On 16 October, the UN Security Council unanimously passed Resolution N° 1511, devoted to the future of Iraq, the principal countries that had hitherto been reticent (Russia, France and Germany) having let it be known a few hours earlier that they would vote for it, despite their reservations.
The final text of the resolution adopted — the fifth drawn up by the United States since August — encourages the countries of the world to support the reconstruction process by providing troops and funds. It also calls on members of the Iraqi Interim Government Council (IGC) to draw up, by 15 December, a plan for the drafting of a new Constitution and the holding of elections — a process that could be staggered over several years.
Moreover, the resolution creates a multinational force in Iraq with UN approval, under American command. “This is the moment to help Iraq” declared the US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Negroponte.
But the countries approached to lighten Washington’s financial and military burden are being slow to volunteer, particularly in Europe. During the summit of the European Union in Brussels, a contribution of 232 million dollars was promised for 2003-2004.
Moreover, in a joint communiqué, France and Germany considered that the resolution should have gone much further in the direction of extending the role of the political United Nations and accelerating the transfer of power to the Iraqis. Dominique de Villepin, French Foreign Minister, considered that the project of the American resolution “does not measure up to the stakes at issue”. Until the eve of the vote, Russia, France and Germany considered abstaining, until Vladimir Putin, who had done a deal with Washington, let it be known that he would support the resolution. In this connect, it is said in diplomatic circles, that the Russian N°1 had decided to privilege Russo-American relations at the expense of the Kremlin’s reservations over the text. Syria, the last reticent country, finally announced that it would vote for the resolution to avoid appearing isolated.
Pakistan, considered the Moslem country most likely to provide troops to maintain security in Iraq, decided, for its part, not to do so, considering that the new multi-national force created by the resolution was not sufficiently distinct from an army of occupation under American command.
The adoption of the resolution sounds like a victory for the American Secretary of State, Colin Powell, who had convinced the most conservative groups in the Bush Administration to make another appeal to UNO. The resolution nearly failed several times, the opposition coming not only from the major capitals but also, at one moment, from Kofi Annan who, two weeks earlier, had publicly voiced his reservations about the then current version.
On the other hand, the new Iraqi national currency is now officially in circulation. The new notes, printed in Great Britain, will replace this with the picture of the fallen Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein. For the first time since the Gulf War, the same money will be in use in both North and South of the country, since the Kurdish Dinar will also give way to the new Iraqi currency.
The conference of donors for Iraq, inaugurated in Madrid on 23 October by the UN General Secretary, Kofi Annan, which brought together 61 countries and 19 International Organisation, has raised promises of 38 billion dollars in aid and loans for Iraq reconstruction. The Iraq’s needs, after the havoc of three wars, 35 years of dictatorship, and 13 years of international sanctions, have been estimated at 36 billion dollars for the period 2004-2007 by the World Bank and UNO. To that should be added 19.44 billion dollars needed, according to the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) set up by the United States, mainly to ensure the safety of the oil industry.
“The Iraqi people will long remember the aid we are going to provide it at this critical moment of challenge and hope” declared US Secretary of State Colin Powell before the delegates. “An important proof of support coming from this conference will accelerate the reconstruction and hasten the arrival of the day when the Iraqis will be able to assume the entire responsibility of their nation” he continued.
The World Bank let it be known that it would make between three and five billion dollars available to Iraq until 2008. The IMF promised support of between 2.5 and 4.25 billion dollars over three years.
It was Japan that, after the United States, made the biggest promises by committing itself to give an additional 3.5 billion dollars in medium term loans, bringing the total of aid promised by Tokyo to five billion. Saudi Arabia, one of the most powerful and richest of Iraq’s neighbours promised, for its part, a package of a billion dollars, partly for the financing of projects and partly in export credits and Kuwait committed itself to giving 1.5 billion. The European Union, for its part, indicated that the cumulative total of its aid for the reconstruction of Iraq in 2004 was 700 million euros (826 million dollars), that is more than the amount allocated by the Fifteen to Afghanistan. The total amount of the commitments of the Union and its members until 2007 is thus 1.3 billion euros, a large part of which will be supplied by Great Britain, Spain and Italy — countries involved in the allied coalition in Iraq.
In addition, Iraq received an offer of help from its former enemy, Iran, with which it was at war from 1980 to 1988. The Iranian Foreign Minister, Kamal Kharrazi, promised a line of credit of up to 300 million dollars. He also proposed to supply electricity and gas to their neighbour and announced that Teheran would authorise Iraq to export its oil through Iranian oil terminals.
François Loos, the French Foreign Trade representative, announced no new air, on 24 October but raised the possibility of several means by which France could envisage other types of aid in the future, without specifying which ones. As for the Russian Foreign Minister, Yuri Fedotov, he didn’t promise any aid from his government but said that Russian firms were ready to invest four billion dollars in the Iraqi economy.
