The deep politics of regime removal in Iraq

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As this report goes to press, a new round of UN "weapons inspections" has begun. This charade, designed to create the appearance of an international consensus, will delay, but not stop, the American rampage. In absence of suitable evidence implicating Iraq, evidence will be produced. In the absence of justifications, new pretexts will be manufactured, and old ones, dusted off and repeated. The head of UN inspections, Hans Blix, the man entrusted with deciding whether Iraq is harboring weapons of mass destruction, "cannot guarantee that his inspection teams does not include Western spies".

The deep politics of regime removal in Iraq:
Overt conquest, covert operations
by Larry Chin

Online Journal October-November 2002. , 25 November/ novembre 2002


Complete text. Originally published as a five-part series (October 24-November 22, 2002)

I Into the abyss

The Bush administration is putting the finishing touches on an invasion of Iraq, and possibly Saudi Arabia, Iran and beyond. The next phase of the long-planned and sequential 9/11 War will involve the removal of Saddam Hussein, and either the installation of a new puppet regime or US military occupation, or the takeover and partitioning of Iraqi territory by US surrogates (Jordan, Kuwait and the Kurds).

This report will attempt to explain the means by which Iraq is likely to fall, the groups and individuals who will carry it out, and the various hidden agendas that the mainstream media have refused to analyze, much less report.

The Middle East: the 9/11 War’s key prize
"Regime change," the criminal toppling of sovereign nations, has been casually bandied about by the Bush administration and the US media for months, but it is hardly news. The Iraq Liberation Act, which was passed by the US Congress and signed into law in 1998, explicitly calls for regime change.

Washington’s predatory interest in Iraq is bluntly stated by the President’s National Security Strategy:

"The purpose of US engagement, as espoused in the NSS is to protect the United States’ vital interest in the region---uninterrupted, secure US/Allied access to Gulf oil."

Additionally, the "easing of US access to Persian Gulf supplies" is a priority stated in the US National Energy Policy Report of 2001—the notorious "Cheney Report".

In the short-term, the Bush administration’s goal is to break the back of OPEC, head off an impending crash of the US oil industry, and rescue a plundered US economy that is on the verge of collapse. Capturing Iraq would accomplish this.

As reported by Ed Vulliamy, Paul Webster and Nick Paton Walsh in The Observer (10/6/02), "The current high price of oil is dragging the US economy further into recession. US control of the Iraqi reserves, perhaps the biggest unmapped reservoir in the world, would break Saudi Arabia's hold on the oil-pricing cartel OPEC, and dictate prices for the next century."

Washington insiders have not bothered to disguise their blood-for-oil zeal. Lawrence Lindsey, George W. Bush’s economic adviser, said, "When there is a regime change in Iraq, you could add 3 million to 5 million barrels of production to world supply. The successful prosecution of the war would be good for the economy." Former CIA Director James Woolsey echoed this sentiment: "Iraq is exporting only 1 million barrels of oil a day, and that under US occupation, output could be increased by 3 to 4 million barrels a day as a price control measure."

Another former CIA operative, Reuel Marc Gerecht, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, added, "OPEC is already significantly fractured, and US control of Iraq oil would already add to its internal frictions. It would definitely diminish the Saudis' influence (over the United States) and would cause the Iranian regime a lot of trouble."

The Big Rollover
The true long-term agenda driving the planned Middle East operation is the pursuit of the largest remaining reserves of oil in a world running out of oil. This nightmarish scientific fact, which has been well understood by the world’s elites, has been studiously kept from the public. (See )

As explained in a series of reports by Dale Allen Pfeiffer, geologist and Contributing Editor for Energy for From the Wilderness, "based on the Hubbert Curve (a standard measure of world oil production peaks and declines), in five years, we will no longer be able to produce enough oil to meet the needs of our oil civilization."

The Background is Oil
What Will Be the Next Target of the Oil Coup?
Is the Empire About Oil?
Is China the Endgame for Oil?
Professor Richard Heinberg, editor of The Museletter writes: "After that ‘Big Rollover,’ as one USGS geophysicist has dubbed it, there will be a few percentage points less oil available each year to meet the rising world demand, regardless of what anyone does."

In the context of this looming cataclysm, the Bush administration’s sequential capture of the world’s major oil supplies (Central Asia, Middle East, Balkans, Venezuela, Colombia, South China Sea, etc.), under the pretext of a "war on terrorism", is as predictable as it is brazen:

Iraq has 113 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, second worldwide only to Saudi Arabia. Iraq controls 11 percent of the oil on the planet. The US Department of Energy estimates that Iraq has as much as 220 billion barrels in undiscovered reserves.
There are 70 known oil fields in Iraq, only 15 of which have been developed.
Saudi Arabia, which is on the brink of civil war, and a convenient simultaneous target of a US conquest, owns another 25 percent of the world’s oil supply.
"Together the two countries, which have not yet peaked in production capacity, and which are the only two nations capable of an immediate increase in output, possess 36 percent of the world’s known oil" according to Michael C. Ruppert (From the Wilderness , 8/12/02)
Michael Klare, author of The Resource Wars, adds: "Iraq is the only country besides Saudi Arabia that can add millions of barrels per day in additional production over the next 10 to 20 years."
"In the coming years," writes Pfeiffer, "continued US hegemony will depend upon maintaining control and access to the world’s dwindling hydrocarbon reserves, most of which are contained in the Middle East." And the oil elite, led by the Bush administration, will stop at nothing to secure the remaining riches and dictate their use.

