arguments that would speed up the liquidation of the remnants of US occupation of Iraq.

 

The Boots of Islamic Forces Are Obstructing the Democratic Process in Iraq

Al-Ittijah al-Akhar (Baghdad), in Arabic, 31 Jul 04

A situation where the victim is acting like the executioner is now applicable to the Iraqi Islamic forces, including Shiite and Sunni forces. After the regime was toppled by international powers without any Iraqi participation in this change, these forces are trying to benefit, to the maximum degree, from the disorderly situation and the lack of a strong state or deterrent laws and regulations to end human rights violations. These forces seek to impose their control on the Iraqi street, using the same methods that had been used by the Saddam Husayn regime previously to impose its control on Iraqi society. Since the fall of the regime and up until this moment, the Iraqis have been treated in a savage and crude manner, which shows the fascism and rancor of these forces toward anything that is human and civilized. People are being killed without any trial or evidence, and religious courts are being set up to punish the people on account of a piece of information or false reports, which greatly resemble the reports written by the Ba'th Party members and their informing on innocent citizens.

 

Which one of Iraq's diseases will the Arab countries' troops cure?

Khabat (Arbil), in Sorani Kurdish, 30 Jul 04

In the past few days, the head of the Iraqi government, Dr Iyad Allawi, and the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, travelled to the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh. In the trilateral meeting, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faysal, proposed to the two US and Iraqi officials to send to Iraq military forces from a number of Arab countries. The two officials have their own reasons for the warm welcome they have expressed for the Saudi proposal, as on the one side Allawi wants to maintain his country's relations with the Arab world and want to dispel the propaganda that he has been installed in Iraq by the US and Israel and that Iraq will soon be severed from the rest of Arab world. So far it is not known how the Saudi proposal would resonate in the Arab world and how many Arab countries would be willing to send their troops. However, there are indications which suggest that the role of the Arab forces may perhaps be limited in this regard. It is clear nevertheless, that from the outset Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have been trying to have along side their military role a role in finding political solutions to the Iraqi crisis. They want to convince their people that they would go to Iraq not only to combat the terrorists and to safeguard the security in Iraq, but also to safeguard Iraq's Arabic soul, and through their presence there, they would stop the void that has been created which Israel might try to fill.

 

 

ECONOMY

 

Oil Industry:

 

Iraqi crude won't be flowing through the region any time soon

The Daily Star (Lebanon), 02 Aug 04

Iraq has taken the first steps toward reopening and expanding its regional oil exporting network. But for a combination of reasons, the day when significant volumes of Iraqi crude begin traversing the country's neighbors is still far off. Future energy cooperation was one of the topics raised during the recent two-week tour of Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait) undertaken by Iraq's Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

 

 

 

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Articles

 

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Subject

 Iraq: Coalition Forces, Bechtel Blamed for Water, Gas, Electricity Shortages

Date

28 Jul 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Baghdad: Al-Mu'tamar in Arabic 28 Jul 04 p 2 [Report by Faruq Hamdi in Al-Basrah: "Concurrent with rising heat wave, Al-Basrah suffers from humanitarian crises in the fields of drinking water, electric power, and gas"]

 

Concurrent with a rising heat wave, Al-Basrah province is witnessing acute and unprecedented humanitarian crises, especially in the fields of drinking water, electric power, and gas. Car owners are standing in long queues for days in the hot sun. They are sometimes forced to remain standing overnight to get their share from the burdened gas stations that are themselves suffering from antiquated pumps. The Iraqi citizen looks at the two superpowers and their allies of developed countries that reject slavery, colonialism, and backwardness with eyes full of fear of the unknown. These countries that are very advanced and very developed are unable to provide the miserable citizen -- that had pinned high hopes on these countries -- with his most basic needs. These countries have not constructed a single bridge or school or playground or public park. So how can they restore life, electric power, water, and gas?

 

Meanwhile, the powerless officials are exchanging accusations and blaming the citizen who is the victim. As for the coalition forces and the huge Bechtel firm, they stand idly by as spectators as they alone enjoy the mercy and blessings of pure water, electricity, air conditioning, and unleaded gas. As a result of this fact and the exacerbation of the situation and in light of the unheeded complaints that are being made by every home and street, Provincial Council member Salah al-Batat and Acting Al-Basrah Governor Hasan al-Rashid are to be thanked for their efforts. The two officials made field trips over three days during which they met with the heads of electric power departments, water departments, oil products, municipal councils, traffic police, and other police officials to unify efforts and to cooperate in order to rescue the citizens from the water shortages, gas shortages, total disruption of electric power, the chaotic traffic on the roads, and other violations on the sidewalks. Provincial Council member Salah al-Batat urged the resolution of these problems that are exacerbating life in general. He summarized the outcome of these meetings and the opinion of the heads of departments to Henry Hooker [name as transliterated], the British ambassador in the southern region.

 

Salah al-Batat pointed out that the coalition forces, especially the so-called American Bechtel company, are fully responsible for the suffering of the people because this firm is imposing its hegemony on everything. It is setting exorbitant prices without consulting the quarters concerned with water, electricity, and oil. This company is awarding contracts as it wishes and at astronomical prices to unspecialized and fictitious companies and contractors. The British ambassador, however, put the blame on the security situation for all these problems. Salah al-Batat said that during his field trips - in which he was accompanied by Provincial Council member Qasim Atiyah - he discovered that the foreign maintenance companies did their work during the summer season when they should have done their work in winter. He said that they accomplished only 25 percent of their work, especially regarding water projects. He stressed that Bechtel suddenly suspended the operations of 14 stations. The suspension of operations, he said, led to acute shortages of water throughout Al-Basrah. The situation is further exacerbated by the fluctuations of electric power due to the innumerable violations being committed by some companies. These violations are resulting in weak electric power, when this service is available. The old and overloaded generators have also contributed to the state we are in. The oil sector is also suffering due to slow production and inefficient distribution to the gas stations that are suffering from permanent malfunctioning of their pumps.

 

Salah al-Batat added that the meetings have resulted in formulating quick solutions to surmount these difficulties. Work teams have also been formed to address the violations being committed on the electric grids and water networks to deal with the leakages and to resolve the problem of gas shortages. Meanwhile, we the citizens of the Al-Basrah Province are waiting!

 

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Subject

Al-Sadr Spokesman on Military Operation Against Al-Sadr's House in Al-Najaf

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Dubai: Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic 1905 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Interview via satellite with Mahmud al-Sudani, spokesman for the Baghdad-based Martyr Al-Sadr Office, in Baghdad, by anchorwoman Najwa Qasim in the Dubai studios -- live]

 

[Qasim] We have with us live from Baghdad Mahmud al-Sudani, spokesman for the Martyr Al-Sadr Office. Your eminence, what is the truth of what happened in holy Al-Najaf today, particularly in the vicinity of Al-Sayyid Muqtada al-Sadr's house?

 

[Al-Sudani] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. At around 1730 [1330 GMT] today, a US force made up of 10 Hummer vehicles and soldiers, accompanied by Iraqi Army personnel, besieged the house of Al-Sayyid Muqtada Al-Sadr. They opened intense fire at the area where the house is located, burning a house close to Al-Sayyid Muqtada's house. They fired at the house from a shoulder-borne mortar weapon. A large number of citizens present in the area were wounded and a number of cars were burned.

 

[Qasim; interrupting] Was Al-Sayyid Al-Sadr inside his house?

 

[Al-Sudani] I have no information about the presence of His Eminence Al-Sayyid Muqtada in the house [at the time of the attack]. The Martyr Al-Sadr Office issued a statement this evening revealing the circumstances that surrounded the incident.

 

[Qasim] What about the goals of this siege? Were there any demands or negotiations between the two parties?

 

[Al-Sudani] We do not know for sure the aims of the siege. We, however, support the view of our brothers in the nationalist bodies, including the Association of Muslim Scholars, that the US forces and the United States want to escalate the situation with the nationalist currents that are not participating in the Iraqi National Conference.

 

[Qasim] Shaykh Mahmud Al-Sudani, spokesman for the Martyr Al-Sadr Office, was with us live from Baghdad. Thank you very much.

 

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Subject

Highlights: Iraqi Press 2 Aug 04

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Iraq: FBIS Report in Arabic 02 Aug 04

 

Iraqi newspapers dated 2 August highlight the following issues:

 

I. POLITICAL DEVELOPMENTS AND COMMENTS:

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on its front page a 1,500-word editorial discussing and criticizing the procedures and methods used for holding local elections in the governorates and for the expanded National Conference, describing them as akin to a "conspiracy." The editorial says that as a result of the complicated procedures, many problems and disputes accompanied the local elections in Basra, al-Diwaniyah, Al-Nasiriyah, Kirkuk and Baghdad. It says that if the same problems occur during the election of the Interim National Assembly, the entire process will collapse into total public rejection, as was the case with the dissolved IGC. The article praises the UN insistance on postponing the conference, urging Fu'ad Ma'sum, head of the Higher Preparatory Committee responsible for the expanded National Conference, to exercise more transparency and to adopt applicable procedures in his sub-committees work in the governorates. [Description of source: Basra Al-Manarah in Arabic, independent weekly].

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on its front page and page 6 a 1,200-word article commenting on Saddam Husayn's invasion of Kuwait. It says Saddam violated Arab and international laws and traditions and adopted "plundering and looting laws to invade and liberate Kuwait from its own people." The editorial concludes by saying that the problems Saddam left behind will continue for many years.

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on page 2 a 1,500-word interview with Shiite activist Jawad al-Khalisi in which he expresses his views on the political process in Iraq and calls on all Islamic forces to unite to end the foreign forces' presence on Iraqi territories.

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on page 2 a 1,200-word report on the election of a new Basra governor. The report says that the city council has again failed to elect a new governor for Basra due to differences among the political forces in the Governorate and the threats that a number of council members have received recently.

 

Al-Adalah publishes on its front page a 100-word report stating that the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs in coordination with Expatriate and Displaced Persons Ministry decided to reinstate expatriated postgraduates to their former posts. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Adalah in Arabic, daily issued by the Justice House of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq]

 

Al-Jaridah devotes all of page 3 to an interview with Abd-al-Ilah al-Nasrawi, secretary general of the Arab Socialist Movement by Habib Jalal, on the 39th anniversary of his movement's foundation in 1965. Al-Nasrawi details his movement's history, struggle against the former regime, and goals. Al-Nasrawi discusses the reason for his movement abstaining from participation in the interim government and the expanded National Conference that will elect the Interim National Assembly. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Jaridah in Arabic, independent daily].

 

Al-Manar al-Yawm publishes on its front page a 100-word report on the statement issued by Al-Ramadi [Al-Anbar] Governor Abd-al-Karim Burjis addressed to citizens of the governorate in the wake of the recent kidnapping of his three sons. Burjis explained his position and stances with regard to the occupation forces, offering his resignation if the people ask him to do so. Burjis urged the party "hosting" his three sons to release them. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Manar al-Yawm in Arabic, independent daily]

 

Al-Manar al-Yawm publishes on its front page a 100-word report citing Al-Sharif Ali Bin-al-Husayn, leader of the Constitutional Monarchy Movement, as saying that his movement's main goal is to give Iraqis the right to elect the government they want. Bin-al-Husayn added: "Most Iraqis believe that the constitutional monarchy rule will be "impartial" and prevent the political parties' monopoly of power." Bin-al-Husayn added that certain parties know that they will fail or at least lose part of their current share of power in the elections, thus we expect them to attempt to postpone the elections.

 

Al-Bayan publishes on its front page a 100-word report by Ali Muhsin citing an official source at "the Iraqi Civil Society" as saying that a new office has been etablished to receive and follow up people's complaints against state establishments. This office is directly linked to the Presidential Office. The source added that this measure is aimed at fighting the wide-spread corruption and building trust between the authorities and the people. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Bayan in Arabic, daily published by the Islamic Da'wah Party].

 

Al-Bayan publishes on its front page a 180-word editorial discussing the Saudi initiative of deploying Arab and Muslim forces in Iraq. The editorial says there has been a considerable improvement in the security situation since the handover of power over a month ago, adding that the Iraqis are qualified to maintain their security. The editorial says that the deployment of Moroccan, Egyptian or Pakistani troops in Iraq will add nothing to "the quantity or quality" of the current multinational forces in the country, adding that the new forces will become targets for the terrorists. Thus, the tendency will be for these forces to protect themselves rather than the Iraqis as is the case now with the multinational forces. The editorial urges the Arabs to change their media discourse which justifies the killing of Iraqis under the banner of resistance. [FBIS plans to process this item]

 

Al-Shira publishes on its front page a 200-word news agency report citing well-informed Iraqi sources as saying that the Iraqi Government is studying the military option to confront the deteriorating security situation in Ba'qubah. The sources added that the plan involves the Iraqi National Guard and police force cooperating with the US forces in carrying out large scale raids on hideouts and bases of terrorists in the city. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Shira in Arabic, independent daily].

 

Al-Shira publishes on page 4 a 500-word interview with Pascale Warda, Iraqi expatriate and displaced persons minister, who explained her ministry's policy and the results of her recent visit to London.

 

Al-Shira publishes on page 4 a 1,000-word interview with Nasir al-Jadirji, member of the Higher Committee responsible for the National Conference. He says that the current controversy over the conference is a healthy sign, indicating the effectiveness of the political process in the country.

 

Al-Shira publishes on page 4 a 1,000-word report stating that the Maysan Governorate Council held a conference to discuss the formation of a unified southern region, comprising the three governorates of Basra, Al-Nasiriyah and Al-Amarah. The report says that the conference issued a statement affirming the unity of Iraq, adherence to human rights' principles, the right of Iraqis to decide the form of rule, and respect for the religious authority and political leadership.

 

Al-Shira republishes on its back page the 3,500-word report published on 24 July by Abd-al-Haq Muhammad Mahmud stating that 70 percent of the Iraqi Intelligence Agency employees are Sunnis, noting that the Agency has been penetrated by foreign terrorists. The report says that former Saddamists are controlling the agency and leaking information to the terrorists.

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on its front page a 120-word report stating that work is continuing on the residential complex in the Banjah Ali district, 10 km south-east of Kirkuk. This complex is being built by the Al-Mansur Contracting Company and comprises 600 residential units. The report cites well-informed sources as saying that the complex will accommodate the 100,000 Kurds who moved from Kurdistan to Kirkuk and are now living in very difficult circumstances. [Description of source: Baghdad Al-Mashriq in Arabic, independent daily].

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on its front page a 200-word "exclusive" report citing reliable sources close to the Iraqi cabinet as saying that the Saudi officials informed Prime Minister Allawi that six Islamic countries have agreed to send forces to Iraq so far. The sources added that the Saudis and other Gulf States will pay $2 billion to finance these forces. [FBIS plans to process this item]

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on its front page a 120-word report stating that SCIRI leader Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim and Sadr al-Din al-Qubanji, official in charge of SCIRI in Al-Najaf, have met with Muqtada al-Sadr at the office of Ayatollah Muhammad Mahdi Asifi to discuss the management of the Imam Ali holy shrine and to formulate a unified Shiite position with regard to the National Conference to be held in two weeks time.

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on its front page a 70-word report citing US Ambassador Negroponte during his attendance of the graduation of a new Iraqi Army brigade near Mosul as saying that the Iraqi army will next month receive new, modern weapons and supplies to enable it to perform its duties.

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on page 4 a 60-word report noting that Aqil Mahmud al-Khaza'i, new chief of the Karbala Governorate Council has assumed his duties. Al-Khaza'i won the majority of votes in the recent elections.

 

II. SECURITY AND MILITARY DEVELOPMENTS:

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on its front page a 120-word report citing an eyewitness as saying that two US soldiers were killed and another was injured when a US tank by mistake ran over their vehicle near Al-Saqlawiyah.

 

Al-Adalah publishes on its front page a 130-word report citing an official source at the Interior Ministry as saying that Iraqi police have arrested a gang which injected poison into children's medicines sold on the streets, which caused the death of a number of children in Baghdad.

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on page 4 a 100-word report citing a police source as saying that gunmen attacked a car containing the salaries of employees of the Electricity Directorate in the Babil Governorate, but failed to steal the salaries. The source added that three guards were killed and another was injured in the attack that took place yesterday, 1 August.

 

Al-Mashriq publishes on page 4 a 100-word report on the release of Ra'id Adnan, head of Al-Mansur Contracting Company, who was kidnapped last week.

 

III. ECONOMIC AND PUBLIC SERVICES:

 

Al-Bayan publishes on page 2 a 100-word report by Ihsan Tahsin citing an official source at the Public Works and Municipalities Ministry as saying that the US donated $3 million for his ministry in order to develop and maintain the water treatment plants.

 

Al-Bayan publishes on page 2 a 100-word report by Ihsan Tahsin citing an official source at the Transport Ministry as saying that the Badrah-Mahran border complex in Al-Kut Governorate has been rehabilitated and will be opened this week. The source added that this complex is the nearest to the holy shrines for Iranian visitors.

 

IV. HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUES:

 

Al-Shira publishes on its front page a 100-word report by Lina al-Baydani citing a health source as saying that the WHO announced that there are 140,000 cancer cases in Iraq now. The source added that this figure is less than the true figure because a large number of patients stop treatment at hospitals as soon as they know the nature of their illness.

 

V. PRESS COMMENT:

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on page 2 a 600-word article by Muwaffaq Al-Rifa'i discussing the significance of Prime Minister Allawi's tour of neighboring Arab countries. The article says that Allawi's tour came to correct the inclinations of influential forces that took control in Iraq after the former regime's downfall and which, until recently had ignored the fact that disputes in the region have considerable impact on the situation in the country. Allawi, perhaps, did not see that the US accusation of Iraq's neighbors of supporting the Iraqi Islamic groups opposing the occupation as an obstacle before the development of economic and commercial ties, which will lead to better security cooperation. It is expected that Turkey and Iran will try to block Allawi's efforts to approach his Arab neighbors.

 

Al-Manarah on 1st August publishes on page 2 a 600-word article by Muhammad Atwan who wonders who gave the political and religious parties the right to appoint members of the National Conference, which will elect the National Assembly that will supervise the performance of the government and these parties too. What is happening today is the same behavior used by the Ba'th Party, because all parties are trying to enhance their position and presence, while ignoring the Iraqi people's real needs and desires. When these parties manipulate the political process and grant themselves authorities which originally belong to the people, this causes disputes and conflicts, making it difficult to talk about democracy. (FBIS plans to process this item).

 

Al-Manar al-Yawm publishes on its back page a 200-word article by Mahdi Abbas saying that former President Saddam Husayn was tricked into invading Kuwait on 2 August 1990 in order to topple his regime. The article says that all Iraqi leaders throughout Iraq's history have believed that Kuwait is part of Iraq, and the Kuwaitis are always sensitive to this issue. However, Kuwait's stances after the former regime's fall have been criticized by most Iraqis who hold Kuwait responsible for the burning of their ministries, polluting the water in Basra and destroying their economy. Kuwait should prove its innocence of these charges and stop interfering in Iraq's internal affairs in order to start a new era of brotherly relations.

