US embassy cable - 88BAGHDAD855 (comparison)

VIEWS OF IRANIAN KURDISH LEADER QASSEMLU (comparison)

Identifier: 88BAGHDAD855
Wikileaks: View 88BAGHDAD855 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1988-02-16 11:24:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV MOPS PHUM PTER PINR IZ IR
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Show unredacted version]
R 161124Z FEB 88
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC 6329
INFO GULF WAR COLLECTIVE 0250
USCINCCENT MACDILL AFB FL 0085
DIA WASHDC 0028
AMEMBASSY STOCKHOLM
=== Original (unredacted) version ====== Wikileaks (redacted) version ===
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BAGHDAD 00855 
 
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARAGRAPH 3, LAST THREE SENTENCES) 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, MOPS, PHUM, PTER, PINR, IZ, IR 
SUBJECT:  VIEWS OF IRANIAN KURDISH LEADER QASSEMLU 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL -  ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  COMING DOWN OUT OF THE MOUNTAINS FOR ONE 
OF HIS OCCASIONAL TRIPS TO BAGHDAD, IRANIAN KURDISH 
LEADER QASSEMLU MET SADDAM FEBRUARY 10.  QASSEMLU ADMITTED 
THAT INTENSE SHELLING IN THE AREA OF HIS FORMER HEADQUAR- 
TERS (DOWNRIVER FROM THE EMBATTLED TOWN OF MAWAT) HAD 
FORCED HIM RECENTLY TO MOVE 35 KILOMETERS NORTH.  HE 
CLAIMED TO HAVE 10-12,000 ACTIVE FIGHTERS AND THE 
CAPABILITY TO CALL ON MANY MORE AND TO HAVE AMPLE ARMS 
(CAPTURED FROM IRANIANS) AND MONEY (THROUGH SMUGGLING). 
HE MADE AN APPEAL FOR U.S. "MORAL AND POLITICAL SUPPORT," 
NOTING THAT HIS PARTY HAS ALWAYS STRONGLY DISAPPROVED OF 
HOSTAGE-TAKING.  THE ITALIAN AMBASSADOR HAS APPROACHED 
HIM ON BEHALF OF KIDNAPPEES HELD BY TALABANI AND HE IS 
HOPEFUL THAT HE WILL BE ABLE TO GET THEM FREED. 
 
3.  QASSEMLU DESCRIBED HIS RELATIONS WITH TALABANI AS 
GOOD, ALTHOUGH HIS POLICY OF STRICT NEUTRALITY BETWEEN 
TALABANI AND THE IRAQIS SOMETIMES CAUSES FRICTION. 
QASSEMLU RECOGNIZED THE NEED FOR AN ALLIANCE WITH OTHER 
IRANIAN OPPOSITION GROUPS, BUT RAJAVI--WHOM  HE DESCRIBED 
AS AN "AMATEUR"--SEEMS UNWILLING.  RAJAVI'S LIMITED 
MILITARY ACTIONS IN THE NORTH COMPLICATED QASSEMLU'S 
RELATIONS WITH TALABANI, AND RAJAVI WILL NOW MOVE HIS 
EFFORTS SOUTH.  UNLIKE RAJAVI, QASSEMLU AVOIDS EVER 
BEING PHOTOGRAPHED WITH SADDAM.  QASSEMLU DESCRIBED THE 
SITUATION IN IRANIAN KURDISTAN AS STABLE, WHILE THE 
SITUATION IN IRAQI KURDISTAN HAS "SHARPLY DETERIORATED" 
(I.E., FROM THE STANDPOINT OF THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY IN 
BAGHDAD) DURING THE PAST THREE YEARS.  THE IRAQI 
VILLAGE DESTRUCTION CAMPAIGN HAS NOT YET BEEN MIRRORED 
ON A LARGE SCALE IN IRAN.   END SUMMARY 
 
