- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2003

BAGHDAD Oil from Iraq's southern fields began flowing through pipelines yesterday for the first time since U.S.-led military operations began, and power at last was restored to parts of Baghdad.
U.S. military officials, meanwhile, announced the arrest of four top officials of the old regime, including the former head of Iraqi military intelligence and the air defense force commander.
The U.S. officials also reported that an accident took the lives of three Marines near the southern city of Kut.
The Marines were testing a rocket-propelled grenade launcher when it malfunctioned on Tuesday, and seven other Marines were wounded, U.S. Central Command said.
In Baghdad, electric power was restored to about one-fifth of the city for the first time in three weeks.
Baghdad residents and the U.S. military have listed power as the capital's key need to deter looting and help get a municipal administration back in operation.
In Washington, a senior Pentagon official said Gen. Zuhayr Talib Abd Sattar Naqib, a chief of military intelligence, surrendered to U.S. forces in Baghdad yesterday.
The highest-ranking official of the four arrested yesterday is Muzahim Sa'b Hassan, who headed Iraq's air defenses under Saddam. He was No. 10 on the U.S. list of the top 55 most wanted officials from Saddam's regime and the queen of diamonds in the military's deck of playing cards listing those officials.
The air commander, who was from Saddam's hometown clan, which made up much of the former Iraqi inner circle, also reportedly helped train the paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam forces. U.S. officials have accused Fedayeen forces of committing war crimes, including using civilians as human shields and killing Iraqis who wanted to surrender.
Also captured was Muhammad Mahdi al-Salih, the former Iraqi trade minister and No. 48 on the most-wanted list. He was the six of hearts in the military's deck.
The fourth, a Mukhabarat officer formerly in charge of American operations, was captured by allied Special Operations troops, a senior U.S. official said.
Jim Wilkinson, director of strategic communications for U.S. Central Command, identified the prisoner as Salim Said Khalaf al-Jumayli. He was not among the 55 most wanted.
The latest captures bring to 11 the number of top former Iraqi officials in U.S. custody. Three others in the top 55 are believed to have been killed, Pentagon officials say.
Gen. Naqib was head of the Directorate of Military Intelligence, which monitored the loyalty of Iraq's regular army, provided security at Iraqi military facilities and collected intelligence on military forces opposing Iraq. The Pentagon official said Gen. Naqib's American equivalent would be the head of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
Gen. Naqib was No. 21 on the U.S. list of the 55 most-wanted officials from Saddam Hussein's government. He is the seven of hearts.
The southern oil fields were among the first installations secured when U.S. and British forces launched the ground war March 20. Coalition forces, aided by Iraqi oil workers, yesterday fired up a gas-oil separation plant that sent oil to a pumping station and storage tank outside the southern city of Basra.
"Our focus in restoring the oil is to give the biggest benefit to the Iraqi people," said Brig. Gen. Robert Crear, the top U.S. official charged with getting Iraq's oil production up and running.
Gen. Crear said the southern Rumeila oil field, one of Iraq's largest, could be producing up to 1.1 million barrels a day in six to 15 weeks. Northern oil fields around Kirkuk remain out of production.
When they are reopened, Gen. Crear said, Iraq could move toward its prewar production of 2.8 million barrels a day and provide crucial revenue for reconstruction.
The first group of U.N. international staff returned to northern Iraq since the beginning of the military campaign.
A half-dozen workers crossed the border from Turkey after waiting more than a week for clearance to fly into Iraq.
Also in northern Iraq, Jay Garner, the retired U.S. lieutenant general overseeing postwar reconstruction, yesterday toured Irbil, the administrative capital of the country's Kurdish region.
It was the general's second day in northern Iraq, where he had extensive contacts stemming from his direction of a U.S. military mission to protect Kurds who fled their homes when Saddam put down an uprising after the 1991 Gulf war.
Asked at a news conference how soon life in Iraq could return to a semblance of normalcy, Gen. Garner said: "Everything has to be done in a secure environment. … Security is getting better every day.
"In a very short order, you'll see a change in the attitudes and the will of the people themselves."
British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon toured the southern port city of Umm Qasr, becoming the highest-ranking British or U.S. politician to visit Iraq since the military operations began. He shook hands with port workers and petted Buster, a sniffer dog who had discovered several arms and drug caches.
Mr. Hoon said U.S. and British forces had not given up looking for Saddam and speculated that the deposed leader was still in Iraq. "In the end, we don't know, but in my best judgment, he is," Mr. Hoon said.
In Egypt, President Hosni Mubarak urged the United States and Britain to withdraw their forces from Iraq as soon as possible. He urged a "concerted international effort" to help form a legitimate government chosen by Iraqis.
In Europe, Greek Prime Minister Costas Simitis said many of the estimated 135,000 Iraqi refugees should return home once their country is rebuilt.
"When there is a normalization, they should go back," Mr. Simitis said in Copenhagen. "There is no reason for political and economic refugees to stay."

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