News

The Administration, Congress, and the Iraqi Opposition

Iraq News JUN 18, 1998

By Laurie Mylroie

The central focus of Iraq News is the tension between the considerable, proscribed WMD capabilities that Iraq is holding on to and its increasing stridency that it has complied with UNSCR 687 and it is time to lift sanctions. If you wish to receive Iraq News by email, a service which includes full-text of news reports not archived here, send your request to Laurie Mylroie .




I.   US PLANS FOR IRAQI OPPOSITION, REUTERS, JUN 17
II.  STATE DEPT LIST OF IRAQI OPPOSITION GROUPS
III. US PLANS FOR IRAQI OPPOSITION, THE INDEPENDENT, JUN 16

    Sources in the Iraqi opposition report that according to Iyad Alawi, 
head of the Iraqi National Accord, CIA Director, George Tenet, in a 
recent visit to London, told UK intelligence that they should not listen 
to what Amb. Butler is saying about the status of Iraq's proscribed 
weapons programs.  The US does not approve of what he is saying and the 
US will continue to confront Saddam.

   Yesterday, as Reuters reported, Asst Sec State for Near Eastern 
Affairs, Martin Indyk, said there were 73 Iraqi opposition groups 
outside of Iraq and the administration "will be launching an effort to 
help them organise and coordinate their case against Saddam Hussein."  
The US effort would go forward, "in a visible and effective way," and 
would focus on Saddam's "brutality and his war crimes."  As Indyk 
explained, the Iraqi opposition groups "represent an alternative vision 
for Iraq to Saddam Hussein that is democratic in terms of its 
aspirations. . . . I don't place a high probability on their ability to 
overthrow Saddam but it's important they demonstrate there is a 
different way of life for the Iraqi people."
  The legislation authorizing funding for the Iraqi opposition required 
the State Dept to report to Congress on its plans.   It included the 
language, "The managers expect that a significant portion of the support 
for the democratic opposition should go to the Iraqi National Congress, 
a group that has demonstrated the capacity to effectively challenge the 
Saddam Hussein regime with representation from Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish 
elements of Iraq."
   The administration, which does not want to adopt a policy whose aim 
is Saddam's overthrow [see "Iraq News," June 16], gave Congress a list 
of 82 Iraqi opposition groups, presumably the source of the figure used 
by Indyk.  The list follows below, annotated by a former USG official.  
Some 44 of the "groups" were unknown or had ceased to exist.  Seven were 
religious, educational & etc. associations.  The USG official concluded, 
"The overwhelming majority of these groups appear not to be valid 
recipients of US assistance.  Many have political drawbacks (they are 
heavily influenced by Tehran or Damascus, or they purport to be 
communists), some are strongly suspected of having clandestine ties to 
Baghdad, and many are not opposition groups, or they no longer exist.  
By providing this list, DOS has underscored the fact that there are 
relatively few opposition groups who are actually working to bring 
democracy to Iraq."
   Indeed, the administration, in its effort to spend the money 
authorized by Congress; maintain a modicum of credibility; but avoid 
providing support to the INC, has even turned to the Tehran-based 
Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq [SCIRI].  In Feb, 
SCIRI chief, Mohammad Bakr al-Hakim visited Kuwait, where al-Hakim's 
political advisor met US embassy officials and the CIA station chief, at 
Kuwaiti urging.  The administration subsequently decided it wanted to 
invite Hakim to Washington. In Mar, it asked The Washington Institute 
for Near East Policy to invite Hakim to speak there.  But Hakim refused, 
saying he would come to Washington only if he could meet with Clinton.  
In May, Deputy Asst Sec State for Near East Affairs, David Welch, met in 
London with Hakim's representative there, Hamid Bayati.  And, as The 
Independent reported, Bayati visited Washington last week for meetings 
with US officials.

........................

