Associated Press – A likely appointee to the interim Iraqi government said Belarus should be called to account for allegedly providing military aid to former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein in violation of United Nations sanctions.
“We have documents about this, and in any case we will raise this question in the U.N. Security Council and demand punishment for those Belarusian bureaucrats who took part in violating sanctions,” Iyad Allawi, leader of the Iraqi National Accord, was quoted as saying in an interview published Tuesday in Vremya Novostei, a liberal independent daily.
Allawi is one of five anti-Saddam leaders with whom U.S. officials have been consulting over the formation of Iraq’s interim government, and he is expected to be one of that government’s leaders.
Allawi said there was no evidence that Russia had given Saddam military aid while U.N. sanctions were in effect.
“We have no information that Russia helped Saddam,” he said.
However, he said some of debt Iraq owed Russia was for illegal deals and would not be recognized by the new authorities. He estimated the debt at US$12 billion in all.
“Robbery took place, not only from the Iraqi side,” Allawi said. “We have information and we will give it to the Russian government.”
Allawi alleged that some Russians had “severely harmed the Iraqi people,” and pointed in particular to former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, whom he accused of defending Saddam “for personal profit.” Primakov, a Middle East expert, Soviet-era diplomat and spymaster who was a Pravda newspaper correspondent for the region during the Cold War, knew Saddam for decades. Russia’s government dispatched him to Baghdad several times to try to avert war – first in 1990, then this year.
“We have almost full certainty that Primakov received certain sums from Saddam for this (defending him),” Allawi said, without elaborating.
The interview, which Vremya Novostei political columnist Yelena Suponina conducted in Baghdad, did not say what Allawi’s allegations were based on.
Rumors about Primakov’s alleged self-interest in Iraq have floated around for years. Russian Foreign Ministry officials, including Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov, have vehemently denied them.
Primakov’s office was closed for Russia’s May holidays and neither he nor his spokeswoman could be reached for comment Tuesday.
Allawi also said that all the contracts that Russian companies had concluded with Saddam’s government were “over.” Many Russian oil companies have hoped to resume work in postwar Iraq; Russian analysts estimate the total worth of their contracts at tens of billions of dollars.
“Whatever was signed during Saddam’s time has no force now,” Allawi said.