Against this canvass of global crisis, the explicit policy of the US towards Iraq has been regime change, a process first begun under the George H.W. Bush administration. As noted by Joe Taglieri (From the Wilderness 10/1/02), a close-knit cabal of current and former White House officials and hawkish war planners affiliated with conservative think tanks has been developing strategies for removing the Iraqi regime since 1991.

In the most recent plan penned by Dick Cheney and Paul Wolfowitz, and reported by Stratfor , Iraq will disappear, and the nation itself will be split into three parts .

The central part of Iraq, currently populated by the Sunni Arabs, would become part of Jordan and ruled by Jordanian King Abdullah. The Kurdish region of northern and northwestern Iraq, including Mosul and the vast Kirkuk oilfields, would become an autonomous state. Southwestern Iraq would become a part of Kuwait.

Another Washington blueprint reported in the Wall Street Journal (11/12/02) involves a plan similar to post-World War II Japan---a military occupation headed by an American and assisted by US-allied Iraqi exiles and technocrats. Based on lists produced by Iraqi opposition operatives, current Ba’ath Party officials would be tried as war criminals.

As evidenced by the establishment of new permanent military bases throughout the Middle East and Central Asia, and new long-term war appropriations (such as a five-year contract signed on August 5, 2002, between the US Navy and Maersk Shipping Line to operate vessels to ferry tanks, ammunition and other weaponry from Diego Garcia to the Persian Gulf), the US appears committed to a major Middle East conflict . The region is completely encircled by US forces, which continue to be built up on a daily basis.

According to Reuters, "Washington believes that if US forces were to attack Iraq the best conditions would be in the first few months of next year." The fully complicit US Congress has already "rubber stamped" the war. Intransigence from certain members of the United Nations will delay but not likely stop it, as back-door deals continue to be negotiated over the parceling of the post-Saddam spoils.

Fronting for the Masters
It is no surprise that the "unsavory" regimes of Jordan, Kuwait and Turkey are assisting the US effort.

The ruling Jordanian monarchy has been closely connected to Washington for decades. The late Jordanian King Hussein enjoyed a relationship with the CIA going back to the 1950s. The current Jordanian regime was installed by the United States. According to the Guardian (2/17/99), "at the beginning of 1999, a combination of CIA manipulation, palace intrigue and pressure from Hussein’s American wife, Queen Noor, resulted in long-time Crown Prince Hassan being dumped in favor of Abdullah, son of Hussein’s British wife and commander of Jordan’s Special Forces. And so, Abdullah II becomes King of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan".

Jordan is also the headquarters of the CIA-connected Iraqi National Accord, one of the preferred Iraqi opposition groups.

Similarly, the Kuwaiti regime, headed by the al Sabbah family, is also deeply tied to Washington and the Bush family. It was Kuwait’s slant-drilling into Iraq, coupled with George H.W. Bush’s numerous provocations (including an international oil price-fixing scheme) that baited Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait also assisted the Bush administration in creating some of the most deceptive propaganda of the Gulf War.

According to UPI correspondent Morgan Strong, the virulent anti-Saddam Hussein propaganda produced during the Gulf War was created by members of the Kuwaiti regime and a Washington, DC, public relations firm with close ties to the Bush administration.

"While Iraqi troops did commit atrocities in Kuwait, they never tore little babies from incubators and murdered them", wrote Strong. "The young woman who testified to the horror before Congress? She was the daughter of the Kuwaiti Ambassador to Washington. She was in Paris when the Iraqi's invaded Kuwait. She never worked in a hospital; she never worked in her life. Her father was a scion of the immensely wealthy dynasty that rules Kuwait. The woman who testified before the General Assembly? She was not in Kuwait at the time of the invasion either. She was the wife of the information minister of Kuwait."

Turkey, a long-time ally of the US, has been offered direct shares of Iraqi oil, and more funding for the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan pipeline in exchange for its assistance. According to Kurdish journalist Husayn Al-Kurdi, "CIA involvement in Turkey is as old as the agency itself, and the United States supports Turkey and its right wing paramilitary groups to the hilt."

9/11: the Mother of All Fabricated Pretexts
The man in the street does not notice the devil even when the devil is holding him by the throat. --Goethe

The legitimacy of the next major war hinges upon the official 9/11 narrative, which promotes the myth that the United States is under attack by crazed foreign terrorists.

Based on documentary evidence compiled and analyzed by Professor Michel Chossudovsky , the "war on terrorism"—which now includes by extension the "war on rogue states" (Iraq)—is a massive fraud.

In fact, a preponderance of the evidence compiled over the past year indicts the Bush administration for its complicity in the 9/11 attacks, and likely involvement in numerous incidents of post 9/11 terrorism—all of which appear to be sophisticated intelligence operations carried out by cutouts controlled by the CIA and the highest levels within the Bush administration.

