B u l l e t i n

c o m p l e t

Bulletin N° 255 | June 2006



The much-awaited nominations of the Iraqi Ministers of the Interior and of Defence have finally occurred. On 21 May Mr. Maliki had presented an incomplete government to parliament. The incumbents of the Ministries of the Interior, of Defence and the Secretary of State for National Security had not been nominated failing agreement between the Shiite, Sunni Arab and Kurdish coalitions. As well as the Kurdish Deputy Prime Minister, Barham Salih, responsible for the co-ordination of the economic ministries, the new Iraqi government has six Kurdish Ministers, two of whom are women. The following is the full list of this government of national unity, following the endorsement of the last three Ministers (Defence, Interior and National Security) on 8 June.


The Kurdish Ministers are:
  • Foreign Affairs: Hoshyar Zebari
  • Industry: Fawzi al-Hariri
  • Water resources: Latif Rashid
  • Housing and building: Mrs. Bayan Dizaee
  • Environment: Mrs. Narmin Othman
The Shiite Ministers are:
  • Interior: Jaward al-Bolani
  • Oil: Hussein al-Shahristani
  • Finance: Bayan Jabr
  • Trade: Abed Falah al-Sudani
  • Electricity: Karim Waheed
  • Agriculture: Yarrub Nazim
  • Education: Khudayer al-Khuzaie
  • Health: Ali al-Shemari
  • Transport: Karim Mahdi
  • Migrations: AbdulSamad Rahman
  • Youth and Sport: Jassim Mohammed Tawfiq
  • Communications: Mohammed Tawfiq
  • Labour and Social Affairs: Mahmud Mohammed al-Radhi
  • Local Authorities and Public Works: Riyad Gharib
  • National dialogue: Akram al-Hakim
The Sunni Arab Ministers:
  • Defence: Abdul-Qader Mohammed Jassim al-Mifarji
  • Justice: Hashim al-Shebli
  • Education: Abed Theyab
  • Development and Planning: and Planning: Ali Baban
  • Science and Technology: Raed Fahmi
The Christian Minister:
  • Human Rights: Wijdan Mikaeil
  • National Security: Sherwan al-Waili, Shiite
  • Civil Society: Adel al-Assadi, Shiite
  • Parliamentary Relations: Safa al-Safi, Shiite
  • Tourism and Archaeology: Liwas Semeism, Shiite
  • Women’s Affairs: Fatin AbdelRahman, Sunni Arab
  • Provincial Affairs: Saad Tahir Abid, Sunni Arab
  • Foreign Affairs: Rafaa al-Esawi, Sunni Arab
  • Without Portfolio: Ali Mohammed Ahmed, Kurdish
  • Without Portfolio: Hassan Rhadi Khazim, Shiite

On 25 June, now that the government was fully formed, the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, presented a plan for national reconciliation to try and curb the sectarian violence. Mr. Maliki hopes, with this plan to engage the interest of those factions who have remained on the sidelines of the political process, particularly part of the Sunni Arabs. Thus, he has promised to amnesty those who have not committed any crimes of blood, to respect Human Rights, to shield the police and security forces from partisan influences and to place the purging of former members of the banned Baath Party under the control of the courts. For his part, the US Ambassador to Baghdad, Zalmay Khalilzad, also called on the insurgents to lay down their arms and join the peace process being put forward by the Prime Minister. “I call on all the insurgents to lay down their arms and join the political and democratic process of the new Iraq”, he declared during a Press Conference a few hours after the reconciliation plan had been presented.

The members of parliament across the whole political spectrum welcomed this plan, aside from a few individuals like the Sunni Arab member, AbdelNasser al-Janabi, who protested at the pursuit of the policy of purging the institutions of officials of the banned Baathist party. He also demanded the “stopping of proceedings against those who are under arms fighting the occupation forces”. Another member, from Moqtada Sadr’s radical Shiite trend, demanded the release of the activists from his movement “who had not killed Iraqis”, an allusion to those imprisoned for their participation in fighting the US forces. The principal organiser of the Arab Sunni parliamentary block, Adnan al-Dulaimi, demanded, at a Press conference, that an iron hand should be used to deal with the Shiite militia, whereas the reconciliation plan envisages finding a “political, economic and security solution” to the issue.

On 27 June, a Kurdish member of parliament, Mahmud Osman, affirmed that some armed Iraqi groups, who have engaged in indirect contacts with President Jalal Talabani, demanded a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign troops as a condition for joining Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki’s reconciliation project. “According to sources close to the Presidency, contacts undertake by intermediaries are continuing between President Jalal Talabani and (seven) armed groups to leqad them to laying down their arms”, he declared. According to these sources, he pointed out, the armed groups “had laid down conditions for accepting the reconciliation plan, namely a timetable for the withdrawal of foreign forces and the recognition of the legitimacy of the resistance”. The Kurdish Member of Parliament also stated that contacts were taking place, as always through intermediaries, between the armed groups and the Americans, though without giving any details. An influential Shiite M.P., Sheikh Jalal Eddin al-Saghir considered that the tribal chiefs and dignitaries of the Sunni Arab region of al-Anbar, West of Baghdad, really wanted to join the peace process. However, according to his, they were being prevented by extremist groups. The N°2 man in the Islamic Party, Iyad al-Samarrai, for his part, affirmed that his party was ready to act as intermediaries between the government and the armed groups. According to him. “the general tendency in Western Iraq, and particularly in al-Anbar province, is towards reconciliation”. “But security conditions are bad, particularly as al-Anbar is suffering from a strong al-Qaida presence”. In the Sunni Arab camp, the institution that manages the religious trusts (Waqfs), in a communiqué, welcomed Mr. Maliki’s plan while hoping for the rapid dissolution of the militia, and the release of a considerable number of detainees.

On 25 June, the United States indicated that reconciliation in Iraq would take time and that it supported the Prime Minister’s efforts to achieve it. “We know that reconciliation must be an Iraqi process, conducted by Iraqis. Naturally, we are ready to help these efforts if the Iraqis ask for our help”, pointed out the White House spokesman, Ken Kisaius.


The human and financial cost of the war in Iraq has increased with the announcing, on 15 June, that 2,500 US troops had met their deaths, and releasing by Congress of an additional $66 billion package. The symbolic threshold 0f 2,500 US soldiers killed is a “sad landmark” the White House stressed, but George W, Bush thinks that they have not died “in vain”, pointed out the Presidential spokesman, Tony Snow. “The President would like this war to be over. Everyone would like this war to be over”, he declared.

According to the Pentagon, 1,972 soldiers have been killed in action in Iraq and 528 have died from causes unconnected with combat. In addition, 18,490 soldiers have been wounded in action, of which 8,501 have been able to return to duty. According to some estimated, 4,800 police and members of the Iraqi security forces have been killed and at least 30,000 civilians have died since the start of the war.