Here is a list of the financial and/or military aid offered to the United States in Iraq:
FINANCIAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE RECONSTRUCTION
The other nations that have contributed troops are Kazakhstan (27), Latvia (106), Lithuania (90), and Macedonia (28). In addition, others are discussing with the United States their possible sending of troops to Iraq.
An article splashed across the whole front page of the 22 October issue of the Turkish daily Hurriyet, under the bye-line of Zeynel Lule, the paper’s Brussels correspondent, announces that Turkey is in negotiation with the European Union to have the PKK’s new name, KADEK, included in the E.U’s list of terrorist organisations. The article in question indicates that the Turks are offering, in exchange, to ensure a favourable outcome to the retrial of the former DEP Members of Parliament — thus clearly showing that this trial is in no way a legal matter but, essentially, a political ploy, and the latter remain Turkey’s hostages in its negotiations with European institutions. In a Press communiqué dated 23 October and signed by Leyla Zana, Orhan Dogan, Hatip Dicle and Selim Sadak, the ex-M.P.s denounced their trial and the attitude of the Turkish government. Here are extensive extracts from this communiqué:
“We have now been incarcerated for nearly ten years. Of course Turkey is no longer in the same situation as when we left. We note, with strong feelings, the hopeful developments but we also feel anxiety and fear over other developments. Over the last ten years we have adopted, as a general principle, the stand of refusing to enter into controversies and of remaining silent in the face of news items and comments formulated by the media about ourselves. However, our responsibilities, imposed on us by History, force us to break our silence in the face of certain news items. Thus the daily paper Hurriyet on 22 October, which headlined "Zana against KADEK", forces us to break our silence…
After an iniquitous trial, we were sentenced to 15 years in prison … and finally, in conformity with the ruling of the European Human Rights Court, a new trial has begun for us. During the hearings, that have spread over 9 months, disregarding the European Court's demand of an impartial trial, we are, in complete disregard of the law, going through a fresh trial that is no better than our hearing of 1994. We have, whenever we had the opportunity, denounced the State Security Courts (DGM), before which we are being retried today. Thus we have shown that, from their origins, their objectives their reason and the laws that regulate them, and the fact that they are the product of a political tradition going right back to the State Courts of the Stage of Siege and independence [Editor's Note: which, in the 20s, sent dozens of Kurdish patriots to the gallows] they are not, and cannot be, an impartial and independent jurisdiction, but that they were a tool of the governments … and were, from time to time used in the context of the internal policies, and also external ones, … of the country.
In the news published by Hurriyet, we can once again understand that the DGMs are not legal institutions but political instruments … They are the first fortresses defending the status quo. And, despite our efforts to bring the trial of the DEP onto the legal field, it remains a political case, and in no way a legal one … The most serious point in this relationship between the legal authority, the DGM and politics, brought to light in this trial of the DEP — but also in the article in question— is the fact that the Minister of Justice, Cemil Çiçek, recognises, in a television broadcast, that he has a right of say and of decision over the judicial authority and that, if need be, he could intervene there. May we remind Mr. Çiçêk that he seems to have forgotten that he was a man of the law above all (…).
We call on the government to renounce an attitude that cannot be reconciled with political ethics, to take steps for democratisation and internal peace, which remains Turkey’s real present-day need. We stress that dead-ends and blockages can only be overcome by a proposal for a just, lasting and honourable peace with the Kurds, and that internal peace is a guarantee for the territorial unity of Turkey, but also of the brotherhood of our populations (…).
On 7 October, at the end of a two and an half hour closed session debate, the Turkish members of Parliament approved, by 358 votes for and 183 against, the project of authorising the deployment of an substantial contingent of Turkish troops in Iraq — an operation desired by the United States — for a maximum period of one year that may begin in November. Apart from the arguments of the Prime Minister, the members of parliament were, no doubt, affected by Washington’s gesture of accepting, at the end of September, to provide a financial aid of $8.5 billion in the form of a loan to Turkey on condition that it commit its troops in Iraq … “Every action carries its own dangers (…). But by sending troops we may be have some voice in the outcome. We must go for the good of Turkey and of its future” Recep Tayyip Erdogan declared to members of his own party before the vote. According to the Turkish authorities, the deployment of a Turkish contingent could take place around Salahaddin and Takrit, in the Al Anbar region along the banks of the Euphrates or in the Region to the North of Al Anbar.
But the Transitional Government Council, whether Sunni Arabs, Kurds or Shiites, as well as public opinion in Turkey and in the Arab countries, are substantially opposed to any deployment of Turkish troops in Iraq. And the statements of General Ilker Basbug, the Turkish Army’s N°2, have sharpened Iraqi anxieties, especially amongst the Kurds, who are particularly hostile to any presence of Turkish troops on their territory. The General in question indicated, in a Press Conference, that the Turkish Army would retaliate if its military convoys were attacked by Kurds during their deployment in Iraq. “If we go into Iraq, we will have to use certain major logistic routes of Northern Iraq. If our convoys are attacked we will retaliate” the General declared.