II. STATE DEPT LIST OF IRAQI OPPOSITION GROUPS
Memo, June 10, 1998

INTRODUCTION
Below is a recent Department of State Department (DOS) list of, I infer 
DOS believes, credible Iraqi opposition groups which DOS claims are 
vying for funding from the U.S. government.  I've annotated the list 
with my comments drawn from my experiences with the Iraqi opposition and 
my own research.  Where I have no information on a group, I've written 
"who/where/what" meaning:  who leads the group, where are they located, 
and what have they done as an opposition group--questions which might be 
asked of DOS in the future.

CONCLUSIONS
The overwhelming majority of these groups appear not to be valid 
recipients of U.S. assistance.  Many have political drawbacks (they are 
heavily influenced by Tehran or Damascus or they purport to be 
communists), some are strongly suspected of having clandestine ties to 
Baghdad, and many are not opposition groups, or they no longer exist.  
By providing this list, DOS has underscored the fact that there are 
relatively few opposition groups who are actually working to bring 
democracy to Iraq and these valid opposition groups have long-standing, 
although problematic at times, ties between themselves.
THE GROUPS
1.  The Al-Khoei Foundation:  This London-based foundation is not an 
Iraqi opposition group but rather a Shia religious foundation.  At least 
one board member is Iranian and there are several Pakistani board and 
staff members.
2.  Arab National Group:  Who/where/what?  This listing might reflect 
the type of thinking that produced the "KLM" fiasco at the recent INS 
California trial of Hashim Qadir Hawlari in which the government was 
shown to not understand that KLM was a generic military acronym for any 
Kurdish liberation movement and not an acronym for a specific group.
3.  Arab Organization of Human Rights:  Headed by Adib Al-Jadr and 
Husayn Shabaan, both believed to be supporters of Barzan Al-Tikriti, the 
half-brother of Saddam Husayn.
4.  Assembly of Islamic Forces:  Who/where/what?
5.  Association Islamique Irakienne en France:  A small academic group 
with links to SCIRI (#76) and also has ties to the Human Rights 
coordinator of the INC (#37), Ghanim Jawad.
6.  Association of Iraqi Economists:  London-based academic group.  Some 
members are linked to, or are family members of, INC (#37) officials.  
Led by Sinan Shibibi.
7.  Association of Iraqi Academics:  Who/where/what?
8.  Association of Iraqi Democrats:  Who/where/what?  There are three 
possible groups for this listing:  one is a London-based Syrian group, 
another is a group led by a London merchant, the other is an Assyrian 
group.
9.  Assyrian American National Federation. Inc.  The leadership recently 
met with Tariq Aziz, the Iraqi deputy prime minister, and Nazar Hamdoon, 
the Iraqi UN ambassador.  Because of these meetings, the group is 
thought to be pro-Baghdad.
10.  Assyrian Democratic Movement:  Who/where/what?
11.  Assyrian National Congress:  Who/where/what?
12.  Assyrian Universal Alliance:  An organization promoting Assyrian 
interests world-wide and not an opposition group.
13.  (Iraqi) Baath Party (in Damascus):  Headed by a Syrian, Mithab 
Shinan, and a vehicle for Syrian intelligence.
14.  Bet Nahrain Democratic Party:  A public relations group associated 
with the mission of the Assyrian Universal Alliance (#12).
15.  Center for Iraqi Studies:  London-based office manned by Ghassan 
Atiya that produces the monthly "Iraq File."  Widely believed in London 
Iraqi opposition circles to be connected to the Iraqi Intelligence 
Service (IIS).
16.  Chaldean Federation of America:  The leadership has recently been 
accused by its own membership of being controlled by Baghdad.
17.  Communist Party in Northern Iraq:  There is no communist party for, 
specifically, northern Iraq.  See #30.
18.  Da'wa Party:  There are now at least five Da'wa parties, one of 
which is now or was listed as a terrorist organization by DOS.  At least 