The US House of Representatives, observed a minutes silence in tribute of those killed in action, at the initiative of the Democratic opposition, which opposes the conduct of the war by the Bush Administration. Apart from the loss of lives and the thousands of wounded, the Americans have to date released $438 billion for the “war against terrorism” undertaken by the Bush Administration following the 11 September 2001— 70% of which is for the war in Iraq. On 15 June, the Senate almost unanimously (98 votes to1) adopted a minibudget aimed at financing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan to the extent of $65.8 billion and supplying $4 billion of assorted aid to its allies in the “war against terrorism”

Furthermore, pressure is rising against the Ammerican Army, accused of having committed and, sometimes, covered up military blunders during its operations in Iraq. For example the American enquiry into the alleged Haditha blunder hope to be able to exhume bodies of the alleged victims to find evidence. This i9s the case in which 24 civilians are alleged to have been killed by Marines, on 19 November 2005, in reprisal for the death of one of their number in a bomb attack.

The sombre consequences of the war in Iraq, combined with the continuation of violence, his weighing heavily on the efforts of president G.W. Bush to draw the maximum advantage from the recent good news such as the full formation of the Iraqi government and the death of Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi, who was killed on 7 June, in a joint Iraqi-American operation North of Baghdad. According to US General George Casey, commander of the multi-national force in Iraq, Zarqawi was killed in an air raid North of Ba’aquba and the US troops have succeeded in confirming his identity thanks to “his finger prints, his face and his scars”.

During a Press Conference, Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki, announced the “elimination” of Zarqawi, for whose head Washington had posted a reward of $25 million dollars. The news was greeted with a round of applause. According to a Jordanian official, Jordanian forces took part in the operation against Zarqawi, who was presiding over a meeting of his terrorist group near Ba’aquba, 60 Km North of Baghdad. On the news of his death, many Iraqis expressed their joy by giving sweets away to passers-by and Iraqi soldiers began dancing in the street in the centre of Baghdad waving their assault rifles while women in black shawls gave vent to loud trills of joy. President Bush declared that, with Zarqawi’s death “terrorist ideology has lost one of its most visible and active leaders. Zarqawi’s death is a hard blow for al-Qaida”. However, he also warned that one should “expect the terrorists and insurgents to continue without him”. UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, declared for his part that Zarqawi’s death “represents a blow for al-Qaida. However, we have no illusions — we know that they will continue to kill”

On another level, according to a report published in the United States on 14 June, over 650,000 Iraqis have fled from their country to Jordan or Syria since the beginning of 2005. According to the American Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Iraq has the third highest number of refugees in the world, with 880,000 exiles. Only the Palestinians and Afghans have more refugees than Iraq. The country with the largest number of internal refugees is the Sudan, where 5.3 million people have had to leave their homes — many of whom are victims of the Darfur conflict, which has lasted for three years. Sudan is followed by Columbia, which has 2.9 million internal refugees.

With this endemic violence in the Arab regions of Iraq, many Iraqis are trying every means of leaving the country. About 130 Iraqis have been arrested in the last six months at Irbil Airport, for trying to leave the country with forged papers, announced Major Radwan Ayub Said, head of immigration services at Irbil International Airport, at the capital of the autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan. “In the last six months we have arrested 130 Irais trying to go to Europe with forged passports or forged visas”, stated Major Said. “All those whom we have stopped were from the Centre or South of the country and wnted to take advantage of the fact that we have inaugurated international flights to go to European countries”, he added. According to him, some of them have forged visas, others forged passports, particularly Swedish, Danish, German and Finnish. “They are mostly young and a high proportion of them are women”. These people have been handed over to the Kurdish security services pending their appearance in court, added the head of immigration.

Finally, acting on the request of the new government in Baghdad, the UN Security Council, on 15 June, authorised the US-led multinational force to remain in Iraq till the end of 2006. The Council reached its decision after hearing reports from the US Ambassador , John Bolton, from the Iraqi Foreign Minister, Hoshyar Zebari, and the UN Assistant General Secretary, Angela Kane. A resolution passed last November had extended the multinational force’s mandate to the end of 2006, subject to review no later than 17 June. This resolution empowered the Council to end this mandate at any time, should the Iraqi government so request it — thus imposing the withdrawal of the US Army.


On 13 June, US President George W. Bushpaid a surprise visit to Baghdad to back the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nuri al-Maliki. The meeting between Messrs. Bush and Maliki took place at the US Embassy in the Green Zone, the ultra-protected sector in the middle of Baghdad that also contains the offices of the Iraqi government. Mr. Maliki was surrounded by most of his Ministers, in particular those for Defence, AbdelKader Mohammed Jassem, of the Interior, Jawad Bulani and of Oil, Hussein al-Shahristani. This si Mr. Bush’s first visit to Iraq and he was accompanied by his National Security Advisor, Stephen Hadley, by his personal chief of staff, Josh Bolten, and his advisor Dan Bartlett and some others who have become close associates following the invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. This visit took place less than a week after the death of al-Qaida’s chief in Iraq, Abdel Mussab al-Zarqawi in a US air raid. The objective of Mr. Bush’s journey was personally to meet Mr. Al-Maliki and to get an idea of his priorities and of “the means that the US Government can supply to ensure the success” of his actions, according to Mr. Bartlett.

Mr. Bush indicated that, during his five-hour stay in Baghdad, he had assured the new Iraqi leaders that the United States would not let them down so long as the Iraqi forces were not capable of ensuring the country’s security. According to Mr. Bush, the Iraqi ministers expressed “anxiety that we should not leave before they were capable of defending themselves and I assured them that they had no reason to be worried”. George W. Bush hoped that the situation will have considerably improved when he comes to the end of his term in office, in January 2009. “I truly hope so”, Mr. Bush told the journalists who asked him, on the plane carrying him back from Baghdad, whether he would be able to visit Iraq in those two and a half years without the lavish security that surrounded his surprise visit. “If the criteria is that there be no more violence, that is an impossible condition to fulfil” indicated Mr. Bush on bord Air Force One. “If the criteria is a (Iraqi) government that is beginning to win the confidence of people because it has acted wisely to contribute to a return to normal, the I think that this government will fulfil this criteria”, he added.

Moreover, on 17 June George Bush had called on the donor countries to give concrete expression to the $13 billion of aid promised to Iraq and reaffirmed that the United States had gone too far to abandon the Iraqi people now. Of the $13 billion promised, only $3 billion had been paid. However, certain of the lenders feared that the budgets devoted to reconstruction might be pumped off to finance security operations.


