Yemen denies sheltering wanted former Iraqi VP [Archives:2007/1018/Front Page]

January 22 2007

SANA'A, Jan. 20 ) A Yemeni government source denied last Thursday that former Iraqi Vice President Izzat Ibrahim Al-Douri is living in Yemen, as alleged by Iraqi President Jalal Talabani.

The source pointed out to Yemen's Saba News Agency that Yemen deals with political refugees in its territory with high transparency. He noted that reports of Al-Douri's presence in Yemen have been circulated via electronic web sites belonging to Iraqi journalists, which are unauthentic and baseless.

Reuters reported Talabani as saying that Al-Douri, deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein's deputy in the Revolutionary Command Council, is in Yemen. While in the Syrian capital of Damascus, the Iraqi president said, “I was told that Izzat Al-Douri is in Syria, but later on, it's been made clear to me that he's in Yemen, not Syria. For a long time, we've been informed that he's in Yemen.”

Al-Douri criticized Ba'ath party members who plan to unify the national leadership via a Damascus conference. In a letter believed to have originated in Sana'a, according to media outlets, Al-Douri warned of a conspiracy led by Ba'ath party dissidents.

A similar statement put forth in the name of the Ba'ath party national leadership and published last Thursday demanded party members not be driven toward U.S. plans during the conference. Speaking on the former Iraqi official's behalf, the statement said that this is a conspiracy against the Ba'ath party, accusing the Syrian regime of hosting the Damascus conference with the aim of selecting new leadership for the party.

“We received information that some Ba'ath party dissidents, who didn't display an honest attitude when coalition forces occupied Iraq, called for an illegal national conference in Damascus,” the statement went on, “Hosting the conference in Syria confirms that this is part of a U.S. occupation conspiracy to eliminate the symbol of the struggle against the occupiers.”

According to the statement, that symbol of struggle is the Ba'ath party, which has been affected by the Syrian regime, an ally of Tehran's regime.

Al-Douri lashed out at former Iraqi Ba'ath party member Mohammed Younis Al-Ahmad, whom he described as a dissident, urging all loyal party strivers to fight conspirators and traitors with the occupation and Syrian intelligence.

Various Western and Arab newspapers reported that Iraqi Ba'ath members are working on organizing a conference for the party in Damascus, in collaboration with the U.S. and Iraqi governments, to unify the party's national leadership after nearly 30 years of fragmentation.

Media sources previously mentioned that some of Al-Douri's sons are in Yemeni government custody in Sana'a, in addition to approximately 1,000 Hussein loyalists.

At the moment, Al-Douri's fate remains unknown, as nobody knows whether he's dead or living in or outside Iraq.

Born in 1942, Al-Douri was a top advisor to the late Iraqi president and is wanted sixth on a U.S. list of 55 former Iraqi officials. U.S. forces in Iraq announced a $10 million reward for anyone providing information leading to the arrest of Al-Douri, who's believed to be behind the recurring fierce assaults against coalition forces.