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[casi] Robert Fisk 23 JULY

July 23, 2003

Killing Qusay and Uday
The Sons are Dead, But Resistance Will Grow

So they are dead. Or are they? Even Baghdad exploded in celebratory,
deafening automatic rifle fire at the news.

The burned, bullet-splashed villa in Mosul, the four bullet-ridden corpses,
America's hopes--however vain--that the death of Saddam Hussein's two sons,
Uday and Qusay, will break the guerrilla resistance to Iraq's US occupation
troops, all conspired to produce an illusion last night: that the
unidentified bodies found after a four-hour gun battle between Iraqi gunmen
and US forces must be those of the former dictator's sons--because the world
wants them to be.

Of course, they might be dead. The two men are said to bear an impressive
resemblance to the brothers. A 14-year-old child killed by the
Americans--one of the four dead--might be one of Saddam's grandsons. The
house was owned by Mohamed el-Zidani, a tribal ally of the Husseins.

Qusay was a leader of the Special Republican Guard, a special target of the
Americans. The two men obviously fought fiercely against the 200 American
troops who surrounded the house. The Americans used their so-called Task
Force 20 to storm the pseudo-Palladian villa on a main highway through

Task Force 20 combines both special forces and CIA agents. But this is the
same Task Force 20 that blasted to death the occupants of a convoy heading
for the Syrian border earlier this month, a convoy whose travellers were
meant to include Saddam himself and even the two sons supposedly killed
yesterday. The victims turned out to be only smugglers.

And American intelligence--the organisation that failed to predict events of
11 September, 2001--was also responsible for the air raid on a Saddam villa
on 20 March, which was supposed to kill Saddam. And the far crueller air
raid on the Mansour district of Baghdad at the end of the air bombardment in
April which was supposed to kill Saddam and his sons but only succeeded in
slaughtering 16 innocent civilians. All proved to be miserable failures.

And in a family obsessed, with good reason, with their own personal
security, would Uday and Qusay really be together? Would they allow
themselves to be trapped. The two so-called "lions of Iraq" (this courtesy
of Saddam) in the very same cage?

Saddam's early life was spent on the run. But he always travelled alone. In
adversity, the family had learned to stay apart, just as they had during the
1991 Gulf War and during last March's invasion of Iraq. Even in power,
Saddam and his sons were in hiding. Even if DNA testing proves that the
corpses are those of Saddam's sons, will Iraqis believe it? And will it
bring the guerrilla war to an end?

Firstly, even if Uday and Qusay are dead, Saddam is clearly still alive.

Though Uday was both a cruel man and a psychopath, they were appendages to
the king, mere assistants in the monster's cave. Saddam lives. And his voice
is still heard on tape throughout Iraq. It is his fate of which Iraqis are
waiting to hear.

Secondly, and far more importantly, there is a fundamental misunderstanding
between the American occupation authorities in Iraq and the people whose
country they are occupying. The United States believes that the entire
resistance to America's proconsulship of Iraq is composed of "remnants" of
Saddam's followers, "dead-enders", "bitter-enders"--they have other phrases
to describe them. Their theory is that once the Hussein family is
decapitated, the resistance will end.

But the guerrillas who are killing US troops every day are also being
attacked by a growing Islamist Sunni movement which never had any love for
Saddam. Much more importantly, many Iraqis were reluctant to support the
resistance for fear that an end to American occupation would mean the return
of the ghastly old dictator.

If he and his sons are dead, the chances are that the opposition to the
American-led occupation will grow rather than diminish--on the grounds that
with Saddam gone, Iraqis will have nothing to lose by fighting the

Robert Fisk is a reporter for The Independent and author of Pity the Nation.
He is also a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair's forthcoming book, The
Politics of Anti-Semitism.

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