Tracking Number:  175843

Title:  "Brutal Suppression of Dissent in Iraq Criticized." The US has criticized Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for using very brutal means to suppress civil unrest. (910312)

Translated Title:  "Irak: la Suppression de la Dissension Critiquee." (910312)
Date:  19910312


03/12/91 1Ne Re BRUTAL SUPPRESSION OF DISSENT IN IRAQ CRITICIZED (Iraqi forces seen unable to hold gains) (570) By Russell Dybvik USIA Diplomatic Correspondent

Washington -- The State Department has criticized Iraqi President Saddam Hussein for using "very brutal" means to suppress civil unrest, adding that government forces apparently are having trouble maintaining control both in the Kurdish north and in southern Iraq.

Deputy spokesman Richard Boucher emphasized at a March 12 news briefing that "the situation inside Iraq remains very fluid. This, plus the limited information available to us, often makes it difficult for me to accurately characterize the situation in Iraq at any given moment," he said.

"Cities and towns where unrest has been suppressed by government forces often revert entirely or partly to control by dissident elements, once heavier forces depart to deal with the unrest elsewhere," Boucher said.

In southern Iraq, "government forces appeared to be gaining greater control over the situation yesterday, particularly in and around the Shia holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, but seem to be dealing with considerable unrest in this general area today. And in the Kurdish north there continues to be high levels of dissident activity," Boucher said.

"We certainly see the suppression of dissent in Iraq and the methods that Saddam has used in the past, and has been using now, as being very brutal, as being entirely inappropriate," the deputy spokesman declared. "We certainly think that the popular unrest should not be put down the way he's apparently trying to do."

Boucher was unable to confirm reports from news media and from people outside Iraq that there has been unrest in Baghdad. Nor did he have any information about a reported assassination attempt against Saddam Hussein that was said to have injured the Iraqi leader.

Likewise, he was unable to confirm reports that Iraqi forces have used napalm or chemical weapons to suppress pockets of civil unrest. "We have no confirmation that they've used any chemical weapons," Boucher said, adding that "I don't have anything further to say other than what the secretary (of state) said last week, that we had

GE 2 POL202 indications that they might use CW, and therefore we had warned them."

Asked about claims by Iraqi opposition leaders that Saddam Hussein's military forces have shelled mosques, he said "I don't have anything specific, but with heavy fighting going on around the holy cities, and with the government using the heavy equipment that it has, I would assume that they are shelling some areas at least close to mosques, if not mosques themselves."

He said the United States does not believe it is appropriate to meet with Iraqi opposition figures at present, and that such meetings are dealt with on a case- by-case basis.

"The last time we met with Kurdish figures was on March 1, and we discussed with them things like their humanitarian concerns and their legitimate cultural and political aspirations," Boucher said. "But we felt that political meetings with them, particularly with groups that had traditionally advocated independence, would not be appropriate for our policy at this time."

The deputy spokesman had no particular comment to offer concerning a meeting between Kurdish leaders and representatives of the Turkish government. "We haven't seen anything that would indicate that Turkey, for example, had changed its policy on the territorial integrity of Iraq," he added. NNNN

File Identification:  03/12/91, PO-202; 03/12/91, AE-207; 03/12/91, AR-228; 03/12/91, EP-212; 03/12/91, EU-205; 03/12/91, NE-206; 03/13/91, NA-305; 03/13/91, AF-305
Product Name:  Wireless File
Product Code:  WF
Languages:  French; Arabic
Thematic Codes:  1NE
Target Areas:  AF; AR; EA; EU; NE
PDQ Text Link:  175843; 176059