The United Arab Emirates has made the first official call for Saddam Hussein to go into exile in an attempt to avert a US-led war.
The UAE submitted the proposal in a letter to the crisis summit on Iraq being held by Arab leaders in Egypt.
The plans propose that Saddam Hussein and the rest of the Iraqi leadership leave their country within 14 days in exchange for immunity from prosecution.
Iraq would then be put under the control of the United Nations and the Arab League.
What do you think of the plans? Are they realistic? Could they avert conflict?
This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.
If Saddam was a kind enough soul to spare his people the mass destruction that the US hopes to impart on them, this should work. I doubt that Saddam would do this, however, if nothing else, for the sake of his pride and for the principle of matter - he isn't mother Teresa and we cannot expect him to be. We have no right to decide who will rule Iraq. It is not our country, they have not attacked us. It is none of our business.
Katherine Zanone, Mesa, USA
Let's say Saddam does take exile. Will it avert conflict in Iraq - probably. With a firm American foothold in the Middle East, conflict will probably shift towards Iran or Jordan or Syria. Saddam isn't the only "evil" dictator in the Middle East with anti-American opinions and policies.
William Sutton, Quesnel, British Columbia
The UAE's plan is a sensible plan to avert a war - but I doubt the USA or the UK would allow Saddam to have immunity from prosecution.
Surely, in democracies such as the USA and here in the UK, the government should take into account what we - the public - have to say about using our tax money to start a war in another country when we have enough problems here at home.
I doubt the USA or the UK would allow Saddam to have immunity from prosecution
Si Chun Lam, Bath, England
Si Chun Lam, Bath, England
It is comical how the Arab League presents itself to the international community. Rather than an institution for political and economic integration, it has become a rubber stamping factory of US foreign policy. This recent proposal shows how desperate Arab leaders have become. It is merely a theatrical performance for domestic consumption.I find completely obscene. It suggests that their own style of leadership is something to be admired. This mother of all empty debating societies has neither the strength nor maturity to undertake such a task.
Much like al-Qaeda, the leadership in the Iraq government doesn't consist of just one man. And the departure of Saddam alone doesn't guarantee the disarmament of Iraq. Exile of Saddam would be a definite step towards lifting the threat of invasion on Iraq. But it won't mean anything if the next in line just pulls the same stuff as his predecessor.
Matt Whitley, US
Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair decided long ago there will be a war, no matter what Mr. Hussein and/or Iraq does. This whole mess comes down to control of Iraqi oil, something Bush Snr has told Dubya we must have.
Rick LaRose, Raleigh, NC, USA
The removal of Saddam would be wonderful and may avert war. I do wonder why many people who posted below make blanket statements that Bush is not even slightly interested in the welfare of the Iraqi people. I do not immediately state that Chirac is an awful ally because he opposes us. He has that right. The Iraqi people do not have the right to oppose. Ask the people of Afghanistan if they are better off without tyrants as leaders. Many of the people who posted below are from free/democratic countries and need to realize how lucky they are. I hope it doesn't take another Sept. 11th to make people realize how bad this man and the weapons his country produces are. Saddam must go and so should the weapons.
John, Virginia USA
What is needed is a complete package: i.e. If Saddam and his government steps down and goes into exile; the US will retreat, there will be no war and all economic sanctions against Iraq will be dropped immediately.
M Pala, UK
The exile would not avert war. It would give America control over the region, and more importantly its oil fields. Saddam is not afraid of the US and that's what the country needs, a leader who isn't afraid to stand up to the worlds biggest bully. The Bush administration knows this, and that's why they're scared.
Perhaps his exile would avert war, but so would exile of George Bush, an alternative with far broader appeal both domestically and internationally.
There is ample historical precedent of political leaders going into forced exile. Invariably, this had resulted in temporarily (sometimes permanently) cooling off tension. Although, a simple deposition of Saddam Hussein will probably not resolve the Iraqi crisis, this might at least avert war at present and allow the West to reunite in its quest for peace and stability in the Middle East and the Gulf region.
This might avert war and allow the West to reunite in its quest for peace
President Bush appears hell bent on war, I would hope that removal of the Iraqi leader and his establishment would resolve the problem peacefully, however I'm sure Saddam and the threat of war provide a welcome distraction, drawing the spotlight away from the fact that Bush can't track down Bin Laden.
Michael Longley, Berkshire
The question we should be asking is would Saddam consider such a plan? To think he would is to be foolish.
Ray, 11, Liverpool, UK
The Bush administration isn't interested in humanitarian rights in Iraq nor the existence of a despotic regime. Those are the only visible issues that Hussein's exile would affect. Since Bush doesn't care about those issues Hussein's departure would have no effect on the likelihood of war on Iraq. In the unlikely event that Saddam would go into exile I'm convinced that the Bush administration would just throw up some other insubstantial justification to attack.
