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6 December  2002 - Kuwait

The USA Administration has devoted vast amounts of time and money toattempteing to understand what goes on in the mind of the Iraqi Leader SaddamHussein but there are few indications so far that any of the research has paidoff.
 By Adel Darwish 


Having the last laugh

The US Administration's  predictions of  Saddam  Hussein's reaction to the early wind foretelling of big storm,led American strategist to prepare impressive plans to deal with everyconceivable  scenario. All are means to the same end: unseating the Iraq president. 

UN Security Council Resolution 1441 is so intrusive and ambiguous, it has left a big enough room for an accident or provocation that can trigger a war realising President Bush's aim. Even if the Iraqis avoided any provocations - which, so far, they have achieved with ' unpredictable' success - , the process of inspection, many argue, would eventually destabilise the regime leading to its collapse. These are realistic expectations.

However, there is one nightmare scenario: President Saddam's ability to survive the coming storm - as he did the Desert Storm 12 years ago - is plausible . It seems that Washington has not given enough thought to such equally realistic expectation. There is a one nightmare scenario for which Washington planners didn't seem to have been prepared : Saddam fully cooperative and disarming in accordance with UN resolution 1441. 

In designing their great strategy, did America's planners accurately gauge thelevel of Saddam's cunning; or did they simply stare at a caricature drawn by his enemies and western propaganda specialists dismisses him  as 'irrational and deranged psychopath?'

New books and essays, churned by authors non of whom has ever met with the Iraqi leader or knew him closely might offer a good read, but do they provide accurate data for strategists planning America's next move?

The CIA employed the psychiatrist Dr Jerrold Post to spend years studying 'the inside of Saddam's head.' Dr Posthas never talked to his ' subject' once; yet he convinced his employers, on the event of passing UN resolution 1441, that Saddam's violent childhood- his mother's fault really! - would compel him to hold on to his war-toys at any cost, thus triggering a warearly in the day. 

The Americans placed their first bet on Mr Hussein rejecting the UN resolution. Administration officials who served President Bush's father, expected Iraq to copy its tactics of Kuwait invasioncrisis 12 years ago, which basically involved adopting a stance of outragedindignation at all requests - and refusal to comply. They recalled how at the end of a nine hour meeting in Geneva (on 9th) in January 1991, Iraq's Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz, refused to carry a letter from Secretary of State James Baker warning his boss to pull out of Kuwait or face a destructive war' because ' the tone of its content was insulting,' as Mr Aziz explained later. 

Resolution 1441, accepted by President Saddam - three days before the deadline-, even though his rubber stamp parliament voted to reject it, is far more humiliating and insulting - in its undermining of Iraq's sovereignty - than the content of the 1991 Mr Baker's famous letter.

President Bush again caused hilarious giggles across western news rooms when he accused his Iraqi rival of ' non cooperating ' with UN inspectors. At the same time UN chief Kofi Annan was praising the Iraqis for their cooperation with the inspectors. That very day UN weapons' inspectors, accompanied by 100 journalists, made another intrusive, and highly symbolic, inspection of Alsujod Presidential Palace in Baghdad. It was the stand off between the UNSCOM inspectors in 1998 and the Iraqis who ruled that the palaces were 'a no go area' for inspectors,' that eventually lead to massive Anglo-American bombardment known as ' Operation Desert Fox' which achieved nothing of practical value and the opposite political effect by ending UNSCOM mission for good.

Back in 1975, when Saddam Hussein was only known as ' Mr Deputy' he charmed visitingThree Fleet Street reporters- including Mideastnews's - with generous measures of whisky and his analysis of the new Mafia film 'The God Father.' His obsession with the central Character and the storyline - on which he modeled many of his tactical moves later- is a key tounderstanding his tactics and maneuvers . 

Some deals which the God Father made, he explained back in 1970's , '' might seem to the naive like a humiliating concession, but they were calculated tactics that enabled him [the Godfather] laugh last and laugh louder.''

This is exactly the tactics deployed now by ' The Fearful, Corner-Stone, Inspired Leader President' Saddam as he conceals his laughs in his sleevepreparing to laugh longer and louder than many..

Taking a leaf from Mr Hussein's own diary, four days after invading Kuwait in 1990, Saddam attempted to charm Joseph Wilson, the most senior US diplomat left in Baghdad by offering President Bush ' all the oil he needs' at one third of market price for life if he was to make a deal.

There is little prospect for a deal this time round but a Saddam who is fully compliant with the inspection teams' requirement could try to charm the world.

Contrary to Dr Post's assessment, Saddam will give up his war toys. There is a realistic possibility that Hans Blix would, genuinely, report in February that hehas found nothing suspicious. 

