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Tuesday, 6 August, 2002, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
Saddam's tactics: Same old story?
Saddam Hussein
Saddam seems to be one step behind the game

Saddam Hussein's twin offer to the US Congress and the UN to send delegations to make inspections for weapons of mass destruction is reminiscent of his tactics in the lead-up to the Gulf War in 1991.

Then, he tried to undermine the will of the United States and its allies by inviting all kinds of visitors to Baghdad and making all kinds of concessions short of total withdrawal from Kuwait.

Genuine offer?

Now, he is responding to UN demands for a full resumption of the weapons inspection regime by making what appear to be genuine offers but which on examination will probably not be the total access the UN requires.


Given Saddam Hussein's record, there has to be scepticism about his move

He had every opportunity of agreeing to the UN demands in recent talks between his foreign minister Naji Sabri al-Hadithi and the Secretary General, Kofi Annan.

Instead he insisted that the UN should agree with him in advance what it wants to look at - thereby giving Iraq a veto - instead of letting it have the unhindered and open-ended access it demands.

It looked to the UN very much as if Saddam Hussein simply did not want any more interference from outsiders. So the talks were suspended.

Scepticism

If the latest offer represents a real decision to co-operate, it would significantly change the position.

But, given Saddam Hussein's record, there has to be scepticism about his move.


The Americans will not be dissuaded from seeking Saddam Hussein's removal

The great unknown is whether he has something to hide. If he has, then his delaying tactics have an obvious motive.

In any event, the offer serves a useful purpose for the Iraqi leader.

It shows him in an apparently reasonable light.

It improves the Iraqi case among its neighbours, many of which are already opposed to an American invasion of Iraq.

And, it strengthens the hand of critics in Western countries who are building a case against US action.

The Americans, though, will not be dissuaded from seeking Saddam Hussein's removal, which is now a separate policy from getting weapons inspectors back in.

One step behind

President George Bush is embarked on a mission. After 11 September he argues that he cannot wait for action against America before he takes action to defend America.


If he had agreed to the weapons teams going back in months ago, he might have forestalled an US decision to remove him

And that means, in his view, action against Saddam Hussein.

Saddam always seems to be one step behind the game.

After his invasion of Kuwait, he failed to realise the strength of the coalition against him and made concessions far too slowly.

On the eve of the action to remove his forces from Kuwait, he began to move them out. It was hopelessly late.

He seems to be going down the same path now.

If he had agreed to the weapons teams going back in months ago, he might have forestalled a US decision to remove him.

At that time, Iraq had been put on hold while the Taleban and al-Qaeda were being dealt with.

But he did not, mistaking an American decision not to act for the moment as an American decision not to act against him at all.


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See also:

06 Aug 02 | Middle East
05 Aug 02 | Middle East
05 Aug 02 | Middle East
02 Aug 02 | Middle East
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