 

Al-Bayan carries on page 3 a 1,300-word article by Tahir al-Khaza'i discussing how and when security can be imposed in Iraq. The article suggests the following measures: controlling the borders by ending the wide-spread corruption and bribes at the borders points, carrying out a major educational campaign urging people to cooperate with the security forces, purging the security forces from unqualified individuals and former regime remnants, boosting the performance of the Iraqi Intelligence Agency, and rapidly bringing to trial former Ba'thists who committed crimes against the Iraqis.

 

Al-Bayan carries on page 3 a 600-word article by Salim Rasul discussing the invasion of Kuwait in 1990 and the suppression of the 1991 uprising. The article says that Saddam Husayn invaded Kuwait for a silly reason and criticizes the US for "its generosity"in allowing him to use the Republican Army to suppress the uprising in 1991. The US is Saddam's partner in the crime of imposing sanctions on the people that continued for 14 years.

 

Al-Adalah publishes on page 2 a 400-word article by Hamdi Hasan saying that the national parties struggled for many years against the tyranny of the former regime. These parties have a program to "liberate Iraq from the current situation and to re-form it in such a way that people can enjoy an honorable and dignified life." Thus it is natural for these political forces to perform their role in the legislative, executive and judiciary powers to ensure the safety of the new political process. Commenting on the local elections to elect the representatives of the governorates to the expanded National Conference, the article adds that there is no need for newcomers who "offered no sacrifices" to be angry by the enthusiasm shown by these parties.

 

Al-Adalah publishes on page 3 a 1,400-word article by Abd-al-Karim al-Jayzani discussing the latest political developments in the wake of Prime Minister Allawi's recent tour of neighboring Arab countries. The article says recent major political events include the following: Iraqi security forces managed to minimize the crime rate in Iraq; Saudi Arabia announced its readiness to participate in an Arab or Islamic force to protect the UN organizations working in Iraq; the UN demanded the postponement of the national Conference; and the escalation of terrorist attacks in Iraq . The article says that analysts believe that the US may plan to replace its forces in Iraq with Arab and Muslim forces.

 

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Subject

Iraq - Association of Muslim Scholars Official: Al-Dari's Arrest US 'Punishment'

Date

02 Aug 04

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Qatar: Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 1305 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Announcer-read report over video]

 

Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, the official spokesman for the Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq, said that the arrest of Muthannah Harith al-Dari, son of the association's president, is a punishment by the United States for the association's nonparticipation in the Iraqi National Conference that will be held in the middle of next month to elect a national assembly.

 

In a news conference in Baghdad, Al-Faydi called for the immediate release of Muthannah Harith al-Dari. The US forces had arrested Al-Dari and two of his escorts before his return to headquarters of the Association of Muslim Scholars at Umm al-Qura Mosque and after he had conducted a television interview.

 

The reasons for Al-Dari's arrest and two of his escorts have not been clarified yet. I have with me from Baghdad Dr Muhammad Bashar al-Faydi, the official spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq.

 

[Taha] What is the purpose of arresting Dr Muthannah al-Dari?

 

[Al-Faydi] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate: Allow me at the beginning to point out that Dr Muthannah Harith al-Dari is a member of the association's Shura Council and is its media spokesman. He is a dear brother and we work together as part of the blessed Association of Muslim Scholars. His patriotic positions are known and honorable. Hence, arresting him was not a surprise to us just like all other honorable Iraqis who are targeted for their patriotic positions.

 

What concern us in this regard are two things. The first is for his arrest to be a response to the association's positions on the national conference. Before his arrest, Dr Al-Dari was speaking as part of a program aired live on the LBC during which he expressed the Association's clear-cut position that it will not participate in the Iraqi National Conference because this political process is held under the sponsorship of the occupation. He expected that the conference will fail. He also emphasized that the association will not accuse anyone who likes to participate if he believes that he will offer through this participation a service to the country.

 

[Taha] Was the arrest intended to punish the Association of Muslim Scholars or pressure it to change its position and take part in the Iraqi National Conference?

 

[Al-Faydi] Both cases are possible. It is possible that the arrests were intended to punish and pressure the association, because, frankly, with the withdrawal of the association and other forces, the signs of failure have started to appear vis-à-vis the Iraqi National Conference. There is another possibility which we fear; namely, that the arrest is intended to target a representative of the religious authority of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq. This is because we recently witnessed mad campaigns by Iraqi newspapers trying to harm the religious authority for a big sector of the Iraqi community. Regretfully, such a step [the arrest] is intended to support this approach [by newspapers]. What we fear is that people would be angered and that things might lead into a situation that would produce dire consequences.

 

[Taha] What is the position of the Association of Muslim Scholars on the targeting of churches in Baghdad and Mosul yesterday?

 

[Al-Faydi] The position of the Association of Muslim Scholars in Iraq is clear and today we issued a statement in this connection. I believe that we gave your Baghdad office a copy of the statement. We attribute the bombings to foreign parties that have an interest in creating chaos in Iraq. We do not believe that a Muslim or an Iraqi, in particular, can do such ugly actions. This is because we view our Christian brothers as being part of Iraq and, in turn, share with us the land, rights, and duties. Furthermore, they have not been known to side with the occupation in the recent war but rather took clear positions rejecting the occupation. They have no problem with Iraqis. Hence, Iraqis can not target this segment of our community.

 

[Taha] Thank you very much.

 

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Iraq abductors' demands 'taken care' of Kuwait company tells PTI

Date

02 Aug 04

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New Delhi: PTI News Agency in English 1248 GMT 2 Aug 04

 

Iraq abductors' demands "taken care" of Kuwait company tells PTI

 

Text of report by Indian news agency PTI

 

New Delhi, 2 August: As negotiations for release of three Indians taken hostage in Iraq resumed, their employer company Monday [2 August] sounded positive on the parleys and hoped the captives would be freed soon. "The negotiations are going on. These are going fine," Rana Abu-Zaynah, spokesperson for Kuwait and Gulf Link (KGL) transport, told PTI over phone from Kuwait.

 

She said the company was waiting for the latest update from Iraq where the abductors' negotiator Shaykh Hisham al-Dulaymi is engaged in the parleys with the KGL's representative Mahdi Saleh. KGL hopes the hostages would be released soon, Abu-Zaynah said. The spokesperson insisted the company had "taken care" of all the demands of the abductors "Islamic Secret Army - Holders of Black Banners" [Black Flags Group], and noted that "no trucks or buses of KGL are being plied in Iraq now."

 

Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukhdev Singh, along with three Kenyans and one Egyptian, all truck drivers working for KGL, were abducted in Iraq on 21 July, and the kidnappers threatened to execute them if the company did not end its operations in the war-ravaged country. Since then the militant group has been extending its deadline, the last of which expired at 8.30 p.m. IST [Indian standard time] (1500 hrs gmt) Sunday.

 

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Iraq: Al-Rubay'i Says Investigations Show Al-Zarqawi Involved in Church Blasts

Date

02 Aug 04

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Qatar: Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 0710 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Telephone interview with Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i, Iraqi national security adviser, in Baghdad, by anchor Hasan Jammul, in the Doha studio -- Live]

 

[Jammul] Dr Al-Rubay'i, what has made you accuse Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi of being behind the explosions that targeted churches?

 

[Al-Rubay'i] All signs indicate that Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, his gang, and the religious extremists carrying weapons against the Iraqi state are behind the incident. They are the ones who carried out this condemned, criminal action. Definitely, the interim Iraqi Government condemns this action and these terrorist bombings targeting civilians in Baghdad and Mosul and both Christian and Muslim citizens. I believe a misled, cowardly clique that wants to harm Iraq's national unity is behind these actions. It wants to drive a wedge between the Muslims and Christians, just as it wanted to drive a wedge between the Shiites and Sunnis. I believe that those who carry out such treacherous acts are not the enemies of God and the homeland only, but the enemies of the Iraqi people. Their treacherous acts are against all religious and human values. The Iraq Government...

 

[Jammul, interrupting] Dr Al-Rubay'i...

 

[Al-Rubay'i] Let me please state the stand of the government. The Iraqi Government, acting with a sense of responsibility, assures the Iraqi people with all their religious sects -- both Muslims and Christians -- and with all their ethnic groups -- Arabs, Kurds, and Turkoman -- that we will track down the criminals wherever they are. We promise our people that those will not escape the hand of justice. We tell the Christian citizens in Iraq just as what the holy Koran tells them: ...and nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant [Koranic verse]. So the closest people to Muslims are the Christians.

 

[Jammul, interrupting] Dr A-Rubay'i, excuse me. You said that all evidence indicates that Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi and his group are the ones who carried out this action. Do you have any tangible evidence? Have the investigations reached an advanced stage that made you accuse Abu-Mus'ab al-Zarqawi, or is it only a matter of analysis and the strongest possibility?

 

[Al-Rubay'i] It is not only a matter of analysis. There are facts on the ground provided by the ongoing investigations. All investigations indicate that Al-Zarqawi's gang and religious extremists are the ones who carried out this despicable and terrible disaster against the Iraqi people.

 

[Jammul] Do you accuse foreign countries of supporting Al-Zarqawi to make what happened yesterday possible?

 

[Al-Rubay'i] We are leaving this issue for more in-depth investigation. We want to take time before we indicate to the involvement of any neighboring or non-neighboring country. However, we do not have the least doubt that Al-Zarqawi and the Al-Zarqawi gang and the religious fanatics are the ones who carried out this terrible action and this grave disaster against our Iraqi people.

 

[Jammul] Dr Muwaffaq al-Rubay'i, Iraqi national security adviser, in Baghdad, thank you very much.

 

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Iraq: Al-Sistani Condemns Church Bombings, Urges Respect for Minority Rights

Date

02 Aug 04

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Qom: Ayatollah Al-Sistani's Office WWW-Text in Arabic 02 Aug 04 [Statement by Iraqi Shiite Authority Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, commenting on the recent Church bombings in Iraq, dated 2 Aug]

 

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate;

 

In the series of criminal acts our dear Iraq is witnessing and which are targeting its unity, stability, and independence, a number of churches in Baghdad and Mosul came under sinful attacks that led to the death and injury of scores of innocent people and caused damage to many public and private properties.

 

We condemn these horrendous crimes and believe there is a need for concerted efforts by all -- government and people -- to put an end to the attacks on Iraqis and crush the assailants. We underline the need to respect the rights of Christian citizens and other religious minorities, including their right to live in security and peace in their homeland, Iraq.

 

We implore Almighty God to spare all Iraqis every harm and bestow on this beloved country security and stability.

 

[Signed] Al-Sayyid Al-Sistani Office

 

[Dated] 2 August 2004

 

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Subject

Iraq: Group To Consider Any Arab, Islamic Troops Sent to Iraq 'Enemy Troops'

Date

02 Aug 04

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Beirut: Al-Manar Television in Arabic 0438 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Announcer-read report over video; For assistance with multimedia elements, contact FBIS at 1-800-205-8615 or fbisinfo@rccb.osis.gov]

 

A group calling itself Salah al-Din Brigade has warned that it will consider any Arab or Islamic troops sent to Iraq as enemy troops and will deal with them as such.

 

[Begin recording of masked man] We appeal to brothers in all Arab and Islamic countries and tell them that we are engaged in a fierce and decisive war to liberate Iraq from the US-NATO-Crusader occupation. Whoever enters Iraq before full liberation is achieved, God willing, is a usurper and occupying enemy because he came to Iraq under the flags of the Jewish and Crusader invaders and came under their command; therefore, he is one of them. [End recording] Click here to see video of masked man reading and surrounded by masked men carrying RPGs

 

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Iraq: INC Criticizes Allawi's Support of Defense Minister's Remarks Against Iran

Date

02 Aug 04

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London: Al-Hayah (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 02 Aug 04

 

The Iraqi National Congress [INC] party led by Ahmad al-Jalabi has criticized Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's support for the "emotional" remarks of Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan against Iran and said it does not serve Iraq's interests.

 

Mithal al-Lawsi, member of the INC leadership and the director general of the Higher National Council for the Uprooting of the Ba'th Party, told Al-Hayah, "Those involved in the Iraqi security file are more than one regional party; they include Iran and Syria. However, escalating the situation with these parties and leveling accusations against them the way the Iraqi defense minister did will not serve the Iraqi interest." He expressed surprise that "Allawi stood behind and supported these emotional statements." He said that the Iraqi prime minister's decision not to make his anticipated visit to Iran clearly showed his support for these statements. He added, "We must warn (those involved), but away from media escalation and resounding statements."

 

Al-Lawsi said the current government is a "caretaker government, and the INC supports it in addressing the issues it must address, based on the provisional state administration law, foremost the security issue, the elections, and the economic issue." He said, "We want Allawi to succeed, and will try to provide the conditions for his success."

 

Al-Lawsi accused Ba'thists of standing behind the spread of administrative corruption in the state institutions to impede the democratic process and the building of a new Iraq and stop the wheel of change. He described the political statements calling for reconciliation with the Ba'thists as "wrong," because they call on the people to forget the past without settling and documenting it. They also call for reconciliation instead of tolerance.

 

He said, "The spread of corruption in state institutions is due to the presence of Ba'thist leaders in administrative decision-making positions in some departments." He noted that many groups of old Ba'thists are still occupying high-level administrative positions in some departments and control matters in them, which makes it likely that they would try to perpetuate the phenomenon of administrative corruption and spread it in a deliberate and organized manner."

 

Al-Lawsi said, "The Ba'th Party and the Saddam gangs were behind the social, economic, and cultural destruction in Iraq, and leaving this gang to rule the country again is a big mistake." He noted, "The INC and the Council for the Uprooting of the Ba'th Party object to the presence of these people in the new Iraqi Government. They also oppose those with a filthy Ba'thist history who tried to get into government institutions from the back doors," as he put it.

 

He affirmed that the Higher Council for the Uprooting of the Ba'thist Party was "seriously working to provide the documents and evidence that will reveal the history of many prominent figures occupying high-level sensitive administrative positions in the Iraqi Government. However, the relevant officials have not approached us, and we lack a dynamic relationship with the government ministries."

 

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Iraqi Activist Criticizes 'Irresponsible' Conduct of Islamic Forces in Iraq

Date

31 Jul 04

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Baghdad: Al-Ittijah al-Akhar in Arabic 31 Jul 04 p 16 [Article by Sa'd al-Umaydi, "an Iraqi political activist living in Sweden": "The Boots of Islamic Forces Are Obstructing the Democratic Process in Iraq"]

 

A situation where the victim is acting like the executioner is now applicable to the Iraqi Islamic forces, including Shiite and Sunni forces. After the regime was toppled by international powers without any Iraqi participation in this change, these forces are trying to benefit, to the maximum degree, from the disorderly situation and the lack of a strong state or deterrent laws and regulations to end human rights violations. These forces seek to impose their control on the Iraqi street, using the same methods that had been used by the Saddam Husayn regime previously to impose its control on Iraqi society.

 

Since the fall of the regime and up until this moment, the Iraqis have been treated in a savage and crude manner, which shows the fascism and rancor of these forces toward anything that is human and civilized. People are being killed without any trial or evidence, and religious courts are being set up to punish the people on account of a piece of information or false reports, which greatly resemble the reports written by the Ba'th Party members and their informing on innocent citizens.

 

The frightening and worrying thing about this matter is that the leaders of these groups make statements about their respect for the Iraqi people's right to free expression. At the same time, their members prevent others from expressing their views and practice terrorism, which is similar to the terrorism of Saddam Husayn and his party. Some members of the higher committee that is organizing the Iraqi national conference have disclosed what they termed as violations of the laws and regulations of nomination in a number of Iraqi governorates, including the capital Baghdad. This led to imposing the candidates of the Islamic forces by the force of arms and death threats. Reports coming from Iraq indicate that due to these practices, the Islamic current has won the votes in some governorates of the south. This prompted the representatives of civil society, the tribes, and the democratic forces to withdraw.

 

There is no justification for leaving the preparatory committees in charge of the national conference in the hands of undemocratic forces, which have so far not proven their commitment to the democratic game. The fact that these forces had been previously with the opposition does not mean that they had struggled to set up a democratic system to replace the Saddam Husayn regime. There is no reason to speak about the practices of these forces when they were with the opposition. These forces have taken control of the affairs of the Iraqis through terrorism and suppression.

 

These forces have even threatened some candidates that they would be killed if they took part in the sessions to elect members of the national conference, as happened with Safiyah al-Suhayl in the city of Basra. The Islamic forces threatened that they would kill her if she went to the election hall. This complicated matters and made the Tamim tribe, which was led by Shaykh Talib al-Suhayl, Safiyah's father, come to her defense. The conduct of the Islamic forces has also obstructed holding elections. These forces threatened to boycott the elections if their conditions were not met. They issued a statement on the boycott. These forces include the following: The Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution, Al-Da'wah Party (the Iraq Organization), Al-Da'wah Party (the General Headquarters), the Islamic Al-Da'wah Party, the Islamic Action Organization, Al-Fadilah Party, Sayyid al-Shuhada Party, the Hizballah Movement, the Badr Organization, the 17 March Islamic Movement, and the Shahid al-Mihrab Foundation (which is a branch of the Iranian Shahid al-Mihrab Foundation).

 

The demands of these forces were strange and unreasonable. These demands only serve the enemies of Iraq, who wish to see Iraq divided and weak. Not far from Basra, the Iranian security forces monitor the situation closely and send daily instructions to certain parties to impose an un-Iraqi situation that does not serve anyone. [These instructions include]: "We do not want Sunni elements to be candidates, [we want] an Islamic Shiite list that does not include academic figures or intellectuals." These forces have put together fake names and organizations that do not exist on the ground in a bid to impose candidates from the same color.

 

North of Basra, and specifically in the Iraqi capital, Baghdad, one of the female candidates of the institutions of civil society said that elements of the Islamic Party came to the hall armed to the teeth and distributed additional lists to their supporters, which put the judge in an embarrassing situation when he discovered that there were 27 more votes than the number of attendees. This made some of the attendees object and the situation developed into a fistfight.

 

This is a small part of the struggle that is taking place and the attempt to win control in illegal ways and using hackneyed methods that do not bode well for a democratic, pluralistic, and rotating system. On the contrary, this will lead to dividing Iraq into mini-states run by the Iraqi Taliban, whether it is a Shiite or Sunni Taliban.

 

The irresponsible actions carried out by the Islamic forces, motivated by narrow party and sectarian interests, do not serve the country and will not change the situation of the Iraqis for the better. By doing this, these forces have revealed their true face, which they tried to hide after the fall of the Saddam regime. However, the biggest loser due to the conduct of these forces will be the Iraqi citizen, who wishes to see democracy on the land of Iraq. The Iraqi citizen will see with his own eyes how these ambitions started to evaporate. Perhaps, setting up a democracy will become almost impossible, especially if we bear in mind that the conference that was scheduled for today, Saturday, has been postponed to 15 August.

