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How the US aided helped Saddam to suppress the post-blitz uprising in 1991

Dear CASI people

Tim Buckley recently posted a section from the Cockburns' book "Out of the Ashes" on the role of the CIA in Saddam's rise to power. Here's another passage from that useful book, on a fact of the utmost significance - the US military commanders' connivance in the suppression of the post-war uprising.


John S

From pp22-23 "Out of the Ashes - the Resurrection of Saddam Hussein" by Alexander Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn, HarperPerennial, 1999:

A fatal miscalculation [?!? - see note below] by the U.S commander in chief, General Norman Schwarzkopf, had allowed the bulk of Saddams most loyal and proficient military units, the Republican Guards, to escape an allied encirclement twenty-four hours before George Bush called his cease-fire. [...]

'The biggest reason for the intifada is that they [the rebels) thought the Americans would support them," says Sayid Majid. "They knew they couldn't beat Saddam on their own. They thought they could get control of the cities and that the Americans would stop the army from intervening."
On March 9, Hussein Kamel, Saddam's cousin and son-in-law, began the counterattack on Kerbala, the other great city of Shia Islam, sixty miles from Najaf. He used Republican Guard units that had escaped the allied offensive almost intact. Brigadier Ali and other rebel officers went there to help the resistance, but as the Republican Guard tightened its grip around the holy city and terrified civilians fled to nearby villages, he realized that it was the beginning of the end. On the roads out of the city, Iraqi army helicopter crews poured kerosene on the columns of fleeing refugees and then set it alight with tracer fire. American aircraft circled high overhead.

"We had the message that the Americans would support us," lamented the brigadier as he relived his escape back to Najaf from Kerbala in a quiet North London office seven years later. "But I saw with my own eyes the American planes flying over the helicopters. We were expecting them to help; now we could see them witnessing our demise between Najaf and Kerbala. They were taking pictures and they knew exactly what was happening."

[… T]hrough the towns and villages of anarchic southern Iraq… people clamored for arms. The Americans, they said, had stopped the rebels in the river town of Nassariyah taking desperately needed guns and ammunition from the army barracks. In other places, U.S. army units were blowing up captured weapons stores or taking them away.

[?!? Note:  the authors have no evidence that it was a miscalculation. A few pages later (p37), they quote the real policy of the US warlords, baldly stated by Richard Haass, then the National Security Council’s director for Middle East affairs. Admonishing a Senator for suggesting support for the Kurdish uprising, he said: “You don’t understand. Our policy is to get rid of Saddam, not his regime.”
The real policy of the US was “Saddamism without Saddam”. They wanted a military coup, not an uprising. The last thing they wanted was for the Iraqi people to overthrow the regime. The failure of the US generals to target the Republican Guard was no miscalculation. Schwartzkopf was terrified that, if he didn’t leave enough of Saddam’s forces intact, US soldiers might have to do the job themselves… -JS]

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