Subjected to discrimination during the Saddam Hussein regime, Iraqi Kurdistan has decided to call on foreign firms to catch up on its backwardness in all areas. For this, the authorities emphasise the calm reigning there, in contrast to the rest of the country, its proximity to Turkey, Iran and Syria and, above all, a new law broadly favouring foreign investors, including in the oil sector.

“We want to make Kurdistan the gateway to trade with Iraq”, stated Nechirvan Barzani, Prime Minister of the regional government, on 23 June. “The legislative text, which will be adopted by Parliament, will open the doors widely to foreign investments. Kurdistan is the best place in Iraq because it enjoys security and stability” he stated. The Prime Minister affirmed that “this law will guarantee the rights of investors and their works in all sectors”

The 26-article law is extremely liberal and encouraging. It authorises foreigners to own land, to repatriate their profits and offers tax exemptions for a period of 10 years. Moreover, the firms can import their equipment without paying import duties and bring in their staff. All areas are open to foreign investment, including the oil industry, whereas in the rest of the country this sector remains nationalised. “This law will contribute ot the prosperity of Kurdistan, because hitherto we have worked on the basis of old laws, which are archaic and contain many restrictions”, declared enthusiastically a Kurdish businessman Badram Sadik.

The three Kurdish provinces cover over 38,000 square Km, an area equivalent to that of Switzerland. They had suffered extensive destruction under the Saddam Hussein regime but had blossomed after 1991 when they secured their autonomy under international protection. Thanks to the security and stability of its institutions, the Kurdish region has become very attractive. “A the moment, 3,800 Iraqi and foreign firms, 500 of them Turkish, have been set up in Kurdistan and I think that after the law has been passed, their number will be doubled as many foreign companies assure us that they are waiting for this law before coming”, stated, for his part, Aziz Ibrahim, Director General for Trade at the Kurdish Finance Ministry. The Trade Minister, Mohammed Ra’uf stated that he did not “yet have official statistics because of the existence of two Ministries, one at Irbil and the other at Suleimaniyah”. In May the two Kurdish administrations decided to unite. Kurdistan is experiencing a boom, particularly in building, with projects for shopping centres, hotels and tourist centres totalling in value between 200 and 500 million dollars. “Up to now, investment s have been concentrated mainly in building and infrastructures, but we want to give some priority to industry”, stressed Mr. Ra’uf.

While the rest of Iraq is concerned at the forced displacements of Shiite and Sunni Arabs because of sectarian tensions, the flight of many Christians from Baghdad has not received the same attention. This exodus is, however, very real, with the arrival of 70 Christian families in Inkawa, a town in Iraqi Kurdistan with a mainly Christian population of 30,000 people. These Christian fear the threats of armed groups and attacks on shops, bars, hairdressing salons or clothing shops. The Christian religious authorities are remaining very quiet about the difficulties of their fellow Christians, following the example of the head of the Chaldean Church, Mgr. Emmanuel Dely. It was the Arab League representative in Iraq Mokhtan Lammani, a Moroccan who has only recently arrived in Iraq to draw attention to this problem. “During a recent visit to Kurdistan, I was learnt that all the members of the Sabean community of Baghdad, about 20 to 25 thousand strong, had collectively asked to emigrate to Kurdistan”, he declared. “In addition, some 3,500 Christian families have recently emigrated to Kurdistan, after receiving threats”, he added.

The Sabeans, or Mandeans, are about 60,000 strong in Iraq. They practice baptism, like the Christians, but fast like the Moslems. Followers of John the Baptist, they live manly in the South of the country. The origin of their religion goes back to the 1st or 2nd Century AD. Baptism is central to their cult. It takes place on Sunday and members must go through it several times a year. Funeral ceremonies are also very important, as for three days they recite their Holy Book, the “Ginza” (treasure).

The influx of Christian refugees to Inkawa has given a boost to the housing market, which does not suit low-income families. It has become impossible to rent a 2-room flat for less than 500 dollars a month, and larger accommodation would cost twice as much, even though the Kurdish authorities allow $100 dollars a month per family. Father Saliwa Hibi, of St. Joseph’s Church says that his parish has tried to help the displaced persons, but they continue to flood in from Baghdad, but also from Mossul, a major mixed population city lying North of the federal Province of Kurdistan. There are still about 800,000 Christians in Iraq, mostly Chaldeans (Catholics) mainly settled in Baghdad, Mossul and Kurdistan, and many have been seeking to leave the country since the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime in April 2003. According to the latest report of the International Office of Migrations, dated 7 June, there are about 97,224 displaced persons, though the Iraqi Red Crescent puts the figure at 102,622.

All the Iraqi Christians were originally from Kurdistan, which has served them as a refuge ever since the persecutions launched in the context of “crusades of faith” by the Caliphs of Baghdad at the end of the 9th Century. They lived there in symbiosis with the Moslem and Yezidi Kurds as well as the Jews till the early 50s, when some of them migrated to the Arab towns for economic reasons.


On 27 June, the Iraqi High Criminal Court announced that Saddam Hussein would be tried for genocide of Kurds. The Court has set Monday August 21 as the date for the beginning of the trial. “The Court has set Monday 21 August 2006 as the date for the beginning of the trial”, indicated a communiqué of the court, which has been trying Saddam Hussein and seven co-defendants since 19 October 2005 for another case, the massacre of Shiite villagers in the 1980s. The investigations into the role of Saddam Hussein in the anti-Kurd Anfal campaign, which caused nearly 200,000 deaths, were completed in April. On the 4th of the same month, Saddam Hussein, together with his six co-defendants, were charged with genocide during this operation that the old regime presented as a wartime counter-insurrection operation. One of the co-defendants, Saddam Hussein’s cousin Ali Hassan al-Majid, known as “Chemical Ali”, is at the heart of the case. He is the subject of a great number of accusations — particularly the use of toxic gases, of mass executions and of the setting up of detention camps, in order to subjugate Iraqi Kurdistan.

According to Human Rights Watch, in addition to some 182,000 killed, over 4,000 villages were destroyed during this campaign, which also provoked a mass displacement of the Kurdish population. Between 1987 and 1989, a series of assaults were launched against the Kurds, with the particularly notable gassing of the town of Halabja in 1988, which caused 5,000 deaths. Halabja, however, is not included in this trial. By 1986 large areas of Kurdish territory had escaped from the control of Baghdad, subjected to growing pressures arising from its war with Iran. At the beginning of 1987, Saddam Hussein gave Ali Hassan al-Majid the responsibility of regaining control of the region. The latter then decreed certain ”forbidden zones” in the region, considering all their inhabitants as insurgents. According to Human Rights Watch (HRW), these campaigns were more than simple counter-insurrection operations. They were intended to exterminate the Kurdish people. “It must be stressed that the murders were not committed during the counter-insurgency operations: the detainees were killed several days or weeks after the armed forces had attained their objectives”, stated HRW, in a detailed report on the Anfal campaign dated 1993. “Finally, there is the question of 9intentionm which is at the heart of the notion of genocide”, stressed the report, detailing the documents and testimonies that clearly show this intention. The report, entitled “Genocide in Iraq: the Anfal Campaign against the Kurds”, was translated into French and published by Karthala in 2003.