4.  AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE 1988 CONGRESS OF THE DEMOCRA- 
TIC PARTY OF KURDISTAN OF IRAN (KDPI), SECRETARY GENERAL 
A.R. QASSEMLU (WHO SPELLS HIS NAME GHASSEMLOU) CAME DOWN 
FROM THE MOUNTAINS TO MEET SADDAM HUSSEIN  FEBRUARY 10. 
BECAUSE OF LARGE NUMBERS OF IRANIAN KURDS IN SWEDEN AND 
FRANCE, QASSEMLU TYPICALLY CONTACTS THE SWEDISH AND 
FRENCH AMBASSADORS WHEN HE MAKES TRIPS TO BAGHDAD, EVERY 
FIVE TO SEVEN MONTHS.  POLCHIEF LOBBIED SWEDLSH AMBASSADOR 
THOREN FOR A MEETING WITH QASSEMLU AND WAS INVITEO TO A 
SIX-HOUR LUNCH FEBRUARY 12.  QASSEMLU CAME ACROSS AS EX- 
TREMELY OPEN, SOPHISTICATED, AND ARTICULATE, EVEN IN 
ENGLISH WHICH IS ONLY HIS SIXTH-BEST LANGUAGE (AFTER 
KURDISH, PERSIAN, ARABIC, FRENCH, AND CZECH).  HE WAS 
ACCOMPANIED BY THE DIRECTORS OF THE KDPI'S PARIS, 
STOCKHOLM,  AND BAGHDAD OFFICES (ABDULLAH GHEDERI, 
EBRAHIM DJEURABESKA, AND SALAM AZIZI). 
 
------------------------------- 
APPEAL FOR MORAL SUPPORT 
------------------------------- 
 
5.  QASSEMLU MADE A STRONG APPEAL FOR AMERICAN "MORAL 
AND POLITICAL SUPPORT."  HE OBSERVED THAT THE KDPI HAS 
ALWAYS HAD A POLICY OF STRONGLY OBJECTING TO TERRORISM 
AND HOSTAGE-TAKING, AND HE PROVIDED POLCHIEF WITH A 
PAPER HE HAD RECENTLY PRESENTED (THROUGH HIS REPRESEN- 
TATIVE) AT A PARIS SYMPOSIUM ON TERRORISM, IN WHICH HE 
OBJECTED TO TERRORISM AS A TOOL FOR REVOLUTIONARY 
LIBERATION GROUPS.  HE CLAIMED TO BE PERPLEXED THAT 
THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES HAS RECEIVED "A 
RAGTAG BUNCH OF BACKWARD AFGHAN FUNDAMENTALISTS" AND 
PERSISTS IN TRYING TO BOLSTER "NONVIABLE NICARAGUAN 
GROUPS," WHILE NOT AFFORDING ATTENTION TO "TRUE 
DEMOCRATIC GROUPS" WHO ARE FIGHTING FOR "UNIVERSALLY 
RECOGNIZED HUMAN RIGHTS." 
 
6.  POLCHIEF OBSERVED THAT THERE IS PUBLIC SYMPATHY 
FOR THE KURDISH SITUATION IN THE UNITED STATES BUT NOT 
VERY MUCH IS KNOWN ABOUT IT; QASSEMLU MIGHT DO WELL TO 
CULTIVATE JOURNALISTS.  QASSEMLU SAID THAT ONE OF THE 
THINGS HE HAD DONW WHILE IN BAGHDAD THIS TIME WAS TO 
PUSH THROUGH A VISA FOR THE WASHINGTON POSO'S  JONATHAN 
RANDAL (PARIS), WHO HE SAID IS WRITING A BOOK ABOUT 
KURDS AND TO WHOM HE HAS GIVEN FOURTEEN HOURS OF 
INTERVIEW.  QASSEMLU LAMENTED THAT "THE SOVIETS ALWAYS 
TEND TO SEE THE KDPI AS SUPPORTED BY THE AMERICANS AND 
THE AMERICANS ALWAYS SUSPECT THE SOVIETS" WHILE IN 
FACT THE KDPI HAS NO FRIENDS.  "OUR ONLY FRIENDS  ARE 
THE MOUNTAINS." 
 