one party is based in London.  They are all heavily influenced by 
Tehran.
19.  Free Iraq Council:  Possibly the sole member, Saad Jabr, accused 
the United States of betraying a, supposedly, viable anti-Saddam plot to 
Saddam.  The result was an unusual public refutation by Secretary 
Christopher of Jabr's charges.
20.  Human Rights Alliance:  Led by Kathryn Porter, is not an Iraqi 
opposition group.
21.  Independent Assembly of Iraq in U.S. and Canada:  A pro-INC (#37) 
group.
22.  Independent Democratic Party:  Who/where/what?
23.  Independent Iraqi Alliance:  Disbanded because the leader, Hassan 
Naqib, suffered a stroke.  Remnants are in Damascus.
24.  INDICT:  Headed by a British MP, but supported by Iraqi opposition 
groups.
25.  Independent Islamic Conference:  Who/where/what?
26.  International Organization for the Defense of Human Rights in Iraq: 
Who/where/what?
27.  Iraq Foundation:  A Washington-based 501(c)3 that is not, by their 
by-laws, an opposition organization.  Headed by Rend Rahim Francke.
28.  Iraq National Unity Party:  Who/where/what?
29.  Iraqi Central Committee for Dialogue and Fellowship:  
Who/Where/what?
30.  Iraqi Communist Party:  Are anti-sanctions and against anything the 
U.S. government proposes.  Nonetheless, it has good ties with the INC 
(#37)
31.  Iraqi Cultural Association:  Who/where/what?
32.  Iraqi Free Officers Movement:  Who/where/what?  Originally a 1930s 
organization that now has several spin-offs which have a web-site but no 
visible structure.
33.  Iraqi Islamic Association of America:  A Houston-based group headed 
by Sheikh Zaki Suwaij who has close ties to Tehran.
34.  Iraqi Islamic Revolution:  Who/where/what?
35.  Iraqi Liberal National Democratic Party:  Who/where/what?
36.  Iraqi National Accord (INA):  Split into two groups.  One is headed 
by Salah Omar Ali who produces the London paper, Al-Wifaq.  The other is 
headed by Iyad Alawi, a Shia, and Salah Shaykhli which puts out the 
London paper, Baghdad.  Iyad Alawi's group inside Iraq was destroyed by 
a Baghdad operation in June 1996.  His group is still considered to be 
penetrated by the IIS.  Recently an Alawi faction member, General Tawfik 
Yassiri, participated in an INC (#37) delegation to the United States 
and was expelled from the Alawi faction of the INA.
37.  Iraqi National Congress:  An umbrella group that has attempted to 
pull together Iraqi opposition factions into a loose organization that 
would be the basis for instituting democracy in Iraq.  The INC believes 
it was betrayed by the U.S. government which followed policies that 
exacerbated rivalries between the constituent INC members.
38.  Iraqi National Democratic Assembly:  No longer exists.
40.  Iraqi National Gathering:  Formerly an ally of the INC (#37) in 
northern Iraq, was dispersed in the August 1996 invasion by the Iraqi 
army into northern Iraq and has a remnant in Macedonia.
41.  Iraqi National Turkoman Party:  Based in Ankara and headed by 
Muzafar Arsalan; has a good relationship with the INC (#37).
42.  Iraqi National Union:  Who/where/what?
43.  Iraqi Research Center in Vienna:  Small office headed by Mehdi 
Khafiz, a former Iraqi Communist Party official who now supports a 
dialogue with Saddam Hussein.
44.  Iraqi Socialist Party:  Based in London and headed by Mubir Wais, a 
Nassarist, who probably is under the control of Cairo or Damascus.
45.  Islamic Accord (IA):  Headed by Jamal Al-Wakil, the IA is a single 
member operation supported by the Alawi faction of the INA (#36).
46.  Islamic Action Organization:  Who/where/what?
47.  Islamic Bloc:  Who/where/what?
48.  Islamic Forces Front:  Who/where/what?
49.  Islamic League of Iraqi Fayli Kurds:  Who/where/what.  Note:  Fayli 
Kurds are Shia Kurds.
50.  Islamic Movement of Kurdistan (IMK):  Based in Halabja and led by 
Sheikh Uthman; strongly under the influence of Tehran although Uthman 
has strong ties to the INC (#37) which protected him during February 
1994 fighting between the IMK and the PUK (#74).
