Editor’s note: WorldNetDaily international correspondent Anthony
C. LoBaido traveled to Kurdistan to gather information for this
exclusive series. In this first installment, LoBaido takes an up-close
look at the people who tried — with America’s urging — to stand up to
Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, and examines the
current status of the Kurdish resistance as well as Western efforts to
“The Clinton administration is not very serious about replacing
— Rep. Ben Gilman, House International Relations Committee chairman
YENI ARSLANBASAR, Kurdistan — The Kurds. Those are the people the
U.S. government encouraged during the Persian Gulf War to rise up and
fight Saddam Hussein, promising American support if they would.
The Kurds did indeed stand up and fight against the Iraqi dictator.
But all they reaped in that struggle for freedom was a disappointing
lack of U.S. assistance and a violent crackdown by Saddam’s forces,
including mass chemical poisoning. When, later, a covert CIA operation
to empower the Kurds and overthrow Saddam failed, once again many Kurds
were destroyed or forced into exile.
Unfortunately, their plight is not new to them. Since early in the
20th century, the Kurds have struggled to obtain some form of
self-determination. Today, their goal seems further from being met than
In fact, it appears to most Kurds — many of whom are scattered as
refugees around the globe — that powerful Western nations have all but
abandoned their cause to
overthrow the Iraqi strongman, their No. 1 menace in the Middle East.
For thousands of years, the Kurds have inhabited Kurdistan, which consists of parts of Turkey, Iraq and Iran. They have endured less than cordial relationships with the governments that control their homeland and have suffered widespread persecution as a result.
(Read Anthony LoBaido’s background report on the Kurds
and their fierce battles with the Turkish government.)
Some believe that one of the main reasons Saddam survived in power through the eight years of the Clinton administration is that the Kurdish Resistance Movement, which was set up to oust him from power, was systematically undermined. While Clinton promised that he would “change” the regime in power in Iraq — not merely contain it — Saddam remains in power, and the Kurds remain an oppressed minority.
‘Your men are dead’
If one goes to 17 Cavendish Square in London, he will discover the headquarters of the Iraqi/Kurdish Resistance Movement. It is an old building that was standing around the time of America’s Revolutionary War. The U.S. State Department pays the rent in the lavishly decorated office — almost $700,000 per year. It has faxes and telexes and the Internet. But it is missing one very important item — the Kurdish intelligentsia that would lay the groundwork to get rid of Saddam. “If you build it, they will come,” does not apply in this instance.
Three men — Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, Massoud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party, and Ahmed Chalabi, a well-off Iraqi Shiite — had combined to form sort of the titular head of the anti-Saddam coalition in exile that has been supported by the U.S. and the UK. Along with insiders recruited by the CIA and M15 (the UK’s foreign intelligence agency now called the Security Service) in Saddam’s Republican Guard, this hodge-podge collection was supposed to gel into a formidable force for change inside Iraq.
One such attempted coup occurred in 1996. The CIA and M15 were about to launch a coup against Saddam. The CIA station chief based in Amman, Jordan, had set everything in place. The Republican Guard members who would stage the coup had been chosen. Some of them even had special cell phones tucked away on their persons that could put them in touch with the CIA people in Jordan.
Yet, somehow Saddam — who had set up a special unit to identify potential coups — scuttled the Westerners’ plot.
Perhaps as many as 300 Iraqi officers were arrested and tortured. Many were executed. One of the special CIA cell phones was captured. At that point, Saddam had one of his intelligence agents dial “The Company” back in Amman.
“Your men are dead. You can pack up and go home,” the Iraqi agent reportedly told the CIA field agents in Jordan.
Republicans in the U.S. Congress passed the Iraq Liberation Act, which authorized almost $100 million in training and equipment for the Iraqi resistance. Congress also authorized just under $10 million for an economic support fund.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told Iraqi opposition leaders that the Clinton administration would provide material and training for the Iraqi opposition, but no military help for the time being. Former State Department spokesman James P. Rubin said the opposition groups — called the Iraq National Congress — were not ready for military help.
