Bu-lat-lat (boo-lat-lat) verb: to search, probe, investigate, inquire; to unearth facts
Volume 3, Number 11 April 13 - 19, 2003 Quezon City, Philippines
Easy Fall Fuels Arab Conspiracy Theories
to Alternative Reader Index
(Reuters) - As Arabs struggle to come to terms with the stunning fall of
Baghdad, conspiracy theories are rife about why Saddam Hussein disappeared and
his security forces put up so little fight.
refuse to believe how Iraqi defenders melted away before U.S. invaders and are
groping for explanations in either a betrayal by the country's political or
military leaders, or some secret deal to smuggle Saddam out of the country.
Parliament speaker Nabih Berri was among the first to air such rumors of a
covert arrangement to bundle Saddam out of Iraq in exchange for an end to the
U.S. tanks swept almost unopposed into Baghdad on Wednesday, Berri suggested
Saddam might have taken refuge in the Russian embassy, prompting an immediate
denial from Moscow.
all else, you must know why the Russian ambassador returned to Baghdad and what
(U.S. National Security Adviser) Condoleezza Rice did in Moscow. Is Saddam
Hussein in the embassy?" Lebanon's national news agency quoted Berri as
aide to Berri joined the dots, saying his boss meant to suggest Saddam had been
granted sanctuary in a U.S.-Russian deal in return for an end to Republican
was neither the first nor the last such theory in circulation as Arab media and
citizens sought to explain what has been widely perceived as a humiliation.
respected London-based, pan-Arab daily al-Hayat spoke in a front-page banner
headline on Friday of a purported "deal" that brought about the
collapse of Iraqi resistance.
Iraqi sources said the absence of an effective role of the Republican Guard over
the past three weeks of the war can be attributed to contacts between the
'allies' and some leaders of these units, during which they gave assurances not
to harm them," al-Hayat said.
reinforces this news is the disappearance of large numbers of Iraqi forces as
well as their heavy equipment as the attacking forces advanced," it said.
newspaper said senior Iraqi officers allegedly involved in such a deal might
have been promised a role in postwar Iraqi security forces needed to end anarchy
and restore order.
on pan-Arab satellite channel al-Arabiya talked in shock and disgust of a
"deal" as they watched U.S. marines and Iraqis bringing down a giant
statue of Saddam, hours after the entire Iraqi leadership had vanished.
reputable media airing such theories, it is no surprise that many in the
so-called "Arab street" are convinced there was some underhand plot
behind the fall of Baghdad.
al-Nayly, a student in the Saudi capital Riyadh, said: "It's not reasonable
that a small town like Umm Qasr can hold out for two weeks, then the capital
which has the army and fedayeen falls in a few hours." Armed Iraqis in
parts of Umm Qasr, the most southerly Iraqi town, resisted British forces for
gave them Iraq in return for a deal to save his life," said Sahar Imam, a
communications expert in Amman.
had hoped he would have a grain of nationalism in the last minute... We did not
believe that they would enter Baghdad with this ease and we feel he handed over
Baghdad with his own hands," he said.
Arabs would apparently rather believe in a betrayal than in the superior power
of the U.S. military, which pounded Iraqi command centers and Republican Guard
units with air raids and artillery for almost three weeks before capturing
of Iraq's military hardware was destroyed out of sight of television cameras,
and Arab television stations have shown little footage of the wreckage, fueling
the speculation in many Arab minds that a deal was struck.
game is over and its a sellout," said Salem Khaled, an angry Jordanian
Saddam is an agent or this is a soap opera," said Mohammad Ateyeh, a
government clerk in Jordan. "Why didn't he resist and why did he allow the
Americans to pass over the bridges? Why didn't he dig trenches? He had missiles,
why did he not use them? This man has cheated the whole Arab nation."
and Muslims do not believe what has happened and the coming days will reveal
these secrets," Amman shopkeeper Jalal Aboud said. "I don't think
Saddam was killed as some believe. He's hiding in a place known only too well to
additional reports from Suleiman al-Khalidi in Amman, Lin Noueihed in Beirut and
Andrew Hammond in Riyadh)
April 11, 2003
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