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by our Iraq monitor

On January 29, 2003 C-Span picked up a transmission from Iraqi TV (with weak but understandable English translation). It covered a meeting between Iraqi President Saddam Hussain and his military commanders. Most American audiences would not have understood what was going on. So, here is an analytical summary:

1. President Saddam seemed to fit his stereotype in western media at least on one count. He was expensively and comfortably dressed in western clothes, clean shaven and looking smart. He was smoking a cigar and kept stubbing it in the ash tray. His hand, visibly, never shook. This is a man with nerves of steel and the impression he created was that he is not going to run away.

2. The military commanders were from defense units all over the country, including air defense and naval units.

3. The commanders felt secure enough to meet all together in one large room with the President. Thus the idea that Saddam is always hiding and seldom shows his real self to more than two or three people was easily debunked. Here he was meeting ALL his commanders at one time at a time when the U.S. could attack at any moment. [At one stage Saddam ordered that the windows be opened because it was getting warm.]

4. If Saddam's commanders were interested in carrying out a coup against him, this was the ideal situation when they were ALL together. Obviously, the fighting forces of Iraq are united and loyal to their country and their president.

5. The Islamic re-formulation of the armed forces seems to have proceeded. EVERY COMMANDER started with bismillah-hir-rahman-nir-Raheem (in the name Of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful) and asalamu alaikum to which the President unfailingly replied "walaikum asalam."

6. As in every Muslim country, the legend of the Islamic resistance in Afghanistan has percolated into relatively secular Iraq too. In response to one commander's statement of steadfastness, the President recounted the story of the seven wounded mujahideen who took refuge in a hospital in KANDAHAR. They fought overwhelming American and Afghan mercenary forces for a week, room to room in the hospital, till finally the Americans demolished the hospital over them with air strikes. [Saddam carefully added that "we" do not necessarily share the ideology of those fighters.]

3. Another commander referred to the generosity of the poor people in his area of command. Whereupon President Saddam recounted the story of Hatim Tai, the popular Islamic/Arab legend of the man who had this beautiful horse. Some visitors came to meet Hatim Tai. He had nothing to feed them so he.....(the rest of the story is well known).

4. Another officer thanked Saddam for building ALL the people of his area NEW HOMES because he found that they were living in rickety old huts.

Some of the commanders were old and pudgy but others were young and fiery. These are the people who will face the American onslaught. [250,000 American troops supported by 800 planes are ready to attack from the north and the south. America plans to saturate Iraqi defenses with 800 cruise missiles in the first 48 hours of the attack, a bigger concentration of firepower than ever achieved before.]
These commanders may well turn out to be martyrs. At this time they seem to be in no mood to surrender. Saddam's hands are not shaking and the people are with him.

February 3. It was an unusual day in Amman, Jordan. Several thousand Jordanians demonstrated against the U.S. and Israel and called on the government to throw away the Jordanian peace and recognition agreement with the terrorist state of Israel. They chanted support for Iraq and many carried Iraqi flags.

It seems to have been a demonstration with the permission of the regime because the demonstrators also carried portraits of King Abdullah, America's puppet in Amman. The King, well briefed by the CIA, seems to be aware that the people are boiling over with rage at the U.S and Israel and wants to provide a steam valve to the country. [Egypt's Mubarak is also good at this tactic.]

Earlier King Abdullah, hand-in-glove with Israel, had no hesitation in sending in tanks against the people of Maan city.
LAST MONTH, the JORDANIAN REGIME SENTENCED A MUSLIM AMERICAN TO DEATH FOR PLOTTING TO HIT US AND ISRAELI TARGETS. The trial was a farce and was carried out by a special military tribunal. The accused denied the accusations but was sentenced regardless of lack of evidence.

2003-02-05 Wed 06:35ct