Saddam's dinar ploy bankrupts Kurds

IT WAS a simple but dastardly move, more proof that President Saddam Hussein of Iraq still possesses a sharp if malignant intelligence. Once again the Kurds of northern Iraq were caught completely unprepared.

The cancellation of the Iraqi 25-dinar note on 1 May did not at first sight seem important. In fact, it has thrown the 3 million Kurds into confusion, depriving them of their principal means of commercial exchange.

The dinar crisis is only part of President Saddam's inexorable tightening of his economic blockade of Iraqi Kurdistan, mysterious attacks on relief workers and the continual testing of the Kurds' military front line.

More worrying, it coincides with growing Western donor fatigue. A grandiose dollars 500m ( pounds 325m) UN project has fallen flat, with virtually no response, making it necessary to reduce the number of UN security guards in northern Iraq drastically. Even a modest 22m Ecu package put together for the European Community by non-government aid agencies may be cut right back.

Much has changed in the two years since a US-led operation brought the Kurds back to the homeland they had fled to in the mountains of Turkey and Iran when President Saddam tried to destroy their post-war rebellion. A new government for the 'local administration of northern Iraq' was sworn in on 25 April under 'prime minister' Abdulla Rasoul, a former guerrilla leader. The devastation wrought by President Saddam in the 1980s is slowly being repaired.

The main guarantee of their safety is still the allied Operation Provide Comfort, whose planes are also known as the Hammer Force. Kurdish officials expect Turkey to overcome its hesitations and decide to renew the force's mandate in June for another six months.

Iraqi Kurdistan is increasingly under the influence of Turkey, which allows relatively free border crossings, trade and use of its currency. But the Kurds' economic links are still with Iraq, as shown by the dinar crisis. The Kurds trusted the pre-1991, Swiss-printed currency in denominations of 5, 10 and 25 dinars. High denomination post-Gulf war notes from Baghdad were avoided and got only two- thirds of their face value.

President Saddam's cancellation of the old 25-dinar notes hit the heart of Iraqi Kurds' savings and trade. Shop shelves have suddenly become bare, hoarding is rife and some shops have closed.

Iraqi Kurdish officials are desperately seeking Western help. They are floating schemes such as supplies of food to the administration that could then be sold off for the old 25-dinar notes or an international bond to back the 25-dinar notes.

'The trouble is, there are millions of these notes in Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia as well,' said Safeen Dizayee, a Kurdish spokesman in Turkey. 'Nobody in their right mind would back them.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
love + sex A new study has revealed the average size - but does that leave men outside the 'normal' range being thought of as 'abnormal'?
Arts and Entertainment
TV
Voices
The Palace of Westminster is falling down, according to John Bercow
voices..says Matthew Norman
Sport
Steve Bruce and Gus Poyet clash
football
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
News
Graham Norton said Irish broadcaster RTE’s decision to settle was ‘moronic’
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jake and Dinos Chapman were motivated by revenge to make 'Bring me the Head of Franco Toselli! '
arts + ents Shapero Modern Gallery to show explicit Chapman Brothers film
Arts and Entertainment
Kurt Cobain performing for 'MTV Unplugged' in New York, shortly before his death
music Brett Morgen's 'Cobain: Montage of Heck' debunks many of the myths
Life and Style
life
Sport
Brendan Rodgers
football The Liverpool manager will be the first option after Pep Guardiola
News
Amazon misled consumers about subscription fees, the ASA has ruled
news
Arts and Entertainment
Myanna Buring, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Russell Tovey in 'Banished'
TV Jimmy McGovern tackles 18th-century crime and punishment
Arts and Entertainment
Paul Whitehouse as Herbert
arts + ents
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Lettings and Sales Negotiator - OTE £46,000

£16000 - £46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Worker - Reading and Surrounding Areas

£9 - £13 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a s...

Recruitment Genius: Key Sales Account Manager - OTE £35,000

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Have you got a proven track rec...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn