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 Post subject: Mistrust of army defeated Saddam
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2006 2:26 am 

Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2006 4:13 pm
Posts: 1672
Location: South Australia
Mistrust of army defeated Saddam
March 13, 2006

NEW YORK: Saddam Hussein's fear of internal rebellion led him to distrust his military commanders and crippled his army's ability to fight as US forces invaded in 2003, a classified US report shows.

Citing the US military report as well as other documents and interviews, The New York Times reported yesterday that top Iraqi commanders were shocked when Saddam told them three months before the war that he had no weapons of mass destruction.

To ensure that Iraq would pass scrutiny by UN arms inspectors, the paper said Saddam ordered that they be given the access that they wanted to sites in Iraq. But he ordered a crash effort to scrub the country so the inspectors would not discover any vestiges of old unconventional weapons, no small concern in a nation that had once amassed an arsenal of chemical weapons, biological agents and Scud missiles, the report said.

Prepared nearly a year ago, the classified military report shows that Saddam discounted the possibility of a full-scale US invasion.

It said that two weeks into the war Saddam and a small circle of aides remained convinced that the main threat came from within, leading him to deny a commander's request to blow up the Euphrates river bridge to slow the US advance.

Despite the defeat his forces suffered during the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam did not see the US as his primary adversary. His greater fear was a Shia uprising, like the one that shook his government after that war.

His main concern over a possible US military strike was that it might prompt the Shi'ites to take up arms against his Sunni-led government, the report quoted Tariq Aziz, the former Iraqi deputy prime minister, as telling interrogators.

"He thought they (the US) would not fight a ground war because it would be too costly" in terms of casualties, Mr Aziz was quoted as saying.

Saddam was also worried about his neighbour to the east, the report said. Like the Bush administration, he suspected Iran of developing nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction. Each year, the Iraqi military conducted an exercise code-named Golden Falcon that focused on defence of the Iraq-Iran border.

To collect the material, US military analysts questioned more than 110 Iraqi officials and military officers, sometimes posing as military historians and treating officials to lavish dinners to pry loose their secrets.

Others were interrogated in a detention centre at the Baghdad airport or Abu Ghraib prison.

The accounts were viewed as credible because they were largely consistent.

After the invasion began, Saddam continued to make crucial decisions himself, and relied on his sons for military counsel, the Times said. It said his military leaders were demoralised to learn there were no WMDs, as they were counting on stocks of poison gas or germ warfare for defence.

The report also said that Saddam put a general considered to be an incompetent drunk in charge of the elite Republican Guard because he considered him to be loyal.

It said commanders were in some cases banned from communicating with other units and were unable to get maps of areas near the airport because they would have disclosed the locations of Saddam's palaces.

The Times said his concern for the threats from within interfered with efforts to defend against an external enemy. Taking a page out of the Russian playbook, Iraqi officers suggested a new strategy to defend the homeland.

Just as Russia yielded territory to defeat Napoleon and, later, Hitler's invading army, Iraq would resist an invading army by conducting a fighting retreat, with well-armed Iraqi tribes acting like the Russian partisans.

Saddam rejected the recommendation. Arming local tribes was too risky for a government in fear of a popular uprising.

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