US embassy cable - 88BAGHDAD4589 (original version)

IRAQ STRESSES NORMALCY WHILE WARNING IRAN (original version)

Identifier: 88BAGHDAD4589
Wikileaks: View 88BAGHDAD4589 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Baghdad
Created: 1988-08-23 13:05:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL
Tags: PGOV PREL IZ
Redacted: This cable was redacted by Wikileaks. [Show redacted version] [Compare redacted and unredacted version]
P 231305Z AUG 88
FM AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD
TO SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7968
INFO GULFWAR COLLECTIVE
C O N F I D E N T I A L BAGHDAD 04589 
 
E.O. 12356: DECL: OADR 
TAGS:  PGOV, PREL, IZ 
SUBJECT:  IRAQ STRESSES NORMALCY WHILE WARNING IRAN 
 
1.  CONFIDENTIAL -  ENTIRE TEXT. 
 
2.  SUMMARY:  WHILE STILL CELEBRATING ITS "VICTORY" 
IN THE IRAN-IRAQ WAR, IRAQ APPEARS BENT ON RETURNING 
TO NORMALCY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.  EMPHASIS IS LAID 
ON BASRA'S RESURRECTION AND THE RE-OPENING OF THE PORT 
OF UMM QASR.  MEANWHILE, IRAQ DENIED THAT IRAN HAD 
SEARCHED AN IRAQI SHIP AND WARNED THAT ANY ATTEMPT TO 
DO SO WOULD BRING REPERCUSSIONS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
3.  IRAQIS CELEBRATED THE OFFICIAL CEASEFIRE WITH AS 
MUCH ENTHUSIASM AS THEY DID THE ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE 
CEASEFIRE ON AUGUST 8, BUT WITHOUT THE WIDESPREAD 
DISCHARGE OF FIREARMS WHICH MARKED THE EARLIER CELE- 
BRATIONS.  JUBILANT CROWDS SURGED THROUGH THE STREETS 
DURING THE EVENING HOURS OF AUGUST 19-21.  PRESIDENT 
SADDAM HUSSEIN ATTENDED A HUGE GOVERNMENT RALLY AT 
GREAT FESTIVITIES SQUARE IN BAGHDAD AUGUST 20; 
UNUSUALLY FOR HIM, HE PERMITTED A THRONG OF 
THOUSANDS TO CONVERGE ON HIM.  ON THE SPUR OF THE 
MOMENT, HE DECLARED AUGUST 21 A NATIONAL HOLIDAY. 
THE MEDIA REPORTED THAT "TENS OF THOUSANDS" OF 
PILGRIMS RENEWED THEIR ALLEGIANCE TO SADDAM ON VISITS 
DURING THE SHI'A HOLY DAY OF ASHURA (AUGUST 22) TO 
THE "SHRINE OF SADDAM'S GREAT ANCESTOR" THE IMAM 
HUSAYN,. IN THE SHI'A HOLY CITY OF KARBALA.  (ONE 
SHI'A PILGRIM TO KARBALA TELLS US, HOWEVER, THAT 
REVERENCE TO SADDAM HAD NO PART AT ALL IN THIS YEAR'S 
ASHURA CELEBRATION.) 
 
4.  AS THE CELEBRATIONS CONTINUED, THE IRAQIS OPENED 
THE AIRPORT AT BASRA TO CIVILIAN AIR TRAFFIC 
AUGUST 20, AND RE-OPENED THE PORTS OF UMM QASR 
AND KHOR AL-ZUBAIR TO MERCHANT SHIPPING.  REPORTS 
IN BAGHDAD CLAIM BASRA HAS BEEN GIVEN FIRST CALL ON 
WHATEVER IS NEEDED TO RETURN THE TOWN TO ITS PREWAR 
CONDITION AND ITS STATUS AS IRAQ'S SECOND LARGEST 
CITY.  MOST OF BASRA'S POPULATION, HALF OF WHICH 
FLED THE CITY DURING THE WAR, HAS NOW RETURNED. 
NOW, PAINT AND BUILDING MATERIALS ARE REPORTEDLY 
BEING DIVERTED THERE TO SUCH AN EXTENT THAT SHORTAGES 
ARE FEARED ELSEWHERE IN IRAQ.  GULF AIR, OWNED BY 
THE GOVERNMENTS OF BAHRAIN, QATAR, OMAN, AND ABU 
DHABI, ANNOUNCED THAT IT WOULD RESUME SERVICE TO 
BAGHDAD AND TEHRAN. 
 
5.  IRAQ'S NAVAL COMMANDER DENIED THAT IRAN HAD 
SEARCHED AN IRAQI MERCHANT VESSEL IN THE GULF 
AUGUST 20, AND CLAIMED THAT IRANIANS HAD NOT BEEN 
ALLOWED TO BOARD THE IRAQI SHIP.  THE IRANIANS SENT 
A HELICOPTER GUNSHIP TO HOVER ABOVE THE VESSEL WHILE 
AN IRANIAN NAVAL SHIP SHADOWED IT, HE SAID.  THE 
COMMANDER DECLARED THAT IRAQ WAS DETERMINED TO 
EXERCISE FULLY ITS RIGHTS TO FREE NAVIGATION IN 
INTERNATIONAL WATERS, AND WOULD COUNTER ANY IRANIAN 
MOVE WHICH INTERFERED WITH THESE RIGHTS. 
 
 
GLASPIE 

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