The consequences of this outcome are incalculable, unpredictable and could even be far more dangerous to America and her regional allies than a war with a long occupation of Iraq.

Once Saddam has complied with all UN demands, then the pressure to lift the sanctions would come from the four corners of the earth. 

Saddam might come out deranged, and weakened, humiliated but still very much in control of Iraq. 

Saddam, the God Father, neither forgets nor forgives. He was still dangerous and a threat to the region when sanctions was still on. Once sanctions lifted, greater oil wealth would turn him into a formidable regional economic power waiting for another chance to settle old scores.

So far, all inspectors visits have surprised as they keep the Iraqis guessing - the don't speak to each other in their meetings, only communicating by scribbling on post-it notes to overcome Iraqi bugs -. Their targets vary from Presidential palaces to helicopter depots and from old Scud missiles hangers to cattle food processing plants. Mr Hussein continues cooperation is frustrating the Americans as it provides a daily supply of fuel to anti-war demonstrators in every western capital you can think of. Meanwhile President Saddam beams smiles of innocence while the Americans talk war and the British diplomatic and propaganda attempts to discredit the Iraqi leader and regain a sceptical public opinion backfired badly.

On December 2, the Foreign Office published a dossier on abuses of human rights in Iraq. The 23-page report, Saddam Hussein: crimes and human rights abuses, was billed by the Foreign Office as the most comprehensive investigation ever undertaken by a government into Iraqi atrocities. 
The document set out how the Iraqi authorities used mass arrest, torture and killings to suppress the Iraqi people, in particular the Kurds of the north and the Shia Muslims in the south. While providing little new information, it named individuals responsible for torture and killings and cited the testimony of victims. An accompanying video film showed suspects being beaten and prisoners executed by firing squad accompanied by melodramatic music track of a Bollywood. Thelaunch backfired badly. Taking both the dossier and the film, as an insult to their intelligence and a waste of a morning work in their busy schedule British reporters, - FromMideastnews, The Daily Telegraph, The Times, Channel 4 TV and Reuters- all seasoned Middle East experts- subjected the two sweating FCO officialsto a barrage of sarcastic and grilling questions. Those very reporters,occupying the front row, had published the very stuff of the dossier 20 years earlier, while British and American officials at the time were doing their best to defend the very dictator - Saddam Hussein against the very accusations leveled at him by London and Washington in 2002.

Human rights groups cited in the document accused the Government of cynically trying to justify war against Iraq. Amnesty International, which was cited repeatedly as a source for the report, charged the government with using the allegations as propaganda to justify a future war to overthrow Saddam. "This . . . is nothing but a cold and calculated manipulation of the work of human rights activists," Irene Khan, Amnesty's secretary-general, said. "Let us not forget that these same governments turned a blind eye to reports of widespread violations in Iraq before the Gulf War." 

The Father of the House of Commons, Tam Dalyell, Labour MP for Linlithgow and a critic of the Government's policy on Iraq, described the document as "cranking up for war". 

British policy also came under attack from Hussain al-Shahristani, a former Iraqi political prisoner, who was presented by the Foreign Office to recount his ordeal. He said that abuses "should have been noticed and acted upon a long time ago", while conceding "later is better than never". 

'' Yu want us tu belive zat Irghaaqees argh subyjected to siveergh toturhe and des in za andz of Saadam ?'' asked the man from Agence France Press, as the delighted Briths officials nodded in approval, '' why zen of 6000 sousand Irhaaqi asylum seekerghuz, yu only accepted 150 ?'' as he read from a report he downloaded from the Home Office website. '' You have to take that up with the Home Office,'' answered one British official to the worst question he encountered that morning.

A few  days later, celebrating Eid El-Fitr, or end of the fasting month of Ramadan, President Saddam, made a speech saying UN inspectors should be given a chance to prove that Iraq has no weapons of mass destruction. 
In his first public reaction to the return to Iraq of weapons inspectors, Saddam Hussein said he is prepared to give the United Nations team a chance to prove his country no longer has any weapons of mass destruction. He urged Iraqis to give the inspectors every operation possible and remain patient in the face of 'unjust, arrogant, debased American tyranny'.

The inspectors, who have been taking all kind of provocative measures, have also refuted top Iraqi officials' accusation that they were spies. Yet some American officials think the inspectors should be pushing even harder and have called for a more aggressive hunt for evidence of weapons of mass destruction. 

In his broadcast, Mr Hussein said that Iraq only agreed to abide by the resolution ' to keep our people out of harms way' 

Iraqi officials have consistently maintained that although they will submit a detailed report, and one that contains new information, the regime no longer has any such weapons. 