“We’re not prepared to take action that is premature or that puts people’s lives needlessly at risk,” he said. “There are a number of steps that have to be taken before we’re in a position to provide lethal assistance.”
Yet, almost none of this money has gotten into the hands of the Iraqi groups, including Kurds who are allied against Saddam.
Of the economic support fund, over $3 million went to Quality Support Inc. to organize conferences and hotel arrangements for the Iraqi and Kurdish resisters. Some of that fund has also gone to hold seminars that focus on Iraq’s political future as a “free nation.” (One such constitutional draft for a new Iraq can be found
One of the three leaders, Chalabi, who has been convicted of banking irregularities in Jordan, claims he has 85,000 troops at the ready. He has sought to start up another guerilla movement aimed at toppling Saddam and has lobbied certain U.S. senators for support. But the funds Chalabi has received have gone to provide his colleagues and him a comfortable office in London.
One Kurdish dissident interviewed by WorldNetDaily at a Red Cross refugee camp outside Copenhagen, Denmark, thinks the U.S. and UK have no real intention of getting rid of Saddam.
“America needs small enemies. North Korea, Cuba, Iraq. This helped fuel the military industrial complex,” he said. “Now you know why I’m in Denmark. There is no opposition to Saddam. Maybe America and England want him to stay in power forever.”
Another refugee from Kurdistan who defected to the West told WorldNetDaily: “My wife is still in Ashawa. The United Nations is there, but no soldiers to protect us. They don’t give us any help, and we don’t want it anyway. We need to run our own country in our own way. The problem is, neither Turkey or Iran or Syria or Iraq or the U.S. or Great Britain want us to have a country.”
Saddam poisoned his own people
Over a million Kurds have fled into the mountains of southern Turkey since the end of Desert Storm, fleeing the chemical weapons Saddam unleashed against them after the Kurds attempted to overthrow the Iraqi dictator.
For those who have chosen to stay in Kurdistan, the situation is not getting much better. According to
Human Rights Watch, Kurdish people living within Iraq’s borders have been subjected to gross violations of human rights, including mass summary executions and disappearances of many tens of thousands of noncombatants. Additionally, the group says, the widespread use of chemical weapons, mustard gas and nerve agents that killed thousands, the arbitrary jailing and warehousing of tens of thousands of women, children and elderly people in conditions of extreme deprivation has also taken place. Not to be forgotten is the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of villagers to barren resettlement camps after the demolition of their homes and the wholesale destruction of some two thousand villages along with their schools, mosques, farms and power stations.
Will Saddam be driven from power before cancer takes his life? One group called
INDICT seeks to gather evidence against Saddam proving crimes against humanity — including experiments on humans with biological and chemical weapons — and bring him before an international court.
Derek Fatchett, the British minister of state, has voiced public support of INDICT.
“One of the ideas that had universal support this morning is the INDICT Campaign, the campaign which would indict Saddam Hussein and key figures in the Iraqi leadership for crimes against humanity,” Fatchett said. “I think it will also capture the public mood because there can be no doubt that Saddam Hussein has committed crimes against humanity. He has used chemical weapons against his own people.”
U.S. Sens. Trent Lott, Bob Kerrey and Jesse Helms have all called for increased military action against Saddam, going beyond the current U.N. sanctions. Many claim that the sanctions are actually
As of now, the Kurds and other Iraqi dissidents continue to live life on the run. Today, there are over 3.5 million Iraqis living in exile around the world.
TOMORROW — Saddam’s female assassin squads: Reporter Anthony LoBaido follows the Kurdish trail to Scandinavia, where he discovers a bizarre international cat-and-mouse game. In a maniacal program to crush the life out of any opposition movement, Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein has sent trained female assassins to Denmark and other European destinations to wipe out Kurdish refugees and defectors fleeing Iraq, and even has installed spies on the Danish Refugee Council, according to the Danish Red Cross.