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I. IRAQ BLAMES KUWAIT FOR 1990 INVASION, AP, AUG 2 II. ROBT PELLETRAU, THE KURDISH NEGOTIATIONS, AL HAYAT, AUG 2 III. INDYK TESTIMONY BEFORE HIRC, JUL 29 [EXCERPTS ON IRAQ] IV. "US AIMS TO UNIFY FOES OF SADDAM," WASH POST, AUG 2 With the anniversary of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and Amb. Butler's arrival in Baghdad, both Aug 2, things are heating up. The Iraqi press viciously attacked Kuwait, as well as Butler. As AP reported, Al Thawra charged Kuwait was to blame for the invasion and that "Kuwait is an American base. . . The rulers are hiding behind the borders of the Security Council, supplying the agents and mercenaries with what they need to plot against our country." Similarly, Babil attacked Kuwait for using its resources to make war on Iraq and "to bribe this international official or that to prolong the sanctions." Former Asst Sec State for Near East Affairs, Robert Pelletrau, in Al Hayat, Aug 2, wrote an astonishingly frank, interesting, and useful account of the events of Aug 31, 96, when Baghdad assaulted the US-backed Iraqi opposition in Irbil. As Pelletrau wrote, "In September 1996, the Iraqi Army intervened in Iraqi Kurdistan and the US administration responded with weak rocket attacks on Iraqi air defense sites south of Baghdad and extended the no-fly zone north to the 33rd parallel. After this, Secretary of State Warren Christopher asked me to undertake a difficult mission to restore U.S. influence in Northern Iraq . . . It was a large undertaking. Indeed, in August Talabani had violated a cease-fire which had been negotiated with our assistance and he occupied areas traditionally under the control of the KDP. The purpose of the attack was not the land itself, but money. Part of the cease-fire had been that the KDP would share with the PUK revenues collected by the KDP from the trucks coming from Turkey across the Habur border crossing and returning with Iraqi diesel fuel. . . . The PUK forces had received some arms from Iran and there was possibly some Iranian artillery assistance across the border to the PUK. But according to my knowledge, there was no direct Iranian intervention in the fighting." As readers will recall, following the Iraqi attack on Irbil, the administration claimed that the Kurdish fighting was a conflict between pro-Iranian Kurds and pro-Iraqi Kurds, a fight in which the US had no interests at stake. CIA chairman, John Deutch, was the only administration official to publicly take issue with that. Pelletrau has become the second. Indeed, in the period prior to Aug 31, 96 an effort was made to address the Kurdish fighting by establishing an INC monitoring force. The terms of a cease-fire had been agreed upon, but its implementation waited upon the establishment of the monitoring force. Some $4 million was needed and a number of people, in and out of Gov't, sought to obtain it, including the head of State's Northern Gulf Affairs, a point to which Pelletrau alluded when he wrote that the State Dept "could not at the time fund a neutral force to supervise a cease-fire." But why not? It was because the White House ran Iraq policy from behind the scenes. And it did not want the INC to get the money. It was still angry at the INC for its Mar 95 offensive. The White House feared that if the Iraqi army attacked the INC, the US would have to defend it. And that they didn't want to do, even as the administration never provided the INC any weapons with which to defend itself either. Rather, the White House convinced itself there was an easier way to overthrow Saddam--through a coup. Thus, the White House made it impossible for the State Dep't to acquire the money it sought for the INC monitoring force. It was told that there was no money for such a force. All the money for Iraq was in the CIA budget and that money was for covert operations. But a monitoring force was an overt operation and hence the CIA could not pay for it, or so it was argued. And when, in Jun 96, Saddam wrapped up the CIA-backed coup, and then in Aug, attacked the CIA-backed insurgents, the Clinton administration had a serious problem. But rather than fix the problem, it dealt with it in the manner described by Pelletrau, with a well-oiled spin machine in very high gear. As Pelletrau explained, "I asked the two Kurdish leaders by telephone to meet in Ankara and I was surprised to a certain extent when both agreed immediately. . . I tried to involve London and Paris in this effort. London agreed. But the French ambassador in Washington . . . informed me of his Government's position, which was that the Kurdish parties should negotiate with Baghdad. . . . "The period between our arrival in Ankara and the holding of the talks on October 30 and 31 saw an important development—the administration had taken an initiative, under electoral pressures and charges raised against it of abandoning our allies in Iraqi Kurdistan, to evacuate those working with American organizations in Northern Iraq and help also to evacuate members of the INC from the area to Guam, in the Pacific ocean, to begin their processing as refugees in the US. The Kurdish leaders showed their distress about the redirection of the US presence in their areas and they only responded very reluctantly to our request to help in the evacuation. . . " In Ankara, on the eve of the US elections, Pelletrau managed to hammer out the text of an agreement between the Kurds. But "after reading the statement, the head of the KDP delegation, Sami Abd al Rahman, said he could not accept revenue sharing without Barzani's agreement. We waited as he tried to call Barzani, but without success, on a satellite telephone in Salah al Din. This took many hours and we could wait no longer. . . . . Therefore [we] took Sami Abdul Rahman and pressured him very strongly to agree and that is what he did in the end, because he had no other choice. I then called in the