As summarized by Ruppert:

"We now know that Bush et al knew enough…to prevent it but did not. It has already been shown that CIA-linked members of the Pakistani intelligence service helped fund it; that five of the hijackers received flight training at US military installations; that no fighters were scrambled in time to do anything; and that President Bush lied when he said he had no idea that planes could be used as weapons. We know that it is a state secret as to whether the intelligence agencies told Bush what we now know they knew."

"Successive US administrations have supported, abetted and harbored international terrorism," writes Chossudovsky. Since the Cold War, the US has continued to harbor the "Islamic Militant Network" and other terrorist groups as an explicit tool of US foreign policy. Furthermore:

The "Islamic Militant Network" was a creation of the CIA, specifically created to fight the Soviet Afghan War as a tool of US foreign policy starting in the Carter administration under its pioneer, Zbigniew Brezezinski, who remains at the forefront of US policy planning.
Post-Cold War militant Islamic groups, including al Qaeda are US intelligence assets.
Through proxy groups, many of which are not aware of who and what funds and controls them, the CIA continues to use terrorism to manage US and western geo-economic interests.
The CIA wields substantial control of its terrorist proxies, and monitors its cells in real time through a number of sophisticated methods. There was no "intelligence failure" on 9/11, nor is there one today.
For months, the Bush administration has compounded its "war on terrorism" lie with a crescendo of new lies about Iraq’s "weapons of mass destruction." These lies have been repeatedly exposed.

In a closed session with Bush administration officials, Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) asked repeatedly whether they had evidence of an imminent threat from Hussein against US citizens. "They said 'no'," she said. "Not 'no, but', or 'maybe', but 'no'. I was stunned. Not shocked. Not surprised. Stunned." (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/20/02)

According to former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter, who has provided clear proof that Iraq poses no credible threat, "President Bush refuses to take "yes" for an answer. The Bush administration's actions lay bare the mythology that this war is being fought over any threat posed by Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. It has made it clear that its objective is the elimination of Saddam Hussein."

A War of Terrorism: American Terrorism
It comes as no surprise that Iraqi regime removal will feature yet another cast of US-bred "unsavory" paramilitaries, criminals, and armed groups carefully run by the CIA since the Iran-Iraq War. The Bush administration and the CIA are cobbling together a coalition similar to the Afghan "Northern Alliance," which itself consisted of bandits, narco- traffickers, rapists, criminal warlords and war criminals.

The Iraqi exile and opposition groups now receiving additional last-minute training by the CIA and US Special Forces will participate in the ground assault. Its major leaders are likely to play major roles in the new puppet regime(s), once the slaughter ends.

The pandora’s box is wide open.

II The CIA and the Iraqi/Kurd opposition groups
If an invasion of Iraq goes as scripted by the Bush administration and Washington’s elite fraternity of war planners, the world will witness a nightmarishly familiar spectacle. A CIA scion (a Bush) will remove a former US ally, CIA asset and business partner (Saddam Hussein) using CIA-supported paramilitaries, cutouts, and opposition groups to install new CIA-affiliated client regimes controlled by and beholden to US interests.

Saddam Hussein: a long-running CIA game and US obsession
Real power plays all sides of any conflict, alternately supporting and subverting (from within and without), playing one side against another, "managing the tension", until desired results are achieved.

A well-documented example is Afghanistan, where, in the wake of the Afghan-Soviet War, the US has installed and then violently overthrown successive regimes (Rabbani, Hekmatyr, Northern Alliance, Taliban), until a satisfying result was eventually achieved: a US puppet government, headed by former Unocal consultant and CIA asset Hamid Karzai, narco-trafficking warlord/bandits of the Northern Alliance, and helped along by US envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, Pentagon-intelligence insider, former Unocal consultant, and assistant to current Deputy Defense Secretary, Paul Wolfowitz.

In Iraq, the US and CIA have been playing a similar game for decades, running paramilitaries and armed groups with roots going back to Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s and beyond. "Americans have been left in the dark concerning CIA maneuvers in the Middle East, fed a steady diet of fantasy mush in which Arabs and Muslims are inexorably tagged as irrational, fanatical terrorists," wrote Kurdish journalist Husayn Al-Kurdi. "The actual history of CIA involvement in the region tells a far different story."

The CIA’s direct role in Iraq stretches back to the 1950s. Saddam Hussein himself was a US creation, a US ally and a CIA asset. As noted by Al-Kurdi, "after propping up the corrupt regime of Nuri Said, the USA went after Abdul Karim-Kassem, whose popularly-supported coup eliminated the old British agent Nuri in 1958. Among those whom the CIA recruited to do its dirty work were the Iraqi Baath Party, including a brash power-hungry adventurer named Saddam Hussein." The CIA then engineered the overthrow and assassination of Kassem in 1963, with Saddam playing a major role in the Kassem hit and subsequent liquidations of Communists.

Throughout the ensuring decades to the start of the Gulf War in 1990, Saddam was a key US ally in the region, as well as a US trading partner, and a business associate of George Herbert Walker Bush. (In another hemisphere, Panamanian strongman Manuel Noriega played a similar role over the same period.) The Bush administration’s National Security Decision Directives (exposed in an LA Times investigation in 1992), as well as records detailing the Bush-Saddam relationships through the notorious BCCI and Banco Nacional del Lavoro (BNL), offer clear evidence that Saddam Hussein’s government was explicitly and knowingly armed and financed by the US and personally involved with Bush.

