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Saddam: Back to Business as Usual


On the day following the announcement of the capture of Saddam Hussein, two more horrendous explosions rocked Iraqi police stations, killing nine and signalling to everyone that American problems in Iraq are not over yet. It was naive to expect that the capture of Saddam would end the murderous "resistance." Very likely, he did not personally run the resistance movement from his hiding holes, but had set up a network that still remains intact. Of course, Saddam's people are not the only ones who have a motive to fight the American occupation, and they undoubtedly attracted support from Iraqis who were disgruntled with heavy-handed coalition tactics, but the Ba'ath party is still the most likely candidate for being the hard core of the resistance.

If Saddam's people are behind the bombings, dismantling that network may depend on how cooperative Saddam is. Despite early reports that Saddam was giving smart-alecky replies, US forces have announced that he is cooperating and has given them the name of a key lieutenant who has been arrested.

Saddam will continue to cooperate only if there is a change he will earn some clemency for his deeds, and this is placing the US in a dillemma. The US apparently wants to try Saddam themselves, and is rumored to have already moved him to a safe location in Qatar. However, the Iraqi Provisiional Government insists that they should be the ones to try Saddam. Usually, international law prefers that the malefactor should be tried by the country where he or she committed the crimes. Certainly, the Iraqi people suffered the most from Saddam, and there are many reasons to allow the Iraqi people to try him. On the other hand, the Iraqi Provisional Government intends to reinstate the death penalty, which is not popular in the rest of the world, and will not be in a mood to honor plea bargaining deals made with the US government.

If Saddam is tried in Iraq, it will make it awkward for Iran, Kuwait and Israel to press claims of war crimes against him. All three countries have a good case, and Israeli and Iranian officials have announced that they intend to press claims against Saddam, arising from the Iran Iraq war, and the Scud missiles Saddam rained on Israel during operation Desert Storm in 1991. Personal injury suits arising from Desert Storm were already settled supposedly using frozen Iraqi assets. This fact seems to have escaped many commentators. The Iraqis are not the only people in the Middle East with a score to settle against Saddam. However, it would not increase the popularity of the USA or the Iraqi government to allow Israel to pursue its claims, and the US is probably not interested in advancing the claims of Iran against Saddam, especially since the US and its allies helped Saddam during the Iran-Iraq war.

Ami Isseroff


BAGHDAD [MENL] -- The capture of Saddam Hussein is not expected to halt the Sunni insurgency against the United States.

U.S. officials said the insurgency remains flushed with tens of millions of dollars in funds handled by senior Saddam aides. They said Saddam was not found to have directed the attacks against U.S. and coalition forces in the Sunni Triangle.

"We do not expect at this point in time that we will have a complete elimination of those attacks," Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, head of the coalition forces in Iraq, said. "Do I expect an increase in retaliation? I don't know, but we're prepared."

Officials expect Al Qaida operatives and the thousands of foreign volunteers recruited to play a bigger role in the anti-coalition campaign in Iraq. Al Qaida-aligned cells were said to have been responsible for most of the large-scale suicide car bombings in Baghdad in October and November.


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