 

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Iraqi Columnist Reiterates Accusations Against Iran

Date

01 Aug 04

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Baghdad: Al-Nahdah (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 01 Aug 04 [Commentary by Abd-al-Mun'im al-A'sam: " ... I am Flabbergasted When I see What you do!"]

 

In a sense, Tehran's quiet diplomatic response by Husayn Ramadan Zadah to the charges by Iraq's Defense Minister Hazim al-Sha'lan that the Iranian side was exporting terrorist acts to Iraq, which is tantamount to hostility between countries, is an attempt to balm feelings with the ointment of moderation, abort tension with wisdom, and move the entire game to the political arena before it is hijacked by the professional war drumbeaters who wager on the slip of tongues, the emotional reactions and the repercussions that follow on this or that.

 

But the Iraqi Minister's statements, if read thoroughly, are not to be considered slips of the tongue and neither are they emotional. Contrary to what the Iranian official said or rather hoped, they cannot be personal either. To observers, they are a reminder to the Iranian leadershipperhaps to an influential camp in that leadershipthat they must be prepared for the danger of continuation of the US arm-twisting policy from the painful Iraqi location. This policy has placed Tehranwhether it wants it or not--in one category with the forces of global terrorism and the remnants of the Saddam Husayn regime. It has also placed itand this is more importantin the position of impediment to the recuperation of Iraq seeking to undo the arguments that would speed up the liquidation of the remnants of US occupation of Iraq.

 

The Iraqi minister, who is in charge of defense affairs, should not have ignored what is an intrinsic part of his responsibility in fending off external threats. He should not have avoided calling things by their real names--not after the well has overflowed and the Iranian expansionist current is going full blast in formatting a large-scale plan to infiltrate the political process in Iraq on two fronts: The military front by sending and simultaneously giving passage to armed groups going into Iraqi territories, through the filter of mobilization formations (basij), to push Iraq into the "conflict-bargaining" equation with the US, and on the political front through a cascade of pressures, alliances and blocs to impose a course on internal Iraqi arrangements that ultimatelyas the team in power in Tehran would wishto keeping Iraq in the circle of Iranian hegemony, or as a lever for bargaining and management of settling accounts, or to immobilize it in the regional cycle in which Tehran is moving.

 

It is not a charge without basis to say that Tehran, under the shadow of hegemony by conservative forces, has become a smooth bridge for terrorism between Iraq and Afghanistan, and that it prefers (and seeks) the undoing of the Iraqi State and making it hostage to its narrow short-term political calculations. The Iranian leadership has delayed until now a settlement of the issue of the Iraqi planes that Saddam entrusted to the Iranian government after the outbreak of the first Gulf war. It has also not budged an inch on war compensations it demands from the New Iraq which is suffering from a dearth of resources. It has turned the joint borders with Iraq from a solution to a problem by facilitating passage through its land to the Iraqi soil for barbaric herds of "resistance". This is not to mention fostering the operations of strategic smuggling (oil, antiquities, infrastructure) on the part of well-known Iranian decision-making centers.

 

This context revives the boring question of whether Tehran supported opponents of Saddam and sympathized with them just for the sake of the Iraqis or for the sake of something else, as their current positions indicate? I am talking about stances as translated into action that inflict harm on the Iraqis, not just words of good intentions, for between the two there is a gap that is eloquently expressed by a popular Egyptian saying: 'I believe you when I hear what you say, but I am flabbergasted when I see what you do!'

 

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Iraqi Elections Commission Chief Interviewed On Mandate, Preparations

Date

31 Jul 04

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Baghdad: Al-Mada (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 31 Jul 04 [Report by Jihad Zayir in Baghdad: "Dr. Husayn Hindawi, Chairman of Independent High Commission for Elections in Iraq To Al-Mada: Iraqi General Elections To Be Held in Time At End of January 2005; We Allocated $250 million >From Iraqi Development Fund To Cover Costs; 8 Members Selected Out of 1180 Candidates For the Commission; Elections Process Will Elect Interim National Assembly, Kurdish National Council, Municipal Councils for Governorates; Iraq is One Constituency With 30,000 Voting Centers"]

 

Dr. Husayn Hindawi, chairman of the independent High Commission for Elections in Iraq, has said that elections in Iraq will be held on their set time at the end of January 2005. In an exclusive statement with Al-Mada, Hindawi said preparations for the elections are ongoing intensively in order to prepare for the requirements of the elections process, including preparing cadres among others. There is no thought to postponing the elections until now.

 

Hindawi, who chairs the commission formed by the United Nations on 4 June to hold elections in Iraq, said he found an overwhelming desire among the Iraqis to hold real elections that enjoy transparency and have all the standards used in elections that are held in advanced countries. He added that main sectors in the country, including the religious authorities emphasize these elections and there are wide sectors of the population, who have ties with civil society, that want democracy. In addition, all political forces and officials in the new Iraq have made pledges and want to encourage the democratic process.

 

The chairman of the independent high commission for elections in Iraq said that the commission works in complete independence and that no party has authority over it including the United Nations itself, the Iraqi Government, or any national or foreign party in Iraq. He said the UN formed the commission out of nine persons with only one foreigner; namely, Carlos Valenzuela, who represents the UN alongside eight Iraqis, including the executive director and seven Iraqis representing the commission's legislative body.

 

He stressed that the commission works in complete independence and is funded from Iraqi funds coming from the Iraqi Development Fund. It has been allocated its own independent budget of $250 million and can use the help of Iraqi workers who carry out the tasks set for holding the elections. He pointed out that the eight commission members were selected by the United Nations from 1,180 candidates who applied for the commission, whose mandate will last until a permanent Iraqi National Council is elected at the end of 2005.

 

Hindawi said the scheduled elections include elections for the interim Iraqi National Assembly, which will comprise 275 members selected on the basis of relative representation, as well as the Kurdish National Council with its 107 members, and municipal councils for the governorates. These elections are supposed to be held at the same time and on the same day. The number of municipal council members in the elections has not been set and nor has the nature of the representation -- be it proportional or majority based -- been identified. Experts from the commission are working on setting the foundations and bases for these elections. Attention is being given to ensure that these experts are Iraqi.

 

Hindawi said the commission is the sole legislative authority licensed to supervise any elections that are held in Iraq during the interim period. This was stated in the text of the Iraqi State Administration Law and includes the council elections, the referendum over a permanent constitution, and all political or administrative elections for municipal councils in the governorates. The exception is elections in professional associations. The commission is also the sole authority authorized to validate the final election outcomes. Therefore, no party -- be it Iraqi or foreign -- has the right to organize any elections without the approval and supervision of the commission, especially since it is an authority that is independent of any party or institution, including the executive, judicial, and consultative authorities of the National Council. Moreover, the commission is independent of any foreign or outside party, be it the multinational forces with the US and British forces at the forefront. It is also independent of the United Nations and any other international organization because the UN has one representative in the commission and its presence is for technical assistance purposes only. All the decisions are made by the commission's Iraqi members only. The UN is fully committed to this and has not interfered in the commission's work until now. In addition, the commission is financially independent and receives Iraqi funding from the Iraqi Development Fund. It has been allocated $250 million to cover the costs of the three elections mentioned above.

 

Hindawi said the concept that the commission is built on is the presence of a permanent elections authority to supervise the upcoming elections process in complete independence. Therefore it will be accountable in the future to the elected Iraqi parliament, which will have the only right to supervise the commission. As for the United Nations, its role at this stage will be to offer suggestions and financial and technical support for all its issues by making available the expertise of other countries that have recently gotten rid of dictatorships. We have had a chance to view the experiences of Romania and Mexico, where successful elections were held.

 

He said the commission started three weeks ago to build its national administrative and legal structures by announcing many job vacancies and it is now preparing to announce that it has satisfied its staff requirements in the governorates and the country as a whole. The practical stages will begin with the voter registration process, which will be dependent on information from Iraqi state agencies, especially the population census. Voter records will then be prepared in a modern manner and according to the latest methods to ensure their sustainability in the future. Candidates and political parties that will run in the elections will then be registered and after that the period for questioning the registration of voters will start. In the next stage, an elections campaign will be organized through the media along with all the other measures, which we hope will be modern and model. All this will be in preparation for the national elections day, after which the votes will be counted and the results announced.

 

The head of the high commission said: We own the mechanism, experience, and financial means to hold sound, transparent, and honest elections in general. This does not undermine the subjective difficulties that exist and we must not forget that even the most perfect of experiences in the world witnessed difficulties and complications. He affirmed that it is important and fundamental to set the bases of a democratic process in Iraq in a firm and objective manner for the future and not just for these elections.

 

He stated that these elections face a great problem; namely, the continued violence and terrorism, but this issue is outside the mandate and control of the commission. Moreover, there is the issue of elections outside Iraq because there are large Iraqi communities that are exerting pressure and are very interested in taking part in the upcoming elections in the country. They have the right as part of the Iraqi people.

 

On the elections system adopted by the commission, Hindawi said the system is to consider Iraq a single national constituency. This system makes the elections process easier, especially in the absence of a credible and accurate census and the existence of other difficulties such as persons displaced from Kurdistan and other areas. The commission will abide by the Iraqi State Administration Law's stipulations regarding a quota for women and guaranteeing the representation of minorities while rejecting any racial aspects so as to affirm national unity and the unity of the Iraqi people, which everyone agrees on.

 

He noted that it must be clarified that the elections will take place in 30,000 voting centers throughout the country under the supervision of 150,000 officials. For any candidate to win a seat in parliament, he must gain 26-27 thousand votes while every party must nominate no less than 12 and no more than 275 candidates. Individuals can nominate themselves independently but every candidate must submit a petition bearing the signatures of at least 500 voters in order for his nomination to be approved.

 

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Subject

Iraqi Islamic Party Denounces Attacks on Churches, Hails Muslim- Christian Ties

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Baghdad: Dar al-Salam Radio in Arabic 1510 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Statement by the Iraqi Islamic Party on "the explosions targeting Iraqi churches"]

 

In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate.

 

"And nearest among them in love to the believers wilt thou find those who say, "We are Christians": because amongst these are men devoted to learning and men who have renounced the world, and they are not arrogant" [Koranic verse]

 

For over 14 centuries, Muslims and Christians have been coexisting in peace, love, and cooperation. Their ties have never soured throughout this period. Christians in Iraq do realize the depth of ties binding them and Muslims since our Muslim Caliph Umar Bin-al-Khattab, may God be pleased with him, made his renowned pledge to Christians and refrained from praying at Jerusalem's churches out of respect for them. Instead, he ordered the construction of a mosque that was later named after him.

 

The enemies, who came from outside the borders, tried to foment sedition and tarnish the long-standing bonds between us. However, they failed and will fail again. The crime of blowing up churches in Baghdad and Mosul epitomizes the weakness and failure of the enemies and the strength of the unity of the Iraqis of all affiliations -- Muslims, Christians, Sabians, and other sects. An enemy that is lying in wait to use the language of death as a means to prevail will be doomed to extinction.

 

While we -- the Iraqi Islamic Party -- despise the machinations of the enemies and vigorously denounce this hateful crime, we offer our condolences to our Christian brothers and beseech Almighty God to grant mercy for those who fell and recovery for those who were wounded. We tell the enemies that God, who answers the calls of the oppressed, will punish you severely.

 

"And soon will the unjust assailants know what vicissitudes their affairs will take" [part of a Koranic verse]

 

The Media Office of the Iraqi Islamic Party

 

1 August 2004

 

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Subject

Iraqi Islamic Party Statement Denounces Arrest of Al-Dari, Demands his Release

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Baghdad: Dar al-Salam Radio in Arabic 1000 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Statement by Iraqi Islamic Party issued in Baghdad on 2 August 2004]

 

The US occupation forces have arrested Dr Muthanna Harith al-Dari, member of the General Secretariat of the Association of Muslim Scholars and son of Dr Harith Sulayman al-Dari, secretary general of the association. This was just upon his return to the offices of the association at Umm al-Qura Mosque. The Iraqi Islamic Party has issued a statement denouncing the arrest. The following is text of the statement:

 

Statement issued by the Iraqi Islamic Party

 

In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

 

This is how the United States peddles its false democracy. This is how it gages mouths and buries the other opinion. This is how the United States builds new Iraq. How similar is today to yesterday!

 

The occupation forces yesterday dared to arrest one of the symbols of the Islamic religious authority; namely, Dr Muthanna Harith al-Dari, member of the Shura Council of the Association of Muslim Scholars, which is considered the religious authority for more than half the Iraqi people, including Arabs and Kurds. In fact, it enjoys the big respect of our Shiite brothers.

 

The association's stand yesterday in which it condemned the bombings Iraqi churches calls for a firm protest, in which the entire Iraqi people must stand as one man with all their political, religious, and social sectors, to demand the immediate release of Dr Al-Dari as part of the loyalty to the association, which has always defended the Iraqi people's issues.

 

While we denounce this sinful arrest, stand by our brother Dr Al-Dari in his tribulation, and wish him relief, we in the Iraqi Islamic Party call upon the interim government to exercise its full sovereignty and press on the occupation forces to release him immediately and stop committing such unethical stupidities and behaviors in the future. The must also stop provoking people's sentiments and Muslim symbols.

 

Let the occupation forces know that by this act they are only making the situation worse and foster hatred against them by all world peoples, which sympathize with the Association of Muslim Scholars. "But the plotting of evil will hem in only the authors thereof." [Koranic verse]

 

[Signed] The Political Bureau 2 August 2004

 

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Subject

Iraqi Kurdish Paper Criticizes Proposal To Send Arab Forces to Iraq

Date

30 Jul 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Arbil: Khabat in Sorani Kurdish 30 Jul 04 [Article by Sami Shorish: "Which one of Iraq's diseases will the Arab countries' troops cure?"]

 

Recently, the [idea of] deployment of military forces to Iraq from a number of Arab countries has been revived once more, which is an issue that has yet again posed an important question and that is: Up to what extent are the Arab countries, or rather a few Arab countries, able to bring stability to the exploding security situation?

 

In the past few days, the head of the Iraqi government, Dr Iyad Allawi, and the US secretary of state, Colin Powell, travelled to the capital of Saudi Arabia, Riyadh.

 

In the trilateral meeting, the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Faysal, proposed to the two US and Iraqi officials to send to Iraq military forces from a number of Arab countries.

 

On their part, the US and Iraqi welcomed the proposal and asked to be implemented as soon as possible.

 

The two officials have their own reasons for the warm welcome they have expressed for the Saudi proposal, as on the one side Allawi wants to maintain his country's relations with the Arab world and want to dispel the propaganda that he has been installed in Iraq by the US and Israel and that Iraq will soon be severed from the rest of Arab world.

 

While Powell, on the other hand, wants to add another brick to the wall of the international coalition in order to help restart the process of reconstruction in Iraq. Furthermore, he wants to change the western appearance of the coalition into a multicolour coalition with an Arab and Islamic face.

 

So far it is not known how the Saudi proposal would resonate in the Arab world and how many Arab countries would be willing to send their troops. However, there are indications which suggest that the role of the Arab forces may perhaps be limited in this regard.

 

It is clear nevertheless, that from the outset Arab countries, particularly Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan, have been trying to have along side their military role a role in finding political solutions to the Iraqi crisis.

 

They want to convince their people that they would go to Iraq not only to combat the terrorists and to safeguard the security in Iraq, but also to safeguard Iraq's Arabic soul, and through their presence there, they would stop the void that has been created which Israel might try to fill.

 

Undoubtedly, it is better that neither the US nor Allawi's government should allow the deployment of Arab troops in Iraq on the basis of the wishes of Arab states. The deployment of troops and the role of Arab forces should be defined within the framework of a multinational force, and their role should be determined by Allawi's government.

 

Now, when the talk is about sending these troops, the federal government of Iraq has been indicating that their responsibilities would be to protect and defend UN headquarters.

 

This in fact is a made-to-measure role and perhaps it would not be a good thing if they were to be assigned with more responsibilities other than that. It is true that it is in the US interest to have more Arab and Islamic states taking part in the coalition and multinational force to protect Iraq which would make their work easier and the US would have less to apologize for by being in Iraq. Furthermore, the US believes that if Arab and Islamic forces come to help Iraq, it would perhaps quickly help stabilize the difficult security situation there. What's more, the US views that those people in Iraq who have been raising their weapons against European forces and its allies won't take the same stance against Arab and Muslim soldiers.

 

However, if the US uses this as an excuse to bring in Arab and Muslim forces, then it is a very feeble and unfounded argument, in view of the fact that that a few of those who have been kidnapped by the terrorists were Arabs and Muslims from Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey.

 

Then again, why bring in force from Arab countries, at a time when Iraqis have been crying out loud for the departure of foreign troops?

 

And why bring in Arab troops at a time when each of Arab countries has many problems and crisis and some of them have to tackle terrorism within their midst?

 

Instead, it would have been better for the US and Iraqis if they have stressed the need to bring in troops from Islamic countries.

 

A country like Pakistan can greatly help Iraq. However, perhaps bringing in troops from Arab countries might not reap any benefit for the US nor to Iraq.

 

On the other hand, if they are very desperate, then the task of protecting the UN headquarters and the embassies in Baghdad, on the basis of the Prince Faysal proposal, should be given to military forces made up from Arab countries.

 

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Subject

Iraqi Minister Seeks 'Stronger Bonds of Friendship' With Iran

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Tehran: IRNA (Internet Version-WWW) in English 2051 GMT 2 Aug 04

 

Tehran, Aug 3, IRNA -- Visiting Iraqi Economy and Treasure Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi emphasized here on Monday the need to broaden the scope of comprehensive cooperation with Iran, arguing, "Baghdad seriously favors strengthening bonds of friendship with Tehran."

 

Abdul-Mahdi made the comment in a meeting with Iran`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kamal Kharrazi, adding, "The Islamic Republic of Iran has both great capabilities and priceless experience in various fields, and Baghdad hopes those capabilities and that experience would be employed to deepen bilateral ties as far as possible."

 

He said the current era in Iraq is a "new experience in the political history of my country", arguing, Sponsoring the `Conference on Opportunities for Iran and Iraq Economic Cooperation` in Tehran was truly an exceptional spectacle."

 

The Iraqi economy and treasure minister evaluated the talks between the two countries` officials, as well as the dialogue between the representatives of Iran and Iraq`s private sectors, "quite fruitful in banking, transportation, economic, trade, and other fields",

 

He added, "Iran and Iraq, as two friendly neighbors, need to take long strides towards broadening the scope of bilateral cooperation."

