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September 04, 1996 - Image 17

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1996-09-04

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CRISIS IN THE GULF

The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, September 4, 1996 - 17

LAid officers leave
Iraq's Kurdish
people confused

'p

I

Election-year

a

showdown lurks

for candidates

-l

The Washington Post
ZAKHU, Iraq - Before dawn yes-
terday, a few hours before U.S. missiles
hit targets in southern Iraq, the head-
quarters team for U.S. and allied aid to
the Kurds stole across the border into
Turkey.
The departure of the Military
Coordination Center - with its staff of
21 American, British, French and
Turkish officers - was a practical deci-
sion, done lest President Saddam
Hussein seek to retaliate for the missile
strike.
But it also was symbolic of the disar-
ray that has beset this northern Iraqi
region since rival
Kurdish resis-
tance groups fell We no
into a bloody
Weud and began wanted I
fighting each
other instead of the coup
with Baghdad.
As part of the maybe S
struggle among
Kurds, Massoud hast
K u r dais ish defenida
Democratic Party - Mayor
has formed an
improbable
lliance with
Saddam, the Iraqi leader who has
gassed, tortured, imprisoned and exe-
cuted Kurdish civilians and guerrillas
by the tens of thousands both before
and since the 1991 Persian Gulf War.
Iraqi troops, in fulfillment of that
pact, on Saturday helped Barzani's
guerrilla forces wrest Irbil, the Kurds'
unofficial capital, from their longstand-
ing rivals, Jalal Talabani's Patriotic
Union of Kurdistan. It was that Iraqi
help, with artillery, armor and an esti-
mated 30,000 troops, that prompted the
Clinton administration to launch a mis-
sile attack.
But Barzani's alliance with Iraq
already had undercut American policy
in the protected zone established here in

the northern Iraqi mountains soon after
the Gulf War. That policy was based on
keeping the factions of Barzani and
Talabani together - or at least contain-
ing their hostility - as the backbone of
U.S.-financed efforts to overthrow
Saddam.
One measure of Washington's dis-
pleasure is that American officials have
declined to meet Kurdish Democratic
Party representatives in Ankara, Turkey,
Kurdish sources in the Turkish capital
said.
Even among some of Barzani's offi-
cials here, the alliance with Saddam has
caused deep misgivings.
"We feel
shame," said

el
'I
Ala
rF

ver Abdul Aziz
Rajab, a former
Qd Vide high school
principal and an
ry, So official of
Barzani's party.
iddam But he and
other loyalists
rht to in this tradition-
~ rq..stronghold
Rashid Hussein adhered to the
explanation by
Mohamed the Kurdish
Democratic
Party that Iran's aid to Talabani and his
Patriotic Union of Kurdistan left
Barzani no alternative.
In particular, they faulted the United
States and its European allies for not
taking decisive action when Iran con-
ducted a deep penetration operation 100
miles inside Iraq in late July and
allegedly left behind considerable
weaponry for Talabani's forces before
departing.
"Of course Saddam is a dictator,"
said Mayor Rashid Hussein Mohamed,
"but we know Kurdistan is a part of
Iraq. We never wanted to divide the
country, so maybe Saddam has the right
to defend all Iraq."
These explanations have left many

WASHINGTON (AP) - Saddam
Hussein was a big factor at the start of
the last presidential campaign, all but
forgotten in the end. By provoking a
military showdown with President
Clinton just nine weeks before Election
Day, the Iraqi leader might have a more
lasting impact this time.
The bipartisan praise for Clinton's
overnight cruise missile strikes against
Iraqi military targets underscored the
political opportunity for the president,
who displayed a decisiveness
Republicans frequently assert is miss-
ing from the administration's foreign
policy.
"At 15 or 20 points
ahead in the polls, the
president doesn't need NE
this kind of risky chal-
lenge, said Connecticut
Democratic Sen. Joseph
Lieberman. "He's shown
some guts."
But any prolonged confrontation
with Iraq carries huge political risks,
the most obvious being the potential for
U.S. casualties should Saddam not heed
Clinton's warnings and additional
strikes be ordered.
And the lukewarm support voiced by
Western allies gave Republicans. an
opening to assert that Clinton has
squandered the international prestige
built by Ronald Reagan and George
Bush, to the point where Saddam had
no reservations about ignoring
Clinton's warnings.
That latter point is one Republican
challenger Bob Dole has repeatedly
stressed in his campaign against
Clinton.
"Saddam Hussein is testing
American leadership," he said Sunday.
On Monday, he went on to say Clinton
had demonstrated "weak leadership" in
dealing with Iraq.
But after the overnight missile
strikes, Dole awoke yesterday facing a
delicate political dilemma: How to sup-

