An Uneasy Iraq Awaits US Move ; Recent Defectors Describe a 'Siege' Mentality in Baghdad and Demoralized, Ready-to-Jump Troops

By Scott Peterson writer of The Christian Science Monitor | The Christian Science Monitor, March 25, 2002 | Go to article overview

An Uneasy Iraq Awaits US Move ; Recent Defectors Describe a 'Siege' Mentality in Baghdad and Demoralized, Ready-to-Jump Troops


Scott Peterson writer of The Christian Science Monitor, The Christian Science Monitor


Tough American rhetoric about toppling Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein, and the resolve shown by US forces in Afghanistan, is causing deep unease in Baghdad.

Iraq's military forces are now on the highest state of alert, and intelligence services and a host of pro-regime militias are strengthening their grip on the streets.

"Saddam is extremely worried," says a young businessman who escaped a southern Shiite Muslim business center a week ago, and - like all defectors interviewed for this story - could not be identified because of possible retribution. "Our people are like a time bomb. They need someone to switch it on, and it will blow."

Recent military and civilian defectors here in opposition- controlled northern Iraq describe a 'siege' mentality.

But they also speak of a deep demoralization within the armed forces that could lead to mass defections and a popular uprising in the face of any concerted US military action - a critical ingredient to any Pen- tagon strategy to carry out Washington's policy of "regime change" in Iraq.

After two decades of war, deprivation, and steady, bare-knuckled repression to stamp out the slightest hint of dissent, these defectors say that Iraqis are ready for a change. They are both afraid of their uncertain future while hopeful that American rhetoric turns into action.

While President Bush says that he has not yet decided how the US will expand its declared war on terrorism to Iraq, he has warned that he will "deal with" Saddam Hussein.

Vice President Dick Cheney scoured the region last week for anti- Iraq support. And Pentagon planners have already begun to reconfigure US military assets around the region, from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia to, reportedly, Bulgaria and Romania. Opposition sources say a CIA assessment team visited northern Iraq late last month, to check the capabilities of Kurdish opposition forces and survey three airports.

The US goal may have unexpected support among disgruntled Iraqi troops - as long as any US attacks focus on Hussein and his regime, and not on the Iraqi people.

"Everybody is fed up with this regime, because it has been in continuous battle since 1980," says Hamed (not his real name), an 18- year veteran tank commander, who fought during the Gulf War and defected a year ago. He has the sharp eyes of a determined, professional officer.

"If a US strike happens, nobody will resist," Hamed says. He estimates that 85 percent of military forces will surrender. Citing several examples, he also says that Iraqi quick-reaction ability has dropped 90 percent in the past decade.

"The Iraq Army has nothing to fight for," agrees Tariq (not his real name), a well-educated Iraqi military doctor who defected several months ago. "If there is a possibility that Saddam will be removed, the majority of the army will put down their weapons."

Hussein's military

Republican Guard units that gamely resisted US attacks during the Gulf War are weaker today, Tariq says, and plagued by defections. Even the hand-picked Special Republican Guard (SRG) - the best equipped and paid, created after the 1991 uprisings with the sole purpose of defending Baghdad - is not immune. "A lot of people are waiting for a US strike, not because they like the US, but because they hate Saddam," Tariq adds, stroking the dark stubble that frames his face.

No matter how deep that sentiment, turning it into a victorious sweep that washes Hussein from power in Baghdad won't be easy.

"It is true that the strength of the Iraqi Army is half what it was in 1991, that they have gone leaner . …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

An Uneasy Iraq Awaits US Move ; Recent Defectors Describe a 'Siege' Mentality in Baghdad and Demoralized, Ready-to-Jump Troops
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.