by DEBKA-Net-Weekly 113 –
IRAQ (June 25, 2003) — The Americans are secretly building two giant intelligence facilities in Iraq at a cost of some half a billion dollars, according to an exclusive report received from DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s intelligence sources.
US engineering and construction units are setting up what amounts to an “intelligence city” on a site north of the oil city of Mosul in Kurdistan and a second facility in Baghdad’s Saadun district on the east bank of the Tigris. Our military experts infer from the vast dimensions of the two projects and their colossal expense that it is Washington’s intention to retain a large US military presence in Iraq in the long term, for a decade at least.
The new installations will greatly enhance America’s military, intelligence and electronic command and control over Iraq and its neighbors, notably Iran and Syria. The Mosul facility will guard northern Iraq’s oilfields and the pipelines carrying Iraqi gas and oil to Mediterranean terminals. Its instruments will reach into every corner of Iran and Syria, replacing America’s electronic eyes and ears in southern Turkey. This facility will be activated a section at a time according to need. Upon completion at the end of 2005, it will employ an operating staff of around 4,000 American intelligence personnel and electronic engineers.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s Middle East sources report that the intelligence center going up near Mosul is causing much nervousness in Damascus and Tehran. Both governments understand that when the first sections are activated in three months time, not a single military or intelligence move of theirs will go unseen by America’s electronic spies — and that goes for terrorist activity as well.
The functions assigned the Baghdad station are different. While the Mosul center will provide early warning against external threats to the US military presence in Iraq, the Baghdad station will stand guard over America’s political and military control of the capital and its satellite towns, including the Sunni enclave cities of Falluja, Ramadi and Tikrit.
To clear a site for the giant facility, DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s military sources report, the Americans expropriated the luxury Baghdad Hotel complex that straddles Saadun Street to the east and Abu Nuw’as Street, which is a section of the Corniche along the Tigris, as well as the surrounding blocks between Firodos Square and the city’s main bus terminal to the north at Naser Square.
Since the beginning of this week, an American airlift has been running large containers crammed with electronic parts from American army bases to Baghdad international airport.
Once the Baghdad electronic station is up and running, it will aid US forces in their fight against guerrilla and terrorist assailants picking off GIs almost every day. These assaults are harmful but they do not detract from the overall American control over security in the broad expanses of a large country. There is every indication that the US civil administrator Paul Bremer is gradually pulling ahead of the difficulties. His recipe is simple. No Iraqi associated in any way with the overthrown Saddam regime or the outlawed Baath party is to be allowed to take part in government.
Bremer equally bars from public service all Iraqis with foreign political connections, even American. This means that all political hopefuls from whatever party, ethnic group or religious sect will fight level for a place in government when the time comes — all standing at the same starting line.
This formula, according to DEBKA-Net-Weekly’s sources, has brought a measure of calm to the rival Shiite factions who make up more than half the populace and who were on the verge of rising up against the American presence in the country. Now they are more ready to collaborate with the US civil administration, as are the Kurds under their rival leaders, Mustafa Barzani and Jalal Talabani.
Since Bremer took over in Baghdad, the two tribal leaders are talking about merging their movements into a single political entity. Without this union, neither holds much chance of office in the future central government.
This exclusive report appeared for the first time in DEBKAfile’s intelligence weekly published on June 20.