After the Gulf War, in the guise of a "Kurd safe haven", the CIA created a protectorate and base for covert activities designed to destabilize the Iraqi regime, while allowing the suppression of Kurds and Muslims to continue simultaneously. Under George H.W. Bush, the CIA reportedly spent $20 million in anti-Saddam propaganda, and at least $11 million in aid to a number of Iraqi and Kurd opposition groups.

As Al-Kurdi points out: "It was clear from the beginning that the "safe haven" was an operation to provide "cover" for CIA operations against Iraq and Turkish crackdowns on Kurds---not "comfort", as its official designation implied. A state of dependence was reinforced in which the ‘providers’ could keep their Kurdish puppets on short strings."

When Shi’ite Muslims in southern Iraq staged a revolt against Saddam in the spring of 1991 under the watchful eye of the CIA, the Bush I administration permitted Saddam’s Iraqi troops to crush the revolt. To prevent a popular Islamic movement within Iraq (one that could threaten western oil interests and business interests), Bush did nothing as his former partner and vanquished foe crushed the revolt.

Keeping Saddam Hussein alive but neutered (via sanctions, no-fly zones, etc.) allowed the US to keep military forces in Saudi Arabia, while plans for an eventual Iraq regime change were debated. In the meantime, the rebuilding of Iraq, and various forms of covert trade, was lucrative to a number of western corporations (such as Halliburton, General Electric and others). The black market was also means of control. "By turning a blind eye to smuggled oil," writes former CIA operative Robert Baer in his book See No Evil, "the US managed to turn the Kurdish opposition against itself even as it helped Saddam pay for his praetorian guard, just what you’d expect of a clever superpower that was secretly supporting the local despot."

By the mid-1990s, the Clinton-era CIA began pursuing two primary strategies against Saddam. One involved a military operation involving a popular insurrection led Iraqi National Congress (INC) and Kurdish paramilitaries. The second strategy focused on a "palace coup" by the CIA-British MI6-created Iraqi National Accord (INA), a group of former Iraqi military officers based out of London. Disguised as "humanitarian aid", the US government’s "Operation Provide Comfort" served as a cover for these and other operations.

In 1994, the INC led an insurrection from a base in Iraqi Kurdistan with CIA backing. In March 1995, the CIA assisted a combined INC-Kurdish operation to capture the cities of Mosul and Kirkuk, and a simultaneous rebellion by Iraqi troops. Without US support, the operation fell apart, allowing Saddam Hussein’s forces to invaded the safe haven and destroy the opposition. Some 130 INC members were executed. The Clinton administration’s last minute pullout infuriated the CIA.

To cover up their policy blunder in northern Iraq, the Clinton administration fired cruise missiles into southern Iraq. The UN Security Council resumed the Oil-For-Food Program.

The CIA’s efforts throughout the 1990s, which resulted in a handful of uprisings, assassination attempts (the CIA and British MI6 plotted to assassinate Saddam Hussein in 1995), failed due to infighting among Kurdish opposition groups, security leaks and betrayals, and bickering between hawkish elements within the CIA and the Clinton White House.

George W. Bush unleashes hell
Upon seizing power, George W. Bush promised to fully implement the Iraq Liberation Act, which was signed in law by Congress and signed by Clinton in 1998, but treated cautiously by a Clinton administration not prepared to unleash a Middle East war.

In early 2002, Bush (who had boasted during his presidential campaign that he would "take out Saddam") gave the CIA and US Special Forces the authority to use lethal force and "all available resources" to kill or capture Saddam Hussein, and conduct covert operations aimed at toppling his regime. This executive order called for increased support to Iraqi opposition groups (money, training, intelligence and equipment) and a ramping up of CIA intelligence collection within Iraq.

US officials have worked continuously with the Iraqi opposition throughout 2002.

Former Iraqi officers met in March 2002 at a Washington military installation to discuss plans to topple Saddam Hussein and form a post-Saddam government.
In April 2002, Kurdish leaders traveled to Frankfurt, Germany and then to a CIA training base in southern Virginia to discuss coup strategies. In June, according to the Scotsman, local Kurdistan sources reported that "US and UK troops have already started installing communications equipment in the Sulaimaniya province in the Kurdish region of Iraq."
Between July 12-15, 2002, some 70 exiled Iraqi military officers and leaders of various Iraqi opposition groups met at an undisclosed location near London to plan a new revolt to overthrow of Saddam Hussein by force, and to call for a major role in the upcoming US operation, along with military aid (training and equipping of fighters). Heading this meeting was the Iraqi National Congress, the umbrella opposition group with close ties to exiled Iraqi military officers and the CIA.