Massud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and member of the Transitional Government Council, threatened to resign from the council if it approved the Turkish decision. He recalled that the Government Council had opposed, on 12 October, any deployment of Turkish troops and had asked for the support of the Arab League for this position. “We reject the deployment of any troops from Turkey or any other country in the region and we have asked for support in this from the Arab League” declared Mr. Barzani, after a meeting with the General Secretary of the Arab League, Mr. Mussa Amr, in Cairo. Mr. Barzani considered that “the sending of Turkish troops or those of any other neighbouring country could only increase the tension in Iraq and would provide no protection for anyone”. Mr. Mussa Amr, for his part, declared “the League will support any position of the Transitional Government Council on the subject of sending of Turkish troops or those of any other neighbouring country”. In his view “the sending of any troops to Iraq must receive the assent of the Government Council and take place in the context of UN resolutions”. “All the Iraqis with whom I have been in contact, whether in the Government Council or out outside this body have declared that they were opposed to the sending of Turkish troops or those of any other neighbouring country” Mr. Amr further declared.
On 11 October Mr. Barzani had declared, during a visit to Kuwait where he had met Emir Jaber al-Ahmed al-Sabah and his Prime Minister Sabah al-Ahmed al-Sabah, that “the Iraqis unanimously consider that the deployment of forces from the region would not stabilise the country … On the contrary, that could only lead to an escalation of tensions”. He had added that the Transitional Government Council would continue to oppose this deployment even if Washington and Ankara “went ahead with their project”.
Many other Iraqi leaders have reaffirmed their rejection of a deployment of the Turkish Army as desired by Washington. The leader of the principle Shiite movement, the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCRII) and member of the Baghdad executive, Abdel Aziz Hakim, stated, “there is no need to bring in anyone from outside”. Dr. Mahmud Ali Osman, another member of the Transitional Government had remarked on 11 October “We have differences of opinion. The Americans think that it is a positive measure and we consider it a superfluous one”. “Sending Turkish troops will delay the return of Iraqi sovereignty” declared, for his part, Nassir Kamal Chaderji, a Sunni member of the Council. “I am against the sending of Turkish troops, or the troops of any country neighbouring on Iraq, because we do not want our relations with these countries to deteriorate” he added. Even Ahmad Shalabi, a Shiite of the Iraqi National Council (INC), a member of the Council and considered close to Washington, gave Ankara’s decision a cool reception. “Any foreign troops should be invited to Iraq by a sovereign Iraqi government. At this time such a decision depends of the Government Council” stated Mr. Shalabi’s spokesman Entifadh Qanbar.
For his part, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, stated “the basic position is that the Government Council does not want any neighbouring country to take part in peace-keeping operations”. Barham Salah, a senior official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) warned that such a deployment would constitute “a factor of deterioration in the security situation” and that “Turkish troops would face difficulties if they entered Iraq”.
Furthermore, in a televised speech on 16 October, the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, considered that the Turkish Army should not be deployed in Iraq in a warlike spirit. Hosni Mubarak considered that the Turkish statements were “devoid of any subtlety”. “Do not have the attitude that you are going to war. Iraq is a Moslem country, like your own and your thoughts should be appropriate to the circumstances in which we are living” declared the Egyptian President.
King Abdallah II of Jordan had also, on 13 October, called on the Turkish Army not to take part in military operations in the country. “I do not think that a country that has borders in common with Iraq should play an active role in Iraq” the King declared tom the Press during a meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEFT) in Singapore. “Regardless of whether it takes place under US or UN supervision, I persist in thinking that we cannot be honest collaborators, simply because we all have certain desires of our own regarding our bilateral relations with Iraq” the King declared.
Similarly, the spokesman of the Saudi Ministry of defence declared “Saudi Arabia will only send in troops at the request of a legitimate government, in the context of a UN mandate and on the basis of an Arab agreement”.
Iraq is likely to be the subject of all sorts of dissentions at the Islamic Organisation Conference Summit (IOC) on 16 October in Malaysia, at which an Iraqi delegation will be present. Ankara’s representatives have called on the member countries to get involved in Iraq right now, without waiting for a UN mandate that they consider hypothetical. But the Turkish arguments have not been supported by any other country.
On 14 October, a week after the Turkish Parliament’s green light, the driver of a car blew himself up in it at the entrance to the Turkish diplomatic mission in Baghdad, wounding two of the Embassy staff and four civilians, including the kamikaze driver. “Turkey is playing a role in this region … We should expect that will be at a certain price” declared the Turkish Ambassador to Baghdad, Osman Paksut, on Turkish television.