 

Iran`s Minister of Foreign Affairs Kharrazi, too, said during the meeting, "The Islamic Republic of Iran is Iraq`s friend, and keeping in mind the present conditions in your country and the challenges with which the Iraqi nation is entangled now, we all need to do our best to pave the way for strengthening the bonds of friendship."

 

Referring to the unfavorable situation of Iraq in past years, he said, "Exactly due to those conditions, both sides have quite a weak understanding about the potentials and capabilities of each other."

 

Kharrazi evaluated the sponsoring of the Conference on opportunities for Iran and Iraq Economic Cooperation as "an effective move aimed at providing a new atmosphere of cooperation between the two countries," expressing hope that Iran and Iraq would rely on their immense natural resorts, large number of expert work force, and complementary economic capabilities and facilities, create an evolution in the history of the two neighboring nations` ties.

 

The Iranian foreign minister concluded, "The concerned officials and bodies in both countries need to provide for the necessary facilities and means, through the signing of agreements, contracts, memoranda of understanding, and banking facilities, aimed at broadening ties."

 

Iraq`s Minister of Economy and Treasure Adel Abdul-Mahdi is visiting the Islamic Republic of Iran to take part at a two-day conference (August 1-2) in Tehran, in which opportunities for broadening economic cooperation between Tehran and Baghdad are being surveyed.

 

Adel Abdul-Mahdi is leading a large Iraqi delegation in this trip, comprised of many deputy ministers, as well as 300 Iraqi merchants and businessmen, and over 450 Iranian merchants and supervisors active in various Iraqi cities.

 

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Subject

Iraqi Prime Minister Speaks on Security Situation, Ties With Kuwait, Arabs

Date

01 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Kuwait: KUNA (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 1519 GMT 01 Aug 04 [KUNA report on Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi's meeting with the Kuwaiti news media in Kuwait; date not given: "Iraqi Prime Minister: We Abide by and Honor UN Resolutions on our Relations with Kuwait"]

 

Kuwait, 1 Jul [KUNA] -- Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi asserted here today that Iraq abides by and honors the UN resolutions on Kuwaiti compensations due to the defunct Iraqi regime's invasion of the State of Kuwait, the delineation of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi borders, and the independence of the State of Kuwait. In a meeting with Muhammad Ahmad al-Ujayri, board chairman of the Kuwaiti News Agency, KUNA; Ahmad Bahbahani, head of the Journalists Association; and the chief editors of the local Kuwaiti papers, Allawi said: "With all due respect to the UN resolutions, which we honor, the relations between Iraq and Kuwait are stronger than these resolutions."

 

Allawi added: "We consider Kuwait a brotherly people and a neighborly state. We respect its position and peculiarity. We do not want to interfere in its internal affairs. We only want to build relations and a network of strategic interests linking Kuwait and Iraq and also Iraq and the other states."

 

Allawi said that the relations between Kuwait and Iraq "should be relations of brotherhood, fraternity, and positive ties. This is our request from the brothers in Kuwait. We want to build strong ties based on interests and economic cooperation."

 

On the question of Kuwaiti compensations due to the defunct Iraqi regime's invasion of the State of Kuwait, Allawi said we are ready to talk with the leaders in Kuwait and the Kuwaiti people on development and reconstruction operations. He called on the Kuwaiti private sector to participate in these operations, he said.

 

Al-Allawi expressed his happiness with the Kuwaiti stand, as Kuwait and other states have tried and continue to try hard to achieve stability in Iraq. He affirmed: "We must build real relations based on a civilized concept and ethical humanitarian relations that stem from the genuine Islamic and Arab spirit and also based on real interests and not short-term reactions. In our belief this is the key with which the region could enter a new phase, God willing."

 

The Iraqi prime minister said: "We must set the foundations for a positive life manifested by the happiness, the prosperity, and the dignity of peoples. I have always spoken about two important things, which, if we managed to accomplish, would achieve big progress for our people. The first is the liberation of the individual from fear of persecution, execution, butchering, and unemployment; that is liberating the Arab from fear." "The second," he added, "is liberating the Arab from want. If we succeeded in these two issues and achieved them tangibly on the ground of reality, rest assured there would be nothing but wellbeing and progress. As long as there is fear and war, tensions will continue in our region."

 

Al-Allawi expressed his regret that "the Arab nationalist regime, I belonged to, had failed and retreated, as it only relied on slogans and not the tangible reality. It also did not stand on a clear solid ground of interests that bind the peoples or proceed with a clear and specific civilized view, but emotional outbursts. And, this had resulted in problems that occurred on the level of the region as a whole and not just on the level of Iraqi-Kuwaiti relations."

 

Allawi said: "I believe; in fact, I am certain that although no one cannot predict what would happen in 500 years from now, what has happened has gone for good. Iraq is now based on the principle of dialogue and communication with its brothers, as well as the principle of mutual respect." "These principles," he added, "would be bolstered, God willing, by Iraq's democratic trend. We are determined to proceed forward on the path of achieving democracy, because it is the best to bolster balance, peace, stability, progress, and prosperity for peoples."

 

Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi said, "I believe that the region has suffered a great deal from the slogans and tensions of the past, as well as the wars, problems, coups and internecine fighting. It is time the peoples lived in peace and love over a network of interests and set real bases for prosperity and progress." He added that the countries of the region "are abundant in resources and the peoples have a long civilization and history. It is regrettable that this has happened. But, it is a tax that we all paid without any exception. And, we must begin a new phase now."

 

Allawi said: "We are setting the foundations of a new order and relations based on civilized dealing, where we would listen to one another, talk to one another, and reach common results."

 

Regarding the defunct Iraqi regime's invasion of the State of Kuwait, whose 14th anniversary falls tomorrow, Allawi said: "A tragedy had happened and we hope that it is behind us now and that it would be a big lesson for Iraqis, Kuwaitis, Arabs, and the region. Of course, the crimes that took place, including the invasion crime, were definitely against Arab logic and the Arab mind completely. We were among those who opposed this treacherous cowardly attitude by Saddam and his defunct regime."

 

Regarding the internal problems facing the Iraqi authorities, Allawi said: "There are three types of problems. Of course, they must be seen against the background of the dismantling of the state institutions. The biggest error that the United States and its allies made was dismantling the Iraqi state institutions." He said that due to the dismantling of the Iraqi state institutions there emerged three groups: The first is the Salafi repudiation forces that came from outside before the war and settled in Iraq. They are allied with Saddam and they managed after the war to polarize other elements that entered Iraq through the different borders." "The second," he explained, "is the Saddamist elements that committed big crimes against Iraq, Iraqis, Arabs, and Muslims. These forces would have to face trials." "The Saddamist elements," he said, "are afraid about what would happen to them. So they are escalating the Iraqi situation by exploiting the vacuum that has occurred. The third is the group of criminals who were released before the war. Saddam released about 31,000 criminals who were sentenced to death or life imprisonment. These people formed the hotbeds that exist in many parts of Iraq."

 

The Iraqi prime minister explained that these groups have exploited a broad base of demands that have made by the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, who were dismissed and are now jobless. They have also exploited the poor security effort, as the Armed Forces and the police and security forces do not have the necessary establishments, equipment, and services to deter these groups." He said that the crimes committed by these terrorists "contradict their claims that they are aimed at the occupation. These crimes are actually aimed at the Iraqi people. Those who are being killed are innocent Iraqis, including women, children, men, and so on."

 

Allawi noted a drop in terrorist operations in Iraq, saying, "we have noticed that the number of operations has begun to drop in recent months. But hey have also become more intensive, and this is due to two developments: The first is the expeditious steps taken by the Iraqi Government to build the security and military institutions in Iraq and this is a basic responsibility, which we have taken upon ourselves.

 

The second consists of two parts. The first part is that the criminals who were released by Saddam have been arrested and returned to the prisons. The second is the dialogue that is being held with remnants of the so-called resistance. Of course, they falsely call themselves resistance. Still, I met with them personally and told them: What do you want and what are your aims." Their aim from these terrorist operations, Allawi said, is the return of the former regime. I told them: "I swear to God, we will bring down the houses over your heads and fight you from room to room. But, if you want to be part of the political process in Iraq, you are most welcome. Iraq is for all Iraqis."

 

Allawi affirmed that the Iraqi authorities are capable with their current military and security services to face up to the present challenge in Iraq.

 

Regarding the Iraqi Government's efforts toward combating terrorism and ending the state of chaos, the Iraqi prime minister said: "Frankly, we have arrested many of these elements and some are still under investigation. The unusual thing is that they do not have any financial problem. In fact, they have an abundance of resources. In addition to that, Saddamist elements know that I have documents in Baghdad proving that a week before the war they withdrew sums of money estimated at less than 1 billion dollars; that is about $990 million. A week after the war they withdrew also about $890 million. And when Saddam was arrested we found in his possession $600 only."

 

Allawi said: We know that some of his elements have a great deal of money in several accounts abroad. They are spent on dangerous activities and operations. Thus, in our visits and meetings with friendly states we called for the need to closely follow this subject. We also set the mechanism for following some persons about whom we have information that they are still stealing and plundering." He added: "Regarding the Salafi repudiation elements, it seems to me that they get their money from different funding sources, including our own societies. We as Muslims give aid and pay alms on our money. But the funds reaching the terrorists are used in evil acts." He said: "We say that the Islamic states assume a big responsibility here. These people have nothing to do whatsoever with Islam. In fact, they try to discredit Islam."

 

Allawi asserted that it is time the Arab and Muslim leaders and peoples maintained a strong, clear, and courageous stand against this phenomena, and stopped it at its limits, as it is a criminal phenomenon that does not reflect true Islam and Arabism. Therefore, we must play our role without waiting any further." He said: "Those terrorists exploit the points of weakness in the Iraqi society. They think that if they succeeded in harming and destroying its progress, the whole region would move in this direction, as their main battle is in Iraq. They believe that once Iraq had fallen the other states would fall easily."

 

Allawi added: "They also firmly believe that Iraq's steadfastness and victory in this fierce battle would lead to victory and stability in the region, which is what all the leaders we met with unanimously agreed on also."

 

Allawi indicated that the situation in Iraq would affect the neighboring states, whether through terrorist operations or communal strife. He said: "We are now detaining an element from a North African Arab country who worked as the driver for Al-Zarqawi moving him from place to place. Allawi affirmed that "the time factor is very important, because the quicker we build the Iraqi institutions the more we are able to crush these groups and organizations. The improvement of the Iraqi capabilities would lead to the retreat of these elements. "There is no doubt," he said, "that these people do not belong to Islam. In fact, they distort the image of Islam. They are not Muslims but claimants who propagate their ideas, which have nothing to do with Islam."

 

Regarding the relations with Syria, Allawi said there is a clear, transparent, and positive dialogue with the Syrian president, who has expressed his brotherly concern for the safety and security of Iraq. Allawi referred to the existence of important bilateral establishments for tackling matters pertaining to the security situation in Iraq. He added: "We are aware of the difficult conditions in Syria. We are also aware of the problems in Syria's international relations. We will strive to back its new inclinations and lessen the concerns in the region, which would help spread a wave of stability and reassurance, and thus achieve the desired cooperation between Syria and the United States."

 

The Iraqi prime minister dealt with the exaggerated reporting on the situation in Iraq. He said: "The policy followed by some space channels exaggerate events and portray Iraq as a battlefront, which is not true. Our policy toward these channels calls for peace and integrated viewpoints. They must be positive and present the facts as they are on the ground without any falsification.

 

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Subject

Iraqi Scholar Interviewed on Arrest of Muslim Scholar Muthanna al-Dari

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Qatar: Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 1105 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Interview via satellite with Jawad al-Khalisi, secretary general of the Iraqi Constituent Conference, in Baghdad, by anchor Tawfiq Taha, in the Doha studio -- Live]

 

[Taha] Your eminence Shaykh Al-Khalisi, in what context do you view the detention of Dr Muthanna Harith al-Dari?

 

[Al-Khalisi] In the name of God, the merciful, the compassionate. The Iraqis are no longer surprised by the actions of the US forces against those working for the independence and unity of Iraq. Every Iraqi confronting the occupation and speaking out against it, as our brother Dr. Al-Muthanna did, particularly in his latest television interview, he will be subject to such measures. They call them democratic measures, but in fact they mean nothing but tyranny, repression, and dictatorship. The majority of the Iraqi people have been affected by such measures. Once we got rid of the rule of the dictator [Saddam Husayn], we came under the rule of his masters. They practiced all forms of direct and indirect repression. The arrest of Al-Dari is one of the forms of repression, regardless of the hollow claims or justifications they make for such arrests.

 

[Taha] What did Dr Muthanna al-Dari say in that television interview?

 

[Al-Khalisi] He said nothing but the truth and responded to nothing but the demands of his fellow Iraqis. He supported the stand of the other honest leaders of our people. He clearly said that the Iraqi people do not view with credibility the conferences held by the occupation authorities and do not expect them to be faithful to the demands of the people. These conferences are outlets for the occupation and do not represent the will of the Iraqi people. He insisted on the stand of the Association [of Muslim Scholars], which is the same as the stand of the Iraqi Constituent Council, on refusing to take part in such false and infiltrated conferences.

 

[Taha] Are there contacts with the Iraqi Government or even the occupation troops to at least request an explanation for the arrest or to secure his release?

 

[Al-Khalisi] The occupation troops and the government are practicing democracy in the following way: They tell the Iraqi people do whatever you want and make any questions you want, and we do whatever we want and answer only what we want. There is no specific authority which one can contact, especially since the declared emergency laws allow the arrest of any person. What is most disturbing is for the arrests be made by foreign troops. Where are the lawyers and where are the arrest warrants? Why are such arbitrary measures made against the Iraqi people, intellectuals, and scholars?

 

[Taha] Jawad al-Khalisi, secretary general of the Iraqi Constituent Conference, in Baghdad, thank you very much.

 

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Subject

Iraqi Tribal Chief Sets Conditions for Resuming Negotiations With Kidnappers

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Dubai: Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic 1405 GMT 02 Aug 04

 

Dubai Al-Arabiyah Television in Arabic, independent television station financed by Arab businessmen, at 1406 GMT on 2 August carries a four-minute live interview via satellite with Shaykh Hisham al-Dulaymi, head of the National Association of Iraqi Tribal Leaders, who yesterday decided to stop mediation between the Kuwaiti Gulf Link company and the kidnappers of seven of its employees in Iraq.

 

Al-Dulaymi, who speaks from Baghdad, confirms that he withdrew from mediation upon the request of the kidnappers.

 

On whether he would return to negotiations, Al-Dulaymi said: "I do not mind going back to negotiations; however, there are conditions and regulations. Among these is that the representative of the Kuwaiti Company should first come to Baghdad so that I can negotiate with him. Also, the kidnappers should ask me to intervene again and go back to negotiations."

 

Asked about the nature of the kidnapping group and whether it is highly organized, Al-Dulaymi says he is unaware of who leads this group and how it works. He says his intervention in this issue is for humanitarian purposes.

 

FBIS/Jordan Bureau plans no further processing.

 

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Subject

Italian Commentary Links Attacks on Churches in Iraq to Terror Threats Against Italy

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Milan: Il Giornale in Italian 02 Aug 04 pp 1, 31 [Commentary by Massimo Introvigne: "The Card of Hatred"]

 

The blood of the Christian martyrs which has been shed in Iraq bears the unmistakable hallmark of Al-Qa'ida. In his [Bin] Ladin Epistles, Usama Bin Ladin, with tragic clarity, gave advance announcement of the shift, after an initial phase of political confrontation, to an apocalyptic religious war in which Muslims fight the final battle against "the Crusaders" -- in other words against the Christians -- and "the Jews." This is a primitive, barbarous, and bloody version of the clash of civilizations which even many Islamic fundamentalists distance themselves from. But evoking hatred against those who are not Muslims is aimed at rekindling centuries-old emotions and tensions: the obsessive reference to the Crusades is no chance element.

 

As always, however, Al-Qa'ida weds apocalyptic poetry with the prose of political strategy. In Iraq, the hope behind the attack on the Christian churches is to reunite a broad Muslim front, already agitated by the issuing of bogus reports of an "invasion" of Christian missionaries, against "foreign" religions, and to provoke inter-religious clashes which could further hinder the already difficult march toward the elections. Christians in Iraq are a minority, but they are not few in number: 800,000 according to the official statistics, perhaps a million in actual fact. A sufficient number to trigger, especially in the troubled north of the country (where two of the churches that have been hit are located), acts of retaliation, tension, and violence, the outcome of which is unpredictable.

 

For that matter, the card of inter-religious hatred is one of the last cards which terrorism can play in Iraq. Contrary to appearances, Iraqi terrorism is in crisis. For weeks it has been threatening to kill the leaders of the interim government, and the main religious authority which legitimizes it, the grand Shi'ite ayatollah Al-Sistani. However it has been reduced to murdering -- as has recently happened in Baquba -- mere passers-by, including many women and children. Terrorism in Iraq now has serious difficulties in striking significant political targets. It can only devote itself to the low-level butchery of the massacre of civilians and of worshippers who go to church on Sunday, shooting at random, as all forms of terrorism on the wane do. But they are massacres which reduce the popularity of the terrorists, even among their potential supporters. The attackers have resolved to bring about a unification of Shi'ites and Sunnis against the government. But the only unification which they are bringing about is against them, against the terrorists, who have now tired an Iraqi public at large which has had enough of massacres of innocent civilians. They have resolved to prevent the 2005 elections: Judging by the desperate nature of the most recent massacres, they will not succeed. In fact, the blind fury of the terrorists can, if anything, consolidate the growing consensus among Iraqis toward the process which is moving in the direction of democracy.

 

Italy has to view the attack against the churches in Iraq with particular concern. The coincidence in timing between these attacks and further threats against our country might not be a mere chance coincidence. The literature of Al-Qa'ida has always linked the attack against the "Crusaders", against the Christians, with the threats against Rome, the capital of the Christian world. Even before 11 September a worrying fundamentalist literature put Rome close to New York among the targets for attacks against the symbolic cities of the West and of Christianity. The map of anti-Christian hatred is a desperate map, which confirms the fact that terrorism is in difficulty. But it is a map which involves Italy closely.

 

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Subject

Quds Press: AMS Denies Statement That Saddam Exposed to Sexual Assault at Jail

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

London: Quds Press (Internet Version-WWW) in Arabic 1441 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Quds Press headline: "The Association of Muslim Scholars denies a statement attributed to it that Saddam Husayn was exposed to sexual assault"]

 

Baghdad (Quds Press)--A spokesman for the Association of Muslim Scholars [AMS] has denied the report that the association issued a statement saying that former Iraqi President Saddam Husayn had been exposed to a sexual assault at prison.

 

In an exclusive statement to the Quds Press, the spokesman said "This statement is the fabrication of Baghdad Al-Shira newspaper, which published the statement and gave it the number 30 although the last statement issued by the association was statement number 50, while statement number 30 was on the Iraqi flag.