------------------------ 
ITALIAN HOSTAGES 
------------------------ 
 
7.  QASSEMLU ACKNOWLEDGED THAT HE HAD JUST MET ITALIAN 
AMBASSADOR TOSCANO AND GIVEN HIM A PLEDGE TO DO WHAT HE 
COULD ABOUT THE THREE ITALIAN KIDNAPPEES BEING HELD BY 
TALABANI'S PATRIOTIC UNION OF KURDISTAN (PUK).  HE 
NOTED THAT HE HAD INTERVENED OCCASIONALLY IN THE PAST, 
HAD BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN INFLUENCING TALABANI TO RELEASE 
HOSTAGES, AND HE "HAD EVERY CONFIDENCE" THAT HE WOULD 
BE SUCCESSFUL AGAIN. (HE GAVE THE IMPRESSION THAT THS 
WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT THE ITALIANS HAD APPROACHED HIM 
AND THUS HE HAD NOT PREVIOUSLY MADE ANY EFFORTS 
ON THE CIVILIAN'S BEHALF.)  QASSEMLU BETRAYED A TRACE OF 
ANNOYANCE THAT OTHER GROUPS' WILLINGNESS TO RESORT TO 
TERRORISM HAD GAINED THEM GREATER ATTENTION THAN THAT 
GIVEN THE KDPI, EVEN THOUGH THE KDPI, HE CLAIMED, IS 
A "MUCH MORE FIRMLY AND WIDELY BASED ORGANIZATION." 
 
------------------------------- 
KDPI BASE OF SUPPORT 
------------------------------- 
 
8.  QASSEMLU SAID THAT HE HAS 10-12,000 ACTIVE FIGHTERS 
AND "CANNOT HANDLE" ANY MORE THAN THAT FOR LOGISTICAL 
JEXNSJM  WHENEVER HE NEEDS, HE CAN CALL UP "SEVERAL 
MULTIPLES" OF THAT FIGURE.  HE CLAIMED THAT HE HAS NO 
REAL COMPETITION FOR INFLUENCE AMONG IRANIAN KURDS 
("80 PERCENT ARE BEHIND ME") AND HE SCOFFED AT THE 
SITUATION IN IRAQ:  "THERE IS NOTHING SIMILAR IN IRAN 
TO A (KURDISH) TAHA MA'RUF AS 'VICE PRESIDENT' OR THE 
KURDS THAT HOLD MINISTRIES HERE.  THERE IS NOTHING 
LIKE THE HUGE NUMBERS OF 'JAHASH'" (THE PEJORATIVE 
TERM FOR THE KURDISH TRIBAL FORCES HELD BY VHENIRAIE 
(##) --AND THUS BECOME SOMETHING EQUIVALENT TO THE 
"JAHASH."). 
 
9.  IN HIS APPEAL FOR AMERICAN "MORAL AND POLITICAL 
SUPPORT," QASSEMLU STRESSED THAT HE WAS NOT CALLING 
FOR MONEY OR ARMS.  "OF COURSE ONE ALWAYS LIKES MORE, 
BUT WE HAVE PLENTY."  HE CLAIMED THAT THE KDPI HAS, 
OVER THE YEARS, BEEN ABLE TO CAPTURE AMPLE ARMS FROM 
THE IRANIAN URMY/PASDARAN.  HE WAS RELUCTANT TO GO INTO 
HIS FINANCIAL SOURCES, CLAIMING ONLY THAT "EVERY FAMILY 
IN KURDISTAN MAKES VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS," BUT IN THE 
COURSE OF CONVERSATION IT BECAME CLEAR THAT BOTH THE 
KDPI AND PUK SUSTAIN THEMSELVES IN LARGE PART THROUGH 
SMUGGLING.  QASSEMLU SAID THAT HE "ONLY" CJARGES A 
"THREE PERCENT DUTY" ON GOODS PASSING FROM IRAQ INTO 
IRAN, AS OPPOSED TO "AS MUCH AS TWENTY PERCENT" LEVIED 
BY TALABANI.  EXAMPLES OF GOODS GOING INTO IRAN 
INCLUDE WHISKEY AND VIDEOS AND OF GOODS GOING INTO 
IRAQ, CARPETS AND PISTACHIOS.  FORMERLY TEA CAME FROM 
IRAQ AND SUGAR FROM IRAN, BUT LATELY BOTH TEA AND 
SUGAR HAVE BEEN MOVING FROM IRAQ INTO IRAN.  QASSEMLU 
SAID THAT HE HAD RECENTLY ASKED TALABANI HOW LONG HE 
COULD SURVIVE FINANCIALLY IF HIS MONETARY SOURCES 
SUDDENLY DRIED UP, AND TALABANI SAID, "TWO MONTHS," 
WHEREAS QASSEMLU CLAIMED HE WOULD HAVE NO DIFFICULTY 
GOING ON FOR "AT LEAST TWO YEARS." 
 