Furthermore, on 19 June, during the 35th hearing of his trial, the Public Prosecutor, Jalal al-Mussawi, after recalling at length the repression at Dujail, a Shiite village North of Baghdad, called for “the maximum penalty” (in other words the death sentence) for Saddam Hussein, his half-brother Barzan al-Tikriti and former Vice President Taha Yassin Ramadan. In his view, the inhabitants of this locality, which saw an attack on a convoy containing Saddam Hussein in 1982, subsequently suffered a “systematic campaign of repression” that cost the lives of 148 of them. Mr. Mussawi stated that, in hisd view, the death sentence was justified for the three accused on the grounds of premeditated murder, torture, imprisonment and serious privations. To reach the trial’s summing up the Presiding Judge had had to show great firmness to prevent the trial dragging on for ever, by insisting on limiting the number of witnesses and by repeatedly expelling Barzan al-Takriti to prevent him engaging in long, generally political, speeches. The next hearing will be devoted to the defence counsels’ summing up.

The principal crimes attributed to the former regime are:

  • In 1991, following the defeat of the Iraqi Army (which was driven out of Kuwait by an international, US-led coalition) Saddam Hussein drowned in blood the Shiite uprising in Southern Iraq, making tens of thousands of victims.
  • In 1988, during the Iraq-Iran war (1980-1988) then Iraq Air force poured a whole range of toxic chemicals onto the Kurdish town of Halabja. This air raid was the largest attack using poison gas against civilians: some 5,000 Iraqi Kurds, mostly women and children, were killed in the space of a few minutes, and 10,000 suffered serious injuries.
  • The Anfal campaign (1987-1988), in which some 182,000 people were killed in mass Kurdish population displacements and massacres of Kurdish villages by the Saddam Hussein regime.
  • Iran is accusing Saddam Hussein of “crimes against humanity, genocide, violation of international laws and the use of prohibited weapons”. The war with Iraq according to Western estimates, cost nearly a million dead, to both sides.
  • Kuwait, invaded by Saddam Hussein’s troops in 1990 and occupied by them for seven months, has called for the death sentence in its bill of indictment against the former Iraqi President for crimes committed in the Emirate. The charges accused Saddam Hussein and his henchmen of crimes against humanity, war crimes and the use of armed force to invade the Emirate.
  • In 1983, thye execution of 8,000 members of the Barzani tribe.
  • The execution of Shiite religious dignitaries in 1980 and 1999.

Moreover, the bodies of victims of the repression of the 1991 Shiite insurrection are gradually being exhumed to provide evidence of the crimes of Saddam Hussein’s regime during the repression of the 1991 Shiite insurrection. Thus 28 corpses have been carefully exhumed from a recently discovered mass grave and sent to Baghdad for evidence of the crimes committed by Saddam Hussein’s old regime. Bullet holes are still visible in their clothes. Michael Trimble, responsible for the American Liaison Organisation in charge of investigating the former regime’s crimes, explained on 4 June: “We have a particularly sophisticated forensic medical laboratory in Baghdad, which enables us to carry out all the analyses needed under the best possible condition”. Financed by the US, this organisation helps the Iraqi authorities to prepare the case of crimes against humanity, against Saddam Hussein and the leaders of his regime. In this area, right in the desert South-West of Baghdad, an 11-man team, which includes specialists in archaeology and criminal anthropology, has set up a temporary camp to examine the sites identified in 2003 as potential 15-year old mass graves.

In 1991, the Saddam Hussein regime had drowned in blood a Shiite insurrection in the South of the country, sparked off by the defeat in Kuwait of the Iraqi armies by the US-led international coalition. “Witnesses have shown us nearly 200 sites to date, which are listed at the Human Rights Ministry in Baghdad”, pointed out, on site, the leading investigating judge of the Iraqi High Criminal Court, Ra’el Juhi. “However, as far as the repression of the 1991 Shiite insurrection, the number of victims exceeds 100,000 people, according to documents we hold, and could rise as high as 180,000 according to information that we have not yet been able to check”, stated Judge Juhi.

Unlike the immense mass graves of the Anfal campaign against the Kurds, which often contain 200 corpses at a time, those in the South are smaller. “The mass graves are smaller in the South, where the repression was less organised and slower than against the Kurds. The security forces arrested small groups, mainly of men, they killed them and buried them very quickly”, Michael Trimble told us. In a seven Km radius round this site, at least 18 other sites, likely to contain mass graves, have been listed and will have to be explored.

In addition, some Republican members of the US Congress affirmed, on 21 June, on the basis of a summary of a report by the Intelligence services, that “about 500 items of ammunition” containing chemical agents have been found since the 2003 invasion. “Since 2003, the coalition forces have found about 500 items of ammunition containing mustard gas and diluted sarin”, states this document, which was revealed to the press by Senator Rick Santorum and the President of the Intelligence Commission of the House of Representatives, Peter Hoekstra. “Despite many efforts to locate and destroy Iraqi munitions dating from before the first Gulf War (1991) it is considered that chemical weapons, loaded or not, still exist”, according to this document. “In my opinion, it is an incredibly significant discovery. The idea that, as my colleagues in the Opposition keep repeating, that there were no weapons of mass destruction is, in fact, wrong”, concluded Mr. Santorum.


On 16 June, the Paris Kurdish Institute organised a symposium on the subject of “Where is Iran going?” in the Victor Hugo Hall of the French National Assembly. Leading political figures from different organisations representing all the nationalities and cultures of Iran took part in this symposium, which took place in French and English with simultaneous translation.

The symposium was initiated by the observation that the total of non-Persian peoples of the Iranian Empire represent 45 million souls or about 65% of the total Iranian population, now estimated at about 70 million. None of them enjoy any public education in their own language. In addition, those, like the Kurds, the Baluchis and the Turkomen, the majority of whom are Sunni Moslems, are excluded under the Iranian Constitution from the most important organs of government. Victims of national, linguistic and religious discrimination, these peoples, who do not identify themselves with the biased and dictatorial system of representation of the Islamic Republic, are more and more demanding a democratic, secular and federal Iran.

