Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education



Front Page

World

UK

UK Politics

Business

Sci/Tech

Health

Education

Sport

Entertainment

Talking Point
On Air
Feedback
Low Graphics
Help

Sunday, December 20, 1998 Published at 14:02 GMT


Analysis: Saddam stands firm

The Iraqi leader remains firmly in power

Middle East Correspondent Jim Muir looks at the possible impact of the bombing campaign on President Saddam Hussein's position in Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is a survivor who will stop at nothing to maintain his grip on power.


[ image: Physical damage is easier to assess than the political fall-out]
Physical damage is easier to assess than the political fall-out
He took everything the Western-led coalition had to throw at him in 1991 and bounced back. Margaret Thatcher and George Bush have gone - Saddam Hussein is still there. No doubt he is convinced that President Clinton is on the way out too.

It is significant that much of the US and British bombing campaign was directed at the Iraqi Republican Guards and the Special Republican Guards.

These elite units have little to do with Saddam Hussein's ability to threaten his neighours, and a lot to do with his survival: they are his praetorian guard. Targeting them was seen as a way of weakening his internal position.

Power network

But even if they have been struck a hard blow - which is open to doubt - that by no means opens the way for Saddam Hussein's overthrow. His power is based on many other elements too, not least a vast network of ruthless intelligence agencies.


[ image: The bombings have increased Arab sympathy for Iraq]
The bombings have increased Arab sympathy for Iraq
There is nothing to indicate that Operation Desert Fox has made Saddam's internal position more vulnerable.

As for the visible Iraqi opposition based abroad, it is fragmented and in disarray.

The US and Britain have both recently thrown more weight behind the opposition, but it has been deeply embarrassed by the bombing campaign - the victims of which are perceived as being the Iraqi people.

That same perception has gained widespread currency among the Arab and Muslim nations where allied air strikes generated a great deal of sympathy for the Iraqis which Saddam will surely exploit to the full in the confused months that lie ahead.

In short, Operation Desert Fox may have left him in a stronger position than he was before.



Advanced options | Search tips




Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage |




LATEST NEWS

ROAD TO THE BRINK

FORCES AND FIREPOWER

DECISION MAKERS AND DIPLOMACY

TEXTS AND TRANSCRIPTS

INTERNET LINKS