Tim, Northern California, USA
Not only would this plan address the real concerns of the world, it might prevent an American invasion of Iraq. Anything that reduces the danger for the entire world and saves lives is a good thing to at least consider. We could all hope that Saddam and his crowd would take this opportunity to "take the money and run."
Anything that reduces the danger for the entire world and saves lives is a good thing to at least consider
Bob Shier, Parkville, USA
Bob Shier, Parkville, USA
Much as I am vehemently opposed to a war in Iraq under the present circumstances, I accept it seems sadly inevitable, and as such the offer of exile is probably wise, as it gives Saddam a potential "out" once fighting has begun. Without it, he would no doubt feel he had little to lose.
If the US, or indeed the UAE, genuinely believes that he possesses weapons of mass destruction, then they have to believe that, given nothing to lose, he would readily use them. If he still has the capability to do so, might he not try to provoke a region-wide conflict by hitting Israel with such a warhead? After all, without the option of exile, his best chance of personal survival would seem to be drawing his neighbours into a ruinous war on his side.
Clive, Stockport, UK
Saddam Hussein, as horrible as he might be portrayed (which he is to some extent) he is still the head of state of a country that he used to build the way it was appreciated even by foreign governments. For a group of leaders from outside Iraq to make such a proposition is non-constitutional.
The US and UK need to remember the imperialist period is over. If they were so democratic as they sound today in every corner, how come they do not want to listen to millions of voices in their own country that are against war? Is democracy getting a new meaning? Or do we follow democracy when it stands side by side with us and ignore it whenever it goes against our aspirations?
Why does the Arab League want to take over Iraq after its conquest? To make sure that the US doesn't sow the seeds of democracy in Arab world? If so, there would never be a guarantee that another Saddam wouldn't emerge! Besides, the precedence of the first democracy is not good for the health of the Arab kingdoms anyway.
There would never be a guarantee that another Saddam wouldn't emerge!
Agha Ata, Houston, USA
Is Saddam's total destruction worth even one innocent life? Surely any solution is preferable to indiscriminate killing which war would bring.
A good plan, if the UN, and not the Arab League controls Iraq and the Iraqi leadership is permanently banned from Iraq; all control over weapons of mass destruction is taken from them; unfettered communication is arranged with weapons scientists; the search for weapons continues and weapons are destroyed when found. It should be clear that the UN, and not the Arab League has the authority to control this process as well as the transition to a new government.
John Piper, Redwood City, CA, USA
The proposed war is not about the Iraqi leader. America and Britain are using him as a smokescreen. The real issue is oil. No matter how many concessions the Iraqis make, Bush and Blair will still bomb Iraq. Peace is not an option for Bush and Blair, this is becoming obvious as every day passes.
Jim Bollan, Alexandria Scotland
Asking Saddam to go into exile or step down from the throne is like trying to ask nicely for him to resent what's already been started.
Nat Bilodeaux, Ellensberg, WA USA
It's pretty clear that the condition was added to ensure non-compliance by Saddam, which then gives the US a pretext to go to war. It's not just about Saddam. Nor is it just about oil, hegemony, making a point or vindicating personal grudges. It's about all of the above, making peace about as likely as rational thinking from our national leadership.
Jonathan Schiff, Cincinnati, Ohio
Well let's get real do you really think he would leave?
Clayton, Newport U.S.A
I believe it would only temporarily avert regional conflict. The real solution is to impose a moratorium on the use of all fossil fuels throughout the world, accept the fact that WMD will be used to wage asymmetric war, and to retaliate in kind when necessary.
Steve Biondi, Warner Robins, USA
Yes, if it means not only Saddam and his inner circle go into exile but the entire regime is dismantled. But the Arab League won't go that far, because a successful democracy in Iraq could set an example leading to their downfall.
A successful democracy in Iraq could lead to the downfall of the Arab League
Craig, New York, USA
Someone correct me if I'm wrong but the UN resolution doesn't call for a change in leadership of Iraq does it? I thought it simply calls for Iraq to disarm.
Tony Blair's the one who will be needing an escape route. Judging by opinion polls and the various comments made by Labour voters he's already more or less finished as prime minister. But I wouldn't want to predict how the public will react if and when he launches an attack on Iraq.
John Dover, London, UK
Exile for Saddam would be a very good thing for the Iraqi people - although I do not see why he should have immunity from prosecution. But it merely proves that the US and UK's threat of force is working that this is even being considered. Such a threat can only work if it is credible. If the 'anti-war' lobby had its way Saddam would stay there indefinitely and the suffering of the Iraqis would go on.
