Iraq: February 9, 2003


In northern Iraq, several Ansar al-Islam militants lured two senior Kurdish leaders into an ambush. The militants said they wanted to switch sides, but instead they killed three Kurdish officials, plus three nearby civilians. Kurds feel that the killing was a result of Ansar anger at Kurdish requests that the US provide military assistance in clearing Ansar al-Islam fighters out of the villages they control on the Iranian border. 

Iraqi army units are being moved to Iraq's northern and southern borders. Reporters and UN peacekeepers in these areas report that the Iraqi soldiers appear ragged, underfed and in poor spirits. 

Iraq continues to use the UN weapons inspection program to try and delay any military action against Saddam Hussein's government. By resisting the inspectors in small ways, and constantly negotiating, the Iraqis hope to continue delaying any decisive UN or American action and, ultimately, wear down their adversaries. This is all pretty absurd, because Saddam could easily give up all his chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs, get the UN embargo lifted, and rebuild these weapons programs in a few years with all the oil money coming in. But also Iraq owes over a hundred billion dollars in reparations for the 1990-91 Gulf War. This is often forgotten, but this is Saddam's next target. The UN embargo won't go if he tries to stop payments on those reparations. So it all comes down to money, not just illegal weapons.


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