The name of the Iraqi scientist, Dr. Rehab Rashid Taha Al-Azzawi, emerged during the 1990s when Washington accused her of running the Iraqi biological weapons program, but Iraq denied these allegations at the time.
Although she is not on the wanted list of the elements of the former Iraqi regime, the US forces announced their arrest on May 11, 2003 with the aim of investigating her regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction, and after more than two years of detention, she was released to leave Iraq for Yemen in 2006. Read also Eighteen years ago .. Thousands of documents submitted by Saddam Hussein to prove that Iraq is free of weapons of mass destruction The anniversary of the fall of Baghdad .. 18 years after the US invasion, what do the Iraqis remember?
Her scientific journey
“Talking about Dr. Rehab Al-Azzawi takes us to the biography of one of the most prominent Iraqi scientists in the field of biological research, who made glory at some point in the country’s history,” says researcher and academic Abd al-Rahman al-Sheikh Ali.
He added – to Al-Jazeera Net – that Rehab was born in Baghdad in 1957, where she continued her educational career with distinction and graduated in the specialization of microbiology, and in 1984 she obtained a PhD with distinction with honors in the field of plant toxins, from the University of East Anglia in Britain.
He continues that she is one of the Iraqi scholars in this rare, vital and effective specialization, which is one of the specializations that are used in the military and civilian uses, but the matter did not reach Iraq to its use in military and non-conventional weapons.
Sheikh Ali notes that her careful specialization in the field of microbiology prompted the American and British media to call her “Dr. Germ” and “anthrax”, promoting that she is responsible for Iraq’s germ weapons program, confirming the invalidity of these allegations.
And he praises its position when it rejected the US accusations that Iraq possessed biological weapons, and defended Iraqi scientists and their right to continue scientific research away from international pressure, as well as their freedom to refuse cooperation with inspection teams, and that was in an interview with the British BBC a few months ago. From the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.
He points out that the days proved its correct position when international inspectors found no evidence of the existence of these alleged weapons, either before or after the invasion.
And classifies her among the advanced scientists that Iraq is proud of, and she was called the “human computer” because she devoted her life to biology and germ research and was known for seriousness and great discipline, and one of the beautiful things is that the cup of coffee does not leave her and she is proud of being an in-depth researcher in her field of specialization who spends long hours in the laboratory without getting bored. Or tired.
The main reason for her arrest is the pretext for the US invasion of Iraq itself, as its main justification was the issue of weapons of mass destruction, says writer and historian Wasim Rifaat Al-Ani.
And he shows – to Al Jazeera Net – that the US administration tried by all means to find any evidence that Iraq possesses a weapon of mass destruction, or at least that it has a program to avoid external and internal embarrassment as a result of the invasion of Iraq without the authorization of the UN Security Council.
He adds that the US intelligence services wanted to reach the most prominent supporters of Iraq’s programs to develop weapons, because identifying them would make it easier to prevent them from helping other countries.
Adel Muhammad Al-Olayan, a professor of modern and contemporary political history, also talks about Al-Azzawi being subjected to investigations conducted by a group of US forces specialized in bacterial weapons, as well as experts from the CIA.
And it shows to Al-Jazeera Net that these investigations have yielded nothing other than Dr. Al-Azzawi’s assertion that there are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and that everything that the previous regime talked about in this regard was true and unequivocal, that this type of weapons had been disposed of in the mid-nineties of the last century. And completely.
Regarding the circumstances of her release, Olayan says that in December 2005 22 “high value” prisoners, including Rehab Al-Azzawi, were released without charge, two days after the Iraqi national elections, after more than 30 months of imprisonment. .
After Al-Azzawi’s release, she arrived in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, in late October 2006, accompanied by her daughter, and submitted her papers on the second Saturday of December to the University of Sana’a, a safe haven for her mental ability in her field, and was appointed by a Republican decision in the Faculty of Science at Sana’a University in the Department of Biology. According to Al-Olayan, the Microbiology Division was one of the most influential cadres in scientific research.
In this context, one of her former students, the Yemeni media activist Imran Shahbin, believes that she chose Yemen due to the good relationship between the two countries, as many Iraqis came to Yemen at that time.
He added to Al-Jazeera Net that she became a professor of microbiology at the Faculty of Science at Sana’a University, and her talk was limited to the scientific aspects only and avoided politics.
And he describes it as the strongest scientifically among the professors with whom he dealt in his scientific, cultural and academic life, describing it as a scientific sea in all the meaning of the word, and during his BA and MA studies, he did not find anyone at the level that it was.
And Shahbin continues that when Dr. Rehab decided to leave Yemen, the university held a great farewell party for her, attended by the dean of the faculty and the vice president of the university, and her colleagues and students honored her, as well as the university administration, and everyone was sad about her leaving, as it was a great addition at Sana’a University.
In a related context, Jalal Muhammad Hajar, a laboratory medicine specialist in Yemen, says that he graduated from Dr. Rehab at the University of Sana’a, indicating that she supervised many researches, master’s and doctoral theses, as well as supervised one of his scientific research.
He added – to Al-Jazeera Net – that they used to prepare it as a scientific encyclopedia, and it used to explain the lectures without the need to use the book, and dealt firmly with the students, pointing out that the students were making a thousand accounts of her lectures because of their importance and the nature of their information.
Hajar notes that she refused to assign her a driver or car from the University of Sana’a, and she was moving from her residence to anywhere by mass transportation.
Their observation reveals the presence of signs of torture on her hands in the form of old burns or handcuffs, and when they inquired about this, she told her students that she was imprisoned and tortured.
After years spent in Yemen, Dr. Rehab left for Jordan to join her husband, Lieutenant General Amer Rashid al-Obeidi – the last oil minister before the US invasion in 2003 – who was released by the US forces due to lack of evidence against him, after more than 10 years of detention.