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APRIL 2, 1998 I. IRAQ STRENGTHENS POSITION IN SOUTH, NORTH, AL SHARQ AL AWSAT, MAR 29 II. SADDAM VISITS AL DUR, IRAQ TV, MAR 17 Since the Feb 23 Annan accord, Saddam has moved to strengthen his position internally and demonstrate that he is ever more in charge. Although he rarely makes public appearances, in March alone. Saddam made seven such appearances in tours outside Baghdad. Most were to Sunni Arab areas, although on Mar 25, he went to the Shi'a shrine cities of Najaf and Karbala. On Mar 13, Saddam visited Tuz, just outside the Kurdish-controlled region. The Baghdad paper, Al-Iraq, Mar 14, published the text of his speech there under the title, "The Kurds in the Conscience and Sentiments of the Leader." Saddam spoke of Baathist rule in the Kurdish cities, as if Baghdad's return to the region were a foregone conclusion. Speaking explicitly of how party members should deal with the Kurds, Saddam said, "We will slap he who deviates from the path after we tell him to avoid this deviation. And if he does not return, we will slap him." Reportedly, that has given pause to Massoud Barzani, who made his stunningly short-sighted deal with the devil in Aug 1996. In the 1980's Saddam killed 8,000 of the Barzani tribe, some 20% of Massoud's kinsmen. The Saudi-owned, Al Sharq al Awsat, Mar 29, had a particularly interesting report on these internal Iraqi developments. Republican Guard units have been deployed near the Kurdish region, where the army has held exercises, while new governors, all generals, have been appointed in three southern provinces. In Basra province, the new governor is Gen. Ahmed Ibrahim Khammash al-Tikriti, who was commander of the now disbanded 7th corps during the Gulf war. In the mid-90's he was an assistant Chief of Staff before taking charge of a Republican Guard division. As his name suggests, he is a Tikriti. In Maysan province, the new governor is Gen. Mahmud Fayzi al Hazza, b. 1946, another Tikriti. He commanded the 1st corps in 1990 and then the 5th corps. In Wasit province, the new governor is Gen. Mahmud Shukr Shahin, who was director of military intelligence in the early 1980's and later became an assistant chief of staff. In addition to the more general demonstration of Baghdad's control, these measures may also be a pre-emptive move against any possible US decision to impose a no-armor zone, an idea mooted in the context of Congressional efforts to change US policy from "containing" Saddam to ousting him. Iraqi television's report on Saddam's March 17 visit to the Sunni Arab town of al-Dur gives some idea of the megalomaniacal quality of those tours. As Khalid Bin Sultan, the Saudi general who was formally Schwarzkopf's co-commander during the Gulf war, wrote in his memoirs, Desert Warrior [Harper Collins, 1995] p. 444, "In Saddam Hussein we were not dealing with a normal man." Saddam, in his visit to al-Dur, took telephone calls and then "permitted some [Iraqis] to meet him and shake hands with him." Later, he climbed a dias "to answer the greetings of the masses, who received him with shouts of praise and dancing." And "in reply to remarks made by a citizen to the effect that the allegiance of the al-Dur population to his excellency the president is absolute, may God watch over him, his excellency the president said, The allegiance of all Iraqis is absolute, God willing."