In August, officials from six different Iraqi opposition groups met in Washington at the request of a "joint invitation" from the Defense Department and the State Department. Attending this summit meeting:
-Donald Rumsfeld

-Marc Grossman, undersecretary of state for political affairs

-Doug Feith, undersecretary of defense

-Dick Cheney (via video conference, from Wyoming)

-Colin Powell

-Richard Myers, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs

-Ahmed Chalabi (Iraqi National Congress)

-Jalal Talabani (Patriotic Union of Kurdistan)

-Major General Tawfiq al-Yassiri (Iraqi National Coalition)

-Hoshyar Zebari, aide to Massoud Barzani (Kurdish Democratic Party)

-Ayadh Allawi (Iraqi National Accord)

-Shaif Ali Bin Hussein Constitutional Monarchy Party

-Abdelaziz Al-Hakim brother of SCIRI leader Muhammad Bakr al-Hakim

-Major General Saad Obeidi, former head of Iraqi psychological warfare

-Prince Hassan of Jordan, the uncle of King Abdullah of Jordan.

In another mid-August meeting, according to Knight-Ridder, "top US officials and members of the Iraqi opposition plotted the details of a post-Saddam government in Iraq, right down to the number of seats in the parliament."
"Dozens of US troops and intelligence services have been sent into northern Iraq" according to Agence France-Presse (10/12/02). CIA chief George Tenet had "personally visited northern Iraq during his last tour of the region and had given orders to start the security plan after US President George W. Bush approved a decision to ask the CIA to overthrow Saddam". Jordanian King Abdullah was given orders to clear two military airports in Jordan for US forces. About 2,000 US troops have been deployed in Jordan so far. Dozens of these US soldiers, along with CIA agents, have been sent into Iraq territory.
Who are the opposition groups?
Iraqi National Congress (INC)

The Iraqi National Congress, a coalition of Iraqi royalists, Kurds, and Iraqi Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims, is a creation of the CIA. The group was formed in 1992 when the two main Kurdish factions, the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), participated in a meeting which was the first major attempt by anti-Saddam factions to join forces. The group was provided with its name by CIA and has received over $100 million in covert funding throughout the early 1990s, then received overt funding after the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act was signed. It currently receives $8 million annually from the US government. The CIA has, among other things, funded the INC’s radio and television stations in northern Iraq.

The INC is headed by American-educated Ahmed Chalabi, a close friend of Dick Cheney, whom some have pegged as "Cheney’s protégé". He enjoys close ties to the American Enterprise Institute and has attended the think tank’s retreats in Beaver Creek, Colorado.

After fleeing Iraq in the wake of the INC’s failed coup in 1995, Chalabi co-signed a letter with forty "prominent Americans" an open letter to President Clinton in 1998 that later became the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998.

Signers of the letter included current Vice President and former Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, Richard Perle, current Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, current Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Defense Secretary and Iran-Contra participant Caspar Weinberger, former Defense Secretary Frank Carlucci, current Defense Undersecretary Douglas Feith, and current Deputy Secretary of State and Iran-Contra participant Richard Armitage.

Chalabi is an exiled Shi’ite banker and a felon. In the early 1990s, Chalabi was convicted for money laundering in Jordan, and has reportedly "lost" $4 million in funds obtained from Washington. He hails from a wealthy Iraqi Shi’ite banking family and has a doctorate in mathematics from the University of Chicago.

After a period following the Gulf War in which the INC received some $15 million to $100 million in funding from Washington, Chalabi fell out of favor among certain elements of the CIA and Clinton administration.

The US State Department temporarily halted aid to the INC after the INC attempted to scuttle a State Department-sponsored conference of Iraqi exiles that did not include the INC. When George W. Bush seized power in January 2001, INC funding resumed. Currently, the INC receives $8 million annually.

Chalabi’s ‘End Game’ strategy papers have circulated throughout Washington and received attention from various think tanks for a decade. This plan involves a popular revolt and a military coup, carried out by Kurdish factions and Iraqis dissidents, using US weapons.

Since September 11, 2001, Chalabi has lobbied a new battle plan, featuring a firebase inside Iraq, declaration of a provisional government (with quick US recognition, no doubt), recruitment among Iraq’s Shi’a Muslims, heavy US bombing and the deployment of thousands of US Special Forces. This plan also calls for military assistance from Iran. Based on promises of funding from the US Treasury’s Department of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, the Khatami regime in Iran agreed to permit INC forces to cross the Iranian border into southern Iraq.

In a February 2002 interview with the Guardian of London, Chalabi said that "all he needed was ‘11 weeks of training for his followers, anti-tank weapons, air cover, the support of Special Forces and some protective gear against chemical or biological attack’. Once these needs were met, he claimed, his forces would be ready to cross the Kuwait border into the Basra region and organize mass resistance. His position would be protected by US air power, which would presumably clear a path for him and his army to Baghdad."

Despite Washington’s general support of the INC as a "democratic alternative" through the years, top US officials have doubted the INC’s limited military expertise, as well as its ability to maintain a government in the wake of a coup. Chalabi’s INC-PUK-KDP effort failed in 1995, forcing him to move his operational base to London.

There is another reason why Chalabi is favored in Washington: oil. The INC proposes the creation of a consortium of American companies to develop Iraq's oil fields. According to the San Francisco Chronicle (9/29/02), "Chalabi has stated that should the INC lead a new Iraqi government, it would be the US oil companies that would get the contracts. Russian and French companies would be junior partners at best."