II

port the U.S. position in an internatiot-
al crisis while raising questions about
Clinton's leadership. "In matters like
this, all of us think not as Republicans
or Democrats, but as Americans," Dole
said in a speech to the American
Legion.
Nonetheless, even as he said he sup-
ported U.S. forces "without hesitation
or reservation," Dole worked in a subtle
swipe at the administration. "I trust this
is the beginning of decisive action to
limit the power and arrogance of
Saddam Hussein," Dole said.
When it comes to dealing with
Saddam, Dole has a mixed record of his,
own: Yesterday he called,
Saddam a butcher and a
WS tyrant, but back in 1990~
just before Iraq invade
YSIS Kuwait, Dole opposer
efforts to impose eco
nomic sanctions against
the Iraqi regime, even after Saddam had
threatened Israel.
"There might be a chance to bring
this guy around," Dole said after an;
April 1990 meeting with Saddam in
Baghdad.
Clinton and Dole spoke by telephoAi
before Dole's yesterday speech, acid
aides to both men sought to depoliticize
the latest U.S.-Iraq standoff.
White House press secretary Mike
McCurry said Clinton had forbidde
aides from discussing political implic;
tions "because that was not part of th6
decision-making process whatsoever;"
Echoed Dole spokesman Nelsoti
Warfield: "I don't think it would be
appropriate to do a political handicap."
But the calendar alone put the
episode front and center in presidential,
politics.
"This close to a presidential election,
a confrontation involving use of force
and risk to American military personnel
is almost certain to have an impact'
former Secretary of State James Baker
III said in an interview.

g AP PHOTO
Flight crews on the USS Carl Vinson prepare their F-14 Tomcats for launch.

Kurds unconvinced. A young man who
struck up a conversation with a foreign
visitor volunteered that he, his family
and friends are "still trying to come to
terms with what Barzani has done. How
could any Kurd cut a deal with
Saddam?"
Part of the answer lies in Zakhu, a
traditional Barzani stronghold 275
miles north of Baghdad in the hills
where the borders of Turkey, Iraq and
Syria come together.
The fabled smuggling center has
been the Kurds' only road outlet to
Turkey since they set up a semi-inde-
pendent administration here under the
protection of the allied Provide
Comfort operation preventing
Saddam's aircraft from using Iraqi air-
space north of the 36th Parallel.
Even when American and other

Western troops were here in 1991,
Barzani organized a major smuggling
operation between government-held
Iraq and Turkey in defiance of U.N.
sanctions against Baghdad.
And the operations have flourished
since then.
As they have over the past five years,
hundreds of lightly loaded Turkish
trucks wait for days on end just across
the border in Silopi for a chance to
cross into Kurdish-held territory on
their way to Mosul in territory held by
the Iraqi government. There they fill
enormous tanks with cheap diesel fuel
and haul it back into Turkey. The trans-
actions provide hard currency for
Baghdad, bootleg fuel for Turkey and as
much as $250,000 for the coffers of the
Kurdish Democratic Party in "customs
duties."

Inside Irbil: Saddam's Kurds
reign, no electricity or water

IRBIL, Iraq (A P)- When the Iraqi tanks rolled into Irbil,
residents shuttered their windows and stayed inside. They
kept their heads down, and Saddam Hussein's most serious
military foray since the 1991 Persian Gulf War ended the
very day it started.
The parliament building showed the clearest signs of
Saturday's attack: The Iraqi flag waved. Two anti-aircraft
guns perched on the roof. Ten armed Iraqis patrolled outside.
Saddam staged the attack to oust Kurdish rebels fighting
for an independent homeland in northern Iraq and to leave in
control Kurds willing to cooperate with Baghdad.
The assault was a direct hit, driving out the Patriotic Union
of Kurdistan, or PUK, with efficiency. Only PUK buildings
w ere scarred by new bullet marks. And Irbil residents said
*raqi tanks attacked only the PUK trenches surrounding the
city, leaving its center - and most of its civilians -
unharmed.
"Yesterday, Saddam's soldiers knocked on my door asking
for food," said 60-year-old Dawud Abdullah, an unemployed
Kurd. "They had dinner with us and they left. No bad treat-
ment."
Aside from the soldiers guarding the parliament building,
the Iraqi tanks and truckloads of troops were gone yesterday.
But their campaign to oust the PUK seemed to continue.
At the outskirts of this newly calm city, heavy shelling
choed from the south, where PUK rebels fled and where
guerrillas with the Baghdad-allied Kurdistan Democratic
Party followed. Most likely, Iraqi soldiers followed, too. The
KDP guerrillas have no tanks and few heavy artillery, so the
powerful booms heard yesterday could have come only from
Iraqi weapons.
Iraqi troops stormed Irbil after the Kurdistan Democratic
Party asked for help ousting the PUK. Both groups want an
independent Kurdish area that would include northern Iraq.
But while the KDP is willing to negotiate with Saddam's gov-
ernment, the PUK has allied itself with Iraq's archrival, Iran,
On its push for total independence.

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AP PHOTO
Saddam Hussein speaks at a news conference yesterday.
The Iraqi attack Saturday drove PUK forces to
Sulaymaniyah, the second biggest northern Iraqi city after
Irbil.
Yesterday, trucks loaded with KDP fighters made long
convoys heading south. "We will attack Sulaymaniyah
tonight, God willing," said a KDP guerrilla who refused to
give his name.

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U.S. response may have pumped
up Hussein's stature in region

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* he Baltimore Sun
AMMAN, Jordan - The United
States' response to Iraqi President
Saddam Hussein's military intervention
in the Kurdish fighting in northern Iraq
may have weakened his defensive capa-

And, despite their intention to make
the Iraqi leader "pay a price for his
aggression," as Defense Secretary
William Perry put it, the Americans
may actually have only solidified the
status quo.
Rndwnn R PAhiiulln n rnnltra] cr4~w-

Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan
University near Tel Aviv.
"They're winning a victory, so it
rebuilds morale after (their) defeat in
the (Persian ) Gulf war. It develops
patriotism."

I

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