If Saddam goes, and the US takes control of this key Middle eastern oil producing state, what next? How long will it be before al-Qaeda, Mujahideen, Islamic Jihad and other organisations all focus on ending the US occupation? How long before the Iraqi opposition who wanted power start to fight to regain control of their country?
I was watching a BBC report the other day where an opposition leader suggested in no uncertain terms that a US occupation would lead to resistance against it. Is this the path to stability? Is the US going to simply kill or imprison anyone who opposes it? Does this remind you of another dictator, one who the US is trying to get rid of at the moment?
So the answer to the question is that the initial occupation could be done without a war if Saddam goes into exile, but the consequences and the unofficial war against the US would be far more dangerous to the world than anything Saddam could ever do.
How long before the Iraqi opposition who wanted power start to fight to regain control of their country?
H, West Midlands, UK
As much as one would like to see the back of Saddam, the notion of asking a head of state to go into exile will set a dangerous precedent. While Saddam was not elected to power, we note that the US has publicly asked the democratically elected Yasser Arafat to step down. Who next? And are we going to ask anyone who disagrees with US policy to step down? Why can't the US apply the same argument to Ariel Sharon and ask him to step down for the sake of world peace? International law is threatened here.
Suggestions that changing the top level of Iraqi leadership would in some way be an alternative to war reveal one thing: this is not a war intended to counter a 'regional threat' from Iraq (there clearly isn't one) nor is it relating to weapons of mass destruction (there's no evidence of these, either). None of these things would be changed by Saddam going into exile. This war is about political control of Iraq, and the US's willingness to accept this solution - and their frequent, domestic talk of achieving regime change illegally makes this crystal clear.
Adam, Bristol, UK
No. Every time Saddam complies with a US requirement, Bush adds a new one.
It would be a good idea for him to go into exile if it would mean averting a war. Once he is exiled and the Iraqi leadership have been ousted the UN should make sure there is a peacekeeping force in place, in case of any trouble, while a new government is being formed.
Graham Powell, Wales
This is very helpful, but I suspect it is a desperate offer from the UAE, and I do very much hope it succeeds in averting war. I have my doubts as to whether the US and Britain would then call off their troops, however, because I think their interest goes far beyond the simple removal of Saddam Hussein. For example, would they trust the UAE and the UN to achieve what they deemed to be an acceptable outcome? Or would Britain and America insist on going in anyway? If this were to happen, it would confirm my suspicions that removal of Saddam was little more than a smokescreen for another agenda entirely. That would be an agenda about power, about a foothold in the Middle East, and about oil.
John W, Bideford, UK
Conflict could be averted but Saddam would not leave. Put the UN or, better still, the Arab League in control of Iraq? Now, that would be a real disaster.
Mirek, Alexandria, USA
As always compromise is the best way to break an impasse. UAE's proposal is the best and realistic approach to the Iraq crisis, so far
It is good for Saddam and his leadership, because it saves their skin. It is very good for the Arab Leaders who are scared of the precedence (for this region)of a regime change in Iraq. Above all, it is the best chance for Iraqi people who have suffered the most, for so long. Plus, it brings relief to NATO and the UN. I think the US administration will accept the proposal as well, because they already hinted this.
Compromise is the best way to break an impasse
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
The lives that would be saved makes the option of exile a no brainer.
Bruce Way, USA
Recently I lost my job. Tough times require tough measures. Therefore, I will swallow my pride and hide my disgust for this man (Saddam) and let him stay in one of my spare rooms. So tell Saddam, to bring him and his $2bn to Long Island, NY and I will take good care of him.
Michael Cantley, Ronkonkoma, NY, USA
I deeply hope the UN can come up with a 15 to 0 resolution out of the Security Council. America needs to show humility while saving face. Saddam leaving would be terrific! A big win win for the world.
It would be a big win win for the world
Laura Hedlund, Minnesota, USA
Laura Hedlund, Eagan, Minnesota, USA
The sticking point with this proposal is not likely to be the exile of Saddam Hussein nor even his immunity from prosecution. It is the suggestion that Iraq be put under the control of the UN and Arab League which will lead to the Bush regime sabotaging this diplomatic effort as they have others which threaten to deny control of the region to the US.
Electric Hermit, Scotland
He should go but he won't. He is like a captain and he will go down with his ship.
Paul Badkin, Hampshire, UK
Yes. An attack could be avoided if he chooses exile, and the US and the Brits under UN's "supervision" could take over and control the country while developing it socially and politically into a democratic country.
Lars, Eskilstuna, Sweden