Jalal Talabani, head of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and a member of the Iraqi Interim Government Council, arrived in Egypt on 20 October for a short visit. On 22 October, he had discussions with the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, at Sharm es-Sheikh to examine “the present situation in Iraq and ways to work for the stability of the country, so as to enable the Iraqis to manage their own affairs”. The day before, in Cairo, Mr. Talabani had met the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Mussa, and the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Ahmed Maher. After meeting Mr. Mussa he had stated that the Interim government Council, of which he was a member, was working to put an end to American occupation of Iraq, but not immediately as this would provoke “chaos”. “Not a single Iraqi accepts the occupation” stated Mr. Talabani. “The security of Iraq is the responsibility of the Iraqis and we are at the moment examining this question with our American friends” he declared, adding, however, that the occupation would continue “until the holding of elections and the adoption of a Constitution”. Mr. Talabani had, however, stressed that “we must be frank and we cannot, in these circumstances, call for the withdrawal of foreign troops because their withdrawal would result in chaos, in internal clashes and intervention by regional forces” in Iraq. 'r. Talabani also asked Mr. Maher to raise the level of Egyptian representation in Iraq to that of ambassador, but Mr. Maher had judged such an initiative was premature.
Massud Barzani, President of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) had visited Egypt a week earlier, when he had called for support for the Interim Government Council, of which he was also a member. Massud Barzani also visited Damascus on 1st October to discuss the situation in Iraq and bi-lateral relations. He had discussions with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the two parties had expressed their “attachment to the consolidation of Iraqi national unity” and judged “necessary the return of security and stability in Iraq”. “There is no resistance, but acts of terrorism do occur from time to time, and it is the Iraqi people who pay the price” declared Mr. Barzani at the end of a meeting with the Syrian Vice-President, Abdel Hakim Khaddam. He also accused “foreigners who have infiltrated into Iraq to create problems for the Iraqi people”.
Syria, which has shown itself fiercely hostile to the American war in Iraq, is now calling for a rapid transfer of sovereignty to the Iraqi people and the withdrawal of the American occupation forces. Since the fall of Saddam Hussein, Syria has been top of the black list of the United States, that rejects that country’s right to intervene in the affairs of its neighbour.
The trial of several hundreds of Turkish soldiers, accused of the gang rape and torture of a young Kurdish woman detainee began on 10 October before a Mardin court. The trial was adjourned till 5 November for procedural reasons, the plaintiff’s lawyer, Rayhan Yalcindag indicated.
The 31-year-old Kurdish woman, identified by her initials S.E., accused the troops of having inflicted on her physical and sexual violence and torments after blindfolding her — hence the case against 405 soldiers who were on duty in the Mardin region at the time when she suffered this ill treatment. S.E. indicated that she had been tortured and raped by paramilitary forces at each of her periods of detention between November 1993 and March 1994 — a period of intense fighting between the Army and Kurdish fighters. Her allegations were confirmed by medical examination. During her last beating up at the hands of troops she had even lost consciousness and only came round after nine days in hospital. Moreover she had no police record to explain these multiple detentions. S.E. who, as a consequence has suffered from serious psychological problems, later moved with her family to Izmir. From there she eventually secured political asylum in Bochum, Germany, where she is still living today. “We do not regard this as a personal matter. Our principal objective is to persuade the victims of Human Rights violations to ask for justice and secure some results, here in Turkey, without having to go through the European Human Rights Court” declared Mr. Yalcindag.
The Turkish authorities have always balked at enquiring into allegations of torture and rape by the security forces in the Kurdish provinces. Members of the security forces have never been found guilty of rape in Turkey, although dozens of cases have been filed, observed Mr. Yalcindag. Indeed, none of the accused was present at the hearing.
Turkey’s application for membership of the European Union is kept pending mainly because of its incapacity at eliminating torture and other breaches of Human Rights.
On 27 October Iraq experienced a bloody start to Ramadan with three bomb attacks in Baghdad that were aimed, almost simultaneously, against the Headquarters of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), a Ministry and an Iraqi Police station. At least 35 were killed and 230 wounded in Baghdad in a series of suicide bomb attacks. This is the first time that an attack has been made against the ICRC in Iraq since it began operations there early in the 1980s, according to the spokesperson for this humanitarian organisation, Nada Doumani.
The Iraqi Assistant Minister of the Interior, Ahmed Ibrahim, accused Saddam Hussein of being responsible for this attack. A second explosion took place a few minutes later near the offices of the Ministry of Health. The buildings housing the ICRC and the Ministry are on opposite banks of the Tigris, which cuts Baghdad in two. A booby-trapped car exploded at almost the same time outside a police station in Baghdad, killing three Iraqi policemen and wounding several others, as well as 10 American soldiers, according to the US Army.
This series of attacks hit the Iraqi capital just after it had been the scene, the day before, of a rocket attack against a hotel which was accommodating the Pentagon’s N°2, Paul Wolfowitz, who arrived in Baghdad on 24 October. On the last day of his visit, on 26 October, the Pentagon’s N° 2 saw the Al Rachid Hotel, in the heart of the city, struck by nearly 30 rockets, which killed an American Colonel and wounded 18 people. Including 11 Americans. A multiple tube Katoushka type rocket launcher was later found on a trailer parker on the pavement just outside the Baghdad Zoo, opposite the hotel. The rockets, fired at a range of only 500 metres from the hotel at 6.10 am made about half a dozen holes in the western facade of the hotel, a modern building of 17 stories, whose 462 bedrooms house leading officials of the American provisional administration and of the coalition troops. Shaken but unharmed, the Assistant secretary for the Defence, one of the hawks of the Bush administration, assured his hearers that the attack “will not turn us aside from our mission” in Iraq.
