News

Dvlpts, Sudanese-Iraq Relations

Iraq News, AUGUST 24, 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.   AMB. BUTLER MAY TEST IRAQ ON INSPECTIONS, NYT AUG 23
II.  RCC CONDEMNS US STRIKES ON SUDAN, AFGHANISTAN, AUG 21
III. IRAQI CLERICS CONDEMN US STRIKES, IRAQ RADIO, AUG 21
IV.  AZIZ CONDEMNS US "INTERNATIONAL CRIME," AFP, AUG 22
V.  JORDANIAN ENGINEER: FACTORY COULDN'T MAKE CW, JORDAN TIMES, AUG 23
VI.  WORLD ISLAMIC FRONT, STATEMENT, AL QUDS AL ARABI, FEB 23
VII. POPULAR ISLAMIC CONFERENCE OPENS IN BAGHDAD, INA, FEB 10

   This is the 19th day without weapons inspections in Iraq.  To be 
precise, that means that UNSCOM can and does monitor declared or 
designated sites and can and does send teams to those sites.  But if 
there are no inspections, then UNSCOM cannot send teams to sites that 
have not been declared or designated.
  Yesterday's NYT reported that Amb. Butler might soon test Iraq's 
position by sending out an inspection team.  As Butler explained, "If 
the Iraqis block us, then obviously we can't do the inspection  . . .  
but I simply don't know what the Security Council would do then."  
   Today, Kofi Annan's envoy, Prakash Shah, who spent a fruitless week 
in Baghdad trying to get the Iraqis to renew weapons inspections, will 
report to the UNSC.

  One major Israeli paper twice over the past week excused/downplayed 
Clinton's domestic political problems stemming from his relations with 
Monica Lewinsky.  That, despite strong criticism within the US, 
including most recently, former senator Sam Nunn, in yesterday's Wash 
Post, who sought to articulate a path for the conduct of US affairs in 
difficult days ahead, even while cautioning that that may require 
Clinton's resignation.  An Israeli reader, in academics, kindly 
explained the gooey-eyed Israeli attitude towards Clinton, "Because he 
shed tears for Rabin, hosted the Oslo signing ceremony, and came here 
after the terrorist bombings with the right words.  He was a good actor, 
when it mattered."  
  Still, this is for real and it may affect the conduct of US foreign 
policy, including in the Middle East.  Yesterday, Reuters reported that 
Newsweek, in its current issue, says that Ken Starr's report on the 
Lewinsky-Clinton relationship "includes details that will make people 
'want to throw up.'"  

   On Aug 21, Iraq's Revolution Command Council issued a statement 
condemning the US attacks on Sudan and Afghanistan, "The Muslims, 
mankind in general, and the Arabs in particular are dutybound to carry 
out [words indistinct] in an effective manner in this direction, making 
the United States face the facts that will force it to respect the 
people and the sovereignty of countries, and not flout or scorn the 
rights of the Arabs, Muslims, and the rest of mankind," according to 
INA.
  Also, on Aug 21, Iraq's clerics condemned the US strikes. As Iraq 
Radio reported, "The imams and preachers of mosques in Baghdad and the 
governorates denounced the blatant, barbaric US air aggression against 
Sudan and Afghanistan . . .  They stressed that through its reckless 
behavior, the United States expressed its inherent hatred of Arabism and 
Islam. . . . They prayed that God will preserve leader, God-supported 
President Saddam Husayn, crown his jihad with full victory over the 
forces of evil and aggression, and achieve through him the victory of 
the Arabs and Islam over the covetous enemies."
  Sudan's Foreign Minister has been visiting Baghdad, where he met 
Saddam, Iraq's Foreign Minister, and Tariq Aziz.  During their talks, 
Aug 22, Aziz denounced "the cowardly American aggression against our 
Sudanese brothers and other attacks against Iraq and Libya that have 
shown the United States is an international criminal that practices 
terrorism in a flagrant and immoral fashion," according to AFP.
  Also, Sudan claims the facility hit by the US did not make chemical 
weapons, but pharmaceuticals.  Reuters, Aug 22, from Baghdad, reported 
that al-Jumhuriyah published documents showing Iraq had bought medicine 
from the plant.  And The Jordan Times, yesterday, reported that 
Jordanians had been involved in constructing it.  At a press conference, 
a  Jordanian engineer said, "There is no chance this factory could be 
used to produce chemical weapons, it was designed to produce medicine 
for people and animals."  He also said that "the factory was financed by 
the Sudanese businessman Bashir Hassan, who later sold it to another 
businessman named Salah Idris following financial difficulties. 'During 
the construction of the plant, over a period of four years, we have 
never seen or met with Ben Laden and he had nothing to do with the 
factory.'"  
   The Wash Post, today, reported the Sudanese claim with skepticism.  
Perhaps.  But Sudan has filed a complaint against the US with the UNSC. 
Probably, there will be an inquiry to settle the dispute. 

