Iraq: Life after Saddam

Who or what follows in the footsteps of Ba’ath leader Saddam Hussein has been the subject of much discussion behind closed doors, not only in Baghdad. The question is, who? Uday, Qusay, Chalabi…or another internal strong man?

Internally, Saddam Hussein and his regime are well aware of the scheming in London and Washington, fruit of the predetermined decision to change the regime in Baghdad sooner, rather than later.

How and who are the two big questions. Attempts at subversion inside Iraq have been tried before and Saddam Hussein’s regime is quick to see rising stars and to extinguish them before they reach their summit. Iraqi National Congress leader, Dr. Ahmad Chalabi, the product of an English public school, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Chicago University, was witness to one such attempt in the 1990s.

Deep inside Iraq, in 1992, Chalabi managed to unite the divided Kurdish factions, and plan an open rebellion, which took place in 1995, four years after the Gulf War. Having survived nine assassination attempts, Chalabi and his forces managed to defeat two divisions of the Iraqi regular army before his forces were slaughtered by Saddam’s elite Republican Guard.

“The Americans would not help us. We did well but the Americans immediately pulled the plug from us”, he complained. Why? “We put our point of view forcefully forward and we do not accept things on their say-so”. It would appear that Washington would rather kow-tow to Baghdad than support a regime which does not kow-tow to Washington.

Dr. Ahmad Chalabi has his main supporters in the US Congress, not the state Department, which last January accused the Iraqi national Congress of having squandered 2.2 million USD. Delighted as Chalabi may be that “we will be free of their shackles” but this should not be enough to see him replace Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.

The question is, if not Chalabi, then whom? Uday Hussein, the hated elder son of the Iraqi leader, was seriously crippled in a shooting in 1997. Qusay, his younger brother, has built up a power base among the Iraqi military but were there to be a revolution in Baghdad, it seems likely that all the Ba’ath regime would be swept out of power, along with its leader.

Ghassan Atiyyah, the editor of the London-based Iraqi File, stated recently “if the democratic process is adhered to, I doubt that many of those presently outside the country would be elected to power”.

This leaves only one option; a disaffected general or highly placed political figure friendly to Washington, to hold together an interim regime representing western interests in the region, rather like the motley collection of warlords and drugs barons masquerading as a government in Kabul.


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