The Group of Four and the Kurdish opposition

The Group of Four consists of the Iraqi National Accord (INA, or Waffik), the Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP), The Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), and the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI).

As reported by Al-Kurdi, the two main Kurdish groups, led by the PUK and KDP have "fearsome security agencies which carry out death-squad style repression against Kurds who oppose them. Both parties have earned the disgust of Kurds with their gangster-like operations in the safe haven."

It is estimated that the KDP and PUK have a combined force of up to 40,000 to 70,000 fighters. Since the 1990s, the two main groups have at times fought against each other in their respective bids to control the proceeds of smuggling and other economic activities, while ferociously repressing the Kurdish population in the process.

According to the New York Times (7/6/02), "Kurdish leaders are riven by internal disputes and have yet to come to any agreement with the CIA to allow American intelligence officers, special forces trainers or diplomats to set up camp there". They are reluctant to support a US operation "unless they get strong guarantees that the Bush administration plans to go all the way to Baghdad" and the Kurdish cities are protected from an Iraqi onslaught.

Iraqi National Accord (INA)

The Iraqi National Accord was founded in 1990 and is a creation of the CIA, the British MI6 and Jordanian intelligence, on the initiative of Turki ibn Faisal. Former CIA agent Ralph McGehee confirmed that "the INA is heavily sponsored by the United States and under the influence of the CIA" and quoted another Iraqi opposition figure as saying that "it is common knowledge among Iraqi dissidents that the Accord is directly financed by the CIA." The INA is headed by Shi’ite Ayad Alawi.

The INA seeks to bring down Saddam Hussein using former Iraqi officers and top Baghdad officials, while preserving the Iraqi state. They are terrorists, who have claimed responsibility for the bombing of civilian targets, including a Baghdad cinema and newspaper offices. According to INA insiders, these activities were carried out in order to "impress the CIA".

According to the Federation of American Scientists, Saddam Hussein’s son-in-law Husayn Kamil al-Majid (an architect of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs), defected to Jordan" to work with the INA, which suggested to many in the region that Saddam’s grip on power had weakened. But in June 1996, the INA coup was exposed, leading to the arrest of 100 INA officers, and the execution of 30 others. The INA was able to regroup after this debacle, with support from Jordan.

Kurdish Democratic Party (KDP)

Its founder, Mulla Mustafa Barzani, worked for CIA as early as the 1960s. "A secret agreement was reached between the CIA and Mulla Mustafa Barzani in August 1969. In the 1970s, the KDP battled the Iraqi government at the behest of Iran, Israel and the US. The elder Barzani was a staunch US ally, who promised to turn Iraqi oil fields over to the US. After Iran and Iraq came to terms, spelling the end of the need for the KDP rebellion, Barzani wound up living in exile in the US, where he died in 1979. The KDP is currently led by Massoud Barzani, the son of the founder.

KDP seeks to form a Kurdish state in northern Iraq, while maintaining control of the Kirkuk oil field. The group has feuded with its rival, the PUK, over a variety of issues, such as oil smuggling revenues. This conflict continued throughout the mid-1990s. Barzani’s contempt for Jalal Talabani and the PUK was so strong that he helped Saddam Hussein crush the PUK and push the INC out in the late 1990s.

Barzani did not attend a number of critical Bush-Iraqi opposition summit meetings in Washington, despite being offered a private plane (to fly him from southeastern Turkey) and a personal visit with Bush. His absence was, according to the New York Times (8/15/02) was "a blow to Bush administration officials who had orchestrated the meeting in part to demonstrate that Iraqi opposition forces were unified behind a new campaign".

Barzani was upset over the Bush administration’s refusal to provide assurances that it would protect Kurdish areas from a pre-emptive Iraqi attack. Dick Cheney reportedly gave a typically ambiguous non-answer: "US forces would respond at a time and place of its choosing". The subsequently-penned Cheney-Wolfowitz "Hashemite" plan addresses some of Barzani’s concerns.

Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK)

The PUK was established in the 1960s by its current leader, Jalal Talabani, a former member of the KDP. A master opportunist, he has earned a reputation as "everybody’s agent". PUK’s primary goal is the removal of Saddam Hussein, and the establishment of a Kurdish state.

According to Al-Kurdi, the PUK "posits a ‘modern’ approach to Kurdish politics, cooking Kurdish interests in every conceivable sauce, with flavors meant to edify and attract supporters among the governments of Israel, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, the United States, and a host of others.The PUK leader Talabani has openly courted Israel, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Saddam Hussein and Turkey, entering in a variety of "understandings" with all of these states in recent times."

Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI)

The SCIRI consists of southern Iraqi Shi’ites and is backed by Iran. Its guerrilla force numbers between 7,000 and 15,000. Ayatollah Mohammad Bakr al-Hakkim heads the SCIRI.

The group is opposed to a US invasion of Iraq, but will support an internal US-assisted operation to topple Saddam, and a one-year transitional government followed by elections.

Mohammad al-Harari, Lebanon representative of SCIRI, said in an interview with Reuters in July 2002, "any military action must be in the hands of the Iraqis, not in foreign hands from abroad" and that the group opposes an attack that causes "unnecessary suffering among the Iraqi people".

