In furtherance of his peace initiative, former Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi and his US collaborators are engaged in intense parley with Saddam Hussein‘s close relatives for a formula that will let them go back to Iraq while bringing his trial to an acceptable conclusion.
US officials have come to realize that a deal with the deposed dictator’s family is the sine qua non for finalizing the understandings reached with the ex-Baathists and several Sunni guerrilla chiefs for ending the guerrilla war.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence sources report that the exchanges are going forward on four tracks.
Track One: Allawi is holding direct talks with Saddam’s eldest daughter Raghad, which turn on three points:
1. The wording of the indictment against her father. Raghdad is seeking a charge sheet that does not carry the death sentence, or at least one that can be commuted. As the person who controls the family money and retained the Arab and American lawyers for his defense, she is demanding that Saddam’s conditions of incarceration be set out in advance of the trial.
2. The provisions for the repatriation of the whole al-Tikriti clan to Baghdad. At present, they are scattered around the Arab world. She wants guarantees that no Iraqi in government or American official will lay hands on the family fortune or hinder its members’ freedom to come and go in Baghdad.
3. Raghad has her eye on a political career at home. It has been agreed that she will stand for parliament in the December election on the new multi-sectarian list Allawi is putting together.
Track Two: One of the least known ex-Baathists held in the high-security detention facility for top Saddam insiders inside the American base guarding Baghdad’s international airport is Dr. Satam Kaoud. Once a senior party member of the Baghdad branch, he has been adopted as a contact man by the US intelligence authorities running the detention center. As such, he is the only inmate allowed to meet fellow prisoners.
DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources close to the negotiators believe that if Allawi and Raghdad come to terms, it is possible that Kaoud will be allowed to visit Saddam in his cell. He would be the ex-dictator’s first visitor from his former regime since his capture in December 2003.
Starting a dialogue with Saddam through Ramsey Clark, Carter’s Go-Between with Khomeini
Track Three: Negotiations are underway in Washington on the terms for two American members of the Saddam defense team, former US attorney general Ramsey Clark and Curtis Doebbler, to be allowed to see their client. The US administration hopes through them to open a dialogue with the ex-president.
Clark was chosen because in 1977 he launched the American dialogue with Ayatollah Khomeini at his place of exile near Paris. Then, Clark was asked by the Carter administration to explore the possibilities of the exiled leader collaborating with Washington when he came to power. Today, Clark will be entrusted with discussing with Saddam his conditions and price for calling off the Baath-backed guerrilla war. His daughter Raghad is deeply involved in this gambit.
These developments set off a crisis in the former ruler’s legal team. The Arab members accuse Raghad of letting the Americans run the show and sideline their Arab colleagues. Their leader Ziad al-Khasawneh resigned Thursday, July 21. He accused the American lawyers of asking him to refrain from criticizing the US occupation. She favors the Americans on the team, Khasawneh sneered, because she believes they will win the case and set her father free.
Track Four: General Adnan Thavit, chief of the Special Police Commandos, is employed as the American conduit for reaching Iraqi insurgent leaders operating in central Iraq and the Sunni Triangle. Thavit, a former intelligence officer in the Iraqi Air Force, set up the commandos last September with 5,000 members he picked from the old elite Republican Guard. The general was imprisoned in 1996 for plotting a coup against Saddam. While regarded as brutal in their methods, the Special Police Commandos are considered the most effective and disciplined of all Iraq’s counterinsurgency units. The Iraqi government has armed them with rocket-propelled grenades and Ak-47 rifles. Their close ties to regional clans enable them to be effective intelligence gatherers in Sunni dominated areas.