NEAR EASTERN AND SOUNAL YS1S
Special Intelligence Memorandum
Humanitarian Situation la tb* Marshes
Deteriorating living conditions is Iraq's southern marshlands ara prompting soma Iraqi Shias to floo to Iran or to locations oleovhero in Iraq. Baghdad's activities in tbe region have made food scarce in at least some areas and civilian travel difficult. Baghdad's refusal to allow the UK and other International relief organisations access to ths area is exacerbating hardships. i
We takepreas reports
that thousands of Shias have fled to Iran. Nearly all such reports can be traced to opposition sources, which generally exaggerate the scope of Saddam's atrocities, but we believe these latest stories are founded on real pressure on th* marsh Arabs. In response to these reports, UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Max Van Der Stool is planning toission later this month to Iran to Interview Iraqi Shia refugees there.
Increasingly hersh living conditions areoll on those living in the Al Amarah and Hawr al Haamar marshes. Most of theseactually reside on the marshes'
periphery rather than within thoon the wetlands for survival. Iraq's construction of canals and causeways to prevent water from entering these marshes clearly is reducing the ability of Shias in the area to maintain their traditional livelihood:
the current destruction or raaran vegetation proDaDiyto clear the way for future constructionto oust any rebels hiding in the marsh where theyIraqi construction
Iraqi troops have encircled the marshes, enforcing an economic blockade on the region. Shia opposition sources also claim Iraqi troops prohibit civilians from entering and exiting the marsh. Consequently, the Shia are finding it harder to obtain basic goods. The blockade, coupled with the decline in fishing and local agriculture, could result in severe food shortages over the next few months. An Iraqi doctor asserted in April that the marsh Arabs were beginning to experience malnutrition,
| and recent press reports Claim tnat IraqiArriving in Iran are malnourished.
Assisting Shies In the Marshes
Baghdad continues to deny the UN and international relief organizations access to the marshes. There are two British relief organizations providing relief to Iraqi Shia refugees
in Iran, Ammar Appeal and Iraqi Civilian Aidhe ICA recently0 pledge to aid the marsh Arabs,
Because of Baghdad's
rerusai to allow"the establishment orin tha marshes, relief is providedsupplies in small quantities over thethrough difficult terrain. In addition,this month pledged to provide support to thethe Iraqi National Congress.
slamic Revolution in Iraq
(SAIRI) is calling on Washington to provide military and humanitarian assistance to the Shias, asserting that it would embarrass Iran into providing more humanitarian support. SAIRI, as well as other groups, such as the ICA, are calling for the coalition to destroy the regime's water diversion projects by bombing dams and causeways. SAIRI also is advocating the use of air drops to provide food and medicine to the Shias.
Military Clashes continue
In addition to protecting the regime'sIraqi forces in the south conduct routine,operations against the Shia rebels
' attacks coupled with Bao^kbd's gradual
destruction of tho southern marshes almost certainlyIraqi Shias to flee to Iran.
Shia rebels operating out of the southern marshes continue to carry out hit-and-run attacks
Rebel attacks have failed to shake
r^me'increasingly tight grip on th* south, however,see no signs that Baghdad intends to alter what ita "winning" strategy.