Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Baathist spy games
By Darya IbrahimSLEMANI

Media reports of alleged Baathist spies in KRG ministerial posts and Kurdish party ranks takes the region by storm. Are former Baathist spies part of the Kurdistan government?

The Kurdish community was scandalized last month when local newspapers Hawlati and Awena ran sensational reports about Baathist spies working at various levels in the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). The reports alleged that these individuals used to supply information about the Kurdish political parties and activities to the intelligence apparatus of Saddam Hussein’s regime.

The newspapers went so far as to reveal the names of these alleged spies, the individuals on whom they were spying and the remuneration they received for their work. The list of purported spies included figures currently holding high-level posts in the KRG and the two leading Kurdish political parties. According to a report in the 27 September edition of Hawlati, a former Kurdish minister was a spy tasked with assassinating Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The report included the copy of a letter from the former regime’s intelligence apparatus
instructing the former Iraqi Vice President to reward “Abdul Ghani Taha Bazaz”, also known as “Mula Ghani”, former KRG Justice Minister. In another letter, “Mula Ghani” allegedly responded, demanding the full amount of money before he went ahead with the assassination plot. The sensational aspect of the spy reports is not simply that they name names, but that they also provide details about the operations they carried out, and the payment they received. The payment sometimes came in the form of oil coupons.

In an interview published in Cawder weekly newspaper on 16 October, Mohammad Haji Mahmoud, secretary general of the Kurdistan Socialist Party and member of parliament in the current KRG cabinet, said: “We can’t say they are spies yet, because some of them were simply working with the Baathists, but they were not spies. We are now calling all of them spies, and this is wrong. This Baathist spies story is not new. These files first appeared in 1991, but the problem was that the newspapers were not allowed to talk about such things as they are now. Back in September 2003, the subject came up again, but nothing was done about it.”

Haji Mahmoud added: “In Algeria, anyone found to be a spy at any time will be thrown out of the country. In some other countries, they may be forgiven. In our country, it is the reverse. There were some people, whom I helped not to be arrested, and a few months later, they became ministers in the KRG. Just a few months ago, the ‘Jash’ [Kurdish word for Kurdish mercenaries who worked for the Baathists] were demanding blood money from those peshmargas who killed members of their family. What’s next? They will demand blood money for the murders at Amna Suraka [former Baathist Security Office in Slemani]?”

According to Haji Mahmoud, the Kurdistan Parliament should strip the suspected spies who are currently in high level positions, of their power and immunity, no matter if they are the head of a party, a member of parliament or a minister.

"They should send them home, and take them to court because so long as they have immunity, the court cannot give them notification or question them. This must start with Parliament.”

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