 

The spokesman said: This is not the first time that this newspaper publishes such falsehood in the name of the association. The paper has tried more than once to distort the image of the AMS scholars who are known for their efficiency and who are respected by the Iraqi people. He emphasized that the association intends to file a law suit against the newspaper to prevent the recurrence of such actions.

 

The spokesman said the newspaper drafted the statement using the same phrases and words the AMS uses in its statements, which constitutes a fabrication that cannot be overlooked.

 

The statement attributed to the association was sent to a number of media outlets in Iraq, including Quds Press, which followed up on the statement to obtain an official denial.

 

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SCIRI Issues Statement Denouncing Attacks on Baghdad, Mosul Churches

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

(Internet): Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq WWW-Text in Arabic 02 Aug 04 [Statement by the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI]: "SCIRI Releases a Statement on the Aggression Against Churches in Baghdad and Mosul"]

 

Criminal terrorists targeted Christian churches in Baghdad and Mosul yesterday, Sunday, while our Christian brothers were performing their religious rites and worshipping God almighty. These criminal attacks led to the burning down and destruction of churches and the killing and wounding of scores of Iraqis, including a number of our Christian brothers. We vehemently denounce and condemn these criminal acts against our innocent Iraqi Christian brothers, who had suffered all sorts of oppression during the era of tyrant Saddam, who killed, imprisoned, and dispersed thousands of Iraqi Christians outside of Iraq.

 

These criminal acts, which are aimed at harming the good and firm relationship among the various components of the great Iraqi people and at fomenting sedition among its sons, are part of the series of crimes that do not harbor any good to Iraq. These acts had previously targeted prominent religious personalities, notably the martyr of the holy shrine Ayatollah Muhammad Baqir al-Hakim, and other eminent political figures, such as martyr Izz-al-Din al-Salim. They also targeted ordinary Iraqi nationals who were going about their daily livelihood. Moreover, they targeted the Iraqi government establishments, such as police centers and utility establishments. These criminals did not spare even Iraqi installations, like oil pipe lines, telephone and electricity lines, and water pipes.

 

These criminal acts have exposed anew the identity of the perpetrators, who are enemies of Iraq and who have no faith in heavenly or earthly values, not even the values of Arabs and Iraqis. They falsely profess to belong to Islam, which is innocent of them and of their criminal deeds. They have continued to follow in the footsteps of their master, the tyrant of Iraq, Saddam. Not content with the crimes they have committed, deliberately killing people and destroying Iraqi establishments, these criminals have destroyed even utility services and Iraqi cities, denying Iraqis of their most basic rights.

 

The great Iraqi people who struggled and made sacrifices for over three decades to rid themselves of the Saddam rule will not halt their march toward building Iraq and cementing its stability. They will continue on their path to obtain full independence and secure the withdrawal of foreign forces from Iraq. In addition, the relationship between our Christian brothers and Muslims in Iraq is firm and is rooted in amity and respect. This relationship will not be affected by such malicious deeds.

 

While we extend condolences to the Iraqi people, especially the Christian sons of Iraq, the Christian political and religious leaders, and the families of the victims and the wounded as a result of these criminal acts, we pray to God almighty to safeguard Iraq and Iraqis, to ward off every evil, and to champion Iraqis in their endeavors to achieve their sacred goals. From God we come and unto Him we return.

 

[signed] Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, chairman of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution for Iraq; 2 August 2004.

 

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SCIRI's Al-Hakim Calls for Changing Policies of Dealing With Security Situation

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Qatar: Al-Jazirah Satellite Channel Television in Arabic 1108 GMT 02 Aug 04 [Announcer-read report over video]

 

Abd-al-Aziz al-Hakim, chairman of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI], has said that the policies employed in dealing with the security situation have proved their failure.

 

In a statement to Al-Jazirah TV, Al-Hakim said that if the government has failed to stop operations carried out by armed groups, then it must open the way for national forces and Iraqi tribes to confront these groups.

 

[Begin Al-Hakim recording] These groups are known. They are remnants of the [former] regime's henchmen and fundamentalist terrorist groups that are present inside Iraq and that came from outside Iraq.

 

Regrettably, the policies employed in dealing with these persons have thus far been unsuccessful. We are still calling for changing these policies and opening the way for national forces and loyal tribes and Iraqis to confront these criminals and put an end to them.

 

If the government is incapable of confronting them, then it should open the way for people to stand in the face of this evil and criminal group that has been practicing crime and that seeks to achieve its goals through terrorism and carrying our criminal operations. [end recording] [Video shows Al-Hakim making statements]

 

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Syrian President, Iraqi Kurdish KDP Official Discuss Security, Bilateral Ties

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

Salah-al-Din: Kurdistan Satellite TV in Sorani Kurdish 1630 GMT 2 Aug 04

 

The Syrian President, Bashar al-Asad, received the head of [Kurdistan Democratic Party, KDP-led] Kurdistan regional government Nechirvan Barzani this morning at his palace in Damascus.

 

In a brotherly meeting, the current political situation in Iraq and the security issues were discussed. The meeting also focused on the deep-rooted bilateral relations and ways of strengthening them.

 

President Bashar al-Asad expressed his readiness for every support and cooperation with the Iraqi government and people. And stressed that the stability in Iraq was in the interest of all sides and efforts should made to control the terrorist acts, and that the entire Iraqi political spectrum should take part in the political process.

 

On his part, the head of Kurdistan regional government Nechirvan Barzani thanked Syrian President Bashar al-Asad for Syria's support to the Iraqi people's struggle, especially to the struggle of the KDP. He emphasis on the insistence of leader Barzani on strengthening and developing the fraternal bilateral ties.

 

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UK Commentary Attacks Proposal To Send Muslim Force To Quell Violence in Iraq

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

FBIS

 

London: The Independent (Internet Version-WWW) in English 02 Aug 04 [Commentary by Yasmin Alibhai-Brown: "This Muslim Force Is Not What Iraq Needs"]

 

I find no takers among my British Muslim contacts for the latest wheeze coughed up by the Saudis to help restrain the bloody chaos in Iraq. The proposal - approved by Colin Powell - is to import troops from various Muslim countries to attenuate the spiralling violence. Iyad Allawi, the unelected Prime Minister of the interim Iraqi government, is taken with the idea.

 

The people I spoke to are not, not at all. Among more than 50 people across Britain, of different backgrounds and views, including three who supported the war, not one Muslim gave any credence to this strategy. Powell, many said contemptuously, was a Republican "Uncle Tom" and Allawi a "CIA stooge", while the House of Saud was now fearful for its own future and having to make abject gestures to retain US support.

 

Three of the people have family connections to the Chalabi and Allawi clans. They say both men have been actively involved in questionable activities with American blessings. "How can we trust Allawi? He is more American than Iraqi," said one sad chap who says he likes him "as a man but not a leader of our country".

 

I agree with these doubters. This solution has no noble purpose. Consider the main objections. First: They want Muslims to die, instead of Americans and Britons, to pay for the mess the allies have made. They ignored world opinion, expert evidence, international institutions and through sheer arrogance imposed their will. In January 2003, Powell said his country was ready to "go it alone".

 

Though refusing to eat humble pie, Tony Blair and George Bush have to find a credible way to manage the defeat that has followed their victory. It isn't new, this use of "natives" as war fodder. In the Great War the thousands of Indian soldiers who fought in the trenches wrote coded letters home about how they - "black pepper" - were used in the most dangerous situations on the front line and "red pepper" was better looked after.

 

Second: Such forces would help to conceal the obvious signs of occupation, the idea and reality that today offends almost all Iraqis and heats to boiling the desert blood of Arabs. Like dummy policemen, these Muslim forces can be used to dupe and control the population.

 

The third reason to be wary: Once they have Muslim forces on the blasted streets of Basra and Baquba and Ramadi and Al-Fallujah, media reports will die down. It will become just another basket case area. Horrendous events are barely reported now because it is only Iraqis who are the victims and because there is such strict censorship by the people in power, who do not want the maimed on our minds nor the body counts piled up.

 

Last week alone more than 250 Iraqis were killed. The International Coalition of Academics Against Occupation claims that 250 college professors have been assassinated since April 2003. A freelance journalist, Lee Gordon, returned from Iraq bringing with him an 11-year-old girl, Zeinab, who lost her right leg and her whole family in one of our raids, one of countless such victims. Our government does nothing for these amputee children. Thanks to Heather McCartney, Zeinab has a new leg, but only because a journalist made a fuss.

 

So no, under the present arrangements, this plan is wholly to be suspected and rejected.

 

There are people who still want to believe that the US and UK are forces of untold good, but most of the world knows better. Gandhi once said: "If I should allow the West in its boyishly confident rowdyism to utterly crush out other systems of life and ideals through political power and material influence, would I not be playing traitor to not only to my own people but to you Westerners too?"

 

Cynicism today seems a patriotic duty, the only weapon we have against the bombast, the spinning, pliant journalism and against the unrepentant, illegitimate war-makers now sunning themselves. But scepticism is not enough nor good enough. It does not exempt us from engaging with the turmoil and heartbreak that is Iraq today. Blair says nobody in Iraq wants Saddam Husayn back. Wrong. There is such immense disillusionment that there is, unbelievably, nostalgia for that dictator.

 

Millions of suffering Iraqis agree the coalition is doing more damage than good and should leave. They know the truth about the torture - of women and children too - by our side from which we are still shielded. (We cannot be tortured by the images of torture - that would be uncivilised). They see the clampdown on freedom of expression by Allawi and his Higher Media Commission, which wants to discipline Al-Jazeera and others.

 

Anti-war people are in an ethical conundrum. I cannot deny there have been moments when I have felt victorious at witnessing another catastrophe, another setback, anything to show the axis of war that we were right. It may be human nature but it is not honourable. Such shallow triumphalism will not save or make the people of Iraq. So what is to be done?

 

Lakhdar Brahimi, the Algerian diplomat who is Kofi Annan's Iraq expert, has produced a programme for transition to a democratic government. The next step should be a national conference in Iraq. This has been delayed to ensure it is inclusive, even of groups not favoured by the US. There are signs that Americans are already interfering to make this impossibly hard.

 

Expect more of this as the interim government gives way to transitional government after elections between December 2004 and January 2005. The elected body will then draft a permanent constitution. In December 2005 there should be a legitimate, elected, constitutional government. Brahimi wants an international meeting to will on this process and, I hope, to assert that the resources of Iraq belong to that country alone and that tricksy foreign politicians should lay off.

 

As a foundation, this is feasible and a good structure to build on. It could strengthen the battered UN, which has lost much respect partly because of its own ineptitude and partly because the big powers can so easily bypass the best promises of the organisation.

 

The UN has become indispensable to the coalition which has so catastrophically lost the peace and its reputation. Public opinion is shifting in the US too. Paranoia paralysed the thinking classes after 11 September. This is now thawing and perhaps there will not be a rush to war again soon whoever wins the election.

 

In an incisive new book, The World According to Washington, the Indian writer Pashwant Singh argues that for its own sake the US has to rethink its internationalism, which currently is nothing more than the right to do wrong with absolute impunity. He remembers "the principled stand taken by Americans of distinction at defining moments in history". If hope, trust and humility can come together maybe peace will get a chance.

 

My Muslim acquaintances agree Iraq now needs a monitored election, a concerted effort to make the country truly free and the UN to take charge until the place is secure again, which will not be for a good many years. As Leila, a student at a London University said: "Under the UN, if it is really the UN, yes Muslims can go to Iraq and help. But not now, not under these liars who care nothing about Iraq and want to trick us again. We are not so stupid."

 

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Subject

Allawi denies receving official invitation to visit Iran

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Arabic News (Morocco)

 

Iraq - Iran, Politics, 8/3/2004

 

Iraq's Interim prime minister Eyad Allawi in al-Manam yesterday denied abrogating his visit to Iran. He said he did not receive an official invitation to this effect.

 

In statements to the press in conclusion of his visit to Bahrain, he said that Iran did not extend any written, but a verbal invitation from the Iranian charge de afairs in Iraq, as part of compliments and was not an official invitation.

 

Allawi described the results of his Arab tour as positive, noting that the tour achieved important results at the leval of bilateral relations and the region, as well.

 

Allawi indicated that the elections that are due to be held in Januray 2005 will be held at its due date, adding that conditions in Iraq will not affect this date.

 

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Subject

Bahrain pledges support for reconstruction

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Gulf News (Dubai)

 

Manama: Bahrain yesterday stressed its "continuing support" for Iraq's reconstruction efforts, the Bahrain News Agency, BNA, stated.

 

The agency said the statement was made during a meeting here between His Majesty King Hamad Bin Eisa Al Khalifa and Iraqi Prime Minister Eyad Allawi, who had arrived in Bahrain earlier on a brief visit as part of his current tour of Arab countries.

 

"The King affirmed Bahrain's keenness to contribute to the development and stability of Iraq in order to overcome its current crisis and resume its constructive role in the region," the agency said.

 

BNA said the King and Allawi have "reviewed the latest developments in Iraq," and the efforts being made by the Iraqi interim government to restore stability in the war-torn country.

 

Upon his arrival earlier, Allawi was met by Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al Khalifa and senior officials.

 

The two officials then held an official talks session to discuss means of cooperation and strengthening bilateral relations, BNA said, adding that Shaikh Khalifa pledged that Bahrain would offer technical assistance to Iraq's official bodies, including financial and banking sectors.

 

This is Allawi's first visit to Bahrain since taking over as interim prime minister last month. He has already visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan and Kuwait.

 

In a statement issued earlier, Bahrain said it "will continue to support the people of Iraq in maintaining security and stability in their country," and called upon "all political groups in Iraq to hold a national conference to reach an agreement."

 

According to sources, Allawi's talks here would also include a Bahraini initiative to participate in the protection of Iraq's territorial waters.

 

King Hamad said last month that the Royal Bahraini Naval Force was "ready to resume its contributions with naval forces to help secure Iraqi waters".

 

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC

 

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Subject

Danish official faces inquiry over prisoners

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

The Dawn (Pakistan)

 

COPENHAGEN, Aug 2: A Danish army intelligence officer has been sent home from Iraq and is under investigation after colleagues complained about the way he interrogated Iraqi prisoners, the army said on Monday.

 

"Due to a strong sense of justice, Danish soldiers who saw things they thought were out of order contacted their superiors," Danish armed forces spokesman Hans-Christian Mathiesen said.

 

The unidentified official stationed at Camp Eden, southern Iraq, was sent home two weeks before his tour of duty was due to end. His return comes a day before a hearing in the United States on whether a US soldier will be tried for prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib prison, near Baghdad.

 

According to a report in the Ekstra Bladet daily newspaper, the officer denied prisoners water and forced them to hold uncomfortable positions for long periods of time.

 

Asked to comment on the report, which also said other soldiers had reported the Danish officer's interrogation techniques as unacceptable, Mathiesen said: "It's no secret that the story in Ekstra Bladet, the fact an investigation has been launched, and the fact that an officer has been sent home are related."

 

Denmark has been a loyal supporter of the US-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. US policy on Iraq suffered a major blow a few months ago when graphic evidence emerged of abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

 

On Tuesday, US military police officer Lynndie England faces a hearing to determine if she will be tried on charges ranging from prisoner abuse to committing indecent acts. -Reuters

 

© The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2004

 

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Subject

Four ordered held in Jihadis case

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Arab Times (Kuwait)

 

KUWAIT CITY : The Public Prosecution has ordered the arrest of four new suspects, whose names came up during interrogation in the "Jihadis in Iraq" case. These suspects confessed to have trained youth in the use of arms in a bid to conduct terrorist operations in the country. A reliable security source said, "the Capital Prosecution has summoned some more persons for interrogation." On the possibility of their release on bail after their testimony, the source said, "although the Public Prosecution has the authority to order the release of suspects, after they sign an undertaking, if their detention is no longer necessary, it is unlikely to happen as the suspects have confessed to their crimes." The suspects face several charges, he added.

 

Indicating the suspects will be under temporary detention until the case comes up for hearing in the court, the source said, "the court will have the final say on whether to detain or release them." He also said a security team raided two houses in Rabiya and Ardiya Sunday night and arrested two suspects, identified as M.A. and N.R., adding "the team is hunting for other suspects who are still in hiding." Recently, Syria arrested four suspected terrorists and turned them over to Kuwait. Moreover, State Security last week arrested 11 suspects who are being interrogated.

 

Agencies add: Fifteen suspects who had been detained and interrogated by the State Security for allegedly recruiting unidentified youths to fight jihad against the coalition forces in Iraq have been detained at the Central Prison, reports Al-Watan daily quoting reliable sources from the Public Prosecution. The same sources said the Public Prosecutor has granted permission to a number of lawyers to be present during interrogations with the suspects. Meanwhile, a security source said the State Security personnel are investigating money transfers said to have been made by some Islamists to the account of terrorists in Iraq.

 

In other news, a security source said interrogations with persons who were arrested on suspicion of involvement in terrorist activities have revealed serious information about terrorism inside and outside Kuwait. The source added the government is coordinating with Kuwaiti embassies abroad to track down wanted persons.

 

- By Ebtisam Saeed - Special to the Arab Times

 

(c) 2002 Arab Times - Kuwait, All Rights Reserved

 

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Subject

Frightened Christians try to leave Iraq

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

The Star (Malaysia)

 

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Wissam Sagman has already tried unsuccessfully to leave the country, fearing his Christian family would not be safe in the new, chaotic Iraq.

 

Now, after a series of bombings at churches across the country on Sunday, his fear of his neighbors has grown and he plans to redouble his efforts to get out.

 

"These people, they love blood. They hate humanity. They hate us,'' Sagman said, looking around his wrecked living room, damaged from a car bomb attack on an Armenian church across the street.

 

"They want all the Christians to leave.''

 

The coordinated attacks hit four churches in Baghdad and one in Mosul, killing at least seven people and wounding dozens more in the first significant strike on Iraq's minority Christians since the U.S. invasion last year.

 

Iraqi leaders condemned the violence Monday, trying to quell Christian fears they were being routed from the country.

 

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, Iraq's most senior Shiite cleric, called the attacks "hideous crimes.''

 

Iraq's 750,000 Christians have grown ever anxious at the rise of Islamic fundamentalism since the ouster of Saddam Hussein last year.

 

Hundreds have fled to neighboring Jordan and Syria.

 

Others are waiting to join them.

 

"This is my church! My church!'' Thomas George, 73, cried, shaking his walking stick outside a Syrian Catholic church in Baghdad that was among those targeted Sunday.

 

Muslim neighbors tried to console George and Tarek Kidr, another churchgoer.

 

One, Sadek Rabi, said Muslims and Christians were both facing the same violence.

 

"A Muslim can't go to a mosque and a Christian can't go to church now,'' said 32-year-old Rabi, recalling attacks in recent months on Muslim sites of worship that have killed hundreds.

 

No group claimed responsibility for Sunday's attacks.