On the subject of “Iranian Society Today”, the first panel presided by Dr. Hamit Bozarslan, co-director of the Institute of Moslem Societies in Paris, allowed the political and societal situation in Iran to be defined. Dr. Ali Nourizadeh, a journalist and writer and specialist on socio-political questions in Iran and the Middle East, draw up a picture of Iran, a veritable mosaic of cultures, languages and religious denominations. Mr. Abdullah Mohtadi, General Secretary of Komala, dealt with the systematic repression, in Iran, against all politico-religious dissent and the regime’s radicalisation, which is toppling into a messianic and confrontational logic.

“The question of non-Persian nationalities”, the subject of the second panel, Presided by Kendal Nezan, President of the Paris Kurdish Institute, brought together leaders of the principal opposition forces in Iran. Mansur Ahwazi, international relations representative of the Ahwaz Democratic Solidarity Party, who came especially from the United States, described the situation of the 5 million Arabs in Iran. Mr. Nasser Biladi, President of the Baluchi People’s Party in Sweden, drew a picture of the Baluchi people in Iran. Baluchi children cannot receive an education in their own language and experience difficulty in being accepted by Iranian Universities, which accept students on the basis of their religious affiliations. “The Baluchis in Iran feel they are in an apartheid system” summed up Mr. Boladai, attacking the way his people is being reduced to the position of a minority, discriminated against on their own soil, which is rich in natural resources. This analysis was completed by Mrs. Bettina Bouresh, of the Organisation for the Defence of the Rights of the Turkomen people. Dr. Zia Sadr, President of the Azeri Cultural Centre, coming from Canada, indicated, for his part that “Iranian Azerbaijan (…) is at present being shaken by many demonstrations at Tabriz, but also in other towns like Urmiah, Zangan, Ardabil Maraga …”

Dr. Sadr stressed that “the Azerbaijani language is the mother tongue of over 23 million people” and pointed out that “the oppressed peoples of Iran, who make up 65% of the country’s population, that is nearly 48 million people” must be supported to contribute “to the emergence of a real democratic system in this country”. For his part, Mr. Mustafa Hejri, General Secretary of the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Iran (KDPI) described the situation of the Kurds in Iran, pointing out that Iranian Kurdistan includes four provinces in Western Iran, Kermanshah, Ilam, Western Azerbaijan and Kurdistan, with a total of 10 million inhabitants spread over 125,000 square Km. He attacked the Islamic regime that ordered the murder of hundreds of members of his party and of other organi9sations, both in Iran and abroad. He also paid tribute to the leaders of his party, Dr. Abdulrahman Ghassemlou and then Dr. Sharafkandi, both assassinated by the Iranian regime — the first in 1989 in Vienna, the second in 1992 in Berlin. Mr. Mustafa Hejri proposed an ethno-geographic federalism to consolidate the unity of the country while meeting the legitimate aspirations of the country’s non-Persian peoples.

The symposium ended with a last round table entitled “The democracies faced with the Iranian Challenge”, presided by Gérard Chaliand, a specialist in geopolitics. This last round table included Philippe Errera, Assistant Director of the Centre d’analyse et Prévision (CAP — centre for analysis and foresight) of the French Foreign Ministry and Hubert Vedrine, former French Foreign Minister. They discussed the Iranian nuclear programme and the position of France and the international community in the face of the challenge thrown down by the Islamic regime, which is imposing its own timetable and wishes by plying on its natural resources and influence in the region as well as in the Lebanon.

The symposium was welcomed by the Kurdish, French and international press as the Kurdish Institute had succeeded in bringing together political representatives who are rarely heard in France. The principal contributions are available on the Paris Kurdish Institute’s web site (


On 26 June, the Ankara Public Prosecutor’s Office launched legal proceedings against the principal pro-Kurdish party in Turkey, immediately following its Congress, at which effigies of Abdullah Ocalan had been displayed. Leaders of the party accused, in particular, of “trying to justify terrorism”. The enquiry could, in the end, result in the banning of the party. During its congress in the Turkish capital on 25 June, the leaders of the Party for a Democratic Society (DTP) voted repeal the principle of joint presidency, in force since its foundation in 2005, so as to bring its constitution in line with Turkish law, that only allows a single leader. The only candidate for this position, its former co-President Ahmet Turk, who has several times been member of parliament, was elected without any difficulty. This first Congress of the DTP was marked by the presence of foreign guests such as Gorka Elajabarrieta, member of the International Committee of Batasuna, the political arm of the Basque nationalist armed group ETA, and Philip McGuigan of Sinn Fein, the political arm of the Irish Republican Army (IRA).

The other former co-President of the DTP, Aysel Tugluk, took this opportunity to call on the Turkish government to take as its model the Spanish government that is due to start discussions with ETA the following week, to resolve the Kurdish problem. “The dialogue adopted and accepted by the Spanish government and ETA is of vital importance in Turkish conditions as well”, stated Mrs Tugluk, implicitly calling for discussions between Ankara and the PKK. Several DTP mayors in Turkish Kurdistan are facing legal proceedings, mainly for “trying to justify terrorism”. The DTP, which is not represented in Parliament, is campaigning for the rights of Kurds in Turkey and for lifting the threshold of 10% of the national votes needed to send members to Parliament. The DTP was created by former Kurdish members of Parliament, the best known of which is Leylla Zana, who was imprisoned for ten years.

Furthermore. Turkish judicial sources indicated, on 20 June, that fifty-six Kurdish mayors, including Osman Baydemir, the popular Mayor of Diarbekir, have been charged by a Diyarbekir Court because of a letter sent to the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, urging him to resist Ankara’s demands that he close down a Kurdish Television station. The mayors face up to 10 years jail under the terms of the charges against them, namely of “deliberately supporting” the PKK by this letter, written in English and dated last December. Ankara had demanded that the Danish authorities cancel the licence to broadcast given to RojTV, which is based in Denmark from, which it has been broadcasting since 2004. The grounds of this demand by Ankara are alleged its alleged links with the PKK. The charge against them affirms that RojTV regularly quotes PKK leaders and reports PKK statements and incitements to violence “in accordance with PKK propaganda”. The date of the trial is still unknown. The Turkish authorities consider that the channel “incites hated by openly supporting the PKK”. Washington has also asked Copenhagen to close down this channel. However, the Danish Audiovisual supervisory body considered, at the beginning of the year, that the RojTV programmes contained no incitement to hatred. According to the Danish public radio service Danemark Radio (DR)the US Embassy in Ankara contacted the Danish one in Turkey on 7April and described RojTV as a PKK mouthpiece. Then, on 10 April, the Danish Foreign Ministry received a letter from Washington headed “Renewed call by the United States to close down RojTV”.