10.  QASSEMLU DESCRIBED THE SITUATION IN IRANIAN 
KURDISTAN AS "STABLE," I.E., MUCH THE SAME AS IT HAS 
XBEEN FINCE 1980 WHEN THE KDPI LOST ITS CONTROL OVER 
THE CITIES AND CHANGED FROM CONVENTIONAL WARFARE TO 
GUERRILLA TACTICS.  THE IRANIANS CONTROL THE CITIES 
VNOW BUT ONLY CONTROL THE MAIN HIGHWAYS FROM EIGHT TO 
FVE; TE KDPI TACES OVER AT NIGHT.  QASSEMLU PRO' 
XFESSED TO BE "OPTIMISTIC" ABOUT THE FUTURE, SINCE HIS 
SUPPORT IN IRANIN KURDISTAN IS "ROCK-SOLID."  HE SAID 
THAT HE ISHPREPARED TO HOLD OUT IN THE MOUNTAINS FOR 
25 YEARS, BUT IF KHOMEINI DIES SOON "THERE MAY BE 
CONSIDERABLE TURMOIL IN TEHRAN," AND THE IRANIAN 
ECONOMY IS "IN A TAILSPIN."  WHEN ASKED WHETHER HE 
OR TALABANI AND BARZANI CONTROLLED MORE TERRAIN, 
QASSEMLU SAID THAT THREE YEARS AGO HE DID, BUT NOW 
THE IRAQI KURDS DO.  THE REASON, HE EXPLAINED, IS 
NOT THAT HE IS DOING WORSE--TO THE CONTRARY HE IS 
HLDING HIS OWN--IT IS RATHER THAT THE SITUATION FOR 
THE BAGHDAD REGIME IN IRAQI KURDISTAN HAS "DETERIOKA- 
TED SO SHARPLY" OVER THE PAST THREE YEARS. (#) 
CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN INSTRUMENTAL IN BRINGING 
TALABAMI AND SADDAM TOGETHER FOR PROLONGED NEGOTIA- 
TIOS TH YEARS AGO, WHICH BROKE DOWN. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
COMPELLED TO MOVE HEADPUARTERS 
-------------------------------------- 
 
11.  QASSEMLU ADMITTED THAT HE HAD RECENTLY BEEN OBLIGED 
TO MOVE HIS HEADQUARTERS.BECAUSE OF INTENSE IRANIAN 
SHELLING.  HIS FORMER HEADQUARTERS--HE POINTED OUT ON AN 
UNFORTUNATELY NOT VERY DETAILED MAP--APPEARS TO HAVE 
BEEN NEAR THE LESSER ZAB RIVER WHERE IT FLOWS INTO IRAQ 
(APPROXIMATELY 3601N 4520E).  HE HAD HAD A LARGE HOSPI- 
TAL TYERE TO WHICH FRENCH DOCTORS CAME EVERY MONTH, AND 
OFTEN THE KDPI WAS PUT IN THE ANOMOLOUS SITUATION OF 
HAVING BOTH TALABANI AND IRAQI ARMY CASUALTIES AT THE 
HOSPITAL AT THE SAME TIME.  THE LOCALS BECAME UNTENABLE 
BECAUSE THE IRANIAN ARMY WAS JUST TO THE EAST, THE IRAQI 
ARMY JUST TO THE WEST, AND TALABANI'S FORCES BEHIND THE 
IRAQI ARMY FURTHER TO THE WEST--"EVERYBODY WAS POUNDING 
EVERYBODY."  NOW HE HAS MOVED TO A POINT (APPROXIMATELY 
3620N 4515E) SOME THIRTY-FIVE KILOMETERS TO THE NORTH, 
AGAIN RIGHT ON THE IRANIAN BORDER SO THAT QASSEMLU 
SPENDS MUCH OF HIS TIME ON THE IRANIAN SIDE (HE CLAIMS), 
BUT WHERE THE IRAQI ARMY IS MUCH FURTHER AWAY TO ZHE 
WEST.  THUS, HIS HEADQUARTERS NOW APPEARS TO BE IN A 
KIND OF NO-MAN'S-LAND WHERE THE KDPI HAS FULL SWAY. 
HE SAYS HE HAS REBUILT THE HOSPITAL THERE AND THE 
FRENCH DOCTORS CONTINUE TO COME. 
 
