[Marxism] Shiite dissident tells Iraq official to "go to hell" over trade with Israel

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Feb 1 08:09:27 MST 2004

30 January 2004 Agence France Presse English Copyright Agence
France-Presse, 2004 All reproduction and presentation rights reserved.

Shiite Muslim radical leader Moqtada Sadr Friday told a member of
Iraq's interim cabinet to go to hell after he held out the prospect of
power exports to Israel at some indeterminate date in the future.

"We have been told that the electricity minister has said that we have
no objection to selling electricity to Israel," Sadr told worshippers
at the main weekly Muslim prayers at this Shiite shrine in central

"We won't have any objection at all once we send you and your
followers to hell," he said.

At a press conference in Baghdad on Sunday, interim electricity
minister Aiham al-Samarrai was exasperated by a reporter's question on
whether Iraq planned to buy electricity from Israel, one of Saddam
Hussein's archfoes.

"It's the same question that I hear time and again, and each time I
tell you no, we will not buy electricity from Israel," he said.

"Now, I'm only telling you this because I'm sick and tired. We will
not buy electricity from Israel but if, one day, we achieve excess
capacity, we will sell it to Israel at three times the price. We will
extract money from Israel for the benefit the Iraqi people," he said.

In reality, Iraq is unlikely to have enough electricity to meet its
own needs for the foreseeable future, as its power plants reel under
the combined impact of successive wars and 13 years of UN sanctions.

It already imports electricity from Syria and Turkey, and is expected
to start taking power from Iran, Kuwait and Jordan too in July, in a
bid to meet peak summer demand as air conditioners battle sweltering

Samarrai said 6.5 billion dollars in new investment would be needed
between now and 2005 to rehabilitate Iraq's battered power sector.

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