Moreover, on 9 June, the Kurdish mayor of the town of Cizre was sentenced to a year and three months jail for statements considered to be in praise of Abdullah Ocalan. Aydin Budak, Mayor of that town in Sirnak province, in the course of a speech in Cizre, had criticised the isolation to which A. Ocalan is subjected in the island prison of Imrali (North-West Turkey). He had particularly reproached the authorities of having limited visits by his family.


Finland, which has been undertaking the Presidency of the European Union since 30 Ju8ne, has raised a possible suspension of discussions with Turkey if Ankara does not meet the requirements for membership of the Union. “It is always possible to stop the negotiations. I am certain that Turkey is not unaware of this”, declared Prime Minister Matti Vanhanen before a group of journalists as his country was preparing to take over the Presidency from Austria for the next six months. On 28 June the Finnish news agency, STT, reported that the European Commissioner for Enlargement, Olli Rehn, had declared, for his part, that the Union could completely suspend negotiations with Turkey for membership because of its refusal to open its ports and airports to traffic from Cyprus. “It’s a possibility. I hope we will not need to resort to it, but there is no reason not to do so if we have reason to”, Mr. Rehn pointed out to STT that was asking him if the E.U. could stop the discussions. The interview was given on the day that the E.U. Ambassadors decided, for the first time to go onto the next stage with Croatia rather than Turkey because of the deadlock over Cyprus. In the course of a first exchange of views in the Foreign Affairs Commission of the European Parliament on 20 June, regarding a Parliamentary report on Turkey’s progress towards membership, Mr. Rehn had confided to the Members that he was concerned at the lowering in the pace of reform in Turkey. “If Turkey wants to avoid major problems this coming autumn, it must keep its word (…) and respect its obligations both regarding the association agreement and the partnership for membership. Any lapse would have a negative effect on the negotiations”, Mr. Rehn warned. He urged Turkey to take the necessary measures with a view to normalising its relations with Cyprus, such as “to stop exercising its veto on Cyprus’s membership of international organisations”.

Turkey, which invaded Cyprus in 1974 in reaction to a coup d’état fomented by the Junta then in power in Greece, does not recognise the Greek Cypriot government of Nicosia. The E.U. demands that Turkey open its seaports and airports to traffic from Cyprus in the context of the agreement signed last year, extending its customs union to the ten new members of the Union — including Cyprus. On 16 June, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared that he preferred to suspend negotiations than make certain concessions to the Republic of Cyprus. “So long as the Turkish Cypriots remain isolated, we will not open either our seaports or our airports. If the negotiations stop, that’s just too bad”, he stated in a speech made before the Istanbul Chamber of Industry and broadcast on Turkish television. The Turks recall that he Turkish Cypriots had voted “YES” by referendum to the UN-supported plan for reunification of the island, whereas the more numerous and prosperous Greek Cypriots had rejected it by a clear majority. “We have done what we had to do (by supporting the UN plan). We will show our good will to those who show good will towards us”, stated Mr. Erdogan.

A draft of the report, due to be made public in October or November, on the progress of Ankara’s efforts to join the E.U. also finds a slowing down of the political reforms, the continuation of the Army’s influence in all the country’s political institutions. It recommends greater independence of the courts and the granting of rights to women and minorities. It concludes that conditions have deteriorated in Turkish Kurdistan where fighting has resumed between the Army and the PKK. Moreover, the report criticises the present state of relations between Ankara and Greece and Armenia, two countries that have long been traditional “enemies” of Turkey. Turkey, a candidate member since 1999, began negotiations last October after having passed a series of political and human rights reform laws. The country is unlikely to join the Union before 2015 at the earliest. This week it concluded negotiations on the first, and least sensitive, of the 35 stages that must be passed before it can join the E.U.


On 25 June, brandished the oil weapon “if its interests” were “attacked” because of its nuclear programme while rejecting any suspension of its uranium enrichment as a condition of the resumption of negotiations on this issue. “If the interests of the country are attacked we will use all our capacities (in response) and oil is one of them”, declared the Oil Minister, Kazem Vaziri-Hamaneh, as quoted by the State television service. On this issue the minister warned that “in the event of sanctions, against Iran’s oil sector (…) the price of oil will jump by at least a hundred dollars” a barrel. Such measures would be “unreasonable and impossible” as “replacing (Iran’s) oil quota and its strong presence in the oil industry would be unachievable”, he considered. Iran is the fourth largest oil producer in the world and the second largest in the OPEC). The great powers (Germany, China, the United States, France, Great Britain and Russia) made it an offer aimed at persuading it to suspend the enrichment. This includes inducement, mainly economic, but is linked to the pre-condition of suspending the enrichment. However, Teheran rejects this condition, as the Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hamid Reza Assefi recalled on Sunday: “The question of suspending uranium enrichment is a step backwards, we think that Europe should negotiate without preconditions”, declared Mr. Assefi at a press briefing.

The Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmedinjad again explained that the Iranian reply would not be forthcoming before mid-August. “Iran will examine, with a positive approach and in the context of its national interests, the offer by the great powers and will give its reply, after this examination, at the end of the month of Mordad (which finishes on 22 August)”, he declared on 21 June, according to the Iranian press agency Isna. The president made these remarks when meeting the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, who handed him a message from his Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Mr. Gul stated to the press that the question of the suspension of enrichment “should be settled in a peaceful and political manner”. Soon after his US opposite number reacted to the news of the Iranian delay by declaring that “this seems terribly long for a reasonable reply(…) Examining a reasonable offer should not take the Iranians such a long time”.

In this tense context, the 57 countries of the Islamic Conference Organisation, meeting at Baku on 21 June, backed Iran by calling for the resumption of discussions “without preconditions”. The ICO also “expressed its concern in the face of the pressures being exerted on Iran and of the repercussions that they could have on the peace and security in the region and beyond”.

On 11 April, Iran had announced that it had carried out for the first time some enrichment to 3.5%. It has since refused to put an end to its activities in this field despite a Presidential statement to the UN Security Council on 29 March. The former UN chief inspector, Hans Blix, estimated on 19 June that Iran might be able to make an atom bomb within five years if it was authorised to enrich uranium on an industrial scale. “By 2010-2011 they could have a nuclear weapon if they want to”, observed Hans Blix after giving the Indonesian authorities a copy of the report published earlier in the month by the Commission on weapons of mass destruction. According to him, this is the reason why the Western countries should stand firm and refuse any industrial scale uranium enrichment.

For his part, the Turkish Foreign Minister, Abdullah Gul, paid a working visit to Teheran on 24 June to break the deadlock due to the Iranian nuclear question, in accordance with the request of the international community. Mr. Gul met the Iranian President, Mahmud Ahmedinjad, the chief negotiator, Ali Larijani, and former President Hashimi Rafsanjani. “An evaluation was concluded during the present discussions withal the parties concerned by the Iranian nuclear programme at the highest level”, the Turkish Foreign Minister indicated in a statement. Following his visit to Iran, Mr. Gul will be visiting the United States from 4 to 7 July before returning to Teheran for another visit to Iran from 8 to 9 July.