The SCIRI was selected by the US for funding through the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, but the group refused.

Other opposition groups

In addition to main groups, there are another 60 smaller Iraqi opposition groups and scores of individuals involved in anti-Saddam activities, many of whom have ties to the CIA. According to the New York Times (August 18, 2002), they include Nizar al-Khazraji, who assisted in the poison gassing of Iran during the late 1980s, aided by the Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations.

Iraqi National Liberal (INL) is an opposition group made up of other exiled former Iraqi military officers. According to the Center for Cooperative Research, the INL has recently attempted to recruit General Nizar al-Kharraji, who is under investigation in Denmark for a 1988 slaughter of 100,000 Kurds.

Iraqi National Movement (INM) was established in 2001, a Sunni-dominated INC splinter group comprised of up to 100 former military officers and political officials. The group recently met with Wayne Downing, the US Deputy National Security Adviser for Combatting Terrorism. Subsequently, the State Department authorized $315,000 to the group.

Iraqi National Coalition (or Iraqi National Council) is an umbrella group founded in 2000 by former Iraqi military officers headed by former Brigadier Tawfiq al-Yasiri, head of Iraq’s military academy, and General Saad Ubeidi, former head of Iraqi army psychological operations. This group favors an uprising triggered by US air strikes, but opposes a US invasion.

A former CIA official describes the Iraqi/Kurd opposition

In a posted internet discussion about CIA operations in Iraq from the late 1990s at

Ralph W. McGehee, former CIA agent and longtime critic of the Agency, said that the "gung-ho" attitude of then-CIA Director John Deutch and his Director of Operations, David Cohen, was also "reflected in the chain of command via the Chief of Division of Near East Operations and CIA’s Iraqi Chief of Station, ‘Bob’."

"Bob" referred to former CIA case officer Robert Baer, agent in charge in Iraq during that period, whose book "See No Evil" contains a 42-page firsthand account of the CIA’s Clinton-era coup attempts against Saddam, and detailed observations of the INC, PUK and KDP.

[Baer’s memoir is a biased work that portrays the CIA as a "defanged" and "dispirited" institution that lacks sufficient "human sources". The disgruntled Baer is an advocate for a return to the "good old days" of unrestrained clandestine operations conducted by Americans. Besides overlooking the effectiveness of "outsourcing" to non-American assets and affiliated branches such as the Pakistani ISI, and new spy technology, Baer’s charge is contradicted by the statements of CIA officials including CIA Deputy Director James Pavitt, who bragged "I have more spies stealing more secrets than at any time in the history of the CIA."

Baer’s book is, however, useful primarily for its revealing and unintentionally damning anecdotes.]

On CIA and US government support for a Iraq coup:

"I wasn’t running a rogue CIA operation that the National Security Council didn’t know about. (Anthony) Lake’s assistant for the Near East, Martin Indyk, personally authorized the CIA to set up a clandestine base in northern Iraq, the one I now headed."

"We want Saddam out. It’s the Iraqi people who’ve kept him in power all these years’, I said."

"The only beacon I had to go by was what I understood American policy to be: that we would support any serious movement to get rid of Saddam Hussein. Those were my orders as I understood them [my emphasis-LC], the reason I had brought my team into northern Iraq. And I took my orders seriously."

"Not long afterward, Saddam started trading oil for food, which eased the suffering inside Iraq, just enough to stem the tide of defections from his army. So if we want him out now, it will probably take a war, not a coup.[my emphasis—LC]."

On Ahmed Chalabi (INC):

"Marching across the lobby of the Key Bridge Marriott in his Saville Row suit, $150 Italian silk tie and hand-stitched calfskin oxfords, he looked more like the successful Levantine banker he once had been than like someone who was going to ride into Baghdad on the top of a tank. Short and overweight, his body showed the side effects of too many long business lunches at first-class European restaurants. When he shook my hand, I picked up the faint smell of scented soap. As incongruous as Chalabi’s appearance was, his resume offered even less promise that he might one day lead a successful Iraqi opposition…. Outside of Iraq, Chalabi was a felon; inside he remained almost completely unknown."

"He had produced a lengthy position paper entitled ‘End Game’ on how to jump-start the March 1991 uprisings, when the Shi’as and Kurds had taken advantage of the end of the Gulf War to try to wrest power from Saddam. The paper had been well shopped around Washington by the time Chalabi presented me with a copy---at a sushi restaurant in Georgetown, two days after our first meeting---but if the thinking wasn’t particularly new, ‘End Game’ did help him stand out in the crowd."

(Baer, responding to Chalabi’s question about Washington support for an INC-led insurrection) "’Schedule one and then ask’, I answered."

On Masoud Barzani (KPP):

"When it came to convincing the Kurds to join the uprising, the hardest nut to crack was Barzani. My own relations with Barzani went sour from the start…Once when I told (Barzani) that the US was fed up with the Kurds and would abandon the north one day, Barzani lost his temper. He walked over to where I was sitting, pointed his index finger at me and hissed through his clenched teeth, ‘Don’t threaten me’."

"Operation Provide Comfort, the air protection provided by American planes, came free of charge---the US almost never attempted to interfere in his (Barzani’s) affairs---and by late 1994, Barzani had a nice little business in smuggled Iraqi oil."