Not many people believe this, including Colin Powell, America's secretary of state and someone considered to be a moderate member of the administration. ' are absolutely sure...that Iraq has had weapons of mass destruction in the past, we are absolutely sure they have continued to develop weapons of mass destruction, and we are sure they have in their possession weapons of massdestruction,' he said on December 5.

Editorials in pro-Saddam Arab press and left wing commentators asked a simple question` if the Americans were so sure of their intelligence reports, why don't they simply hand over the information to the inspectors and direct them to the sites?' 

Good point. The White House was trying to keep Saddam Hussein guessing about what it knows about his weapons of mass destruction and how it would respond after Saddam's full declaration of his arsenal.

As were going to print, UN officials in New York were still studying 11,807 pagedocument the Iraqis first presented to the international Atomic Energy Agency inVienna. UN officials said it could take several days for the declaration to be translated. It would also take several weeks reading it in details, before acting on it by directing inspectors to seek the WMD needle in the Iraqi haystack.

A defiant Iraq had already challenged the US to produce evidence of theweapons  Baghdad insist it does not possess.

General Amir Al-Saadi, Saddam's scientific advisor, insisted that the contentof the huge dossier were '' accurate, comprehensive and truthful'' and, theGeneral wnet on, those who profess to have evidence to teh contrary should now'' come forth with it.''

Ari Fleischer, President Bush's spokesman, indicated that an American reaction might not be immediate. "We'll take the appropriate amount of time to review it, to assess it, to study it," he said.

The Bush administration's strategy continued to tighten the noose around Saddam's neck slowly without revealing exactly when the hangman's hand will fall.

If Iraq' declaration, which could take weeks to study, is shown to be untrue, then America will maintain that Mr Hussein is in further breach of the resolution. The fact that Iraq has continued to fire on American and British jets patrolling two 'no-fly' zones over Iraq was evidence, says America, of the regime's continued belligerence and failure to observe UN resolutions. Earlier Washington claim that firing on its aircraft constituted ' material breech' of UN resolutions, was refuted by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan.

Although Mr Bush has persuaded some countries to pledge their support for a military campaign, a number of nations remain opposed to it. During a visit to Turkey early last Month ( December), Paul Wolfowitz, America's deputy secretary of defence, found only limited backing for a strike on Iraq. America already uses Turkish air bases to patrol the no-fly zones. Mr Wolfowitz said that America was prepared to make a massive investment in the Turkish bases, while diplomatically, Washington continued to press European Union to send Ankara positive signs for its wish to join the EU. But Turkish officials said they want the UN to agree to any military campaign rather than America taking unilateral action. 

Other countries, including Russia and China-both permanent members of the Security Council-also want to see UN approval given to any military action. Gerhardt Schroeder, Germany's chancellor, has said that America can use his country's military bases for an operation against Iraq, but has refused any other assistance. 

Mr Hussein is also well aware that the inspection process itself could drag on for months. With only 17 inspectors in Baghdad from the monitoring body, Unmovic, and the International Atomic Energy Agency, the work has hardly begun. By the end of the year, the two teams hope to have around 100 inspectors. Yet even that appears not to be enough to examine all the sites on a list of some 700 potentially suspicious locations. Hans Blix, the head of Unmovic, says that with additional training he hopes to boost the number of experts combing Iraq to 300 early in the new year. Even so, it could take a full year for the inspectors to complete their job. Americans patience with Mr Hussein could snap well before then.

No wonder the White House has been seeking to lower expectations of what the UN inspections can achieve. Meanwhile America's rhetoric of effecting "regime change" has been dropped in favour of calling for disarmament but the policy of ousting Saddam remains very firmly in place.

Senior American officials remain intensely sceptical about the inspection process. One CIA officer said it as a "charade" and a White House adviser described it as "necessary nonsense" to achieve a unanimous vote for Resolution 1441.

Many of these officials never wanted inspections to take place and were overruled when Mr Bush accepted the argument that they were needed to build an international coalition.

Meanwhile the incidents of frictions between local Alqaeda supporters in the Gulf and the American marines, continue to make the latter nervous.Last week, the marines in Kuwait, discovered some writing in Arabic on the back of one of their military vehicles based at Camp Doha, the American military base in Kuwait where troops are preparing for a possible war against Iraq.. Unable to understand the meaning, all US marines in the oil rich emirate were put on a high state of alert as they thought the message might be a terrorist threat, or a coded message turning them into a target. When a translator was summoned, it turned out to be a love poem '' "I love you forever. Your beauty is incomparable," it transpired that it was not a love message meant for the marines, but for a lovesick teenager's desired sweetheart called Fatima!



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