A political uproar has erupted in the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq after newspapers published a list of people accused of spying on fellow Kurds for Saddam Hussein's intelligence service. Some of the alleged informers now hold important public offices.
Two local newspapers published the names of 162 people who allegedly informed on fellow Kurds for Saddam Hussein's mukhabarat intelligence service after the 1991 Kurdish uprising.
The service apparently tried to recruit people who were close to the leaders of the two main rebel groups, Massud Barzani of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and Jalal Talabani of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. Mr. Talabani is now Iraq's president.
Many members of the regional parliament, from both main political parties, are demanding an investigation. And Kurdish Region President Massud Barzani has ordered formation of a fact-finding committee to see if the allegations are true. That committee is to include members of the regional parliament and be headed by a judge.
The list has names from across the political spectrum.
It includes a current member of the Kurdistan Regional Parliament, Farhan Abdula al Sharafani, from the KDP who allegedly informed on other political figures. And a former small town police chief, Sabah Jalao Garib, is listed as keeping track of fellow members of the PUK. A former Interior Ministry official who now heads a police academy is accused of spying on his ministry colleagues.
The head of the United Islamic Movement, Abdul Ghani al Bazaz, was supposedly reporting on the Kurdistan Islamic Movement - and became its leader. While the Kurdistan Regional Government's former Industrial Minister, Unadan Yousif Kanna, is listed as keeping track of various Christian groups in the north. He is now a member of Iraq's parliament.
The head of the political science department at Salhuddin University's in Irbil, says he will not be surprised if some allegations turn out to be true. Professor Saleh Omar Issan says recruiting people in political organizations to inform on others was a common practice for Saddam's intelligence service.
Professor Issan says it is a good idea to hold an investigation, and if the allegations are proven true against some individuals, then the Kurdistan Regional Government has a duty to hand down appropriate punishments. He says this is a nation that believes in law, and he expects justice to be done.
The allegations come at a sensitive time for Kurds, as former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein is on trial on genocide charges, accused of orchestrating a military campaign that killed more than 180,000 Kurds in 1988.