   But it does invite the question whether the Clinton administration 
has Osama Bin Laden too exclusively on the brain.  As Jim Hoagland wrote 
yesterday, Iraq has "significant ties to bin Laden through its large 
intelligence presence in Sudan."  Indeed, Bill Gertz, already in The 
Wash Times, Oct 24, 1996, citing unnamed officials, reported that "Mr. 
Bin Ladin was in contact with Iraqi intelligence agents while based near 
Khartoum, Sudan." 
   In fact, Sudan, in particular, Hassan Turabi, head of Sudan's 
National Salvation Front, has long-standing ties to Iraq, which, like 
Sudan is a Sunni Muslim, Arabic speaking country.  In 1986, Turabi 
helped lure to Sudan the most intellectually formidable of Saddam's 
Shi'a clerical opponents, Mehdi al-Hakim, and Iraqi assassins gunned him 
down in Khartoum.  Sudan supported Iraq during the Gulf war.  And 
following the war, Baghdad established Khartoum as a major center for 
Iraqi intelligence.  The Iraqi ambassador, who just left Khartoum a few 
months ago, Abd al Samad al-Ta'ish, was a long-time intelligence agent, 
who held the rank of General Director in Iraqi intelligence.  He arrived 
in Khartoum in July, 1991, with some thirty-five intelligence officers 
to establish it as a major base for Iraqi intelligence.
   And, in that, lies the basis of a considerable scam, carried out by 
Iraq, which aimed at taking revenge for the war, while weakening the 
Gulf war coalition.  The principle victim has been Egypt.  "Iraq News" 
has explained this to a number of Arabs/ Muslims.  They include Abbas 
Kelidar, known to some readers, particularly from his days at SOAS, when 
he advised many of Eli Kedourie's students.  Though no friend of Saddam, 
quite the opposite, even Kelidar smiled, when the scam was explained to 
him.  What a trick! ! 
  Yet it is difficult for "Iraq News" to explain the scam to Americans/ 
Israelis.  There is a US/Israeli tendency to see Militant Muslim 
Fundamentalists behind every bomb and every major act of terrorism in 
the Middle East.  And there is, along with that, a very strong hatred of 
Militant Muslim Fundamentalists.  The hatred is so strong, that 
Americans/Israelis miss the hints that Saddam drops as to the real 
authorship of the terror, even as his victims pick them up.  Thus, there 
exists an American/Israeli self-deception, which Saddam exploits, in 
order to achieve a strategic objective.

