Saddam to Arab Leaders: Stay away from Baghdad

As America gears up for war against him, Saddam Hassan is fuming over the self-exile schemes hatched against him by his Arab peers and widely reported as fact in the US, European and Arab media. The Saudi princes were even described as plotting to turn his own generals against him.

Those reports, which DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources affirm are made of whole cloth, led US defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld to quip that banishing Saddam would not be a bad idea and could save Washington a fortune.

The Iraqi ruler was angry enough to dispatch his cousin, member of the Iraqi revolutionary command council, General Ali Hassan Ali Majid to Damascus, Beirut, Amman and Cairo. According to DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s sources, Majid delivered a stiff dressing-down to his hosts, telling them:

A. To immediately shut off the talk that Saddam or any member of his family is going into exile, because it would never happen.

B. To silence suggestions that have been circulating that the Iraqi ruler is willing to make way for a ruling council acceptable to the Americans with a seat for one Saddam loyalist whose hands are untainted by violence and association with unconventional weapons programs. That solution is just as unacceptable to the Iraqi ruler as the first.

C. To scotch the campaign of rumor and innuendo aimed at weakening his hold on power, Saddam tells Arab leaders to stay away from Baghdad. He does not want to see them or their messengers. Even when they come with messages of support, they start spreading inaccurate tales of their conversations with him as soon as they leave.

The Iraqi ruler warns any would-be Arab visitors that they will be detained at the Iraqi border and thrown into jail until the war is over.

DEBKA-Net-Weekly‘s intelligence experts, commenting on Saddam’s furious ban on Arab visits, that it has had an effect on America’s advance preparations for war. US and Western intelligence services had counted on the Iraqi ruler and his top officials being available to Arab delegations to monitor current information and impressions of the situation behind the walls of the Iraqi presidential palaces – or even to send discreet messages to Saddam himself. Their conduits were the spies that friendly Arab intelligence and security services planted in the visiting delegations to Baghdad. That channel has now dried up.

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