journalists and read them the final statement. The successful result was a source of comfort to the Secretary of State and came at a time when the Republicans were waiting fiercely to attack US policy." But they weren't really. Some of Bob Dole's foreign policy advisors wanted him to make an issue of the Iraq fiasco in the presidential campaign, but Dole hesitated. He had been among a group of senators who met with Saddam in the spring of 1990. They held an obsequious exchange with him and, after Iraq invaded Kuwait, Baghdad released a transcript of the meeting. Probably, the meeting was part of an Iraqi campaign of deception practiced on the US prior to the invasion of Kuwait. Dole could have acknowledged the mistake [who hasn't made a mistake on Iraq?] and done the country a service by putting Iraq back on the national agenda. But Dole didn't want to be embarrassed by recollection of his meeting with Saddam, which probably would have been part of Clinton's response to serious criticism from Dole about Iraq. Consequently, Iraq did not figure much in the election campaign, and it was not until a year later, with Saddam on the ascendant, that the Senate was ready to take up the issue. On Wed, Jul 29, Asst Sec State for NEA, Martin Indyk, testified before the House International Relations Committee. In his prepared statement, Indyk reiterated Clinton policy on Iraq, "Containing the threats to regional stability goes hand in hand with our efforts to promote peace in this volatile region. We are doing this by working to maintain international support for actions against the Saddam Hussein regime until it complies fully with all relevant security council resolutions. Frankly, given Saddam Hussein's track record, we do not believe this is likely to occur . . ." In response to Congress' pressure to develop a policy toward Iraq that would aim at Saddam's overthrow, Indyk explained, "We will encourage a united opposition with the shared goals of fostering a pluralistic post-dictatorship Iraq that is secure in its borders, at peace with itself and its neighbors and in voluntary compliance with UN resolutions. In the first instance, this money will go to developing the opposition's basic organizational skills..." Indyk's statement also said that Saddam was "still in his box." But Congress is not happy with this. The chairman, Ben Gilman, explained, "We also have serious concerns about how to address the ongoing threats of Iraq. And as you know, just a few days ago the committee marked up a resolution finding Iraq in material breach of its requirements of the post-war cease-fire." That is, Congress is moving to find Iraq in breach of UNSCR 687, the formal cease-fire to the Gulf war. The resolution passed the full Senate Friday, and the House is to vote on it this week. When asked about prospects of a civil war in Iraq, if Saddam were overthrown by an insurgency rather than a coup, Indyk said, "I personally tend to be more sanguine. I think that there is a lot more cohesion to the Iraqi state and to the Iraqi people than is normally given them credit for. After the Gulf war, there was great concern that the Shiite rebellion in the South would lead to the breakaway of the South under Iranian tutelage. I think that fear was much exaggerated and unfortunately led to or had an influence on the calculations of Iraq's southern neighbors and of Washington about whether to support that rebellion or not. So I don't think that we should be overly concerned about that." Indyk also explained that Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah would be coming to Wash DC in Sept. Finally, the Wash Post, Aug 2, "US Aims to Unify Foes of Saddam," reported, "Directed by Congress to pursue more vigorous efforts to bring down Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, the Clinton administration has responded with a detailed, 27 page plan to rebuild Iraq's shattered political opposition and prepare a case for a possible war crimes indictment of Iraqi leaders [see "Iraq News," Jul 14] . . . "[Senior administration officials] said they have no illusions that their plan will put an early end to Saddam Hussein's regime, but said they want to support and unify the Iraqi opposition in hopes of fostering an orderly transition to democracy should Saddam Hussein unexpectedly fall." Yet "Two staff members of House International Relations Committee Chairman Benjamin A. Gilman (R-NY) assessed it as a 'baby step' that might 'lead to a slightly higher profile for the Iraqi opposition abroad but [be of] little help in Iraq.' In a report they said the administration's list of 73 Iraqi opposition groups with which it intends to work is 'absurd [because] many of the groups listed number only one person and several are not even Iraqi.'" [see "Iraq News," Jun 18] ... "A Republican Senate aide who has analyzed the plan called it 'fatally flawed,' and said some of the 73 listed opposition groups are 'penetrated by Baghdad.'" He said GOP lawmakers asked Indyk at a testy meeting to redirect some of the $5 million to a London-based group called Indict, which is promoting war crimes prosecution of the Iraqi leadership. [ED: The INC helped found Indict, after Iraq's Aug 96 attack on Irbil]. When Indyk raised legal objections to funding the group, the senators reminded him that the bill appropriating the money contained the phrase, 'notwithstanding any other provision of law.' [ED: This is the same kind of argument the administration used in '96 to deny money for an INC monitoring force.] This source said GOP senators are also unhappy because they want most of the money to go to the Iraqi National Congress." Finally, the Wash Post offered its own evaluation of the State Dep't proposal, "Much of the plan reads like an organizational manual for grass-roots activists." And that is because the Clinton administration, even now, seems to believe that all that it has to do regarding Iraq is to maintain the sanctions.