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Subject: Iraq

STRATFOR.COM's Global Intelligence Update - 29 March 2000

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STRATFOR.COM Global Intelligence Update
29 March 2000

Power Struggle Brewing between Sons of Saddam


Iraq recently held parliamentary elections that resulted in Iraqi
President Saddam Hussein's eldest son, Odai, winning a seat with
99.99 percent of the vote. Since Saddam carefully controls the
elections as well as his regime, it appears that he has handed Odai
a potentially powerful position in the Iraqi government, one which
intensifies the ongoing power struggle between Odai and his younger
brother, Qusai. Pitting one's sons against each other is not
unheard of in successions. Nevertheless, the move may result in
weakening the security apparatus that protects Saddam.


Odai Hussein, eldest son of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, won a
seat in the National Assembly (parliament) by a sweeping 99.99
percent of the vote. Saddam controls Iraq's parliamentary
elections, which are neither free nor fair. Every candidate is a
member of either Saddam's Baath party or one of the few parties
that exist because they have pledged loyalty to Saddam's regime.
Odai, who was once regarded as Iraq's heir apparent, now poses a
new threat to his younger brother Qusai - and ultimately his father

Odai will also likely win the position of Assembly speaker in
April. While the National Assembly is not a powerful body, the
speaker has considerable influence in the regime and attends
meetings of the Revolutionary Command Council, the all-powerful
decision making body led by Saddam.

A December 1996 assassination attempt left Odai partially
paralyzed, prompting Saddam to focus on grooming the younger Qusai
to be Iraq's next leader. If Odai becomes parliamentary speaker, it
will be his first position of governmental power since before the
attempt on his life.

Odai, 35, has always played a public role in Iraq and currently
publishes the influential Iraqi daily Babel, which often functions
as a government mouthpiece. He heads Iraq's Olympic Committee and
the Iraqi Football Federation, making him popular among Iraqis. The
younger Qusai, 33, has worked behind the scenes for years gaining
power and support in Iraq's security services. He heads the elite
Republican Guards as well as the special security agency in charge
of protecting the president. As deputy commander of the army, Qusai
also commands the northern military region, which oversees Kurdish
areas and is intended to respond to Turkish invasions. Qusai also
has significant influence and support in the Iraqi intelligence
service, Mukhabarat.

Now, Odai will be able to use his election victory as the first big
step in a campaign to challenge his brother's pre-eminence in the
Iraqi succession struggle. In the past year, Qusai has solidified
his power base and chipped away at Odai's while he struggled to
return to the spotlight. In July, shortly after walking without
assistance for the first time since the assassination attempt, Odai
publicly made comments suggesting he was ready to return to the
state's security and political apparatus. Qusai responded by
purging the military and security apparatus of officers loyal to

Saddam has not prevented Odai's resurgence, indicating tacit
approval. If Odai wins parliamentary speaker - a likely possibility
- he may try to rally support in the powerful Revolutionary Command
Council away from his brother, who also attends the meetings. He
may also try to regain influence in the military and security
apparatus as well.

If this occurs, it will undoubtedly spark a significant response
from Qusai. Odai's mere comments in July were enough to set off
purges by his younger brother. If Odai does have ambitions of
edging out Qusai, he will have to be tactful. Qusai clearly has
more power and resources at his disposal, as well as the apparent
support of his father.

It seems clear that Saddam has chosen Qusai as his successor.
Saddam appointed Qusai to all of the high posts he now holds and
has, in the past, had to rein in Odai who has a reputation as a
short-tempered trouble-maker. In 1995, Saddam briefly jailed Odai
after he shot an uncle in the leg during an argument. In December
1999, Saddam decorated Qusai with three prestigious military
awards. Then in January, Saddam gave Odai a single medal of valor,
one of the three awards Qusai received a month earlier.

Saddam relies heavily on the highly efficient security agencies,
commanded by Qusai, to keep him alive and in power. Odai must be
careful not to undermine his brother so much that it affects
Qusai's ability to control the agencies he heads. Any attempt by
Odai to weaken Qusai or those agencies will not be taken lightly by
a ruler known to execute family members. Saddam may well have set
up the conflict to ensure that neither son is able to become too
ambitious for the presidency.

While Qusai controls the military and security apparatus, Odai
enjoys widespread popular support. If both sons play to their
strength, they exploit the already tense rift between the
government and the people. If Odai undermines his brother - at the
expense, or perceived expense, of the Iraqi regime's security - he
may also undermine his father, which could result in his own

(c) 2000, Stratfor, Inc.




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