Saddam’s “Dirty Dozen” Will be Allawi’s Hostages

Almost the first action taken by the interim Iraqi prime minister Iyad Allawi on Day One of Iraqi sovereignty, June 29, was to announce that his government would take legal custody of ex-ruler Saddam Hussein and eleven top ousted Baath leaders the following day. Among them, are Saddam’s cousin Ali Majid, known as Chemical Ali. In apparent contradiction to the haste he has shown in getting hold of his deposed predecessors, Allawi announced that many months would elapse before they were brought to trial.
The new ruler gave the impression that he was assured and calm enough to hold Saddam under US outer protection for as long as needed in order to properly prepare his trial on war crimes and crimes against humanity.
However, according to debkafile‘s counter-terror experts, there was more than meets the eye about the instant handover of the deposed president to his newly-sovereign successor and the foot-dragging on his trial. What Allawi did not tell the media is that he aims to keep Saddam and his circle under tight control and on tenterhooks, as hostages of the new regime.
Though trained as a neurologist, the new prime minister is no tender plant; he also has an insider’s knowledge of the enemy. Having joined the Baath underground as a young man and serve in one of Saddam’s security squads, he became disillusioned and fled Iraq in the late 1980s. He then co-founded an exile group with fellow ex-Baathists and worked closely with the American CIA.
Allawi, a secular Shiite, is therefore familiar with the inner workings of two intelligence services.
Intensely aware of the security concerns weighing down on his administration, the Iraqi prime minister understands full well that both his political future and physical survival depend on his skill in managing the twilight zone in which Iraqi Baath insurgents and their allies collide with the 130,000 American soldiers shoring up his regime.
From the moment he assumed office, he became a prime target for assassins. His murder would provide a short cut for the Iraqi Baath and al Qaeda seeking to topple the Iraqi administration provisionally installed to assume sovereignty and shepherd Iraq to a democratic election. Allawi realized he needed some urgent life insurance, an ace in the hole for his survival.
What he has done therefore is to gain control of Saddam and his top 11 regime officials as hostages to guarantee his life. The insurgents will be given to understand that violence against the prime minister will be met with the fast trial and execution of a member of Saddam’s “dirty dozen.” It will therefore be in Saddam’s vital interest to keep his successor in good health.
As long as the insurgents attack American, British and Iraqi troops, the deposed dictator and his men will languish in prison without trial. This will give the new Iraqi regime a breathing space of “several months” to get to grips with the mighty task of bringing security to the country in time for elections, without looking over his shoulder all the time for an assassin.
This equation may not quite square with the vision of a great democratic Middle East as presented by US president George W. Bush to Istanbul University students on the shores of the Bosphorus Tuesday, while Awalli was talking in Baghdad about his plans for Saddam. However, given the savagery of the war raging in Iraq now and in the foreseeable future, the new prime minister’s plan, geared to the top priority of keeping him alive, may be the more realistic.

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