Saddam Was Sure of Own Survival

(Washington Post) Former Iraqi deputy prime minister Tariq Aziz has told interrogators that Saddam Hussein refused to order a counterattack against U.S. troops in March because he misjudged the initial ground thrust as a ruse and had been convinced earlier by Russian and French contacts that he could avoid or survive a land invasion. According to Aziz, Hussein concluded after talks with these contacts that the U.S. would probably wage a long air war first, as it had done in previous conflicts. By hunkering down and putting up a stiff defense, he might buy enough time to win a cease-fire brokered by Paris and Moscow. Aziz reportedly also said Hussein personally ordered several secret programs to build or buy long-range missiles in defiance of international sanctions. Investigators have found no comparable evidence to date that Hussein was willing after 1999 to risk being caught in major defiance of UN bans on nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons. U.S.-led investigators increasingly seek to understand why Hussein might have acted as he did if he truly had no sizable arsenal of contraband weapons. Several high-ranking detainees explained that Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries paid deference to Hussein because they feared he had weapons of mass destruction. A number of Saddam's own generals have said that they, too, believed chemical weapons would be deployed by Hussein for the capital's defense. Yet none of the officers admitted receiving such weapons himself. "The only consistent pattern we've gotten - 100 percent consistent - is that each commander says, 'My unit didn't have WMD, but the one to my right or left did,'" said a senior U.S. official.

2003-11-03 00:00:00

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