 

Deputy Prime Minister Barham Saleh vowed authorities would hunt down those responsible.

 

"The interim government of Iraq is united in condemning all acts of terrorism and is determined to use all available force, both Iraqi and those of multinational forces in Iraq, to pursue and destroy the people who plan and carry out such atrocities,'' Saleh told reporters.

 

Iraq's religious leaders unanimously denounced the bombings.

 

"We condemn and reproach these hideous crimes,'' said al-Sistani. He said the assaults "targeted Iraq's unity, stability and independence'' and called on the government and Iraqis to work together to end the violence.

 

The Association of Muslim Scholars, an influential Sunni Muslim group believed to have links to insurgents, issued a statement offering condolences to the victims and blaming foreign fighters for trying to instigate sectarian fighting.

 

"Targeting churches is another type of effort aimed at damaging Iraqi unity, "the group said. "Such acts cannot be done by Iraqis.''

 

The Roman Catholic Chaldean Patriarch, the Rev. Emmanuel Delly, said Iraqis of all religions will stay united.

 

"Perhaps they wanted to divide us from our Muslim brothers, but we and the Muslims are one family _ one Iraqi family that should be protected by brotherhood and love,'' he said

 

Pope John Paul II sent Delly a condolence telegram.

 

"The sorrowful news ... against various Catholic communities gathered in prayer in their houses of worship struck me deeply,'' the pope said.

 

Despite the support, Kidr, like many other Christians, is looking for a way out.

 

"I want to go now, go to Syria and try to get to Australia,'' he said. "It's not safe in Iraq and it will only get worse.''

 

The Armenian church sustained little damage but Sagman's living room, where his two young sons were watching cartoons on television, suffered the brunt of the blast.

 

The front window blew in, spraying glass everywhere, knocking tables and vases over. His youngest son Hamam, 7, suffered cuts from broken shards of glass, but escaped serious injury.

 

"I'm tired, I didn't have any expectations from this life before, and now ...,'' he broke off his sentence, his shoulders shaking as he fought to hold back tears.

 

Sagman was recently granted a temporary permit to stay in Syria, but hoping to settle elsewhere, he turned it down.

 

Now he wants to try again.

 

"A true Muslim would never touch a house of God,'' he said. "I feel despair now, only despair.''

 

Outside, his Muslim neighbors and colleagues came to visit and offer their sympathies, sitting on chairs perched gingerly between pieces of glass and concrete.

 

"I didn't believe this until I came to see it with my own eyes,'' said Karima Hadi, one of Sagman's Muslim co-workers.

 

She pulled back her veil to wipe the sweat from her face and tried to smile.

 

"We are all one heart, whether we're Muslim or Christian, this can't break us,'' she said.

 

At St. Peter's seminary in Baghdad's Dora neighborhood, the parking lot where people waited in cars to collect relatives after Sunday's evening Mass was a singed soaking mess.

 

An armed guard showed reporters around the scene.

 

Unlike before, the gates to the monastery were locked, only to be opened from inside.

 

People muttered that the church had been careless by not having a guard check entering cars.

 

"We've never had to do this before,'' said church administrator Majid Adwar, pointing to the guard's automatic rifle.

 

"We've always considered ourselves peaceful people. We never thought this would happen.'' - AP

 

Latest from AP-Wire

 

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Subject

Hostage talks at delicate stage

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Gulf News (Dubai)

 

New Delhi : Talks to free three Indian citizens kidnapped in Iraq were at a delicate stage and releasing details of negotiations could jeopardise the situation, India said yesterday.

 

"We are at sensitive and delicate stage of the evolution of the crisis. Narrating details of the nature of our efforts in public can jeopardise the very results we have to achieve," Junior Foreign Minister Edappakath Ahamed said.

 

Earlier, Ahamed said New Delhi was optimistic about the early release of the hostages, among seven people kidnapped 12 days ago by militants, as negotiations resumed to free them.

 

But later in the day, Ahamed urged caution.

 

"The very nature of this crisis demands careful circumspection on our part collectively ... and we must treat changing developments with caution and calm."

 

Ahamed denied reports that talks between the Kuwaiti transport firm that had hired the drivers and Shaikh Hisham Al Dulaymi, the main mediator, had broken off. "The process is on," he said.

 

An aide to Dulaymi had said negotiations had not resumed with the seven hostages' Kuwaiti employer. The aide said the kidnappers had accused the Kuwaiti firm of not responding positively enough to their demands. He added that Dulaymi would still mediate the talks to save the seven men even though the kidnappers had asked him to withdraw.

 

Dulaimi said the hostages were in "good condition".

 

"The negotiator has confirmed to KGL that the hostages are in good condition. This is very reassuring news to us and to the family members of the hostages," Ahamed said.

 

Celebrations in the three hostages' homes in northern India over the weekend turned out to be premature after the Indian government, the Kuwaiti company and Dulaymi all denied reports they had been freed.

 

Three Kenyans and a Egyptian, besides the three Indians who were employed as truck drivers by Kuwait and Gulf Link Transport Company, were taken hostage by a group calling themselves the Black Banners Division of the Islamic Secret Army.

 

In his morning statement, Ahamed also urged Indians to heed a government warning against travelling to Iraq and ordered Indian missions in Kuwait and Jordan to contact the governments there "to seek their cooperation in preventing the movement of Indian nationals across their borders to Iraq."

 

But Ahamed said New Delhi was yet to decide whether to evacuate thousands of Indian men who have slipped into the war-torn nation mostly to work as support staff for the US military.

 

Ahamed's statement comes after conflicting reports on Sunday that the hostages had been released by their captors.

 

The confusion began when Kenyan Foreign Minister Chirau Ali Mwakwere announced they had been freed and were "in the safe custody of the Egyptian embassy" in Baghdad.

 

But this was immediately denied by KGL and Egyptian and Indian officials.

 

Ahamed made the statement after a meeting of the Crisis Management Group in the foreign ministry.

 

The kidnappers said the seven men would be killed unless their employer pulled out of Iraq.

 

They also demanded that Iraqi detainees be freed from US and Kuwaiti prisons and that damages be paid to families of victims in Fallujah, the city where US troops have carried air raids against suspected hideouts of militants.

 

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC

 

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Subject

Indians lured into the jaws of terror

Date

04 Aug 04

Sender

Asia Times Online (Hong Kong)

 

Author: By Sudha Ramachandran

Dateline: BANGALORE

Subhead: South Asia

 

Tension over the fate of seven truck drivers taken hostage in Iraq almost two weeks ago has been ratcheted up with conflicting reports over their release - or not. While Kenyan government officials claimed that the hostages had been freed and were in the Kenyan Embassy in Baghdad, the hostages' employer and the Indian government announced that talks were still on to secure their release.

 

The truck drivers, including three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian, are employees of Kuwait Gulf Link (KGL), a Kuwaiti firm that transports supplies to US troops in Iraq. A hitherto unheard-of group that calls itself the Holders of the Black Banners is holding the drivers hostage. Sheikh Hizham al-Dulami, a tribal leader, is mediating with the kidnappers.

 

The mood over the fate of the seven hostages has not been helped by the release of a videotape showing a masked gunman shooting a blindfolded Turkish hostage three times in the head. Soon after the video was discovered on Monday, Turkish truckers announced that they would stop hauling goods for US forces in hopes of saving two other Turkish captives.

 

Negotiations over the seven truckers have been tortuous and tough for several reasons. One is that little is known of the Black Banners. Their initial demand that India, Kenya and Egypt pull out their troops from Iraq - none of the three countries have sent troops there - indicated that the abductors knew little of the situation on the ground, pointing to the possibility that they were just a criminal gang kidnapping for ransom. Subsequent demands include halting all KGL operations in Iraq, paying compensation to victims in Fallujah and the release of Iraqi prisoners in Kuwait.

 

The stepping-up of demands, some almost impossible to meet, especially the Kuwait one, makes it difficult to predict the outcome of the negotiations. But whichever way this hostage drama plays out, India's problem with its citizens being taken hostage in Iraq is unlikely to end soon.

 

India neither supported the US invasion of Iraq nor has it sent its troops to "restore normalcy" in that country. Having consistently called for a lifting of the sanctions imposed on Iraq in the early 1990s, India is generally seen in Iraq as a friend of the Iraqi people. This contributed to a flawed assumption in government circles that Indian nationals were safe in the country.

 

With the security situation in Iraq worsening, the Indian government has stopped people from working in Iraq. It prohibited retired military personnel from taking up employment in Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, as these countries are being used as transit points to go to Iraq. It has suspended emigration clearances to its nationals going to Iraq or to Jordan, Kuwait and the UAE, and has also instructed its missions in the Persian Gulf countries, particularly in Iraq, to extend all possible assistance to workers who were interested in returning to India.

 

Despite these steps, at least 5,000 Indians are still working in Iraq. Many work as cooks, kitchen helpers and cleaners on US bases. Several are employees of firms based in Iraq's neighbors, Kuwait and Jordan for instance. They have been sent to Iraq on work by their employers.

 

This is the case with the three Indian truck drivers - Antaryami, Tilak Raj and Sukhdev Singh - taken hostage in Iraq. They were taken not because they are Indians, but because they are employees of a company that provides logistical support to US forces. What is more, the company they work for is Kuwaiti.

 

Despite the Indian government's efforts over the past several months to stop Indian nationals from going to Iraq, the stream continues. For many, the lure of a well-paying job - even if it is in strife-torn Iraq - is too attractive to resist. The wages a driver would earn for driving a truck carrying supplies into Iraq is almost 10 times what he might earn in India - that is, if he even had a job in his home country.

 

Several of those who are braving abductions, bombs and bullets to ferry in supplies to the Americans are people who left their villages in India expecting to work in Kuwait or Jordan. Agents and middlemen in India promised them jobs there. Many of those who are in Iraq today are from rural India. They raised loans or sold their small plots of land to get these jobs that have put their lives in grave danger.

 

This is the case with Sukhdev Singh, one of the seven hostages. His family had two acres (just under a hectare) of land with which to support a large family, hardly enough to ensure even a minimum survival. His parents sold an acre of land to raise some of the money that was needed to send him to Kuwait. They spent more than US$1,700 to get him the job with KGL. When KGL asked him to go to Iraq, he would have had no option but to agree. The burden of debt, of losing the job and returning to unemployment in India would have persuaded him to risk the bullets in Iraq.

 

Antaryami left for Kuwait to take up a driver's job about eight months ago. All three of the Indian hostages are from villages in northern India, young men who went abroad hoping to earn enough to send money for their families back home.

 

Even before the abduction, there were reports of Indian workers being ill-treated and subjected to intimidation by the Americans and the Iraqis. But these stories did not deter young men from villages from taking the risk.

 

The abduction of the three Indians and the unfolding of the horrifying drama on television, as well as accounts of Indians returning from Iraq, have triggered a wave of anxiety across villages in India. "Watching Iraq" has now become the major obsession in the villages of Punjab. Dinar dreams have overnight turned into nervy nightmares, and promises of a better future a perilous web of lies. "The villagers of Punjab now know the terrifying truth: their relatives who had obtained work permits and visas for Kuwait, the UAE and Jordan have been lured to the killing fields of Iraq," writes Chander Suta Dogra in the Indian newsmagazine Outlook.

 

And yet the number of young men desperate to go work in the Middle East, even if it is in Iraq, is not declining. More would go if they had the funds or could raise the money required to pay the shadowy recruitment agents based in Mumbai who liaise for Middle Eastern firms seeking skilled labor.

 

The Indian Express reports: "Despite restrictions placed by the government, estimates suggest that over 1,500 applications for Kuwait and Iraq are screened every month by a handful of agencies in Mumbai alone." After the government's crackdown on agencies hiring ex-military personnel for work in Iraq, these agencies have now re-emerged with new names and addresses.

 

The Indian government is under tremendous pressure from the families of the hostages and people from their villages, the media and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to get the hostages released. The mass protests and blocking of roads in the northern Indian states of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, while partly spontaneous, are being engineered by the BJP and its affiliates.

 

But for the occasional editorial, such as the one in the Indian Express that called on the government not to appease terrorists by giving in to the kidnappers' demands, public opinion is in favor of getting the hostages freed, whatever the cost. For the government the decision is a difficult one.

 

On the one hand there is public opinion to consider, on the other India has paid a heavy price for meeting demands of hostage takers in the past. How India deals with the present hostage crisis will impact on possible future abductions in Iraq. Buckling to the abductors now would encourage other militants and criminal gangs to strike again.

 

The sizable presence of Indians in Iraq provides militants with many opportunities to strike again. India's decision not to send its troops to Iraq has protected its troops from being at the receiving end of Iraqi insurgent fire. But its civilian citizens there remain vulnerable. Being a "friend of the Iraqis", it seems, is not enough to protect one from the rage and resentment that are sweeping across Iraq.

 

(Copyright 2004 Asia Times Online Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact content@atimes.com for information on our sales and syndication policies.)

 

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Subject

Interior Ministry official dies of serious wounds after assassination

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

KUNA (Kuwait)

 

BAGHDAD, Aug 3 (KUNA) -- Iraqi Brigadier Muayad Al-Bashar died in Al-Yarmouk hospital here Tuesday after escaping an assassination attempt when a road side explosive device went off while he was driving his car, Iraqi police sources reported. Iraqi police sources told KUNA that the Iraqi Interior Ministry official died due to serious wound which he suffered from due to the explosion. The death toll of Iraqi officials who were killed after the transfer of authority in Iraq, is up to ten officials.

 

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Subject

Iran To Establish Banks In Iraq: Iraqi official

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Tehran Times (Iran)

 

TEHRAN (MNA) – Three Iranian banks have been granted permission by the new Iraqi government's Central Bank to establish branches in that country, Fars News Agency quoted Deputy Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hamed AlBayati as saying here Monday. However, the names of these Iranian banks were not detailed. AlBayati also anticipated that other Iranian banks would set up branches in Iraq soon.

 

AlBayati pointed out that Iran was the first state that voiced its readiness to cooperate with Iraq in its reconstruction process.

 

So far, the bulk of trade between Iran and Iraq is in steel and iron.

 

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Subject

IRAQ: Human rights minister calls for exhumation of mass graves

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva)

 

BAGHDAD, 3 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Iraq's minister for human rights, Baktiar Amin, is calling for the country's mass grave sites to be exhumed for DNA matching to find relatives who disappeared and were presumed to be killed under the former regime of Saddam Hussein.

 

According to human rights officials who were in the now disbanded US administration in Iraq, some 300,000 opponents of Saddam were buried in 263 mass graves.

 

Human Rights Watch (HRW) put the number at 290,000 people and has been calling for exhumation. "The US-led Coalition must take the lead, not only in securing grave sites, but quickly communicating its commitment to exhume and identify the remains," a HRW statement said.

 

Most of those buried in mass graves are believed to be Kurds killed by Saddam in the 1980s after rebelling against the government and Shi'ites killed after an uprising following the 1991 Gulf War.

 

Mass graves in places like Hilla, about 100 km south of Baghdad, hold hundreds of unmarked bodies. Following the fall of the former regime last spring, some families did their own exhumations of the massive dirt hills outside the city, desperate to find out what happened. Hundreds of Shi'ite Muslims were killed in 1991 in the Hilla region when they rose up against

 

the former regime.

 

"DNA tests will help in our efforts to find prisoners of war and missing persons and help people who are victims of the Iran-Iraq war," Amin told IRIN. Amin also wants to start a truth and reconciliation commission in Iraq similar to one created in South Africa and another in Rwanda following ethnic violence there that killed thousands of people. "We can draw lessons from it that will apply to the reality of Iraq," Amin said of the idea.

 

UN agencies in Amman, Jordan, said they will support projects to address past human rights violations. This was announced in a press release following a meeting with Amin and Malek Dohan al-Hassan, Iraq's new minister of justice, late last week.

 

The world body's officials said they would support programmes to promote and protect human rights and the rule of law in Iraq, the statement explained. Amin declined to put a price to his plans, although he suggested that UN international workers should return to Iraq to oversee them.

 

"We have emphasised that the UN can't work by remote control from Cyprus or Amman. It is more efficient that they work from inside Iraq," he said. "If you want to play a vital role, you have to be with the people."

 

UN representatives also agreed to help build institutions to protect human rights, the release said.

 

Amin also has big plans to open centres around Iraq to redress a variety of human rights abuses under the former regime. One centre will help victims of torture; another will document former abuses and offer resources from other countries where wide scale abuse occurred, he said.

 

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

 

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Subject

Iraqis decry attacks on Christians

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Christian Science Monitor (US)

 

Author: By Scott Baldauf and Dan Murphy

Credit: Staff writers of The Christian Science Monitor

Dateline: BAGHDAD

 

A rare display of violence against Christians here may signal that Sunni insurgents are broadening their effort to destabilize Iraq and stir up differences between Islam and other faiths.

 

Bombing attacks against churches in Baghdad and Mosul Sunday night killed at least 11 and injured dozens more. The explosions were a strong show of force and coordination by jihadi elements that the interim government has called the biggest threat to Iraq's stability.

 

Many Iraqis reject these wedge efforts and express frustration with civilian attacks. But there are few signs that terrorist cells have been disrupted. In fact, as the Iraqi government shores up security at police stations and other high-visibility locations, insurgents are increasingly attacking vulnerable targets, like churches and truck drivers.

 

After graphic video of a Turkish hostage being killed by militants was posted on the Internet, the Turkish truckers' association announced Monday that it will no longer transport goods bound for US forces in Iraq, according to the Associated Press.

 

The detritus of calamity is evident outside the St. Peter and Paul Chaldean Catholic Church in Baghdad's Al Doura district.

 

The Rev. Faris Toma, pastor of St. Peter and Paul, spent the night comforting bereaved parishioners. Ten churchgoers were killed Sunday evening by a remote-control car bomb that went off just as church members headed out to the parking lot.

 

"Why do they kill all the Iraqi people?" he asks in exasperation. "Why don't they kill the Americans? They are the occupiers. We are innocent."

 

Attacks against Iraqi Christians have been rare up until now. While Christians have been targeted by kidnap-for-ransom gangs, and Christian-owned liquor stores have been destroyed by Shiite militias, these attacks were probably not sectarian.

 

The vast majority of Iraqis are comfortable with the country's Christian minority. Representatives of both Moqtada al-Sadr's militant Shiite group and Sunni political organizations condemned the attacks. "This is a cowardly act,'' Sadr spokesman Abdul Hadi al-Daraji told Al Jazeera television.

 

Iraq's most revered Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, also gave a rare response, calling the church bombings a "hideous crime."

 

Analysts say that Sunni militants with an ideology similar to Al Qaeda's were almost certainly behind the church bombings. Al Qaeda-linked groups, intolerant not just of Christians but of Muslim sects that don't share their views, have targeted churches in the Philippines, Indonesia, and Pakistan.