12.  ON FIGHTING AT MAWAT ON THE GOGASUR RIVER JUST TO 
THE SOUTH OF WHERE HIS FORMER HEADQUARTERS WAS, QASSEMLU 
SAID THAT THE IRANIAN OBJECTIVE IS TO CLEAR TALABANI'S 
EAST-WEST ACCESS.  TALABANI'S HEADQUARTERS, HE CLAIMED, 
IS LOCATED SOUTHEAST OF MAWAT (SOMEWHERE VAGUELY IN THE 
VALLEY OF THE SHILER RIVER WHICH MEETS THE GOGASUR 
SOUTH OF MAWAT, APPROXIMATELY AT 3547N 4540E).  THE 
IRANIANS CONTROL THE RIDGE OVERLOOKING MAWAT TO THE EAST, 
THE IRAQIS CONTROL THE HILLS SOUTHWEST OF MAWAT, AND 
THERE HAS BEEN MUCH FIGHTING THERE AND IN THE MOUNTAIN 
WEST OF MAWAT WHICH THE IRANIANS PARTIALLY CONTROL. 
JUST THAT MORNING QASSEMLU RECEIVED A CALL FROM HIS 
HEADQUARTERS THAT THE IRAQIS HAD JUST LAUNCHED A NEW 
ATTACK ON THE IRANIAN POSITIONS WEST OF MAWAT.  MAWAT 
ITSELF, "LIKE PANJWIN," QASSEMLU COMMENTED, IS 
COMPLETELY ABANDONED. 
 
-------------------------------- 
RELATIONS WITH TALABANI 
-------------------------------- 
 
13.  QASSEMLU CLAIMED TO BE "VERY GOOD FRIENDS" WITH 
TALABANI.  RECENTLY HE HAD ASKED TALABANI TO PICK UP 
SOME CAVIAR FOR HIM FROM THE CASPIAN, AND WHEN TALABANI 
BROUGHT IT TO HIM HE JOKED THAT HE HAD HAD TO GO 
THROUGH SPECIAL CHANNELS TO GET MORE CAVIAR THAN IS NOW 
USUALLY PERMITTED AND IF THE IRANIAN AUTHORITIES HAD 
KNOWN WHOM IT WAS FOR "THEY WOULD HAVE BEEN APOPLECTIC." 
QASSEMLU ADMITTED THAT THERE ARE TIMES WHEN DELICATE 
ISSUES ARISE.  FOR EXAMPLE, RECENTLY 52 IRAQI SOLDIERS, 
INCLUDING SIX OFFICERS, HAD TAKEN REFUGE WITH THE KDPI 
AND TALABANI HAD DEMANDED THAT THEY BE HANDED OVER. 
THE DISPUTE WENT ON FOR TWO WEEKS BUT QASSEMLU WAS 
ADAMANT THAT THE KDPI MUST REMAIN "ABSOLUTELY NEUTRAL" 
IN ALL MATTERS BETWEEN IRAQIS AND KURDS, AND HE EVENTU- 
ALLY HANDED THE SOLDIERS AND OFFICERS BACK TO THE 
IRAQI ARMY.  QASSEMLU, WHO WHILE BEING REMARKABLY OPEN 
ALSO TENDED TO CHOOSE HIS WORDS CAREFULLY, WAS UNWILL- 
ING TO BE DRAWN OUT ABOUT HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH 
MAS'UD BARZANI, BUT HE RIDICULED THE IDEA THAT THE 
BARZANIS' "KDP" WAS EVER "A REAL PARTY."  "THEY ARE 
MERELY A TRIBE." 
 