Meanwhile, UNO intends to move the members of its staff still present in Baghdad to Cyprus, and then decide on the advisability and means of their possible return to Baghdad. This withdrawal only concerns the 18 expatriates working in Baghdad, while about forty others, posted to the Irbil region in Kurdistan will remain in the area, considered safer. UNO also has a staff of about 4,000 Iraqi staff.
The ICRC and the humanitarian organisation Médecins sans Frontières also announced, on 29 October, their decision to evacuate their personnel, despite the insistent request by the American administration that they remain in Baghdad.
The region of Kurdistan, relatively protected from violence, has also periodically suffered terrorist actions. Thus, two police and two Iraqi civilians were killed and another policeman injured in an armed attack in Irbil, Kurdistan. “Some terrorists, in a car, opened fire on a police car killing two police officers and seriously injuring a third” declared the Irbil chief of Police, who was quoted by the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) television station. According to him, “the attack was premeditated (…) and it is the work of a group of terrorists who are trying to disturb security in the town”. The two civilians were identified as the Assistant Public Prosecutor at the Irbil Ministry of Justice and his wife, who works at the University of Salaheddin, near Irbil.
Furthermore an Iraqi who tried to perpetrate a suicide bomb attack on the Ministry of Justice building in Irbil, was killed by security forces, announced Mr. Karim Sinjari, Minister of the Interior of the Kurdistan Regional Government, in Irbil.
On 29 October, Turkey celebrated the 80th Anniversary of the foundation of the Republic, against the background of sharp controversies over the Islamic headscarf in a Moslem country with a secular regime governed by a party of Islamist origins. For the first time since the foundation of the Republic by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, on the ruins of the Ottoman Empire, in 1923 the majority of the Members of Parliament of the Party in office have boycotted a reception by the head of state, Ahmet Necdet Sezer, on the occasion of the National Holiday. The Members of Parliament of the Justice and Development Party (AKP, born of the Islamist movement, 368 seats out of 550) thus intended to protest against Mr. Sezer who had not invited their wives to the reception. This provoked sharp criticisms from their party and the liberal press that considered that this “crisis” at the summit of the State was unworthy of a country applying for membership of the European Union number of the wives of AK Party M.P.s, like Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s are veiled and cannot be present thus dressed at official receptions in Turkey. Never in the country’s history have so many wives of government members worn the veil. The Turkish Army, that proclaims itself the guardian of secularism, and the pro-secular hierarchy, consider wearing the headscarf — strictly forbidden in government service and in the Universities — to be an ostensible sign of support for political Islam. Mr. Erdogan, a former Islamist who rejects that label today stating he has “changed”, not wishing further to increase tension with the President, attended the event with his Ministers.
An unprecedented event — at least five AKP Members, including the President of the Parliamentary Human Rights Commission, Mehmet Elkatmis, returned the President’s invitation to him, denouncing “discrimination” by Mr. Sezer, who they accuse of being “partial” Another M.P. implicitly called on the President to resign. In his traditional message on the occasion of the National Holiday, published the day before, Mr. Sezer, a former President of the Constitutional Court and fierce defender of secular principles, issued a solemn appeal for the preservation of “principles laid down in the Constitution” — i.e. secularism and democracy.
“The President is partial. He obviously defends secularism” headlined the kemalist daily Cumhuriyet. In the opinion of Zaman (moderately islamist) the invitations “with or without wives” sent to the members of parliament have degenerated into a “crisis”. The invitations sent to the M.P.s of principal opposition party, the pro-secular People’s Republican Party (CHP) did, in fact mention their wives. All the Members of the CHP attended the reception. Mr. Sezer also omitted to mention the wives (veiled) in the invitations sent to the Vice-President of the Constitutional Court and the President of the Court of Accounts.
Since the AKP’s electoral victory, at last year’s general elections, the battle between the pro-secular hierarchy and the AKP, that is sailing with the wind in behind it after improvements in the country’s economy, has mainly raged round the sensitive question of the Islamic veil. President Sezer’s symbolic gesture on the occasion of the National Day has further fuelled the recurrent controversy in the country since the rise of political Islam in the 70s after the inauguration of dozens of religious secondary schools, of which Mr. Erdogan and many of his closest associates are ex-graduates.
Mr. Erdogan is being closely watched by the Army, which already, in 1997, had forced the first Islamist government in the country’s history out of office. Mr. Erdogan, then Mayor of Istanbul, served a four months jail sentence in 1998 for “incitement of religious hatred”. Today he affirms that he defends a secularism that respects democracy and religious freedom.
