DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- After the
opening week of battle in Iraq, many feared the worst.
The supply lines were stretched too thin. There were few reserves available.
Fighting was unexpectedly tough in southern cities such as Basra and the
toughest fighting was still ahead in Baghdad. The "cakewalk"
predicted by the hawks in the Bush administration wasn't happening.
Then, the situation totally changed within a few days. The Iraqi army seemingly
disappeared and the U.S. forces swept into Baghdad with a minimum of resistance.
With overwhelming superiority in firepower and total control of the air,
a U.S. victory in Iraq was certain. But few believed it would take barely
four weeks to achieve nearly all of the military objectives.
It all looked so easy. Maybe too easy.
In the days after the fall of Baghdad, reports started bubbling up that
there was a reason why the U.S. won Gulf War II so easily: the fight was
The French newspaper Le Monde reported on April 15 that the commanding
general of Iraq's Republican Guard, Maher Sufyan, cut a deal with U.S.
forces in exchange for his escape.
The Republican Guard had 20,000 well-equipped troops defending Baghdad.
This was the force that was fully prepared to raise hell with U.S. forces,
but suddenly melted away without a fight. Why?
Citing anonymous sources, Le Monde's correspondent in Baghdad wrote that
Sufyan ordered his troops to lay down their arms and go home. A short time
later, an Apache helicopter escorted Sufyan from the Al Rashid camp, east
of Baghdad, to an undisclosed safe haven.
Sufyan was not included in the deck of cards created by the U.S. Defense
Department that contained pictures of the 55 most wanted members of Saddam
Hussein's regime. His whereabouts are still unknown.
The deal may have been sweeter than Le Monde knew. The Arabic-language
weekly Arab Voice reported that there had been secret talks between U.S.
forces and the Republican Guard. A deal was allegedly approved by Defense
Secretary Donald Rumsfeld that offered large sums of money to the top echelon
of the Republican Guard and offers of American citizenship for commanders
and their families. If they chose to stay in Iraq, those commanders would
be offered official roles in post-war Iraq, provided they hadn't committed
The capper to the deal, according to Arab Voice editor Walid Rabah, was
for the Republican Guard commanders to give information about the exact
location of Saddam and the rest of the Iraqi leadership. U.S. forces then
used it to launch a missile attack on April 7 on a building in a Baghdad
suburb where the Iraqi leadership was meeting. Nobody knows for certain
if Saddam or his sons were killed in that attack.
The Russian Ambassador to Iraq, Vladimir Titirenko, also said there may
have been a deal. "I am confident that the Iraqi generals entered
into a secret deal with the Americans to refrain from resistance in exchange
for sparing their lives," Titirenko told Moscow's NTV.
According to the Iranian news agency Baztab, Saddam Hussein and Russian
intelligence worked out a deal 13 days before the war began where Saddam
allegedly pledged to hand over Baghdad with minimal resistance to U.S.
forces in exchange for sparing the lives of Saddam and his family. The
U.S. then promised to give Saddam's entourage safe passage to an unnamed
third country, while Russia would get $5 billion to broker the deal.
How plausible are these stories? More than a few military analysts believe
that one part of this tale is true - that the bulk of Iraq's army did take
off their uniforms and took off for home.
A recent story from the Knight Ridder news service contained an interview
with Major Sallah Abdullah Mahdi al Jabouri, a 17-year Iraqi army veteran
and a Republican Guard battalion commander.
Even though U.S. airstrikes had killed one-third of his 4,000-man brigade,
Jabouri said his men were prepared to defend Baghdad when he and his fellow
field commanders received orders on April 8 to withdraw and return to their
bases north of the city.
When they arrived at their base, they were told go home. The next day,
U.S. forces swept into central Baghdad unopposed.
"We went to war expecting everybody was going to die; we imagined
the worst," said Jabouri. "But to lose your country is bigger."
Some would say all this is foolish speculation. The U.S. won the war and
Saddam is gone. Why worry about how it may have happened? It's worth talking
about when you consider how the Bush administration's whole case for invading
Iraq was built upon lies.
ABC News reported on April 25 that the administration emphasized the danger
of Saddam's alleged stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction to gain the
legal justification for war and scare Americans into supporting an attack.
"We were not lying," said one official. "But it was a matter
According to U.S. and British intelligence agencies, Iraq did not pose
a threat to the U.S. But that information was ignored in the run-up to
this war, and the information that was emphasized by the Bush administration
was apparently fabricated. The proof of that fabrication is that none of
those weapons have yet been found and probably didn't exist in the first
The Bush administration's real rationale for invading Iraq was, as ABC
White House correspondent John Cochran described it, to put on "a
global show of American power and democracy."
It didn't hurt that Iraq had been effectively disarmed and had been regularly
bombed for the past dozen years since the end of Gulf War I in 1991. Or
that it was located between Syria and Iran - two nations that the Bush
administration has on its hit list, but would be much tougher military
targets. Or that with things still bogged down in Afghanistan, the Bush
administration wanted a quick and easy military victory in the "war
View the case of the missing Iraqi soldiers through this line of thinking,
and it seems all too plausible that an administration willing to lie, cheat
and steal to achieve its political objectives would resort to rigging the
outcome of a war.
Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 20
years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books).
Copyright 2003 <mailto:email@example.com>Joe Shea The
American Reporter. All Rights Reserved.