---------------------------------- 
SADDAM IS IN CHARGE 
---------------------------------- 
 
14.  QASSEMLU WAS UNWILLING TO DISCUSS HIS MEETING WLTH 
SADDAM, INDEED EVEN DIRECTLY TO ADMIT IT TOOK PLACE 
(ALTHOUGH PRIVATELY TO THE SWEDISH AMBASSADOR HE HAD 
BEEN MORE CANDID), ALTHOUGH HE DID ALLUDE TO THE 
PERSIAN SAYING THAT "IF YOU CAN MEET GOD, THERE IS NO 
POINT IN SETTLING FOR ONE OF THE TWELVE IMAMS." 
QASSEMLU SAID THAT, UNLIKE MUJAHEDIN E-KHALQ LEADER 
RAJAVI, HE HAD "ABSOLUTELY NO DESIRE" TO BE PHOTO- 
GRAPHED WITH SADDAM OR HAVE ANY PUBLICITY OF HIS TRAVEL 
TO BAGHDAD, MUCH LESS OF MEETING SADDAM--"IT DOES NOT 
GO OVER VERY WELL IN IRAN."  POLCHIEF PRESSED HIM ON 
WHO IN IRAQ IS IN CHARGE OF KURDISH ISSUES, AND 
QASSEMLU SAID, "SADDAM.  HE IS IN CHARGE OF EVERYTHING." 
THAT ASIDE, HOWEVER, HE WENT ON TO SAY THAT IN DAY-TO- 
DAY AFFAIRS, "THERE ARE THREE IMPORTANT PEOPLE IN IRAQ: 
SADDAM; 'ADNAN (KHAYRALLAH, MINISTER OF DEFENSE AND 
FIRST COUSIN AND BGOTHER-IN-LAW OF SADDAM), WHO IS IN 
CHARGE OF THE SOUTH; AND 'ALI HASAN (AL-MAJID, PATER- 
NAL COUSIN AND LOOK-ALIKE OF SAWAAV0| WHO IS IN UHAR3 
RGFITHE NORTH."  HOWEVER, QASSEMLU INDICATED HE DID NOT 
SEE 'ALI HASAN, HEADQUARTERED IN KIRKUK, VERY OFTEN, 
APPARENTLY BECAUSE QASSEMLU NEVER SETTLES FOR LESS 
THAN "GOD." 
 
-------------------------------- 
VILLAGE DESTRUCTION 
-------------------------------- 
 
15.  POLCHIEF ASKED QASSEMLU FOR HIS REACTION TO THE 
IRAQI CAMPAIGN OF DESTROYING KURDISH VILLAGES. 
QASSEMLU ACKNOWLEDGED THAT "MOST" VILLAGES HAVE BEEN 
DESTROYED BUT HE SEEMED UNEMOTIONAL ON THE POINT. 
POLCHIEF ASKED IF THE CAMPAIGN HAD HAD THE EFFECT OF 
INCREASING THE NUMBER OF GUERRILLAS AND REFUGEES.  HE 
ANSWERED THAT IT HAD "GREATLY" INCREASED THE NUMBER 
OF UERRILLAS BUT NEITHER HE NOR TALABANI ENCOURAGED 
THE IDEA OF REFUGEES INTO THE OTHER'S TERRITORY, 
BECAUSE OF THE GREAT DIFFICULTY IN FEEDING AND CARING 
FOR PEOPLE.  THE NET EFFECT OF THE IRAQI VILLAGE DES- 
TRUCTION CAMPAIGN, HE ACKNOWLEDGED, IS THE ALMOST 
COMPLETE DESTRUCTION OF THE IRAQI KURDS' TRADITIONAL 
AGRARIAN WAY OF LIFE.  KURDISH MEN IN IRAQ HAVE 
ONLY TWO CHOICES, TO GO TO THE CITIES OR TO STAY: IN 
NEWLY CONSTRUCTED CENTERS WHERE THE ONLY LIVELIHOOD IS 
TO BE "JAHASH."  QASSEMLU SAID THAT THE IRANIANS HAVE 
SO FAR ONLY DESTROYED 25 VILLAGES, OUT OF OVER SEVEN 
THOUSAND IN IRANIAN KURDISTAN (AND A CLAIMED KURDISH 
POPULATION IN IRAN OF SEVEN MILLION), BUT HE COMMENTED, 
"ALAS, EACH SIDE TENDS TO LEARN BAD HABITS FROM THE 
OTHER."   ONE BAD HABIT THAT HE CLAIMED THE IRANIANS 
HAVE (#) IS THE USE OF CHEMICUL WEAPONS.  "BOTH 
SIDES DO IT, ALTHOUGH THE IRAQIS MUCH MORE."  POLCHIEF 
ASKED WHETHER, GIVEN THE DENUDED NATURE OF MOST OF 
KURDISTAN, HELICOPTERS AND OTHER AIRBORNE ATTACKS POSE 
A SERIOUS PROBLEM FOR THE PESHMERGA.  QASSEMLU SAID, 
"NEITHER WE NOR THE IRAQI KURDS ARE WORRIED ABOUT 
HELICOPTERS.  WE CAN TAKE CARE OF THEM.  BUT ARTILLERY 
IS A SERIOUS PROBLEM FOR US.  AND CHEMICAL WARFARE IS 
A PROBLEM TOO." 
 