On 27 October, the American-run Provisional Administration published the first figures on the income from oil in Iraq since the overthrow of Saddam Hussein en April. Accused by certain international organisations of maintaining an opaque screen round its management of Iraqi oil resources, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) specified that a total of three billion dollars had been deposited with the Iraq Development Fund, created with UN authorisation in May for investing the oil revenues and all the funds destined for the reconstruction of Iraq. About 666 million have been spent, which leaves about 2.4 billion dollars, pointed out the CPA on its internet site http://www.cpa-iraq.org.
The administration, run by Paul Bremer, also gave details of the revenues of the Development Fund: one billion dollars comes from the UN “Oil for Food" programme, which is due to end in November; 1.4 billion comes from oil sales; 300 million come from Iraqi funds found abroad and repatriated after the war; 200 million dollars come from the American Treasury the “special fund” and 120 million from repayments by the UN Food Programme for wheat purchases.
According to the CPA, the 66 million dollars have been spent as follows: 433 million for the Finance Ministry’s budget; 125 million for wheat purchases; 92 million for a programme of currency exchange; 8 million for security equipment; 6 million for oil industry equipment and 2 million for electrical equipment.
Furthermore, on October 29, the World Bank President declared that the United States and the other rich countries are due to cancel two thirds of Iraq’s foreign debt to give it a chance of rehabilitating its economy. James Wolfenson also forecast that many rich countries would probably have to “their hands forced” over the coming year on the question of the cancellation of the Iraqi debt, estimated at some 120 billion dollars (102 billion euros). In his view, Iraq owed 40 billion dollars to the United States, France, Germany, Japan, Russia and the other countries making up the Paris club, a 19-member organisation that conducted the negotiations on the debt. At least 80 billion more are owed to Arab and other countries outside the Paris Club.
Moreover, despite Congress’s reticence over the cost of American policy in Iraq, the House of Representatives approved a budget package of 87.5 billion dollars that President Bush demanded to finance the country’s reconstruction and occupation. On 29 October, the House passed the resolution by 298 votes against 121. The Senate is expected, in turn, to accept this budget package on 3 November, giving up its idea of converting part of the reconstruction aid into a loan, repayable out of future revenues from the sale of Iraqi oil. The resolution, to a large extent, answers to what G. Bush had asked for, providing 65 billion dollars for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But the Representatives reduced the credits allocated to reconstruction to 18.6 billion — Bush had asked for 20.3 billion — tightened the control by the administration of expenditure from these funds and toughened the conditions imposed on these answering invitations to tender on contracts for Iraq. George Bush has thus succeeded in avoiding the greatest hazard facing him: the revolt of many Republicans and virtually all the Democrats, who considered that Iraq should repay part of the credits allocated for its reconstruction, amounting to half of the 20 billion envisaged for this. The White House had threatened to veto the whole of the resolution if it included any loans, which, it considered, would have harmed its efforts to stabilise the situation in Iraq, prolonged the American occupation and overburden the country under the weight of new debts.
• SOME INHABITANTS OF HAKKARI PROVINCE BEATEN UP AND DRAGGED THROUGH EXCREMENT FOLLOWING A SEARCH. The Hakkari Section of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) received a complaint on 20 October from some inhabitants of Cukurca district of Hakkari Province, accusing members of the Special Forces section of the gendarmerie of practicing torture. According to statements collected by IHD, the Special Forces launched a search at about 4 am of 18 October of the home of a “village protector” named Halil Çetin. Forbidden to dress, H. Çetin and his father were then dragged through a heap of dung. The Association also noted that Fatma Çetin, aged 60, fainted after receiving a blow on the shoulder from the butt of a rifle, and when transported to a dispensary refused, out of fear of the consequences, to take the medical report. Another victim, Sabri Ozer, for his part, was transported to the orthopaedic department of Hakkari State Hospital, who gave him a medical certificate for five-day incapacity for work. After their enquiry, IHD submitted their report to the Public Prosecutor, who was the very person who had ordered the search in the first place.
Turkey, that has already been found guilty by the European Human Rights Court in a previous case in which a villager had been forced to swallow excrement in the village of Yesilyurt (Cizre) 1989, does not seem deterred. Everything goes on as if the Turkish forces are following their own logic of repression and humiliation, with complete contempt for the law, leaving it to the civil authorities to justify their actions and, if necessary, pay derisory damages to the few victims who are bold enough to apply to the European Human Rights Court. Only a few months ago some children from the village of Hani, who had been placed in detention, accused the security forces of having covered their faces with excrement.
Over 70,000 people had been enrolled as “village protectors” in Turkey. Many of them had been forced to do so under pressure of threats from the security forces.