  The origin of this error, at least in the US, goes back some years, 
essentially to the Feb 93 bombing of NYC's World Trade Center [WTC], 
masterminded by Ramzi Yousef.  It was followed by a second conspiracy, 
actually an FBI undercover operation, which produced the plot to bomb 
the United Nations, New York's Federal Building, and two tunnels.  "Iraq 
News" knows a great deal about those bombing conspiracies, as well as 
Yousef's second, aborted plot to bomb 11 US airplanes flying Pacific 
routes.
   In fact, "Iraq News" wrote a book about them, based primarily on the 
meticulous examination of the evidence from the first WTC trial—- 
Mohammad Salameh and three other fundamentalists.  The book argued that 
the bomb was a false flag operation, the mastermind an Iraqi 
intelligence agent, which is what NY FBI believed.  But NYC publishers 
said that while the book was well-written and made the case against 
Iraq, there was "no market" for it.  There was "no market" for a book on 
Iraq, because it was "not news," while there was "no market" for a book 
on the WTC bombing because "only" six people died, although Yousef meant 
to topple the tower.  Indeed, Yousef told authorities he meant to kill 
250,000 people, so it took a long time to understand the NYC publishers. 
They meant that while an Iraqi intelligence agent may have blown up the 
building, he did not manage to kill many people and that operation did 
not change the fact that the US had handily beat Iraq in the 100-hour 
miracle in the desert that we all saw on CNN some years ago.  Thus, the 
bombing was really a fluke.  Saddam was in his box, in his cage, and 
otherwise, "not news."  
  Still, in Oct 94, the editors of a major NYC intellectual journal, who 
had read the manuscript, directed the Israeli adviser on terrorism for 
Steve Emerson, producer of "Jihad in America," to me.  And we went 
through the material--the relevant evidence from the trial of Mohammad 
Salameh et. al, culled through an excruciatingly tedious analysis of the 
thousands of pages of raw data that constitute that evidence.  As we 
did, the stunned adviser kept interrupting, "Stop!  I have a headache.  
Please give me some water.  Go on."  And it so it went on. 
   The adviser, who has since parted with Emerson, explained, as Emerson 
also did, that they were not saying in "Jihad in America" that the WTC 
bombing did NOT have state sponsorship.  They were just using it as "a 
hook" to show how dangerous the fundamentalists were.  I  replied, 
"Fine, I don't like the fundamentalists either, but you should say that 
clearly, or otherwise people will think you're saying the bomb did not 
have state sponsorship."  The show was to air in a month and that was 
not done.  And by ignoring state sponsorship in the WTC bomb, "Jihad in 
America," reinforced and compounded the original mistake of the Clinton 
administration, which in June 1993 had dealt slyly with the national 
security question of state sponsorship, while it dealt very publicly, 
through trials, with the criminal question of the guilt or innocence of 
individual perpetrators.  
   
  A reader, a significant US national security figure, drew to the 
attention of "Iraq News" the first pronouncement issued Feb 23 by the 
"World Islamic Front" --Osamah bin Ladin, Saudi; Ayman al-Zawahiri, head 
of the "Jihad Group," Egypt; Abu Yasir Taha, head of the "Islamic 
Group," Egypt; Mir Hamzah, head of the Clerical Group of Pakistan; and 
Fazlul Rahman, Head of the "Jihad Movement," Bangladesh. 
  The statement began by stating "three facts known to everyone:"  
  "First, for over seven years the United States has been occupying the 
lands of Islam in the holiest of places, the Arabian Peninsula, 
plundering its riches, dictating to its rulers, humiliating its people, 
terrorizing its neighbors, and turning its bases in the Peninsula into a 
spearhead through which to fight the neighboring Muslim peoples. . . .  
The best proof of this is the Americans' continuing aggression against 
the Iraqi people using the Peninsula as a staging post.  . . .
   "Second, despite the great devastation inflicted on the Iraqi people 
by the crusader-Zionist alliance, and despite the large number of those 
killed, which has exceeded 1 million . . . despite all this, the 
Americans are once again trying to repeat the horrific massacres, as 
though they are not content with the protracted blockade imposed after 
the ferocious war or the fragmentation and devastation.  So here they 
come to annihilate what is left of this people and to humiliate their 
Muslim neighbors.
  "Third, if the Americans' aims behind these wars are religious and 
economic, the aim is also to serve the Jews' petty state and divert 
attention from its occupation of Jerusalem and murder of Muslims there. 
The best proof of this is their eagerness to destroy Iraq, the strongest 
neighboring Arab state . . . ."
  As the reader noted, that is Saddam's agenda.  It is indeed.  And that 
observation also invites the question who got Osama Bin Laden, the two 
Egyptians, a Pakistani, and a Bengladeshi all together?  Baghdad 
regularly  hosts something that it calls the "World People's Islamic 
Conference."  [It also regularly hosts an "Arab Popular Forces 
Conference," which was held in early May, around the time of Iraq's May 
1 letter to the UNSC.]  The evident purpose of the conferences is to 
coordinate Arab/Islamic support for Iraq, which can prudently be 
presumed to include terrorism.  On Feb 10, some two weeks before the 
statement of Bin Laden et. al. was issued, the eighth World People's 
Islamic conference opened in Baghdad, as INA reported.  It was attended 
by 120 Islamic dignitaries, from 50 Islamic countries, as well as 
Muslims who live as minorities in non-Muslim countries.