Thursday, July 02, 2009

An old mystery – why did Saddam block UN inspections?

We now all know that Cheney and Bush were looking for a reason to invade Iraq even as the UN sanctions were crumbling. We also know that Saddam really didn’t have any WMDs to hide.

So why did Saddam prevent UN inspectors from doing their work? He might have held off the US invasion and waited out the rapidly crumbling UN sanctions. Why did he give Bush the excuse he was looking for?

One 2003 theory was that Saddam thought he had weapons of mass destruction – he thought he had something to hide. Maybe his military was lying to him to save their own skins. By 2006 the public theory was that that Saddam himself knew there were no WMDs, but he was  hiding this fact from many of his aides – for fear of revealing weakness to Iran.

Today an FBI report provides more details. I found Saddam’s comments on a “pact with a US enemy” persuasive …

Newly released FBI reports describe Saddam Hussein's reasons for refusing UN inspectors to enter Iraq | World news |

Saddam Hussein remained preoccupied with the threat from neighbouring Iran as the US-led invasion loomed and would have sought a security pact with the US if UN sanctions were lifted, he told an FBI interviewer in his jail cell before his execution.

In more than two dozen interviews and casual talks, the deposed Iraqi leader told FBI questioners that he refused to allowed UN inspectors to re-enter the country because he feared they would reveal to his chief adversary Iran the severely degraded state of Iraq's weapons capability.

Saddam, whom the successor Iraqi government hanged in December 2006, also denied having any connection to Osama bin Laden or al-Qaida, and said that if he wanted to join forces with a US enemy, he would have sought a pact with North Korea or China

… The reports were released by the National Security Archive, a Washington group that obtained them from the FBI. The reports contain a few deletions, and one interview, from May 1, 2004, was redacted in its entirety

.. He said that during the run-up to the US invasion in March 2003, he kept up his bluster about weapons of mass destruction in order to appear strong in front of Iran. Saddam said he believed Iran intended to annex majority Shia areas of southern Iraq, and saw the country as the greatest threat to Iraq. He said he viewed the other Arab countries in the region as weak and unable to defend against an attack from Iran. He said that he refused to allow UN inspectors to re-enter the country not because he still possessed prohibited weapons of mass destruction (he ordered the stock pile destroyed after the 1991 Persian Gulf war) but because he wanted Iran to believe he did.

"Hussein stated he was more concerned about Iran discovering Iraq's weaknesses and vulnerabilities than the repercussions of the United States for his refusal to allow UN inspectors back into Iraq," the report of a June 11, 2004 interview states.

Asked how Iraq would have dealt with Iran if the UN inspections and sanctions were ended, he said he would have sought a security agreement with the US. Piro agreed such an arrangement would have benefited Iraq, but said the US would not quickly have made such a pact. He told Piro he wanted a more friendly relationship with the US, an ally during the war with Iran, but that the US "was not listening to anything Iraq had to say"…

Saddam was definitely evil, but he wasn’t crazy.  Instead Saddam’s big mistake was thinking that Cheney/Bush were as calculating as he was, when, in reality, they were … crazy.

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