Iraq: May 27, 2000


Iraq hopes that new Russian President Putin will be willing to confront the US, at least diplomatically, over the issue of continuing sanctions on (and aerial bombardment of) Baghdad. Iraq sent its defense minister, General Sultan Hashim Ahmed, to Moscow for talks with Russian defense minister Sergeyev. Perhaps more importantly, Iraq suddenly replaced its ambassador with Muzhir al-Duri, who has been chief of staff to Saddam's deputy president. Muzhir al-Duri attended college in Moscow, and has spent a considerable amount of time in the city on various assignments. Sending someone who is close to the center of Iraqi power and intimately familiar with the city (and its bureaucrats) may indicate a major effort by Iraq is under way.--Stephen V Cole


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