Saddam Said Alive - Republican Guard Lying In Wait

26.04.2003 [10:47]

ISTANBUL: Saddam Hussein is alive and his Republican Guards are "lying in wait" and preparing suicide attacks, according to two purported Republican Guards interviewed by Turkish television and print media. The Turkish station ATV Tuesday showed the two men wearing traditional Bedouin scarves wrapped around their faces; both repeatedly kissed a portrait of Saddam Hussein that they carried with them. They said not only is Saddam Hussein alive but also that his Republican Guard is largely intact, in hiding among the Iraqi population, and waiting for "Saddam's signal" to begin an attack on the foreign soldiers occupying Iraq. U.S. military officials say most of the guard was decimated by sustained bombing, but they acknowledge that some disappeared.

The two men were also interviewed in Tuesday's Sabah, a centre-oriented Turkish language daily. The newspaper quoted them as saying that "high-ranking officers" had "sold out" to the U.S. and British forces, facilitating their relatively easy entry into Baghdad. The two men asserted that they were still in contact with the rest of the Republican Guards, and that the Guards would reunite within 15 days after U.S. soldiers leave Baghdad. "We will be suicide bombers," claimed both.

The two men also accused "foreigners from Kuwait" of carrying out the widespread looting and destruction that followed the collapse of resistance to U.S. and British forces. The Turkish press continues to address the convoluted rivalries and tumult involving Kurdish factions in northern Iraq, as well as Arabs, Turkmen and tribesmen. Milliyet focuses on the tension between the two main Kurdish groups in northern Iraq -- Jelal Talabani's Kurdistan Patriot's Union (PUK) and Mesut Barzani's Kurdistan Democrat's Party (KDP). Journalist Namik Durukan said both Barzani and Talabani claim control of oil-rich Kerkuk, and the two met again Monday in an attempt to iron out a deal. Durukan writes that KDP members "have taken control of Kerkuk's entry points in an effort to break the PUK's hold on the city.

Talabani sent his Domestic Affairs Minister Feridun Abdulkadir to be Kerkuk's governor, inciting the KDP to send its own governor in retaliation. "To make matters worse, neither side can agree on who should control towns and villages in Kerkuk's vicinity. Most recently, the KDP took control of a village named Dibis and warned the PUK to leave." In Mosul, the report continues, the KDP sent 2,000 members in an effort to win the support of the population. "However, some of Mosul's tribes had problems with Barzani and decided to establish relations with Talabani. "Barzani has also sent messages to the leaders of the Surci, Herki, Zebari, Muzuri, Rekani and Goran tribes in an effort to win them to his side."