Sunday, October 30, 2005

Did Saddam agree to exile before war?

Yes, says the United Arab Emirates. From the AP:

Saddam Hussein accepted an 11th-hour offer to flee into exile weeks ahead of the U.S.-led 2003 invasion, but Arab League officials scuttled the proposal, officials in this Gulf state claimed.

The exile initiative was spearheaded by the late president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheik Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, at an emergency Arab summit held in Egypt in February 2003, Sheik Zayed's son said in an interview aired by Al-Arabiya TV during a documentary. The U.S.-led coalition invaded on March 19 that year.

A top government official confirmed the offer on Saturday, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Saddam allegedly accepted the offer to try [to] halt the invasion and bring elections to Iraq within six months, claimed the official and Sheik Zayed's son.

Not that this matters much now, but I find much of this hard to believe. Why is it only coming out now? Would the typically defiant and vainglorious Saddam, given his massive ego and personal attachment to the destiny of Iraq, really have given up and gone into exile to live out his final days in shameful oblivion? Would he really have cared enough about the people of Iraq to try to stop the invasion? Would he really have sought to "bring elections to Iraq within six months"?

Is this an attempt to make the U.S. look bad?

Maybe something was in the works, and maybe exile was discussed or even tentatively agreed to. I'd certainly like to know more about what may or may not have been proposed prior to the U.S. invasion, but my sense is that Saddam, delusion long having gotten the better of him, wasn't going anywhere. At least until the U.S. and its "coalition of the willing" destroyed his barbarous regime and he ended up in that literal hole in the ground.

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