On 5 June the National Salvation Front (NSF — the opposition in exile) ended its founding Congress by calling on the Syrians and the country’s armed forces to “break the barriers of fear” and to overthrow the Damascus regime and establish democracy in the country. “There is no doubt about the regime falling”, affirmed the NSF in its final declaration. “Therefore, dear citizens, break the barriers of fear that have been set up over the last decades as did your forefathers when they won Syria’s independence”

The NSF also calls on “the (Syrian) armed forces to face up to their national and historic responsibilities by being the people’s army”. It “invites the security forces, particularly those officers employed by the regime to inflict injustices on the citizens (…) to assume their moral and national responsibilities and refuse to obey the orders of the group that you all know to be corrupt and oppressive”, namely the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

The NSF, that had organised its founding congress in London over the 4th and 5th June includes about fifty Syrian opposition public figures, including the former Syrian Vice President, AbdelHalim Khaddam and the chief of the Syrian Moslem Brotherhood, Ali Sadreddin al-Bayanuni. It has adopted as its programme “the building of a modern civil and democratic state based on plurality, the peaceful transfer of power”, a political system based on free elections without “violation of rights” of any group, religious or ethnic. In its final declaration the NSF accuses the Syrian regime of “illegal seizure of power and coercion” and of having “lost any reason for existence”. But it has been careful not to differentiate itself from the opposition ”of the interior”, formed round the “Damascus Declaration”. Launched in October 2005, the latter unites several parties (communist, nationalist, liberal and Kurdish) and calls for a “radical democratic change” in Syria. Finally, the NSF nominated Messrs Khaddam and Bayanuni respectively to the posts of N°1 and N°2 in the NSF. “Syria is facing a double choice”, declared Mr. Khaddam in his inaugural speech to the Congress in Arabic. “The first is the maintain the present situation in which case it will disappear. The other is of turning to the people and the constitution of a new regime, a democratic regime” in which “political alternation will be made through free elections, which would guarantee the freedom of the citizens, freedom of society and individual liberty”. “Peaceful and democratic change requires (…) and calls for all to be ready for sacrifice and change on the road to freedom and sovereignty”, declared the head of the Syrian Moslem Brotherhood, Ali Sadreddin Bayanuni. This meeting, in which participated some Kurdish parties, some independents and some communists, represents “the unique starting point on the road to the end of the regime” of Bashar al-Assad, he added.

AbdelHalim Khaddam is one of the principal personalities of the Baath Party “old guard” and has been living in exile in Paris since the summer of 2005. He accuses Bachar al-Assad of having ordered the assassination of Rafic Hariri. His country’s Prosecutors, for their part, are charging him with “high treason” and “corruption”. Sadreddin al-Bayanuni, for his part, is living in exile in London. The Moslem brotherhood, which was the most structured opposition force, revolted and was violently repressed in the 80s by the army, with all available firepower, causing 20,000 deaths.

Elsewhere, on 6 June the Syrian authorities affirmed they had foiled a “terrorist operation” near the headquarters of the State radio-television service in the very heart of Damascus, killing for assailants. This is the latest of a series of attacks announced by Syria in the last few months. “The security forces foiled (on 2 June) a terrorist operation, aimed at uninhabited building behind the State radio-television Complex”, indicated the official news agency Sana, citing a Ministry of the Interior source. The operation took place a few yards from the Umayyad Square in which are located, in addition to the radio-TV head offices, several public buildings including the Assad National Library and the National Opera. The abandoned buildings targeted are also near the customs complex and the head quarters of the Army General Staff

This is the first time for decades, since the armed struggle between the Syrian authorities and the Moslem Brotherhood in the 80s, that an operation of this kind has taken place near official buildings.

The National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria (NOHRS), for its part announced that a Syrian, Mohammad Ussama al-Sayess, accused of being a member of the Moslem Brotherhood, was sentenced to death by the State Security Court on 25 June, but then had his sentence commuted to 12 years imprisonment. “Mohammad Ussama al-Syaess was sentenced to death today in accordance with law N°49 (which decrees death to members of the Brotherhood). However the court has commuted this sentence to one of 12 years imprisonment”, reported the NOHRS president, Ammar Qorabi in a communiqué. Al-Sayess, 27 years of age, was expelled from Britain to Jordan about a year and a half ago. However, the Belgian authorities arrested him when his plane stopped in Belgium and then extradited him to Syria, Mr. Qorabi pointed out. Death sentences ceased to be carried out for membership of the Moslem Brotherhood in the mid 90s, being immediately commuted to long terms of imprisonment. Law N°49 “is a major barrier to the transition of Syria towards being a State of Law”, stated Mr. Qorabi. “It is time that the Syrian authorities reviewed these arbitrary laws, lifted the State of Emergency with the idea of a democratic change”, he added.

The National Organisation for Human Rights in Syria had also reported, in a previous communiqué, that the Syrian writer, Mohammad Ghanem, had been sentenced to six months imprisonment on 20 June by a military court for “insulting the President of the Republic”. “The Raqqa military court sentenced the writer Mohammad Ghanem to six months imprisonment for having insulted the President of the Republic, offending the image of the State and inciting sectarian dissent”, according to the NOHRS president, Ammar Qorabi. Mohammad Ghanem was arrested in his home on 31 March after publishing critical articles on the internal situation in Syria over Internet. Mr. Qorabi considered that this sentence “is in the context of the campaign launched by the authorities over the last few months, against the (Human Rights) activists” in Syria. Moreover, on 18 June the authorities arrested Merhi Omran in front of the State Security Court for having photographed his brother, a detainee, as he was leaving the Court at the end of his hearing, according to Mr. Qorabi.



A Kurdish group answering to the name of the Hawks of Freedom for Kurdistan (TAK) has recently claimed responsibility for several bomb attacks in urban centres, including Istanbul, and threatened to target tourist objectives. The Turkish authorities identify the TAK with the PKK, considering that the latter has preferred to change its name for operations targeting civilians, which could then attract it the disapproval of international public opinion. Thus the TAK claimed an explosion in a Mediterranean seaside resort in Southern Turkey, killing four people. This bomb attack was claimed by a person who rang the Firat press agency, whose offices are in Europe, at a time when the explosion seemed accidental

Four people (a Hungarian, a Dutch woman and a Norwegian woman and a Turk) were killed and 25 others injured in an explosion that occurred at the Manavgat waterfalls on 25 June. The TAK again appealed to foreign tourists to avoid going on holiday to Turkey. According to the local authorities, the source of the explosion was the gas bottle of a restaurant. However, on 27 June the Turkish press stated that three “terrorists”, one of them a woman, had been filmed placing the bomb in a dustbin 20 minutes before it exploded. The TAK had also claimed a bomb attack causing 15 injured on 3 June at Mersin. “So long as torture continues in Kurdistan, no Turkish region will be in peace”, the organisation explained, threatening fresh bomb attacks “in revenge”. This latter explosion occurred in front of a small shop in the town of Mersin, which contains a substantial Kurdish diaspora, driven out of its lands by the Turkish army. The explosion came from a refrigerator in which ices had been placed, according to the local authorities. Quoting security sources, the Anatolia press agency stated that a grenade, remotely activated by a mobile telephone, was the cause of the explosion.

