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The Kurds and the KGB

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    The secret history of the Barzani dynasty Dr. Kamal Said Qadir September 1, 2006 www.antiwar.com/orig/qadir.php?articleid=9629 Mustafa Barzani, the legendary
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 6, 2006
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      The secret history of the Barzani dynasty
      Dr. Kamal Said Qadir
      September 1, 2006
      www.antiwar.com/orig/qadir.php?articleid=9629


      Mustafa Barzani, the legendary Kurdish leader, was a KGB agent
      code-named "RAIS," and the Kurdish armed revolution he started Sept.
      11, 1961, was in reality a KGB covert action to destabilize Western
      interests in the Middle East and put additional pressure on the Kassim
      government of Iraq.

      Whoever dares to mention these facts publicly in Kurdistan would face
      an unknown fate, possibly forced disappearance or even murder by
      sophisticated means, and the whole story of KGB-Barzani ties would be
      dismissed as reckless defamation by the ruling Barzani family.

      Unfortunately for the Barzani family, these facts are not the creation
      of some individuals, but the contents of KGB documents that recently
      became accessible to scholars and the public, or found their way to
      the West with defected KGB officers after the collapse of the Soviet
      Union.

      This paper relies on two main documentary sources on KGB-Barzani ties.
      The first is the archive of the Central Committee of the Communist
      Party of the Soviet Union, which also contains the correspondence
      between the KGB and the Central Committee. The most important
      documents mentioned in this article go back to 1961, the peak of the
      Cold War.

      The second source is the so-called Mitrokhin archive, which was
      smuggled to the West by the defected KGB officer Vasili Mitrokhin
      after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

      In addition to the KGB archive, this paper also relies on the memoirs
      written by former KGB officers, which refer to Barzani and the Kurdish
      conflict. These include the memoirs of the former KGB Maj. Gen. Pavel
      Sudoplatov, who was the head of the SMERSH, a special department
      within the Soviet security services responsible for special operations
      broad.

      Some scholars have conducted valuable research on KGB history using
      publicly accessible KGB archives. The most important research paper I
      was able to find in this regard was delivered by Vladislav M. Zubok, a
      visiting scholar of the National Security Archive in Washington, D.C.,
      and can be found here.

      The aim of the current paper on Barzani-KGB ties is simply the search
      for the truth in the public interest. The Barzani family has
      established a brutal and corrupt feudal political system in Iraqi
      Kurdistan under the pretext that they led the Kurdish revolution. It
      is time to tell them the truth and remind them that the Kurds are
      freedom-loving people and will never accept feudal rule. The Barzani
      family has misused the trust of Kurdish people and become increasingly
      oligarchic, with the aim of self-enrichment by illegal means and a
      monopoly on political power. Murder, torture, abductions, and
      intimidation are among the main methods the family uses to silence its
      opponents.

      My own abduction by the Parastin, the secret service of the Barzani
      family, on Oct. 26, 2005, in Arbil, Kurdistan, for publishing some
      articles criticizing the corrupt rule of the Barzanis, and my
      subsequent release under international pressure, are further evidence
      that the arbitrary power of the family is decreasing.

      The great international support for my case was based on the
      recognition that the truth should not be silenced.

      Therefore, I see it as my duty to continue searching for the truth.

      Barzani and the KGB, Old Friends

      After the collapse of the Kurdish republic of Mahabad in December
      1946, Mustafa Barzani made his way to the Soviet border with several
      hundred of his men. After arriving in the Soviet Union, he received
      much attention from the Soviet leadership and security services, who
      wanted to use the Kurds for their own ends.

      The first period of Barzani's political activities in the Soviet Union
      would have probably remained secret without the memoirs of the KGB's
      Sudoplatov, who later became the head of the SMERSH. Sudoplatov writes
      that he had met Barzani for the first time in Baku, shortly after
      Barzani's arrival in the Soviet Union in 1947, with the aim of using
      him to destabilize Western interests in the Middle East. Barzani and
      his men were to receive arms and military training in order to be sent
      back to Iraq for this purpose, according to Sudoplatov.

