Saddams Final Plea: Attempts to Avoid War

Most of the debate around whether the Iraq war should or should not have happened centers on the International Community/UN vs. the US/Coalition, the inspections, and such.

There was very little talk at the time about Iraqs attempts to avoid war. Indeed, I was not aware until today that Iraq had even tried to broker a deal to save itself before the war started.

Today I found this:

“Definition of Failed Iraqi peace initiatives”

Some excerpts:

In December 2002, a representative of the head of Iraqi Intelligence, Gen. Tahir Jalil Habbush al Takriti, contacted former CIA counterterrorism head Vincent Cannistraro, stating that Saddam “knew there was a campaign to link him to September 11 and prove he had weapons of mass destruction.” Cannistrano further added that “the Iraqis were prepared to satisfy these concerns. I reported the conversation to senior levels of the state department and I was told to stand aside and they would handle it.” Cannistrano stated that the offers made were all “killed” by the Bush administration, citing that the fact that they all had Saddam Hussein remain in power was unacceptable.

Alright.. understandable… from the US Administration perspective

Shortly after, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s national security advisor, Osama al Baz, sent a message to the U.S. State Department that the Iraqis wanted to discuss the accusations that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and ties with al-Qaeda. Iraq also attempted to reach the US through the Syrian, French, German, and Russian intelligence services. Nothing came of the attempts.


In February 2003, Hage met with the chief of Iraqi intelligence’s foreign operations, Hassan al-Obeidi. Obeidi told Hage that Baghdad didn’t understand why they were being targeted, and that they had no WMDs; he then made the offer for Washington to send in 2000 FBI agents to ascertain this. He additionally offered oil concessions, but stopped short of having Hussein give up power, instead suggesting that elections could be held in two years. Later, Obeidi suggested that Hage travel to Baghdad for talks; he accepted.

Later that month, Hage met with Gen. Habbush in addition to Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz. He was offered top priority to US firms in oil and mining rights, UN-supervised elections, US inspections (with up to 5,000 inspectors), to have al-Qaeda agent Abdul Rahman Yassin (in Iraqi custody since 1994) handed over as a sign of good faith, and to give “full support for any US plan” in the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Remember that Iraq and Saddam Hussein specifically, donated/payed thousands of dollars to Palestinian suicide bombers and their families for attacks against Israel. So this is no small change in policy.

On March 7th, [Richard] Perle met with Hage in Knightsbridge, and stated that he wanted to pursue the matter further with people in Washington (both have acknowleged the meeting). A few days later, he informed Hage that Washington refused to let him meet with Habbush to discuss the offer (Hage stated that Perle’s response was “that the consensus in Washington was it was a no-go”). Perle told the Times, “The message was ‘Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad.”

According to an Arab source of the Guardian’s, Perle sent a Saudi official the following terms for Iraq to fulfill to prevent war: “Saddam’s abdication and departure, first to a US military base for interrogation and then into supervised exile, a surrender of Iraqi troops, and the admission that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. “

… Now obviously this was the Iraqi Regime trying desperately to save its’ own existance. But, if the Iraqis were going to:

a) Allow 5000 US “FBI” or “Military” agents into Iraq to do inspections to prove the lack of WMD
b) Extradite a known AQ operative responsible for the WTC bombings (not 9/11, the earlier bombings)
c) Effectively reverse its’ policy on Israel/Palestine.

Would those 3 things alone not produced a far more secure world than we have today?

I dunno… the problem with revisionist history is just that… it’s still history.

4 replies on “Saddams Final Plea: Attempts to Avoid War”

  1. Those of us who blogged the debate on Iraq extensively talked about this offer from Saddam at some length. We so-called “right-wingers” (an appellation that apparently one earns these days solely for favoring taking out mass-murdering butchers) pretty universally said the administration should reject this offer out of hand, because Saddam had made countless such offers before only to turn around and abrogate his agreements as soon as it was convenient to do so.

    What’s frustrating to some of us is that so many people have forgotten all this. I feel like I’m reliving debates I had a year ago. It’s like being Sisyphus, and I find myself typing once again (as I did so many times) that Saddam had brokered over a dozen agreements like this when it looked like his back was against the wall and as soon as the threat of force was withdrawn he broke them. For God’s sake, how many times did he kick out the weapons inspectors, only to let them back in once it looked like he might face military force again? How many times did the inspectors tell us he wasn’t allowing them to inspect sites he agreed to let them inspect? Etc. Etc.

    And it still would have left a mass-murdering butcher in power in Iraq, would have continued a regime that literally killed thousands of innocent Iraqis a month, at least according to the U.N. and most human rights organizations.

    So yes, agreeing to YET ANOTHER deal that Saddam would almost certainly have broken (just like he broke ALL the others) might have made for a “more peaceful” world, if you think of allowing a tyrant to peacefully slaughter his own people as “peace.”

    I don’t know if your site takes the necessary HTML in comments, but this pretty much summed up how most of us felt about it back then:

  2. Well, like I said in the post… revisionist history is still history… so there isn’t a whole lot of point talking about this.

    However, when you’re comparing the situation now with the situation before the invasion, I’d say the Iraqis were better off even though they were under the rule of a horrible despot.

    At least they had reliable running water, electricity, cheap fuel. At least they could go to work and earn a living and education. The Kurds had full autonomy and security (totally protected by Saddam).

    So if Saddam had allowed unprecedented access to US inspectors (rather than UN)… and thus proved their lack of WMD programs… and also allowed UN elections, and support for the US on the Israeli/Palestine affair…

    that’s a helluva offer… and one that I think would have lead to a potentially much more stable Middle East than we have today… and a path to democratic reform that would have been far more concrete and independant.

    And if it all turned out to be lies… the US still could have invaded (and maybe then they could have done it with the number of troops really required)

  3. Chris, you’ve been watching too many Michael Moore movies, if:

    1.) you think the Iraqis led an idyllic life under Sadddam, (only the BAATH Party did, and only if they did not come under suspicion), and

    2.) you think the Kurds were protected by Saddam? (think no-fly zone, American and British pilots), and

    3.) you think Saddam could be taken at his word.

    We all know he tried to make deals. Mostly bad deals for everyone except himself.

    You need to spend more time researching the horrors of the Hussein regime, his intentions to control neighboring countries and ALL the middle east oil, and the corrupt Oil-for-Food program. There is a good DVD out now that will give you a peek into how the Iraqi people were treated (tortured/murdered.

  4. You may as well take your blog down. I am not sure whom directed me to you. You are very much misinformed, and immature. I cannot believe Esmay responded to you. But, you tried.

    Now, go out and get some “larnin”, and come back when you are about 40, and well informed. Thanks for your college try. Don’t take all those college profs visions as the truth. Trust me, I have been to college, and if your view of the truth differs from theirs, your grade will be probably a C at best.

    Do your own research, Dude!

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