Unconventional thinking about the Middle East.

Friday, December 02, 2005

A New Stink in Najaf

Adnan Al-Zurfi, the former governor of Najaf Province under the Coalition Provisional Authority and Allawi’s government, is claiming that his brother Emad Al-Zurfi was abducted by armed men on Thursday night in the town of Kufa, near Najaf. The militants arrived in two Opel sedans and claimed to be policemen, according to Al-Zurfi, before taking his brother to an undisclosed location. Al-Zurfi had won a seat on Najaf’s Provincial Council in the last elections in January, and left the governor’s office a month later after failing to secure enough votes for re-election in the council. He had spoken today via telephone to Aswat Al-Iraq website, and said that the ‘kidnapping’ probably had something to do with the upcoming elections, thus pressuring him to withdraw his slate “Al-Wala’ lil Najaf” (Loyalty To Najaf).

Which is weird, because a few days earlier, several Iraqi websites carried a story from the “Shams Al-Iraq” news agency (couldn’t locate it myself, and is probably a phony front for someone) titled “Al-Zurfi in the grip of justice.” The story claims that a court in Najaf had ordered the arrest of Emad Abid Khudhayir Al-Zurfi. The court order came at the heels of confessions made by another detainee, Abdel-Aal Al-Koufi who was commander of the Emergency Battalion of Najaf and who took responsibility for the murder of the sons of Najaf’s former police chief, Ghalib Al-Jeza’iri, among other crimes. The story alleges that Al-Koufi’s confessions implicated Emad Al-Zurfi, Adnan’s brother.

The story also claims that Adnan Al-Zurfi (a US citizen) had fled back to Washington DC, and notes his former association with the Iraqi Reconstruction and Development Council, a Pentagon-backed group of Iraqi exiles who acted as advisers to General Jay Garner and then Paul Bremer, and later occupied key positions in the Allawi government. The former police chief of Najaf whose sons were murdered, was also a member of the IRDC.

Adnan Al-Zurfi, who hails from the village of Zurfiyya near Najaf, claims to have participated in the 1991 uprising in southern Iraq. He made it across the border to a Saudi refugee camp called Rafha. At the camp, he was arrested and imprisoned by Saudi authorities over allegations that he had set up a ‘security committee’ under the auspices of the Da’awa Islamic Party, and had tortured other refugees in the camp, according to sources familiar with the incident. There were even claims that Al-Zurfi’s security committee had tried and executed a man on charges of working for Saddam’s secret police while inside the Saudi camp. The body was never found.

Al-Zurfi: America's face in Najaf...

Al-Zurfi was resettled in Texas in the early 1990s. His name was in the headlines back in August 2004 when he sanctioned, as governor, the use of American forces in battling Muqtada Al-Sadr’s militia inside the sacrosanct shrine city of Najaf. His last act in office, after doing poorly at the polls, was to allow Sadr’s militia to regain control of the symbolic Kufa Mosque, where the ‘patron saint’ of Shi’ism, Imam Ali, used to hold Friday prayers. Being a member of Al-Da’awa, Al-Zurfi had strained relations with Ghalib Al-Jeza’iri, a former officer with rank of ‘colonel’ in the Badr Brigades, and who is an alien resident in the US. In October 1999, Al-Jeza’iri traveled to the United States from Iran as a delegate to the INC’s General Assembly conference in New York, but he sought political asylum and stayed. He was not considered mentally stable in Iraqi opposition circles.

The IRDC was inspired by Paul Wolfowitz, but its track record—abysmal, and at times dangerously damaging to the US mission in Iraq—has not been investigated closely neither by journalists nor Congress. Maybe the reason was that it did not involve any angle concerning the deliciously-controversial Iraqi National Congress (Chalabi’s group). Wolfowitz jealously guarded his little baby, and effectively shut-out the INC. Some members of the IRDC’s early days used to show up at their Virginia offices in a drunken stupor. These were summarily fired, but senior management also knew about the backgrounds of men like Al-Zurfi and Al-Jeza’iri, but did not act on the information.