      Barzani must have been of extraordinary importance to the Soviets to
      be cultivated by Sudoplatov, one of the most important figures within
      the security services. Sudoplatov mentions in his memoirs that he was
      responsible for the assassination of Trotsky on Stalin's order, and
      for the atomic espionage that led to the building of the Soviet atom bomb.

      That Sudoplatov led negotiations with Barzani is evidence of the great
      expectations the Soviet leadership had for Barzani. But Sudoplatov was
      apparently not the only Soviet officer to deal with Barzani, as
      Sudoplatov mentions other officers who succeeded him in dealing with
      Barzani. Sudoplatov met Barzani for the second time in 1952 to
      negotiate with him on military training, but doesn't mention any
      agreement reached between them. He met Barzani again in 1953 at a
      military academy in Moscow, where both of them underwent military
      training. Barzani was apparently being prepared for a special task abroad.

      Sudoplatov reveals in his memoirs that Barzani told him then that the
      ties between his family and Russia were a hundred years old and that
      his family had appealed to Russia for help before and received arms
      and ammunition from Russia 60 times. There are indeed other
      confidential reports on a visit to Russia made by Sheikh Abdul Salam,
      the sheikh of Barzan, before the First World War, though I know of no
      other Barzani-Russian ties before WWI.

      The nature of relations between Mustafa Barzani and the Soviets during
      the period of 1947-1958 has remained until now largely secret, with
      the exception of the Sudoplatov memoirs. The Mitrokhin archive and the
      publicly accessible KGB archive make no mention of this period, but do
      deliver essential information on Barzani-KGB ties after 1958.

      From the Mitrokhin archive we learn that the KGB gave Barzani the code
      name "RAIS," and both the Mitrokhin and the KGB archives of the
      Central Committee of the CPSU reveal the big secret behind the Kurdish
      revolution of September 1961 led by Barzani. According to these
      archives, this was not a real revolution but a covert action by the
      KGB to destabilize Western interests in the Middle East.

      Aleksandr Shelepin, KGB chief in the 1960s, in 1961 sent a memorandum
      to Nikita Khrushchev containing plans "to cause uncertainty in
      government circles of the USA, England, Turkey, and Iran about the
      stability of their positions in the Middle and Near East." He offered
      to use old KGB connections with the chairman of the Democratic Party
      of Kurdistan, Mustafa Barzani, "to activate the movement of the
      Kurdish population of Iraq, Iran, and Turkey for creation of an
      independent Kurdistan that would include the provinces of the
      aforementioned countries." Barzani was to be provided with the
      necessary aid in arms and money. "Given propitious developments,"
      noted Shelepin with foresight, "it would become advisable to express
      the solidarity of the Soviet people with this movement of the Kurds."

      "The movement for the creation of Kurdistan," he predicted, "will
      evoke serious concern among Western powers and first of all in England
      regarding [their access to] oil in Iraq and Iran, and in the United
      States regarding its military bases in Turkey. All that will create
      also difficulties for [Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abdul Karim] KASSIM
      who has begun to conduct a pro-Western policy, especially in recent
      time." Shelepin also proposed an initiative to entice Egyptian
      President Gamal Abdel Nasser, a Third World leader avidly courted by
      both East and West, into throwing his support behind the Kurds.
      Shelepin suggested informing Nasser "through unofficial channels"
      that, in the event of a Kurdish victory, Moscow "might take a benign
      look at the integration of the non-Kurdish part of Iraqi territory
      with the UAR" – the United Arab Republic, a short-lived union of Egypt
      and Syria reflecting Nasser's pan-Arab nationalism – "on the condition
      of NASSER's support for the creation of an independent Kurdistan."
      (Shelepin to Khrushchev, July 29, 1961, in St.-191/75gc, Aug. 1, 1961,
      TsKhSD, fond 4, opis 13, delo 81, ll. 131-32 [see Zubok, 21])