On Iraqi oil smuggling:

"The smuggled oil was also a lifeline for Saddam, who used the money to fund his intelligence services and Special Republican Guards---the forces that kept him alive. Indeed everyone seemed to profit from smuggling except Talabani, who wasn’t getting a penny because no part of the smuggling route passed through his corner of Kurdistan. With Barzani accumulating money in his war chest, smuggled oil began to dangerously destabilized the north. You only had to drive a few miles into the north to understand the dimensions of the smuggling operations. Trucks carrying oil were lined up bumper to bumper, often for as long as twenty miles, waiting to cross into Turkey."

"Washington knew all about the smuggling, but pretended it wasn’t happening. As far as I know, neither the State Department nor our embassy in Ankara ever challenged Turkey, which could have shut down the whole operation with a single phone call."

"What I couldn’t understand was why the White House didn’t intervene. All it had to do was ask Saudi Arabia to sell Turkey a hundred thousand barrels of discounted oil. It was almost as if the White House wanted Saddam to have a little walking-around money. [my emphasis-LC]"

On Jalal Talabani (PUK):

"Talabani enjoyed the role of a likeable rogue. Talabani was an Iraqi nationalist. He believed that the Kurds should have a degree of autonomy but he didn’t want to see Iraq partitioned among its ethnic groups. Unlike Barzani, Talabani seemed to genuinely want Saddam gone and was ready to make any sacrifice to accomplish that aim."

Not a matter of if, but when

Although it is not clear how the war and "erasure" of Iraq will actually be conducted, the brazen Cheney-Wolfowitz "Hashemite" plan appears to remove many of the previous obstacles in the way of "regime removal". The establishment of an autonomous Kurdish state will appease the KDP and PUK. Having US surrogates, Jordan and Kuwait, in charge of the two remaining portions of the territory ensures "stability"---US control---over the most important oil spoils.

It goes without saying that any such "operation" will involve political and ethnic cleansing, atrocities and widespread destruction, trigger a widening conflict across the entire Middle East into Central Asia, and threaten humanity itself. What kind of people would open such a pandora’s box?

In The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence, Victor Marchetti and John D. Marks wrote, "Despite occasional dreams of grandeur on the part of some of its clandestine operators, the CIA does not on its own choose to overthrow distasteful governments or determine which dictatorial regimes to support. The agency’s methods and assets are a resource that come with the office of the Presidency."

III The US war lobby: the disciples of NSC-68
The roots of the George W. Bush administration’s policy for Iraq "regime change" can be traced to strategies formulated since the early 1990s by a small network of inveterate Cold Warriors linked by philosophical lineage and war-intelligence policy collaborations.

This tightly-knit cabal stretches across the current and previous White Houses, the State Department, the CIA, the National Security Council, the boards of neo-conservative think tanks and the boards of transnational corporations (including Washington-linked energy and war-technology companies). Virtually all of the players are members of elite planning bodies (such as the Council on Foreign Relations). Many of them are indicted criminals---five individuals were direct participants in the Iran-Contra operation.

All have, over the course of their intertwined careers, advocated imperialist policies involving 1) pre-emptive wars, 2) the conquest of Iraq and Iran, and the breakup of Saudi Arabia, 3) hard-line support of Israel, and 5) the encirclement and containment of Russia and China.

Tracking the Iraq regime change network: the gang’s all here
1. 1992 Pentagon Defense Planning Guidance. As noted by Joe Taglieri (From the Wilderness 10/1/02), this was one of the first official regime removal plans, prepared for then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney. Its writers:

Current Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz
I. Lewis Libby
2. The Open Letter of 1998. In February 1998, forty "prominent Americans" a signed an open letter to President Clinton , which formed the basis of the Iraqi Liberation Act of 1998.

This letter calling for an insurrection, and recognition of the (CIA-backed) Iraqi National Congress as the official government of Iraq, was spearheaded by Ahmed Chalabi of the INC, and was based on Chalabi’s prior Saddam coup plans. Signers of this letter:

Chair of the Defense Policy Board Richard Perle
VP Dick Cheney
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
Former CIA Director James Woolsey
Defense Undersecretary Doug Feith
Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense Frank Gaffney
Deputy Secretary of State and Iran-Contra participant Richard Armitage
Former CIA operative and Iran-Contra participant Duane "Dewey" Clarridge
NSC official, former Secretary of State and Iran-Contra participant Elliott Abrams
Former Defense Secretary and Iran-Contra participant Caspar Weinberger
Former Defense Secretary and Carlyle Group chairman Frank Carlucci
Zalmay Khalilzad, current US envoy to Afghanistan, former UNOCAL consultant and RAND Corporation official
Former National Security Adviser and Iran-Contra participant Robert McFarlane
3. Iraq Liberation Act of 1998. The Act itself was promoted in Congress by Woolsey, Clarridge, and current Deputy National Security Advisor for Counter-terrorism Wayne Downing. The Act (a piece of bombastic anti-Saddam propaganda full of historical falsehoods) passed Congress and signed by Clinton, with scant attention from the public [snip - maximum size exceeded]

-- andreas
-- signature .

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