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Stratfor analysis (3/10/00): Iraq - Succession

Stratfor is a US "business intelligence" company.  They provide a free
daily "global intelligence update" by e-mail.  The following is that for 3
October.  I am adding this forward as they are incorrect when they claim,
at the end, that

        Iraq's democratic opposition has not seen one dollar of the scant
        $97 million earmarked for the opposition by the 1998 Iraq
        Liberation Act.

Some of this money has been disbursed to a number of opposition groups. 
It has been used, however, for "non-lethal" activities (e.g. training in
office management).  Some Iraqi opposition groups, most notably the SCIRI
(Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq), have refused to
accept US money, fearing that it would fatally damage their credibility. 

A reference for the above would be the BBC's 28 June 2000 story, "Gore:
Saddam must go", available at:


Colin Rowat

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---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Mon, 2 Oct 2000 20:50:12 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Iraq - Succession's Global Intelligence Update - 3 October 2000

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After Saddam: The Coming Succession in Baghdad


For years, the West has worried about Iraq after Saddam Hussein.
Now, his succession seems within sight as Iraq enters the long-
awaited transitional period. By speaking openly about succession,
Saddam has bolstered rumors of his deteriorating health, long
circulated by the opposition. His younger son, Qusai, has
consolidated his position as the likely successor and will confront
challengers in Baghdad. But Iraq will not tear apart upon the death
of its president.


Rumors that Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is dying of cancer have
circulated for years and generally originate from marginally
reliable opposition sources.

Recently, several London-based papers reported that foreign doctors
are in Baghdad treating Saddam's cancer with chemotherapy. The
president gave only a short, rambling speech on the July 17
anniversary of the Baath party revolution, rather than the multi-
hour oration of the past.

Most important, the official Iraqi News Agency (INA) reported on
Sept. 22 that Saddam talked about the issue of his successor during
a meeting of the ruling Baath party. His mention of the subject
gives credence to opposition reports and indicates succession has
now officially become an issue for the Iraqis.

The Iraqi succession appears clearly laid out. Contrary to years of
Western speculation, Iraq is unlikely to suddenly collapse upon
Saddam's death, engulfed by rebellions in the north and south.
Saddam's younger son, Qusai, appears to have gained the upper hand
over his older brother, Odai, in the upcoming succession. The
largest threat to Qusai will come from a handful of men in Baghdad,
not from a low-level military commander, or from separatist Kurdish
and Shiite regions.

Qusai Hussein controls every major state organ, except foreign
policy. He is in charge of Iraq's security and intelligence
apparatus, which includes the Directorate General of Intelligence,
the General Security forces, Special Forces, and the Special
Protection team, which oversees the personal safety of the
President and key officials. Qusai also commands the military's
elite Republican Guard (RG) and Special Republican Guard (SRG).
Qusai is reportedly in good health, exercises regularly and sees
his father frequently, according to Jane's Foreign Report.


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Odai no longer seems likely to succeed his father. Odai does not
have Saddam's support and more importantly, relies on his younger
brother to keep him alive. A 1996 assassination attempt left him
temporarily paralyzed and in generally poor health. Although Odai
controls the state media and a small security force, he appears
unable to pose a legitimate threat. In addition to other powers,
Qusai commands a special battalion trained by the Special Security
organization responsible for monitoring the media. Qusai appears to
know everything that his older brother does and always remains a
step ahead.

More importantly, Odai has alienated important figures in Saddam's
inner circle, such as Izzat Ibrahim, vice-chairman of the powerful
Revolutionary Command Council (RCC), and Mohammed Hamza al-Zubeidi,
speaker of the parliament. Ibrahim's daughter was married to Odai
until he divorced her because the marriage bore no children. Odai
then had aspirations of taking Zubeidi's place at the head of
parliament, but Saddam put a stop to his eldest son's ambitions.
Odai may have mental problems as well. Opposition sources reported
Sept. 17 that Odai attempted suicide by overdosing on sedatives
because Saddam officially named Qusai as his successor.

Upon Saddam's death, Qusai's will be in a strong position - but he
will face challenges.
The presidency is a goldmine of wealth and economic power. Iraq
contains the world's second largest proven oil reserves with
potential reserves even greater than those of oil giant Saudi
Arabia. Such vast potential wealth makes the Iraqi presidency a
popular target for those in Baghdad seeking money and power.

A palace coup, as opposed to an uprising from the Kurdish north or
Shiite south, will pose the strongest threat to Qusai. Iraq's
military structure ensures that a coup led by a low-level commander
is extremely unlikely. Since the United States' Operation Desert
Fox in late 1998, Iraq has restructured its military and placed a
privileged few in command.

These few could be presidential contenders following Saddam's
death. Saddam's close loyalists -- Izzat Ibrahim, Mohammad al-
Zubeidi, Defense Minister Ahmed Sultan, and Staff General Ali Hasan
Al-Majid -- command the four military regions. These regions
include regular army units and Republican Guard units.

The better-funded RG units protect Iraq's borders and make sure no
regular army officers decide to roll their tanks on Baghdad. Ultra-
elite units of the Special Republican Guard surround Baghdad and
protect throughout the city. Commanded by Qusai, this extensively
funded force comprises only those whose allegiance to Saddam
Hussein is unquestionable. This is the last line of defense in case
the RG breaks ranks and decides to roll on Baghdad.

For more on Iraq, see:

Ultimately, a military coup against Qusai would be extremely
difficult. The four regional military commanders loyal to Saddam
have not necessarily pledged their allegiance to Qusai. And many
high-ranking Baath party officials are not fond of the president's
sons and believe that power should be throughout the party, rather
than within Saddam's family. Qusai has repeatedly bought cars and
other lavish gifts for Baath party officials to win their favor.

The West's nightmare scenarios, such as successful foreign-
sponsored uprisings in the Kurdish north or Shiite south, appear
unfounded. Iran and Turkey support Kurdish factions opposed to the
Baghdad regime but neither country would accept a Kurdish state on
their border.

Furthermore, Iran is not militarily, politically or economically in
position to sponsor a Shiite uprising massive enough to topple
Baghdad. Such a move would be equivalent to rekindling the Iran-
Iraq war, in which hundreds of thousands lost their lives.
Moreover, Iraq's Arab neighbors would oppose Iranian-backed Shiites
taking over Iraq's oil reserves to become the predominate power in
the Middle East. Revolts in the north and south will occur, but
without foreign assistance or the support of an Iraqi military
faction, Baghdad will promptly crush them.

What about the United States? Would Washington support rebellion
and partition?
Despite its policy of supporting a regime change, the United States
has proven on more than one occasion that it will not spend the
resources necessary to replace the existing regime in Baghdad.
Iraq's democratic opposition has not seen one dollar of the scant
$97 million earmarked for the opposition by the 1998 Iraq
Liberation Act. Moreover, Washington would be loath to split up
Iraq, since it needs Iraq to maintain the balance of power against
Iran, and certainly would oppose an Iranian dominated regime in all
or part of Iraq.

The United States will have to accept another strongman, and Qusai
is as good as any. Clearly the heir apparent, the major threat to
Qusai's succession comes from within. His brother may be weak, but
Qusai may not have the full support of key Baath party officials.

As the issue of succession increasingly moves to the forefront of
Iraqi politics, Qusai will try to secure his position within the
Baath party and particularly with military commanders loyal to his

For more on the Middle East see:

(c) 2000 Stratfor, Inc.

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