----------------------------- 
A KURD'S VIEW OF IRAQ 
----------------------------- 
 
16.  QASSEMLU DID NOT GO OUT OF HIS WAY TO CRITICIZE IRAQ, 
BUT HE COULD NOT RESIST A BARRAGE OF CUTTING REMARKS THAT 
CLEARLY SHOWED HIS DISDAIN FOR ARABS AND FOR THE IRAQI 
REGIME.  IN PARTICULAR, HE SAID THAT HE VERY MUCH DISLIKED 
BAGHDAD AND AVOIDED COMING UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY. 
HE GRUDGINGLY ADMITTED THAT IRAN IS A MORE FLUID AND 
DYNAMIC SOCIETY--"YES, IN URMIA PEBPLE CAN PICKIUP THE 
PHONE TO THE UNITED STATES ANY TIME THEY WANT, AND THEY 
ARE FREE TO TRAVEL OUT OF THE COUNTRY," HE SAID WISTFULLY 
--BUT HE WAS QUICK TO EMPHASIZE THAT THERE IS MUCH LESS 
INTERFERENCE IN PEOPLE'S PRIVATE MORALS IN IRAQ AND THAT 
IRAQ STANDS FOR "MORE MODERN IDEAS."  HE HAD DETESTED THE 
SHAH, "BUT KHOMEINI IS MUCH WORSE."  HE HAD SEEN KHOMEINI 
TWICE IN 1979 AND BEEN "LIED TO SHAMELESSLY."  QASSEMLU 
PROCEEDED TO GIVE A LECTURE ON THE SHI'A PRACTICE OF 
"TAQIYA" (DECEIT TO SERVE A HIGHER PURPOSE) AS AN 
PNGRAINED PART OF THE SHI'A PERSONALITY; POLCHIEF NOTED 
THAT WE HAD RECENTLY LEARNED A FEW LDSSONS ON THE SUBJECT 
OURSELVES. 
 
------------------------ 
RAJAVI 
------------------------- 
 
17.  QASSEMLU ACKNOWLEDGED THAT THE KDPI IS IN NEED OF 
ALLIANCES WITH OTHER IRANIAN OPVBSITION GROUPS, SINCE 
BY ITSELF IT OBVIOUSLY CANNOT OVERTHROW THE REGIME.  HE 
ADMITTED THAT THE REGIME HAS WIDE SUVPORT ("HUNDREDS OF 
THOUSANDS OF MULLAHS WHO ALL SEE THEIR LIVELIHOOD AT 
STAKE") AND ITS OVERTHROW WILL BE NO EASY MATTER.  POL- 
CHIEF ASKED ABOUT A POSSIBLE ALLIANCE WITH RAJAVI WHO, 
IN ANY CASE, HAS REPORTEDLY BEEN  MOUNTING MILITARY 
ACTIONS IN THE NORTH.  QASSEMLU DESCRIBED RAJAVI AS 
AN "AMATEUR," WHO HAS 1200 FIGHTERS "AT THE MOST" BUT 
HAS A GOOD PROPAGANDA MACHINE.  HE ADMITTED THAT RAJAVI 
"HAD TRIED A FEW ACTIONS IN THE NORTH," BUT UNLIKE THE 
KDPI THE MUJAHEDIN E-KHALQ "HAVE NO REAL STRENGTH IN 
PLACE IN IRAN."  "IN FACT, OF ALL THE OPPOSITION GROUPS," 
QASSEMLU CLAIMED, "ONLY MY PARTY HAS SIGNIFICANT STRENGTH 
INSIDE IRAN."   QASSEMLU SAID THATSRAJAVI'S RECENT 
ACTIONS IN THE NORTH HAD CAUSED PROBLEMS FOR THE KDPI, 
BECAUSE IT HAD ON OCCASION ENGAGED TALABANI'S FORCES. 
QASSEMLU SAID THAT HENCEFORTH RAJAVI WILL NOT BE 
OPERATING IN THE NORTH BUT HAS NOW SWITCHED TO THE 
SOUTH.  HE ADMITTED THAT RAJAVI "IS APPARENTLY NOT EAGER 
FOR ANY ALLIANCES."  "RAJAVI HAS VISIONS OF GRANDEUR; 
HE THINKS HE IS ABLE TO CARRY IT BY HIMSELF." 
 