• THE TRAGEDY OF A YOUNG KURDISH WOMAN TORTURED IN DETENTION WITH HER SON OF 2 AND A HALF YEARS, AND EXCLUDED FROM HER OWN TRIAL BECAUSE SHE ONLY SPEAKS KURDISH. Mrs. Eren Keskin, Vice President of the Turkish Human Rights Association (IHD) and founder of the “Project for legal aid against sexual ill-treatment and torture during detention” denounced the situation of a young Kurdish woman, Mrs. Fatma Toprak, accused under Article 125 of the Penal Code of “links with the PKK”, kept in detention since 1996 and who has to face the stand of a Turkish judge who refuses to summon her to the sessions on the excuse that she “speaks in Kurdish”. In a letter sent to E. Keskin on 6 October, Fatma Toprak says that the judge told her “as from now I will not summon you again before the court … You have been protesting against us for seven years by not speaking in Turkish, we will protest against you by no longer summoning you to trial”. Mrs. Keskin points out that Fatma Toprak has been accompanied by an interpreter since the start of her trial and that it is astonishing to see such a situation today, especially as Turkey claims to have abolished the obstacles to set up against the Kurdish language to ease its entry into the European Union.
According to reports drawn up by the Turkish Doctors Union, the Istanbul Medical Council and the Human Rights Foundation, Fatma Toprak was arrested in 1996 for “political activities and membership of her husband’s PKK” and was placed in detention with her son, at that time two and a half years old, by the anti-terrorist section of the Istanbul Police Directorate. She was severely tortured; suspended after being undressed by the police who inflicted sexual ill-treatment such as being vaginally and anally violated with a truncheon. The police also gave electric shocks her son’s fingers, they also burnt him with cigarettes on the back and the hands forced him into sexual contact with his mother. According to Mrs. Toprak’s testimony, after 14 days detention the police removed the child, telling his mother that he was going to be executed. Fatma Toprak was then transferred to the Gebze prison and, despite all approaches to the prosecutor's office, they could get new news of the little Azat (Editor’s Note: “Free” in Kurdish) for 2.5 years. Azat was finally found at the abandoned children's Department in Bahçelievler, and returned to his mother in prison. Mrs. Keskin filed a complaint with the Public Prosecutor of Fatih, who refused to pursue the matter then appealed to the Assize Court at Beyoglu, which confirmed the prosecutor's decision.
An appeal has been filed with the European Court for Human Rights on the grounds of violation of Article 3 of the European Convention, regarding torture.
Furthermore for the last six months the prison authorities refuse to let Azat visit his mother on the excuse that there are no identity papers proving their relationship, despite all the approaches to the civil registry services undertaken by Fatma Toprak’s family.
• PROTESTS AGAINST THE CIRCULAR BANNING THE LETTERS “X, W AND Q”: MEMBERS OF BOTH THE PRO-KURDISH PARTIES FILE PETITIONS TO ALLOW KURDISH NAMES CONTAINING THOSE LETTERS TO BE ALLOWED. On 27 October, leaders and members of both pro-Kurdish parties simultaneously filed petitions before the Courts to secure the right to have Kurdish first names that include the letters X, W and Q, which do net exist in the Turkish alphabet.
The Turkish government recently lifted the ban on first and family names that had an “ethnic” sound — essentially Kurdish — so as to harmonise its laws with those of the European Union, which Turkey hopes to join. But a circular of the Ministry of the Interior then forbade the use of names that contained the letters X, W and Q, which exist in Kurdish but not in the Turkish alphabet. These letters do, indeed, exist in Kurdish but not in Turkish. To protest against this circular, some leaders of the People’s Democratic Party (DEHAP) and of the Free Society party (Ozgur Toplum) have filed petitions before the Courts at Ankara, Istanbul and Adana (Southern Turkey) to allow the use of new first or family names. “I want to adopt the name of Qualferat (wise)” specified Ferhat Yegin, Vice-President of Ozgur Toplum Partisi, who welcomed the government’s decision to authorise Kurdish names but opposes the restrictions imposed at the end of September by the new circular.
Furthermore, the Prefecture and Police Directorate of Van, petitioned on 22 October for permission to hold a concert by the Kurdish rock group Koma Rewsen, refused to give authorisation because the Kurdish word “Kom” (Note: “group” in Kurdish) and the letter w both appeared on the posters.
The European Commission is due to publish an evaluation report on Turkish progress towards conformity with the E.U. Ankara hopes to begin negotiations for membership at the end of 2004.
• A POLITICAL CRISIS BETWEEN TURKEY AND SWITZERLAND AFTER THE SWISS MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS HAD BEEN SPIED ON BY THE TURKISH INTELLIGENCE SERVICES (MIT). According to the Swiss daily Le Matin of 26 October, the recent cancellation of the Ankara visit of the Swiss Foreign Minister, Micheline Calmy-Rey, was due to the Turkish Secret Service (MIT) that had “spied upon” her and accused her of links with Kurdish opponents. The Turkish Secret Services are said to have denounced these links to the Swiss police in a note explaining that “if your Minister is not persona grata in Ankara, it is because she listens too attentively to Kurdish opponents”.