51.  Islamic Movement Organization:  Probably the same group as #46.  
Who/where/what?
52.  Jund Al-Imam:  A small London-based group.  Provided a delegate for 
the recent INC (#37) five-person delegation to Washington, Saad Jawad.
53.  Kurdish Army of Islam:  Who/where/what?
54.  Kurdish Communist Party:  Split down the middle between supporting 
the KDP (#61) or the PUK (#74) in these two groups' conflict.
55.  Kurdish Human Rights Watch, Inc.:  Who/where/what?
56.  Kurdish National Congress of North America:  Concerned with 
pan-Kurdish issues only; not an Iraqi opposition group.
57.  Kurdish Peoples Democratic Party:  No longer exists.  The leader, 
Sami Abdurrahman, merged with the KDP (#61) in 1993.
58.  Kurdish Tribal Society:  The political organization of the Kurdish, 
Surchi clan.  The leader resides in Baghdad, but the northern Iraq 
faction is friendly to the INC (#37).
59.  Kurdistan Conservative Party:  Another name for #58.
60.  Kurdistan Democratic Alliance:  Who/where/what?
61.  Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP):  One of the two major Kurdish 
factions in northern Iraq.  Led by Masud Barzani, the KDP invited the 
Iraqi army to invade northern Iraq in August 1996 in a successful effort 
to drive its rival, the PUK (#74), from the city of Irbil.  The KDP's 
access to protection fees from the oil smuggling traffic between Turkey 
and Iraq that the KDP refused to share with the PUK (#74) caused the 
conflict between these two INC constituents beginning in May 1994.  The 
relationship between the KDP and the INC (#37) changes daily varying as 
the KDP tries to interpret auguries imbedded in Washington statements 
about Iraq.
62.  Kurdistan Popular Democratic Party:  Probably the same group as 
#57.  If not, who/where/what?
63.  Kurdistan Socialist Party:  Based in Suleymania and a supporter of 
the PUK (#74).
64.  Kurdistan Toilers Party:  Led by Khalid Zangana who is a supporter 
of the PUK (#74).
65.  League of the Family of the Prophet:  A London-based foundation led 
by Muhammad Musawi.  It is not a political organization.
66.  London Joint Action Committee:  No longer exists; was the precursor 
of the INC (#37).
67.  Motherland (or Homeland) Party:  Which?  Who/where/what?
68.  Movement for a Constitutional Monarchy:  Who/where/what?
69.  National Iraqi Committee for Protecting Central and Southern Iraq 
Based on UNSCR 688:  Who/where/what?
70.  National Reform Alliance:  London-based political vehicle for a 
tribe in Iraq, the Beni Hashim, ostensibly led by Sheikh Sami Azara 
Al-Majoon.
71.  National Salvation Council:  The short-lived concoction of Husayn 
Kamal, Saddam Husayn's father-in-law, who defected to Jordan and 
returned to Iraq only to be killed.
72.  New Umma Party:  A renamed #19.
73.  Organization of Human Rights in Iraq:   Small London-based group 
led by Sahib Al-Hakim who is supported by SCIRI (#76).
74.  Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK):  One of the two major Kurdish 
groups in northern Iraq.  Led by Jalal Talabani with headquarters in 
Suleymania (Iraq), the PUK has generally close ties to the INC (#37) and 
was the victim of the KDP(#61)-Iraqi army collusion in August 1996 to 
bring the Iraqi army into the north.
75.  Social Democratic Party:  Who/where/what?
76.  Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI):  Led by 
Bakr Al-Hakim from Tehran, SCIRI is funded by the Iranian government.  
Its military wing, the Badr Brigade, has many Iranian Pasdaran officers. 
It is part of the INC (#37) and maintains good contacts with INC 
officials in London.
77.  Turkish Islamic Movement in Iraq:  A Turkoman group representing 
Shia Turkomans; has strong ties with SCIRI (#76).
78.  Turkomani Islamic Assembly:  Probably identical with #77.  If not, 
who/where/what?
79.  Union of Islamic Forces:  Who/where/what?
80.  United Democratic Forces:  Who/where/what?
81.  Unity party of Kurdistan:  Who/where/what?
82.  Victims of War:  Aren't we all?  Who/where/what?