5. Washington Is Advised to Go for Saddam’s Sons
The most surprising result of the Boston war game falls under two headings:
The first and most striking finding is that, in the interests of a quick victory and clean removal of the Saddam regime, Washington would do better to liquidate Saddam Hussein’s sons, Qusay and Uday, rather than concentrating on the father.
The Iraqi ruler, the players found, has laid plans for his sons – especially Qusay, who is partially paralyzed after an attempt on his life – to seize the reins of government the moment he is gone. The two would retain control of the national armed forces and security services, as well as the elite Republican Guards, which is exclusively loyal to Saddam’s family and his Takriti clan. Its divisions are also equipped with the most sophisticated weaponry in the Iraqi arsenal and have carte blanche to move around in Baghdad, unlike the rest of the armed forces.
The course recommended by the Boston players is to start off by capturing or killing Uday and Qusay and only eliminating Saddam when his sons have been disposed of and are no longer a threat, say DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources.
The second finding is that it would be a mistake to establish an Iraqi government in exile. This maneuver would only bolster Saddam’s regime while uniting the main Iraqi tribes behind him. Better to set up an alternative government inside Iraq that would hasten the delegitimization of Saddam’s government and also rouse opposition forces lying dormant or afraid to act without a supportive framework.
The war game participants drew the outlines of this alternative administration according to a federal model representing all of Iraq’s important opposition groups. The heads of these groups are due in Washington next week to take part in the founding conference of a new government. They include the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) led by Jalal Talabani, the Kurdistan Democratic Party headed by Mustafa Barazani, and the Saudi-backed Iraqi exile group, The National Accord.
Saudi crown prince Abdullah’s green light for National Accord leaders to attend the meeting is further testimony to the improved understanding between Riyadh and Washington on the Iraq issue.
The meeting, to be co-hosted by Undersecretary of State Marc Grossman and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, will “discuss next steps in our coordinating work with Iraqi opposition figures,” and encourage “coordination and cooperation among these groups,” a State Department spokesman said.
One notable absentee is Mohamed Baqir al-Hakim, the Teheran-based leader of Iraq’s dissident Shiite Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution. The organizers feared that his presence would be taken as evidence that the participants were working with Iran, the enemy, to topple Saddam. DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources in Washington can report exclusively that Hakim has been flown to the US capital on board a special US air force plane and he will hold separate, top secret talks with American officials.