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Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 21:57 GMT
Saddam supporters take to streets

By Roger Hardy
BBC Middle East analyst

While many Iraqis have welcomed the capture of their former leader Saddam Hussein, there have been angry protests by pro-Saddam demonstrators in the area known as the Sunni Triangle.

Armed pro-Saddam Hussein Iraqi youths clash with Iraqi police in the Azamiyah district of Baghdad after a rally in support of the Iraqi former leader on 15 December
Many Sunnis fear post-Saddam Iraq will be dominated by Shias and Kurds
It must be puzzling for President Bush - as he constantly reminds Iraqis his aim is to liberate them - that some of them should take to the streets to show support for Saddam Hussein and anger at his captivity.

Since his capture was made public on Sunday, there have been pro-Saddam demonstrations in Tikrit, Falluja and Ramadi - all towns in the Sunni Triangle - in a Sunni suburb of Baghdad, and in the northern town of Mosul.

Some of these towns - and their Sunni clans - directly benefited from Saddam's rule.

And some Iraqis, given their current security problems and the lack of reliable services, look back nostalgically to the days when the Iraqi strongman brought stability to their lives.

But there is more to it than that.

For many Sunnis, Saddam's humiliation at American hands is a brutal reminder that they are no longer the privileged elite.

What many of them fear is that America will now install a new government dominated by its Shia and Kurdish friends - and that they, the Sunnis, will become the new underdogs.

Reassuring them - while also quelling unrest in Sunni areas - presents the Americans with a double challenge.


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