 

While Iraq has armed Shiite groups that have participated in attacks on US forces and been involved in the assassinations of political opponents, they haven't been known to use terrorist attacks on civilian targets.

 

Iraqi officials say they believe the attack was carried out by a cell connected to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian militant with Al Qaeda ties who has taken responsibility for a number of car-bombings inside Iraq.

 

Since the apparent immediate aim of the Zarqawi group and others that share its methods is to embarrass the US-installed interim government, the actual nature of the target is less important to them than simply carrying out successful attacks.

 

During the rule of Saddam Hussein, the Christian community largely stayed out of the major conflicts and divisions in Iraqi politics. Though some Christians were elevated to senior positions - Tariq Aziz, a Christian, was a longtime foreign minister and one of Mr. Hussein's closest allies - most quietly went about their lives as small businessmen and shopkeepers.

 

Since the fall of Hussein, and amid a rise in militant Islamic movements, Christian leaders have worried that they would be targeted.

 

At St. Peter and Paul church, witnesses are busy putting their house of God back in order.

 

But while church members are clinging to one another, and to sympathetic Muslims and others in the surrounding community, they recognize that their fears may take a long time to overcome.

 

Bashar Badri, a guard and a church member, knew some of the church members who died in the blast. One of his friends, Firas Benjamin, and his fiancée, were planning to get married at this church on Thursday. Both were burned to death in their car.

 

But while this attack has shaken many church members, he says Iraqi Christians will not be intimidated.

 

"I think the people of this community will not leave Iraq, they will not leave the church," says Mr. Shamon. "We have been through many wars, so I think we can carry on our lives."

 

At the Armenian Catholic Church in the prosperous Tahrir Square neighborhood, witnesses heard a smaller series of blasts, which brought them outside for a larger explosion. It's a common tactic, police say, to maximize the number of casualties.

 

The tactic failed. A massive concrete wall, forming a grotto, served as a bunker to protect the curious parishioners.

 

Across the street, a brick wall has collapsed into a pile of rubble. But it was strong enough to protect Samir Matti's sister and her two children, who had been sitting in the front room of their home, watching television, when the car bomb exploded just 15 feet away.

 

Mr. Matti says he has no confidence that either the Iraqi government or the US can stop insurgents who use car bombs. "The enemy, he's a hidden person," says Matti. "He could be in that car, or in this car. I don't know how you can find him."

 

"Islamic fundamentalists did this, probably," says Adel Mansour, a neighbor who attends a Syrian Catholic church elsewhere. "They have support, money, they are organized, and they did this for political reasons. They want people to turn against the local government."

 

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Subject

Iraqis released from detention camp

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Kuwait Times (Kuwait City)

 

ABU GHRAIB: Waving strips of cloths and whistling as they leaned out bus windows, 128 Iraqis held in Abu Ghraib's detention camp rode past the gates of the prison compound to freedom Sunday. The men were held at Camp Redemption for at least three months each while their cases were evaluated and processed by US and Iraqi authorities, the military said. Many of those fighting the 15-month old insurgency against coalition forces are brought here, said Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, from the Office of the Deputy Commanding General for Detainee Operations. "They might have been captured because they were involved in attacks on forces, they might have been caught with weapons, they might have been making or planting IEDs (improvised explosive devices), involved in a militant group or supporting it financially," he said during a tour of Camp Redemption, the city of tents where the accused insurgents are held. Abu Ghraib -- site of US military's prisoner abuse scandal -- is a compound that includes a cell block that houses Iraqi convicts and a camp that holds accused insurgents. Men released from the camp Sunday complained about the conditions. "I spent eight months in prison. They didn't allow our relatives to see us. They didn't give us enough food. And we didn't have bathrooms. There are some 65 or 70 year old sheiks in the prison," one man said. But the 16th MP Brigade, which took over the camp on Jan. 31, says it has worked hard to upgrade the conditions at the camp and rid it of the stigma left from the prisoner abuse scandal, in which seven members of a different US military police unit were charged. The abuse allegations had included prisoners who said they were beaten, forced to stand naked and threatened with military dogs. Photos of apparent abuse began emerging in international media several months ago. Under the new brigade, visitations are up from 30 to 256 a day, allowing most of the 2,300 detainees to see family every two weeks, said Col. David Quantock from the 16th MP Brigade. In low security areas men were able to use showers at will, while in higher security zones the showers were outside the pens, prisoners have to be escorted, Quantock said. "They know what the benefits are to be in lower security areas," he said. "So if they behave, they get sent back." The 16th MP Brigade also has responsibility for Camp Bucca in the southern port city of Umm Qasr. While some 7,000 detainees have been released since Jan. 31, both camps are near capacity, holding just over 5,000 people altogether, Quantock said. About 100 detainees, including senior members of the fallen regime, are held at Camp Cropper at Baghdad International Airport. Members of the 372nd MP company, which ran the compound during the abuse scandal, were given other duties about four months ago and no longer work at the camp, Johnson said. In a high security area a young man stood alone in his pen. The youngest detainee is 14 years old, said Quantock. "We have weekly meetings with "mayors" of each section, and sometimes they ask for different family members who are in the camp to be put together," he said. "It's part of helping morale to bring families together if it's possible." A prisoner held his face against a fence while a soldier lit his cigarette for him. Nearby, prisoners in bright yellow jumpsuits were frisked before going into another area to play soccer. There are at least 90 foreigners in both camps, including an Iranian, who approached the fence to speak to a reporter. "I am from Iran," he shouted. "I came for a visit 10 months ago. I have done nothing." Other prisoners emerge to collect breakfast for the rest of the inmates: pots filled with boiled eggs and tubs of rice, stacks of bread and cheese. The US military, which says it will eventually close down the camp and operate solely out of Camp Bucca, said it administers the facilities according to the 4th Geneva Convention, and occasionally, their own standards. Capt. Elizabeth Lawrance, general surgeon at the camp's hospital, decided to allow elective surgery on prisoners to keep her team's skills sharp and to help Iraqi prisoners. Patients are restrained in their beds with leather straps around their ankles. A former senior Baathist who was shot in the leg when captured, was helped back into bed, his shattered leg held in a brace. Although he has been in the US military's care for months, he remains defiantly anti-US "We treat them the way we hope and expect our soldiers to be treated," said Maj. Gen. Geoffrey Miller, the Deputy Commanding General for Detainee Operations. "In the end the talk doesn't mean as much as the deeds, and the deeds are what they remember."

 

© ALL RIGHT RESERVERD - KUWAIT TIMES NEWSPAPER - KUWAIT Phone: +965 4833199, E-Mail: info@kuwaittimes.net http://www.kuwaittimes.net

 

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Subject

Key Iraqi oil pipeline blown up

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Al-Jazeera.net (Qatar)

 

A major attack on the main pipeline connecting the oilfields of Kirkuk with the Turkish port of Jihan has halted limited exports from northern Iraq, a Northern Oil Company official said.

 

"An improvised explosive device was placed close to a network of pipelines at the level of al-Fatiha, west of Kirkuk, causing a big explosion and huge fires that damaged the main pipeline running to Jihan and stopped exports," said Nasir Qasim, a logistics and security official with the state-owned company.

 

He said the attack occurred at about 6:00am (1400 GMT) in an area 120km west of Kirkuk.

 

The road connecting Kirkuk with the refineries in Biji to the west was cut off as emergency workers battled to extinguish the raging flames, with Iraqi police and national guard units, and occupation troops securing the area.

 

Firefighters for some time could not approach the pipeline due to the heat emanating in the area, our correspondent reported.

 

Sand barriers

 

Sand barriers were also erected to contain the fires as thick black smoke covered the skies and could be seen all the way from Kirkuk.

 

An oil ministry spokesman in Baghdad declined to comment on the attack.

 

But a source from al-Shamal oil company told Aljazeera that the explosion would affect oil production a great deal.

 

The key northern artery only resumed work on Sunday carrying 200,000 barrels a day, after an attack in mid-July halted exports.

 

Until the end of June, the pipeline had been out of commission for about 10 months after a series of attacks.

 

Repeated attacks on Iraq's oil infrastructure have defied the interim government's efforts to increase exports. The bulk of Iraq's oil exports go through tanker terminals on the Gulf.

 

Exports from the southern oilfields have been running at up to 1.7 million barrels a day, but have suffered periodic disruption in recent months, some of it the result of attacks on pipelines.

 

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Subject

No troops for Iraq in 'present' situation: It's a 'non-issue' - Pakistan

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

The Dawn (Pakistan)

 

Author: By Hasan Akhtar

Dateline: ISLAMABAD, Aug 2

 

Pakistan said on Monday it had not sent any troops to Iraq and reaffirmed that under 'present circumstances' it would not send forces to that country where the situation was volatile and unstable.

 

Answering a volley of questions at his weekly press briefing, foreign office spokesman Masood Khan said President General Pervez Musharraf had already categorically stated that Pakistan was not sending troops to Iraq and that no commitment whatsoever had been made to contribute troops to a proposed multinational force for the war-torn country.

 

He urged the media to contemplate that for the last one year or so Pakistan had been pressed by the Americans and its coalition partners to contribute its forces. But, he pointed out, Islamabad had refrained from sending troops to Iraq. Pakistan had even opposed the war and invasion of Iraq without a UN resolution, he recalled.

 

About the possibility of joining a prospective UN protection force in Iraq, the spokesman said that the UN request, which followed a similar call from the US, had been under discussion for some time and maintained that Islamabad would consider the request after the UN mission had been sent to Baghdad.

 

He said that any UN protection force should have a distinct identity (separate from the US-led multinational force). At present, he added, any suggestion or claim about Pakistani troops in Iraq was 'a non-issue' because no commitment had been made about such a possibility.

 

Answering questions about the killing of two Pakistanis by their Iraqi captors last week, the spokesman said the government had made all possible efforts to secure their release. But, he added, most tragically the captors executed Sajjad Naeem and Raja Azad without even giving any time to Islamabad to recover them through available means.

 

He dismissed as false the killers' accusation that the unfortunate Pakistanis were spying for Americans. Efforts for recovery of the bodies were being made vigorously, he said.

 

About the evacuation of Pakistani workers from Iraq and Kuwait in the wake of the hostage taking, he said Islamabad had already offered to some 400 Pakistanis all travel facilities in case they wanted to return home. However, he added, not many of them had availed of the offer or heeded the advisory issued for them not to travel to Iraq.

 

Answering a question about the composite Indo-Pakistan dialogue being held under the joint statement issued after a Vajpayee-Musharraf meeting in January, Mr Masood Khan said that several rounds of talks at ministerial and official levels had taken place and the process continued as planned. He expressed the hope that the dialogue would prove to be meaningful and result-oriented.

 

He also made a statement about a briefing given by the foreign minister and the foreign secretary earlier in the day to the Azad Kashmir president and the prime minister and the Kashmiri leaders, including those belonging to the APHC, on the status of the ongoing dialogue between Islamabad and Delhi.

 

He held out the assurance that "Pakistan attaches great importance to a meaningful and result-oriented dialogue process". It was important that progress be made towards the final settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue, the statement said.

 

It said that the foreign minister and the secretary during their talks with their Indian counterparts had emphasized the need for associating the Kashmiris with the process and respect for their legitimate aspirations.

 

The Kashmiris should be the beneficiary of this process and in this context there was an urgent need for improvement in the human rights situation in the Indian-occupied Kashmir, the statement said.

 

The spokesman said that the Kashmiri leaders had appreciated the efforts of the Pakistan government for a just solution of the dispute as reflected in the UN Security Council resolutions on Kashmir.

 

© The DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2004

 

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Subject

Seventh Jordanian taken hostage in Iraq: ministry

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Khaleej Times (Dubai)

 

Author: (AFP)

 

AMMAN - Another Jordanian has been kidnapped in Iraq, bringing to seven the number of Amman's nationals held hostage in the neighbouring country, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

 

“We learnt from the family of Adel Ubeidallah that he was taken hostage in Iraq the day before yesterday (Sunday),” said ministry spokesman Ali Ayed.

 

He had no further details on the man who local media said was a businessman from Ramtha in northern Jordan.

 

Four Jordanian drivers were kidnapped in Iraq last Tuesday and another two seized the day before that.

 

“The Jordanian government is pursuing ceaselessly its efforts to ensure the release of the seven Jordanian hostages and we expect a conclusion soon,” Foreign Minister Marwan Moasher told the official Petra news agency on Tuesday.

 

He said the “contradictory aims and lack of clear demands from some kidnappers makes the task very arduous”, adding that sometimes the demands would be addressed to the government and sometimes to the companies which employ the hostages.

 

Um Salah, the mother of one hostage named Ahmed Sunukrut, told AFP that her 26-year-old son had telephoned and “said he is in good health”.

 

She added that Ahmed, father of two children, had been on his first trip to Iraq, “on behalf of Iraqi traders”, when he was seized.

 

The wife of 40-year-old hostage Khaled Massud said she had received one call from her lorry-driver husband, but since then, nothing.

 

“Our four children and our families are in a terrible state. We don't understand why he has been taken hostage, he only carries food products to Iraqi traders,” she said.

 

Daoud and Partners, the firm for which two kidnapped drivers -- Fayez Saad al-Adwan and Ahmed Salmeh Hussein -- worked, has announced that it was suspending its activities in Iraq to try to get their release.

 

Dubai Television reported Saturday that the kidnappers of the other four truck drivers had telephoned the station to complain no one had contacted them to seek their release and threatened to ”change the (good) treatment” of the captives.

 

The chief of the hostage-takers who call themselves the “Death Squad,” said the captives were being well treated, but he ”threatened that this would change if their demands are not met”, the satellite station said.

 

(c) 2003 Khaleej Times All Rights Reserved.

 

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Subject

Thailand, Jordan agree to be allies in developing war-torn Iraq

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

UN OCHA ReliefWeb (Geneva)

 

Source: Agence France-Presse

 

BANGKOK, Aug 3 (AFP) - Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told Jordan's King Abdullah II on Tuesday he wanted the two countries to team up to help rebuild war-torn Iraq, a government official said.

 

"Thailand has agreed that Jordan is our ally in rebuilding Iraq as Thailand will join with Jordan in restructuring infrastructure," spokesman Jakrapob Penkair told reporters after the two leaders met in Bangkok.

 

King Abdullah, on a three-day official visit, told Thaksin Iraq was in urgent need of new roads, traffic signals and bridges following the war to oust president Saddam Hussein's regime last year and subsequent insurgency, Jakrapob said.

 

Thailand dispatched a 451-strong contingent of troops to Iraq in a one-year humanitarian mission due to end in September.

 

Thai officials have also indicated the kingdom hoped to win a subcontracting share in some of the multi-billion dollar deals awarded to major US firms to help rebuild the shattered nation.

 

No specific details of plans for Thai-Jordanian cooperation in Iraq were announced.

 

The king also requested Thai assistance in helping upgrade sea ports in Jordan, while the two sides discussed plans for a commercial open-sky policy and agreed there should be more passenger flights on existing routes between the two countries.

 

King Abdullah on Sunday visited his Thai counterpart, the revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej, at his seaside palace. He left for Britain Tuesday after his meeting with Thaksin.

 

bc/ask/mlm/ppy/mtp

 

Copyright (c) 2004 Agence France-Presse

 

Received by NewsEdge Insight: 08/03/2004 06:07:34

 

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Subject

Turkish truckers stop transporting goods to US forces

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Jordan Times (Amman)

 

ANKARA (AP) — Turkey's truckers association said Monday it was halting deliveries to US forces in Iraq after insurgents released a videotape of a gunman firing shots into the back of the head of a Turkish captive.

 

The move cuts an important supply route that US forces have used for deliveries of food and fuel. It was not clear, however, how much of an impact the disruption will have.

 

Some 200-300 Turkish trucks, owned by more than a dozen Turkish companies, haul fuel, food and other supplies to US forces every day, said Cahit Soysal, head of the International Transporters' Association.

 

"As of today, those trucks won't be crossing into Iraq," he added.

 

Another 1,800 trucks bring supplies to Iraq, including fuel, electronics and household goods. Those trucks, Soysal said, will continue their work.

 

Soysal said Turkish truckers are hoping that kidnappers will now release two other Turkish drivers that they are holding.

 

Ercument Aksoy, head of the Turkish-Iraqi business council, said he did not expect the cut off in transport to US forces to have a major impact.

 

"A solution will be found," Aksoy said.

 

US soldiers have escorted convoys of Turkish trucks in the past and Aksoy said that in the future "either they will be given more escorts or Iraqi truckers will take over once they have crossed the border."

 

"This decision amounts to telling them, 'If you are not able to protect the driver, then I am halting transporting goods'," Aksoy said. "If you ask me, it was the right decision to take at least until things calm down." The truckers' decision came after the release of a gruesome videotape showing a kidnapper shooting a Turkish hostage three times in the head. In the video posted on the Internet Monday, the Turkish hostage, identified as Murat Yuce, read a statement before he was shot.

 

"I have a word of advice for any Turk who wants to come to Iraq to work: You don't have to hold a gun to be aiding the occupying United States ... Turkish companies should withdraw from Iraq," he says. "I was able to see the American oppression in Iraq," Yuce says, adding "but I stayed in order to save a little money."

 

Yuce worked for Bilintur, a company that provided laundry services for a Jordanian company that has worked with US forces in Iraq. Yuce also said in the video that he lived at a US base along with others from the Jordanian company. In another video aired Saturday, Tawhid and Jihad, a group loyal to Jordanian militant Abu Mussab Zarqawi, said it had kidnapped two other Turks and threatened to behead them within 48 hours.

 

The Turks were identified as Abdulrahman Demir and Sait Unurlu. The militants demanded that Turkish companies leave Iraq. Unurlu's mother, Hatice, urged the government to take action to gain the release of her son, and said that all trade with Iraq should be ended until Turkish truckers can work safely.

 

"How many more are going to be taken hostage and killed?" the Anatolia news agency quoted Hatice Unurlu as saying. "If the state is not able to establish security, then it should keep [the border] gate closed," she said.

 

"I plead with the government, please ensure that my son and other innocent men who are trying to earn money to feed their children, are returned to their families."

 

Tuesday, August 3, 2004

 

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Subject

US soldiers clash with Sadr militia

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Gulf Daily News (Bahrain)

 

NAJAF: A gunbattle erupted yesterday evening in the holy Iraqi city of Najaf after US and Iraqi troops approached the house of militant Shi'ite cleric Moqtada Al Sadr, witnesses and Sadr's aides said.

 

Shaikh Mahmoud Al Sudani, a spokesman for Sadr in Baghdad, said US soldiers had surrounded Sadr's house and fighting raged for several hours before the troops withdrew.

 

"One woman was killed and we have three injured," said Ajwak Kadhim, director at Al Hakim Hospital in Najaf, south of Baghdad.

 

Al Sudani said six members of Sadr's militia and four Iraqi bystanders were wounded in the clashes.

 

He said Sadr was not at the house during the fighting.

