Saddam Hussein Is Still in Full Control Despite Early Stages of Cancer

debkafile sources in the Arab world report that the rumors flooding the Middle East about Saddam Hussein having contracted lymph cancer were started by the wily dictator himself. He feared that uncontrolled rumors would spark an upheaval in the ruling family and the army command and become a weapon in the hands of his enemies at home and abroad. According to those sources, in no time at all, the bare facts have already been lavishly embroidered. There affirm there is no truth to the accounts that Saddam has secluded himself in his palaces in Baghdad, admitting no one but his doctors. They also deny emphatically descriptions of a ruler confused, unfocused and suffering loss of memory for many hours of the day. Quite the opposite. The disease is still in its early stages and his hand is said to be still firm on the levers of government – so much so that he is looking ahead calmly to the stage of being overcome by the disease and is methodically preparing his government for that moment. At the same time, there is no confirmation to the rumor that Saddam has placed his young son Kusai at the head of the family council – or that the council has become operative at all.
The Iraqi ruler’s illness and reports he was going in for chemotherapy may well have been one of the triggers of Saturday’s alert in the US patriot anti-missile battery in Frankfurt. According to American and other intelligence assessments, a sick and failing Saddam could be as dangerous as a fit one. They do not rule out the possibility of his embarking on a military initiative to show he is still in control. Indeed the knowledge that his time is limited might bring forward a decision to avenge himself for Israel’s bombing of his nuclear reactor in 1981 and Iraq’s military defeat in the Gulf War ten years later. At any rate, most intelligence sources agree that when he does go, he is unlikely to go quietly.

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