      When a Kurdish rebellion indeed broke out in Iraqi Kurdistan in
      September 1961, the KGB quickly responded with additional proposals to
      exploit the situation. KGB Deputy Chairman Peter Ivashutin proposed –
      "In accord with the decision of the CC CPSU … of 1 August 1961 on the
      implementation of measures favoring the distraction of the attention
      and forces of the USA and her allies from West Berlin, and in view of
      the armed uprisings of the Kurdish tribes that have begun in the North
      of Iraq" – to:

      use the KGB to organize pro-Kurdish and anti-Kassim protests in India,
      Indonesia, Afghanistan, Guinea, and other countries;
      have the KGB meet with Barzani to urge him to "seize the leadership of
      the Kurdish movement in his hands and to lead it along the democratic
      road," and to advise him to "keep a low profile in the course of this
      activity so that the West did not have a pretext to blame the USSR in
      meddling into the internal affairs of Iraq"; and
      assign the KGB to recruit and train a "special armed detachment
      (500-700 men)" drawn from Kurds living in the USSR in the event that
      Moscow might need to send Barzani "various military experts
      (Artillerymen, radio operators, demolition squads, etc.)" to support
      the Kurdish uprising. ( P. Ivashutin to CC CPSU, Sept. 27, 1961,
      St.-199/10c, Oct. 3, 1961, TsKhSD, fond 4, opis 13, delo 85, ll. 1-4
      [see Zubok, 21])

      What Ivashutin did not know was that the West already had information
      on Barzani's special ties with the Soviet Union. U.S. officials had
      noted with concern the possibility "that Barzani might be useful to
      Moscow." In an October 1958 cable to the State Department, three
      months after a military coup brought Kassim to power, the U.S.
      ambassador to Iraq, Waldemar J. Gallman, stated that "Communists also
      have potential for attack [on Iraqi Prime Minister Kassim] on another
      point through returned Kurdish leader Mulla Mustafa Barzani. He spent
      last eleven years in exile in Soviet Union. His appeal to majority of
      Iraqi Kurds is strong and his ability [to] disrupt stability almost
      endless. Thus we believe that today greatest potential threat to
      stability and even existence of Qassim's [Kassim's] regime lies in
      hands of Communists." (Gallman to Department of State, Oct. 14, 1958,
      in U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States,
      1958-1960, Vol. XII, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office,
      1993, pp. 344-46 [see Zubok, 21])

      Thus did the Kurdish conflict become an instrument in the hands of
      Moscow to exercise pressure on successive Iraqi regimes. According to
      the Mitrokhin archive, the KGB sent Yevgeny Primakov, code-named
      "MAKS," to Iraq in the 1960s under the cover of a journalist. Primakov
      was to later play a leading role in Kurdish affairs, especially in the
      conclusion of the autonomy agreement between the Kurdistan Democratic
      Party and the Iraqi regime in March 1970. The Ba'athists had to accept
      the Soviet conditions in return for the mediation, since the Iraqi
      army was completely exhausted from fighting with the Kurds. The Iraqi
      regime had to ease pressure on the Iraqi Communist Party and establish
      close ties with the Soviet Union.

      After the March agreement, the Iraqi regime gained strength with
      Soviet support and began to obstruct the implementation of the March
      agreement. And the Soviet Union, having successfully used the Kurdish
      card to influence Iraqi foreign policy, turned its back on the Kurds.
      Barzani in turn moved closer to the CIA, Mossad, and Savak. The
      Iraqi-Soviet honeymoon lasted until the collapse of the Kurdish
      uprising after it was betrayed by its Western allies and Iran in 1975.
      After this date, the Iraqi regime resumed its oppressive policies
      toward the Iraqi Communist Party and began to draw closer to the West.
      The Soviet Union resumed its use of the Kurdish card.

      Since that time, history has repeated itself several times, and the
      Barzani family has often changed allegiances among the KGB, the CIA,
      and the Mossad. The drama continues.

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