Iraq Liberation Act

US President Clinton signed on 31 October 1998 the « Iraq Liberation Act » which allows United States to provide up to $97 million in covert military aid to Iraqi opposition groups.

According to Article 3 of this Act, the American policy aims at overthrowing the Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and setting up a democratic regime. Article 4 details means put at disposal to help the Iraqi opposition groups i.a. propaganda material, weapons and American army instructors.

On 16 January 1999, seven Iraqi opposition groups – among more than 80 – were selected for US assistance under this « Iraq Liberation Act »: the Iraqi National Accord (INA), the Iraqi National Congress (INC), the Islamic Movement of Kurdistan, the Movement for Constitutional Monarchy, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) and the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP). Only the three last are based in Iraq and have some popular support. For many observers, this panel of scattered and ideologically divided groups jeopardizes any likelihood of success of this American project.

The seven potential beneficiaries of the American military assistance are bound to fulfill a number of conditions: respect of the democratic values and human rights, will of co-operating with other opposition groups, attachment to the territorial integrity of Iraq, and maintaining good relations with neighbouring countries.

On 21 January 1999, Secretary of State Albright nominated Career Foreign Service Officer Francis Ricciardone as « Special Representative for Transition in Iraq ». His job consists in helping co-ordinate US assistance to the selected Iraqi opposition groups.