------------------------------- 
KDPI CONGRESS 
------------------------------- 
 
18.  IN AN ASIDE, THE KDPI PARIS REPRESENTATIVE (WHO 
WITH HIS COLLEAGUE IN STOCKHOLM WAS TO RETURN TO 
EUROPE FEBRUARY 15) SAID THAT "APPROXIMATELY 200" 
PARTY REPRESENTATIVES HAD APPEARED FOR THE CONGRESS, 
HELD AT THE NEW PARTY HEADQUARTERS.  THE CONGRESS HAD 
ALWAYS PREVIOUSLY BEEN BIENNIAL, BUT BECAUSE OF THE 
ENORMOUS DIFFICULTIES FACED BY MANY OF THE PARTY 
MEMBERS IN MAKING THE JOURNEY FROM OUTLYING PARTS OF 
IRANIAN KURDISTAN OVER THE BORDER TO THE HEADQUARTERS 
IN IRAQ, IT HAS NOW BEEN DECIDED NOT TO HAVE THE NEXT 
CONGRESS FOR THREE YEARS.  QASSEMLU, WHILE REPEATEDLY 
STRESSING THE DEMOCRATIC NATURE OF HIS PARTY AND ITS 
POLICIES  (AND HE CLARIFIED THAT HE MEANT "DEMOCRATIC" 
IN THE WESTERN RATHER THAN EASTERN SENSE), ADMITTED 
THAT HE HAD HAD NO OPPONENT FOR POSITION OF SECRETARY 
GENERAL.  POLCHIEF ASKED WHETHER ANY KDPI REPRESENTA- 
TIVES FROM THE U.S. HAD PARTICIPATED, AND THE REPLY 
WAS THAT WHILE ONE HAD ATTENDED THE PREVIOUS CONGRESS, 
NONE CAME THIS  TIME. 
 
------------------------------------ 
KOMALA 
------------------------------------ 
 
19.  THE SWEDISH AMBASSADOR DISPLAYED CONSTERNATION 
THAT TWO WEEKS AGO HE HAD GIVEN A PROMINENT IRANIAN 
KURDISH FIGURE, SHAYH 'IZZ AL-DIN HUSAYNI, A TOURIST 
VISA TO SWEDEN, AND NOW HE IS ASKING FOR ASYLUM.  THE 
VISA HAD BEEN REQUESTED ON HIS BEHALF BY HIS SON-IN-LAW, 
NAMED CHAMSI, THE BAGHDADREPRESENTATIVE OF KOMALA 
(SMALL MARXIST IRANIAN KURDISH GROUP).  QASSDMLU 
DISCOUNTED SHAYKH HUSAYNI'S RELIGIOUS IMPBRTANCE AND 
THE IMPORTANCE OF KOMALA. 
 
----------------------------- 
BIOGRAPHICS 
----------------------------- 
 
20.  QASSEMLU (GHASSEMLOU) WAS BORN IN 1930.  HIS EARLY 
EDUCATION WAS IN URMIA BUT HE ALSO ATTENDED THE AMERICAN 
COLLEGE IN TEHRAN.  HE WENT TO UNIVERSITY IN PARIS BUT 
WAS EXPELLED FROM IRAN (#) REVOLUTIONARY ACTIVITIES. 
HE WON A SCHOLARSHIP AT THE UNIVERSITY IN PRAGUE, AND HE WAS 
AN ECONOMICS PROFESSOR IN PRAGUE FOR TWENTY YEARS.  HE 
DEPARTED WHEN THE SOVIETS MARCHED IN IN 1968.  OFF AND 
ON DURING THE 1970S HE SERVED AS AN ECONOMIST IN THE 
MINISTRY OF PLANNING IN BAGHDAD, DURING WHICH HE 
AUTHORED A MAJOR OVERALL ECONOMIC PLAN FOR IRAQ, HE 
CLAIMS.  OF MEDIUM HEIGHT AND SLENDER BUILD, HIS HAIR 
IS GRAYING BUT HE MOVES WITH THE QUICKNESS AND AGILITY 
OF A YOUNGER MAN.  HE TELLS A GOOD ANECDOTE AND PEPPERS 
HIS CONVERSATION WITH CONSTANT HUMOR. 
 
 
NEWTON 
 
 
NOTE BY OC/T:  (#):  OMISSION:  PARA 20 LINE 4.  CORRECTION TO 
FOLLOW. 
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 BAGHDAD 00855 
 
C O R R E C T E D C O P Y (PARAGRAPH 3, LAST THREE SENTENCES) 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, MOPS, PHUM, PTER, PINR, IZ, IR 
SUBJECT:  VIEWS OF IRANIAN KURDISH LEADER QASSEMLU 
 
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