As for the PKK, on 10 June it called on the Kurds of Turkey to avoid conscription while two of its fighters were shot down in clashes with the Army at Sivan, a sub-prefecture of Diyarbekir province. In a communiqué quoted by the pro-Kurdish Firat press agency, the PKK urged the Kurds of Turkey not to carry out their national service. “Every patriotic young Kurd must refuse to go and serve in these conditions or, at least, refuse to take part in operations” in Turkish Kurdistan, stressed the statement. Every Turkish citizen is conscripted for military service as from the age of 18 to serve from 6 to 15 months depending on his educational level. Turkey does not recognise the right to conscientious objection — draft dodgers face sentences of up to five years jail.

In the last few months, clashes have intensified in Kurdistan. Thus, on 24 June, two gendarmes were wounded in Elazig province by an exploding mine laid here, according to the authorities, by the PKK. The day before, eleven PKK Kurdish fighters were killed in a clash with the Turkish Army near the town of Cukurca, in Hakkiri province. On 21 June, the Turkish police announced they had arrested two Kurdish fighters, allegedly in possession of 5.7 Kg of explosives intended for bomb attacks in Istanbul. The two alleged members of the PKK had been arrested the week before during a joint operation with the Intelligence service. On 18 June, the Turkish Army killed three Kurdish fighters soon after a goods train was derailed by the PKK, according to Turkish army sources. They were shot down during a clash with Turkish soldiers in the mountainous region of Tunceli (Dersim). On the same day, the Hawks of Freedom for Kurdistan claimed responsibility, on their Internet site, for a bomb that had wounded four people in the centre of Istanbul on 15 June.

In the course of the day of 16 June, three bombs exploded causing three wounded. The first, placed under a vehicle in the city of Van, caused material damage only. The second, remote controlled and hidden in a metal dustbin, exploded a little later near a national meteorological service office, at Baskale, near Van, causing light injuries to three people. The third exploded as an army convoy was passing my, without causing any injuries, according to local sources that made the point that about ten Kg of type C4 plastic explosives were found near-bye. Moreover an alleged PKK member was killed in Van on 16 June by a grenade that fell at his feet as he was trying to throw it at some police who had come to arrest him in his home, according to police sources. Moreover two Turkish soldiers were killed and five others wounded, on 11 June, as their convoy was ambushed in the mountainous area of Geyiksu, in Tunceli province. At Cizre, in Sirnak province, an explosion killed one person and injured four others on 8 June. The explosion came from a car, parked in Cizre town centre. Moreover, on 6 June, in an ambush and mine explosion, attributed to the PKK, two Turkish soldiers were killed and four others wounded. The death of the two soldiers two of the wounded occurred when an army patrol came under fire at Semdinli. At Pülümür, 650 Km North-West of Semdinli, two soldiers, who were part of a unit providing security for an army school bus service, were wounded by a remote controlled mine explosion as they were passing by. At Bingol, a Turkish soldier was killed and eight others wounded in an ambush on 4 June. According to the governor, Vehbi Avuc, the PKK attacked an army convoy with sub-machine guns as it was travelling on the road between Bingol and Elazig. In a previous communiqué, the governorate had indicated that the security forces had shot down two Kurdish fighters during the night of 2 June near the village of Suveren, in the course of a large-scale combing operation after two soldiers had been wounded in the region by a PKK mine on 31 May. The Turkish authorities also announced on 2 June that a Turkish soldier and four armed Kurdish fighters had been killed during army operations in the mountainous regions of Cudi and Gabar as well as in the Bestler-Dereler area of Sirnak province.


The diplomatic struggle being waged against Iran by Canada intensified on 23 June when the Federal Government demanded the arrest of the Teheran Public Prosecutor, Said Mortazavi, involved in the death of a Canadian woman. Ottawa wants charges to be brought against the Teheran Public Prosecutor, who was connected with the arrest of Zahra Kazemi, a Canadian woman journalist, who was tortured then killed in Teheran in 2003. Prime Minister Stephen Harper confirmed that his government had asked the German authorities arrest Said Mortazavi, should he stop over in Germany on his return to Teheran from Geneva, where he made a speech to the UN Human Rights Commission. In the event the Prosecutor did not pass through Germany, but Mr. Harper stated that Canada did not intend to give up. “We demand that the international community use all legal methods to detain this individual and bring him to justice”, declared Mr. Harper after a Cabinet meeting.

According to some rumours, Said Mortazavi, who is notorious for having ordered the closing down of some 80 newspapers that supported reform in Iran, could become Iranian Minister of Justice. On 21 June, the Canadian Foreign Minister, Peter MacKay, condemned the presence of the Teheran Public Prosecutor at the inaugural meeting of the UN Human Rights Commission in Switzerland. Two enquiries carried out by the Iranian government concluded that Said Mortazavi had ordered the arrest of Mrs Kazemi while she was photographing a prison, Ottawa states. She died after, apparently, having been beaten and tortured while in detention. Minister MacKay also accused Said Mortazavi of then having forged documents to cover up his involvement in this case.

Furthermore, on 6 June, the dissident Iranian journalist Akbar Ganji received the Golden Pen of Freedom in Moscow, an award given by the World Association of Journalists, before 1,700 press owners and chief editors from the whole world over. He declared that he did not intend to leave Iran and that he would continue to criticise the Ayatollahs’ regime despite the danger of “returning to prison”. Speaking for the first time in public since his release in March, after six years in jail, he replied “yes, I will return to Iran” to a journalist who asked him if he was going to return to his country or go into exile during the World Editors’ Forum in Moscow. While saying he was opposed to the present Iranian regime, Mr. Ganji made the point that “Iran is not a totalitarian regime as was Stalin’s”. A child of the Islamic Revolution, before later becoming critical of the regime, Mr. Ganji was arrested in 2000 while he was working for the daily Sob-e Emruz, then sentenced the following year, for articles implicating several dignitaries in a series of murders of intellectuals and writers.