 

The US military says an Iraqi arrest warrant has been issued for Sadr in relation to the killing of a rival cleric in Najaf last year.

 

But during truce negotiations earlier this year, Iraqi officials said Sadr would not face arrest.

 

l Iran said that a Saudi initiative to send troops from Arab and Islamic states to Iraq was "not appropriate".

 

"Since Iraq is currently under occupation, we do not consider sending troops there to be an appropriate measure," government spokesman Abdollah Ramezanzadeh said. Iran's foreign ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Asefi, also dismissed the idea at a Press briefing. Forward this article to a Colleague, Associate or Friend Printable version

 

Copyright © 2004, Gulf Daily News -

 

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Subject

Insurgents unleash wave of attacks in Iraq

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

The Daily Star (Lebanon)

 

Senior officials targeted in attempt to destabilize government

Compiled by Daily Star staff

Wednesday, August 04, 2004

 

Insurgents launched a wave of attacks in Iraq, killing six Iraqi national guardsmen in a suicide car bombing and four US soldiers in separate incidents in Baghdad and the volatile west of the country.

 

A roadside bomb on Tuesday killed a local police chief in the capital, just hours before interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi returned from a 10-day foreign trip during which he tried to win neighboring countries' support in stabilizing Iraq while confrontations between Iraqi police and the Mahdi Army threatened the fragile cease-fire in Najaf.

 

The suicide car bomb blast at a checkpoint outside the town of Baquba wounded six other Iraqi guardsmen, said National Guard Lieutenant Mohammed al-Dulaimi, at the scene.

 

The US military said two American soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb blast overnight on Baghdad's western outskirts. Two US marines were killed in action in the violent Anbar province in the country's west.

 

Iraqi police said Tuesday that radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr's militia had kidnapped 18 police officers apparently to use as leverage to force authorities to release militants being detained.

 

The recent kidnappings took place as Sadr aides accused authorities of trying to arrest top officials in the cleric's Mahdi Army.

 

A Najaf police official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the militants snatched 18 police officers and two police cars in recent days, hoping to get some of their comrades out of prison.

 

Najaf police were awaiting orders from local officials, who did not want to escalate the situation, the official said.

 

Ahmed al-Shaibany, a Sadr spokesman, warned that the police behavior was "provocative," adding that it "threatens peace and stability in this holy city."

 

Early on Tuesday, a roadside bomb in Baghdad's upscale Mansour district killed the head of a local police station and wounded three of his bodyguards, police said.

 

Insurgents assassinated a number of senior officials as part of efforts to destabilize Allawi's 36-day old government.

 

During his regional tour, Allawi focused on tightening borders to stop foreign fighters entering Iraq and on drumming up support for more troops to help quell the 15 month insurgency.

 

One of Allawi's most pressing security challenges is an escalating hostage crisis, which has forced the Philippines to withdraw troops and prompted at least two foreign firms to pull out of Iraq after their employees were threatened with death.

 

Talks to free seven foreign truck drivers threatened with execution have stalled since Monday, mediators said.

 

The three Indians, three Kenyans and an Egyptian were seized last month.

 

A tribal sheik trying to win their release said on Tuesday he was waiting to hear from the kidnappers, who have demanded their Kuwaiti employer leave Iraq and compensate families who suffered in US air strikes on the rebellious city of Falluja.

 

There has been a surge in kidnappings since Manila pulled its troops out last month to save the life of a Filipino driver.

 

On monday, Islamist websites showed militants loyal to Zarqawi shooting dead a Turkish captive. In response to the killing and the kidnappings of Turkish drivers, a Turkish truckers' group said it would stop transporting goods to US forces.

 

But other groups said they would not follow suit, saying trucking goods into Iraq was keeping Turkish families alive.

 

"This is a route on which 50,000 Turkish families depend," Saffet Ulusoy, head of one of Turkey's main hauler groups said.

 

Al-Jazeera television said on Monday a Somali held by militants linked to Zarqawi would be freed after his Kuwaiti employer agreed to halt operations in Iraq.

 

However, there has been no word on his fate since.

 

Even as insurgent attacks continue apace, Iraq's deputy prime minister, Barham Salih, said a law to grant amnesty to guerrillas not directly involved in killings had been finalized.

 

"The law is complete," he told reporters at the news conference with Allawi. "The cabinet will approve it in a few days and it will be applied on Iraqis who did not take part directly in the killings."

 

Copyright 2004, The Daily Star

 

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Subject

Pope deplores violence

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

Gulf News (Dubai)

 

Vatican City: Pope John Paul II deplored yesterday the attacks on five Catholic churches in Iraq during worship services and offered his solidarity to faithful there.

 

"The sorrowful news over the tragic attacks yesterday in Baghdad and Mosul against various Catholic communities gathered in prayer in their houses of worship struck me deeply," said the Pope in a condolence telegram sent to the Catholic patriarch, Emmanuel III Delly.

 

"In this hour of trial, I am spiritually close to the church and to Iraqi society, and I renew the expression of my emotional solidarity to pastors and faithful, assuring them of my prayer and of my constant commitment so that as soon as possible a climate of peace and reconciliation can be established in the beloved country," said the pope, who was a staunch opponent of the war in Iraq.

 

"At the same time, I hope that all will unite in deploring every form of violence and will cooperate for the return of harmony in the tormented Iraqi land," the Pope added.

 

On Sunday, a Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini called the attacks "ever more worrisome because the Church has always been on the frontline for peace and solidarity".

 

© Al Nisr Publishing LLC

 

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Subject

Yemen committed not to have forces alongside U.S. forces in Iraq

Date

03 Aug 04

Sender

SABA - The News Agency of Yemen

 

Posted at: 02/08/2004 (08:01pm)

 

SANA'A, August 2 (Saba) - Yemen renewed on Monday its commitment to not send peacekeeping troops to Iraq "as long as the occupation is there".

 

Yemen believes the security of Iraq has to be integral with the security of the whole region, hence it rejects dispatching any forces to this country"as long as the occupation is there," said the Ath-Thawra official daily in its editorial.

 

The paper explained that any existence of Arab forces alongside coalition forces in Iraq would mean the they are protecting the occupiers.

 

"The deterioration of security in troubled Iraq has resulted in what somedeem it a real dilemma for the coalition troops," it said, adding thatthe survival in the dilemma won't be through implicating Arab forces in protecting the occupation in such a volatile landscape.

 

AA/KM

 

Resource: SABA

 

All rights reserved Yemen News Agency Saba

 

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Subject

Aid agencies ready for Fallujah

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva)

 

BAGHDAD, 2 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Aid agencies are watching to see if recent fighting in the central Iraqi city of Fallujah, which left at least 12 dead and more than 60 wounded in the last few days, will require their help, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said.

 

Fighting on Saturday killed 12 and wounded 39 others, according to Coalition reports. Over the past few days, fighters and US troops have engaged in skirmishes as US troops raided and bombed suspected terrorist sites. The city's hospital main hospital received several wounded people, Ahmed Khalid al-Rawi, an ICRC spokesman in Baghdad, told IRIN.

 

Messages broadcast from mosques during sporadic fighting called on doctors to go to the hospitals to help out, al-Rawi said.

 

"As far as I know, there is some escalation in the fighting between fighters and US forces," al-Rawi said. "If there are some urgent needs, we can intervene."

 

Islamic Relief, a British-based aid agency building a park and cleaning the streets in Fallujah stopped work for several days but is now in the city about 60 km west of Baghdad to assess the situation, operations manager Mohammed Makki Fathi told IRIN. Islamic Relief is working with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on the US $140,000 project.

 

"We stopped for a few days because the situation wasn't good," Fathi said. "We're waiting to see how things are now."

 

Fallujah is seen as a home to insurgents loyal to former president Saddam Hussein and foreign fighters affiliated with Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. Fighting in April left more than 1,000 Iraqis and more than 100 US troops dead before a truce was finally declared, according to international media reports.

 

At that time aid agencies estimated that 100,000 people fled the fighting, which started when US forces searched for assailants responsible for killing four contractors whose bodies were mutilated and hung from a bridge over the Tigris early in April.

 

It's too early to talk about whether a temporary camp needs to be set up again for Fallujah residents fleeing fighting this time, al-Rawi said. "This depends on the situation. We hope we won't need a camp," al-Rawi said.

 

Islamic Relief is one of the few international aid agencies working in Fallujah because of the perceived danger of kidnapping and terrorist activities there. Most international journalists have been advised not to go to Fallujah following an incident in which four TV journalists were kidnapped a month ago.

 

During the April fighting's most intense period, more than 10 trucks per day took clean water, bread, cooking gas and food and hygiene items into the city. Medical supplies also were taken through military checkpoints. The United Nations flew in blood donations from the neighbouring city of Amman, Jordan.

 

Italian Red Cross workers trucked an estimated 1,000 litres of distilled water to the al-Hadhra refugee camp, according to officials. The international Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) NGO and the US-based Middle East Church Council also brought food, water and medical supplies to families, said Mohammed Ibrahim, deputy director of the Iraqi Red Crescent.

 

In addition, mosques in the area coordinated by the Muslim Association of Scholars and other religious leaders gathered supplies, including blankets and clothing.

 

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

 

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Subject

Christian community shaken following bombings

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

UN OCHA Integrated Regional Information Network (Geneva)

 

BAGHDAD, 2 Aug 2004 (IRIN) - Members of the Christian community in Iraq said they were shocked and in fear following four separate bomb attacks on churches in the Iraqi capital on Sunday, killing 11 and wounding more than 50 others, according to media reports.

 

Four explosions were detonated around 6:30 p.m. local time as church-goers were attending services in the capital, Baghdad. One bomb left a crater more than six feet deep. Explosions sent black smoke billowing into the air and shattered stained glass windows as bleeding church-goers ran to get away from the carnage.

 

Iraqi police found an additional unexploded bomb of 15 mortar rounds near a fifth Baghdad church that they were able to detonate before it went off. Another person was killed and 11 others wounded when another bomb went off in front of a Catholic church in the northern city of Mosul about 400 kilometres north of Baghdad at around the same time.

 

"I'm really angry and scared," Wisam Sagman, 46, a Christian whose windows were blown out by a blast in front of the Armenian church in the Karrada district of Baghdad, told IRIN. "I expected something would happen, but I tried not to think about it."

 

The explosion tore apart a six-foot high cement wall in front of Sagman's house. Two burned-out cars left by the explosion were still smouldering in the street. "We had many threats on Easter, so we curtailed our celebrations then," Sameer Mehti, 30, Sagman's brother-in-law, told IRIN. "But we don't understand why this was done now. It is something terrifying."

 

It was the first coordinated attack against Iraq's 750,000-member Christian population in the 15 months since the insurgency began. However, Christian liquor store owners and others have been bombed in the past, especially in the southern port city of Basra.

 

Religion-affiliated aid agencies condemned the act but vowed to continue work in the country plagued with violence. Edmond Adam, interim director of the Middle East Council of Churches aid agency, looked visibly shaken by the previous day's attack. But as workers chipped broken glass out of a frame in the front window that faces the church across the street, Adam insisted he would continue his work.

 

"We cannot stop, because this is our faith as (Christian) churches in the Middle East," Adam told IRIN. "We will not give up." A woman walking by the rubble outside the Syrian Catholic Church near the Armenian church said she could not understand who would coordinate such attacks.

 

"I don't know who can stand behind this. It's bad to do such things when so many people are killed," Hilana Jousif, 55, told IRIN. Jousif works at a nearby Christian-run hospital.

 

At Islamic Relief, a British-based aid agency, Mohammed Makki Fathi, operations manager, told IRIN he hoped things would get better soon. "This is the political situation," Fathi said. "I feel sorry about it. This is not a good situation for us."

 

Peter Dula, a worker at the US-based Mennonite Central Committee, which works with local aid agencies on various programmes, told IRIN he was committed to staying in Iraq, although it was too soon to tell if he would be allowed to.

 

"I wouldn't be surprised at all if my headquarters asked me to leave," Dula said. Explosions hit churches in two predominantly Christian neighbourhoods in central Baghdad - two in Karrada, one in Daura and one in New Baghdad. The Armenian church and the Catholic church are only about 500 metres apart in the Karrada neighbourhood.

 

US military officials said the attacks did not appear to be suicide bombings. Christians are seen as well-to-do members of society. The attacks triggered fears that Christians may be targeted as collaborators with American forces as many speak English too.

 

"Christians are like the Jews of Iraq," an Iraqi-American businessman who runs a security firm and an information technology business used by foreign companies, told IRIN. He declined to be named for security reasons.

 

"Iraqi police provided a professional, rapid response to each of these attacks," Lt Col James Hutton, public affairs office for the 1st Cavalry Division US military, said in a press statement. Hutton condemned insurgent activity targeting Iraqi civilians. "Iraq's movement to a better future will not be undermined by the cowards who built these weapons to attack innocent Iraqi citizens," he maintained.

 

The material contained on this Web site comes to you via IRIN, a UN humanitarian information unit, but may not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations or its agencies. If you re-print, copy, archive or re-post any item on this site, please retain this credit and disclaimer. Quotations or extracts should include attribution to the original sources. All graphics and Images on this site may not be re-produced without the express permission of the original owner. All materials copyright © UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2004

 

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Subject

Iraqi crude won't be flowing through the region any time soon

Date

02 Aug 04

Sender

The Daily Star (Lebanon)

 

By Gerald Butt

Special to The Daily Star

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

 

NICOSIA: Iraq has taken the first steps toward reopening and expanding its regional oil exporting network. But for a combination of reasons, the day when significant volumes of Iraqi crude begin traversing the country's neighbors is still far off.

 

Future energy cooperation was one of the topics raised during the recent two-week tour of Arab states (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Kuwait) undertaken by Iraq's Interim Prime Minister Ayad Allawi.

 

Of all the countries he visited, Jordan is probably the most keen to see a new oil deal concluded. Before the US-led invasion of Iraq, the kingdom relied on that country for its oil supplies. Under a special deal with the Saddam Hussein regime, it received, by overland tankers, large volumes of oil at concessionary terms. The war in Iraq put an end to that arrangement.

 

But the Jordanian authorities are hopeful that a new deal can be reached with Allawi. Foreign Minister Marwan Muashir said that the possibility of reviving a plan for a crude oil pipeline to link his country with Iraq was discussed during Allawi's talks in Amman. The daily Al-Rai newspaper quoted a senior source in Jordan's Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources as saying that an Iraqi technical team was scheduled to visit the kingdom in late-August to examine the pipeline scheme.

 

Syria also received Iraqi crude oil before the 2003 war, freeing up extra quantities of its own crude for export from Baniyas. But in the aftermath of the invasion, a major pumping station on the Iraqi side of the border was ransacked, putting the pipeline out of service as an export route.

 

Studies for a new pipeline linking Iraq with Syria's Mediterranean coast, which has been under consideration for some time, are nearing completion. At present, Syria imports only a small quantity of Iraqi heavy crude via a pipeline that runs from Ain Zalah to Rumailah, in exchange for gasoline. Also, under a barter agreement, Syrian petroleum products and electricity are being supplied to Mosul and Baghdad.

 

Energy cooperation was on the agenda again during Allawi's talks in Beirut. A joint statement said the two sides had agreed to "hold urgent discussions to review ways for Lebanon to buy oil from Iraq and to reach agreement on reactivating oil pipelines from Iraq to Lebanon and exporting Iraqi oil via Lebanese ports." Both parties also agreed to "study the possibility of establishing a modern refining facility in Lebanon for Iraqi crude, and reactivating the oil pipeline to Tripoli, with Syria's cooperation."

 

The pipeline to Tripoli is a spur, from Homs, on the Iraq-Syria (Kirkuk-Baniyas) pipeline, that has not been operational since 1982 - the year that exports from Iraq to Syria were stopped as a result of a political dispute between Baghdad and Damascus over the latter's support for Iran in the 1980-88 Gulf war.

 

While energy cooperation was not a major topic discussed during Allawi's talks in Saudi Arabia, the oil authorities in Baghdad have said they would like to see the reopening of the Iraqi Pipeline Trans-Saudi Arabia (IPSA). This is the export facility to the Red Sea terminal of Al-Muajjiz that was financed by Iraq and seized by Saudi Arabia in 2001. But the issue is a delicate one that is unlikely to be resolved quickly, for Saudi Arabia has said the section of the pipeline within the kingdom is now being used to transport natural gas and has ruled out its re-use as a crude conduit from Iraq.

 

But leaving aside the IPSA question, progress on future oil link-up projects with Jordan, Syria and Lebanon will have been a cause for satisfaction in the capitals of those three states.

 

The big question now is: when will the oil start to flow across Iraq's borders? The answer: not any time soon.

 

For a start it is difficult under current circumstances to imagine investors coming forward for the crude export projects envisaged for supplies to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon. In the absence of nationwide security in Iraq, sabotage of oil installations and of the existing northern export pipeline continues - demonstrating the vulnerability of transporting oil this way.

 

Even laying a pipeline would be difficult. For example, the planned Iraq-Jordan scheme would involve constructing 150 kilometers of pipe in western Iraq - an area of extreme lawlessness.

 

The Iraqi oil authorities are also hampered by financial constraints. Minister of State Adnan al-Janabi said recently that the oil sector's budget allocation was "barely enough to cover some maintenance and operational works," adding that the sector needed $4 billion in next year's budget - an unrealistic figure, given that the government's revenues are not expected to exceed $20 billion. In other words, there is little prospect of Iraq embarking on production expansion schemes that would provide significant and secure volumes of crude for export in the near future.

 

A further factor constraining potential Iraqi cross-border export schemes is political. Until solid bilateral relations covering security and other matters of mutual concern are established between Baghdad and the neighboring capitals, it is premature to talk about long-term strategic economic cooperation deals, of the kind required for such pipeline networks.

 

Even when security is re-established in Iraq and neighborly relations are put on a strong footing, there will still be the need to agree on the structure of the country's oil sector. The assumption of the oil professionals is that the industry will remain centralized, with revenue collected and distributed by the Baghdad government.

 

But not all Iraqis agree with this arrangement. Prime Minister of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Nechirvan Barzani, said while Kurds were prepared to negotiate with the central authorities over the sharing of all revenues from existing oil fields in the Kirkuk area, "all income from future oil finds there should belong to the Kurds themselves ... The problem is that the people in Baghdad don't understand the reality on the ground here."

 

This statement, along with the news that a Norwegian oil company had entered into an agreement with the Kurds to search for oil and gas in northern Iraq, prompted the Allawi government to issue a stern warning to foreign firms. The Ministry of Oil said "companies that wish to be welcomed here in the future should not enter into or try to pursue the implementation of agreements with persons who are not empowered to represent the sovereign Government of Iraq."

 

So there are formidable political as well as security battles to be won before the agreements reached during Allawi's regional tour can be implemented.

 

Copyright 2004, The Daily Star

 

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