The relations between the two countries deteriorated at the end of September when a visit Mrs. Calmy-Rey was to have made to Turkey was cancelled at the last minute. Ankara was then said to have reacted to the recognition, a few days earlier, of the Armenian genocide by the Swiss canton of Vaud. Le Matin, which relayed information published on 25 October in the Zurich daily Tages-Anzeiger, states that Mrs. Calmy-Rey had, indeed, been under surveillance by a Turkish spy at the end of August who is said to have observed her, at a cocktail party, speaking privately for a bit more than a minute, to a Kurdish opponent. The note sent to the Swiss police by the Turkish Secret Services was then passed on to the President of the Swiss Confederation, Pascal Couchepin, who is then, according to the press, called for an emergency meeting of the Swiss government to lecture the Minister.
The Public Prosecutor described these as “stupefying” and indicated that, if the first investigations led to indications of espionage by Turkish Secret Services, criminal enquiries would be started for forbidden activities by foreign intelligence services on Swiss soil.
Moreover, the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Swiss Federal Assembly and the Assembly delegates decided to enquire into the activities of MIT and its influence over Swiss politicians and to analyse the role of President Pascal Couchepin and of Minister of Justice, Ruth Metzler, in this incident.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet, on 27 October, specified that “the Turkish leaders draw attention to the fact that the Geneva canton resolution recognising the Armenian genocide bore the signature of Mrs. Calmy-Rey” and that “following the example of former Swedish Foreign Minister, Mrs. Anna Lindh (since assassinated) Mrs. Calmy, a member of the Social Democratic Party, had expressed the wish to visit Diyarbekir … and sign a convention for a project of financing schools for teaching Kurdish”.
• A CLASH BETWEEN THE PKK AND TURKISH FORCES: 5 DEATHS IN A SINGLE WEEK. A Kurdish fighter of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK renamed KADEK) was killed on 17 October during a search and destroy operation in a rural region near Dicle, to the North of Diyarbekir. Kurdish fighters had attacked a police station near Dicle on 15 October, slightly wounding a policeman.
Furthermore, four other PKK activists were killed on 10 October by the Turkish Army in the course of land and air operations in the mountains of the Tunceli region.
Clashes, which had fallen to a virtually zero level at the beginning of the year, have been multiplying over the last few weeks.
• AFTER 9 YEARS IN PRISON, 25 PEOPLE HEAR THE TURKISH COURTS TELL THEM THAT THE ALLEGED EVENTS WITH WHICH THEY WERE CHARGED NEVER HAPPENED. On 28 October, the trial of 25 people, sentenced during an earlier trial in 1996 to between 2 years 6 month and life imprisonment, has just been reopened, after the Court of Appeals overturned the previous sentence. They had been accused on the basis of Article 125 of the Turkish Penal Code of “attempts to divide Turkish territory on the pay of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK)”. Nine years after the first hearings, two of the incidents with which they were charged were shown never to have existed. Accused of having set fire to buses belonging to the IETT (Editor’s Note: Turkish national urban transport network) and of having thrown Molotov cocktails at the Karatoprak primary school in the Gazi quarter of the Gaziosmanpasa district, the Istanbul N° 4 State Security Court declared that, on the basis of the Court of Appeals ruling and following an enquiry by the Police Directorate and by the IETT, the incidents complained of had never existed. The defence lawyer declared that the European Court for Human Rights had been informed on the basis of Article 6 of the European Convention of Human Rights regarding the right to equitable and impartial trial but also on the basis of Article 5/3 regarding the duration of their detention.
In 2000 the Court of Appeals had overturned the verdict by ruling that the file contained no information about six of the 18 incidents of which the accused were accused. Cuneyt Aydinlar, the first “officially” recorded person to “disappear” while in detention, had been detained with the others present before the Istanbul DGM. They have unceasingly accused the police of having executed C. Aydinlar.
• AMERICANS AND TURKS AGREE ON A “PLAN OF ACTION” TO ELIMINATE THE PKK FROM IRAQI KURDISTAN. On 2 October, Turkish and American leaders started a fresh series of meetings to evoke the fight against the PKK fighters refugeed in Iraqi Kurdistan. The delegations were led, on the American side by Joseph Cofer Black, the State Department’s co-ordinator for the fight against terrorism and of the Turkish side by the Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Nabi Sensoy. At the end of these meetings the two parties announced that they had agreed on a “plan of action” to eliminate the PKK-Kadek from the Northern Iraqi Kurdistan, including, especially, some military options. Mr. Black, for his part, stated that the PKK had no business being in Northern Iraq.
Ankara has several times called on the United States to act against the PKK (renamed KADEK). Over 5,000 of them have found refuge in the Kurdish mountains, near the Iranian border.
“We consider that the PKK-Kadek is a terrorist organisation and we have assured the Turkish Government that we do not view it in any other way” declared Secretary of State Colin Powell during a Press Conference. “We are still working out ways to do this in the most efficient manner possible” he added.
Moreover, on 5 October, the Prime Minister, Recep Tayyp Erdogan, stated that Turkey would judge the United States by the results. “We have seen positive signs (from the Americans). We will see over the coming days and weeks how our agreement is applied in the field” he stated on the private TV channel Kanal 7.