3. Saddam Bares All to Assad

Last week’s issue of DEBKA-Net-Weekly, in an exclusive report, uncovered the secret pre-dawn rendezvous on Thursday, August 8, between Iraqi ruler Saddam Hussein and Syrian president Bashar Assad.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly, with the help of its intelligence sources, now divulges the details of their talks.

The Iraqi ruler met the Syrian president for the primary object of selling him an ambitious plan of attack for crushing Israel. The plan assigned combat roles to the Iraqi and Syrian armies, the Lebanese Hizballah terrorist group and the Palestinians, who would fight together. He suggested that the Jordanian and even perhaps Egypt’s armed forces would jump in later.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, Assad’s response was noncommittal. He proposed the immediate activation of Syrian-Iraqi military committees established under the secret military pact Damascus and Baghdad signed two years ago. The committees, Assad said, would examine the operational aspects of Saddam’s proposals.

But first, he listened carefully to the Iraqi president’s lengthy pitch.

It started with a claim, on the strength of information received, that the Bush administration was preparing for a final crunch against the Arab peoples. After a long, hard look at the Arab and Islamic worlds, the Americans had decided to strike out with all their might to transform the Middle East map and install US puppets as leaders in the newly-aligned capitals.

Therefore, Saddam argued, the Arabs must take concerted action to abort the American plan, bloody them and force them out of the Arab region. As a powerful incentive for Assad to buy his proposal, Saddam claimed that Washington had decided to attack Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah as well as going to war against Iraq; therefore, he said, it was only a matter of time before the US attempted to topple the Assad presidency in Damascus, just as it was now aiming for his own regime in Baghdad.

After detailing his plans for nuclear and biological warfare, the Iraqi leader declared the Arabs must prepare themselves for the most extensive and lethal deployment of weapons of mass destruction – nuclear and biological — in the history of mankind.

The United States and Israel would bear the ultimate responsibility, he argued, claiming – albeit without foundation – that both had threatened to wipe Baghdad and other central Iraqi cities off the face of the earth if Iraq resorted to bio-warfare. Saddam also “revealed” information of Washington’s intent to use tactical nuclear arms – and even more destructive weapons – against locations where he and the rest of the Iraqi leadership were believed to be sheltering.

Saddam said he disbelieved the reports that the American war plan entailed strikes from the north, west and south, using personnel and facilities already in place in the Kurdish provinces of Iraq, in Jordan and in the Gulf. These stories, he said, were false, planted in the media to confuse him and his army chiefs. He was convinced that the brunt of the American assault would focus on Saddam’s personal tribal territory, the northwest region of Tirkit. By destroying the source of his political and military strength, the Americans would cancel Tikrit out as a value in the Iraqi power equation, removing both Saddam and his two sons, Qusay and Uday.

If the Arab world lets this happen, the Iraqi leader warned, Assad’s own power base, the minority Alawite tribe, would be targeted next, followed by Palestinian leaders and the Saudi royal house.

He then tried to persuade the Syrian leader that the Arab world faced a single option: to bring the war into the enemy’s heartland by launching a combined Muslim pre-emptive strike in the United States and Israel.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources say Saddam has not yet elaborated in any forum on his notion of a pre-emptive attack in the United States – only his plans for Israel. He has threatened to hit the Jewish state in a matter of days with a mega-attack – nuclear, biological or both – carried out by Palestinians or what he calls Muslim military elements from outside the Middle East.

The Iraqi leader declared that Baghdad will be blamed – even if it is not involved in these strikes – and be made the victim of swift military reprisals, and warned all the Arab governments to prepare for this scenario.

The Iraqi leader went on to reveal that Iraqi divisions stood ready – in an area stretching from the Tikrit tribal lands to the Iraqi-Jordanian border – to invade Jordan as soon as America or Israel attacked Iraq. Sharing his war plan with his Syrian interlocutor, Saddam said his forces would seize the air and ground bases in northern Jordan at which American and Israeli troops were stationed – and destroy them.

The Iraqi force, spearheaded by two armored columns, would then advance on the Jordanian capital, Amman. The troops would help themselves along the way to fuel, water, food and other supplies from captured US and Jordanian military depots. It had been dinned into Iraqi invasion troops that to survive and be fed, they had to be victorious. Iraqi military intelligence had also established and trained local Palestinian leaderships to stir up riots and revolts in Jordanian cities to coincide with the Iraqi onslaught. This unrest would be echoed in West Bank and Gaza Strip Palestinian centers. Saddam painted Assad a picture of a wide-scale and violent Palestinian uprising in Jordan that would force King Abdullah to pull his soldiers back from engaging Iraqi troops and Palestinian insurgents and order them to fight alongside them instead.

If Abdullah wanted to stay alive and keep his the throne, the Iraqi ruler believed he would have no other option.

The Iraqi leader then turned to his plan for Syria and Hizballah, which entailed their jumping aboard his campaign by invading northern Israel. He proposed that the Syrian army push into the Golan Heights, while the Hizballah blitzed Israel’s western Galilee and the Haifa district with a hail of missiles. Infiltrators on terror missions would round out the Hizballah role.

If we all work together, Saddam said encouragingly, and logistical support is forthcoming from Iran, even Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak will have to hop on the bandwagon and send his army across the Sinai to attack Israel.

The Iraqi ruler voiced his certainty of Israel’s collapse in the face of a pan-Arab and Palestinian military offensive plus mega terror attacks. Crushing Israel, he promised, would deal the United States the biggest defeat in its history.

As soon as the Iraqi ruler returned to Baghdad, DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources reveal that Bashar Assad picked up the phone and reported his interview with Saddam to a number of

leaders: Mubarak, Muammar Ghaddafi of Libya, Iran’s spiritual leader Ali Khamenei, Iranian strongman and former president Hashem Rafsanjani and Saudi crown prince Abdullah.

He pointedly refrained from calling Jordan’s King Abdullah.

According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources, US and Israeli intelligence services are fully conversant with Assad’s telephone recitals. Both attribute Saddam’s full and frank account to Assad of his war plans to his expectation that, as soon as he was gone, the Syrian president would make straight for the telephone and reel off everything he had heard. This would expose his pitch to American and Israeli eavesdroppers and further fuel the war of nerves and disinformation raging between Iraq and the United States and Israel.

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