The average monthly salary for an IRDC member was approximately $12,000 a month. There were probably a total of 80 staffers at the hight of its activity. They began to be hired in January 2003, and most were stationed in Kuwait during the war. They did not begin arriving in Baghdad until a month after liberation (along with Garner and his staff). There are plenty of anectodal allegations of corruption that continue to swirl around this venture. And let's hope the story gets broken by a responsible and credible journalist, not a Bush-bashing looney leftie...Maybe then, just maybe, some of the well-established myths as to why Iraq is not doing well can be re-examined, and repairs prescribed.


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Anonymous Aqeeq Aviation said...

Najaf International Airport
Najaf, Iraq
Email: press@alnajafairport.com

Press Release 10/12/2009

Trade Bank of Iraq (TBI) unlawfully seizes Aqeeq Aviation Holding Investor bank accounts in Najaf Province
Since 9 August 2009 Aqeeq Aviation Kuwaiti Investment Company bank accounts at Trade Bank of Iraq Najaf branch have been seized due to Najaf Provincial Council unjustifiable instructions to the bank.

Scott Hayley, spokesman of Aqeeq Aviation said “the two accounts which were open by our former employee and the latter by our company’s partner and representative in Iraq Al-Balaghi was all right for almost a year until the Head of the Najaf Provisional Council Fayed AlShimmery issued two unjustifiable letters to the bank instructing them to seize both accounts.”

“Let aside the irresponsible activities made locally by the members of the Governorate and the Najaf Provisional Council which has damaged our company’s reputation as an honest and reliable investor, the immature and unfounded accusations concerning members of our company and the council’s continual intervention in the management of the airport- the bank officials have included themselves as a new member to ‘the delaying of works at the airport’ list and are liable for this.”

Aqeeq Aviation Attorney Matt Walters inquired about the grounds leading the bank to such decisions however officials in the bank denied that the seizure of the account was not due to the instructions from the Provisional Council rather the representative of Aqeeq Aviation in Iraq should be authorized and commercial documents must be legalized by the Kuwaiti side and approved by all governmental authorities in Najaf in order then to gain access to the accounts.

Walters’s stressed: “Rather than arguing over the merits of our client respective position that has been recognized by the Governorate, Investment Commission and Provincial Council in agreement signed and legalized by a notary on 07 June 2008, I ask why was the bank's formality not part of the account opening process? Perhaps the timing for the Provisional Council instruction and TBI’s execution was a coincidence. As far as I am concerned TBI have taken unethical steps and have clearly contravened the Central Bank of Iraq Business Banking-Code of Conduct- Annex A by their intervention, sophistications and agreement with the authorities in Najaf.”

Commenting on the airport future, Haley said: “Investment in the basics is still required and the infrastructure and support from the Governorate is very poor to pursue trivial works. The perimeter security managed by the Governorate is still a huge concern for the continuing security levels required to be compliant with ICAO legislation. Governors come and go and what one says the other will change and this cannot be a basis for a long term working relationship. There are no guarantees that the Governorate will work with us to ensure that the Government of Iraq and Ministry of Transportation will allow us to operate effectively. Despite Najaf's political parties conflicts in using the airport as their venue to climb their voting ladder our company is facing manifold systems governing one place at one time.
The concerns come to effect following the instruction by the Najaf Governorate and Council to take over the seized accounts and open a new bank account whereby the Governor Adnan AlZurfi and the Head of Council Fayed AlShimmery together gain control over the airport's revenue accounts at the same time TBI officials in Najaf and Baghdad have initially agreed.

Contact: Scott Hayley at +442074021133 and press@alnajafairport.com

Notes to Editors:

1. This press release can be sent to you by email
2. AA is a subsidiary of Al-Aqeelah Leasing Finance and Investment Company. It entered into a partnership agreement with the Najaf Governorate on 7 June 2008 to oversee the management of Najaf Airport .

12:41 PM, December 10, 2009

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