Message: We also refer our viewers to this
website sent to us by one of our viewers
to look at photos taken during Saddam's capture
that show date palm foliage that doesn't jive
with the timing of the US version of Saddam's
it emerged that the Kurds had captured the Iraqi
dictator, the US celebrations evaporated. David
Pratt asks whether a secret political trade-off
has been engineered
a story that three weeks ago gripped the world's
imagination, it has now all but dropped off the
really, for if one thing might have been expected
in the aftermath of Saddam Hussein's capture,
it was the endless political and media mileage
that the Bush administration would get out of
all, for 249 days Saddam's elusiveness had been
a symbol of America's ineptitude in Iraq, and,
at last, with his capture came the long-awaited
chance to return some flak to the Pentagon's critics.
also afforded the opportunity to demonstrate the
effectiveness of America's elite covert and intelligence
units such as Task Force 20 and Greyfox.
it was a terrific chance for the perfect photo-op
showing the American soldier, and Time magazine's
"Person of the Year", hauling "High
Value Target Number One" out of his filthy
spiderhole in the village of al-Dwar.
along came that story: the one about the Kurds
beating the US Army in the race to find Saddam
first, and details of Operation Red Dawn suddenly
began to evaporate.
Army spokesmen - so effusive in the immediate
wake of Saddam's capture - no longer seemed willing
to comment, or simply went to ground.
rumours of the crucial Kurdish role persisted,
even though it now seems their previously euphoric
spokesmen have now, similarly, been afflicted
by an inexplicable bout of reticence.
was two weeks ago that the Sunday Herald revealed
how a Kurdish special forces unit belonging to
the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) had spearheaded
and tracked down Saddam, sealing off the al-Dwar
farmhouse long "before the arrival of the
leader Jalal Talabani had chosen to leak the news
and details of the operation's commander, Qusrut
Rasul Ali, to the Iranian media long before Saddam's
capture was reported by the mainstream Western
press or confirmed by the US military.
the time Western press agencies were running the
same story, the entire emphasis had changed however,
and the ousted Iraqi president had been "captured
in a raid by US forces backed by Kurdish fighters".
the intervening few weeks that troublesome Kurdish
story has gone around the globe, picked up by
newspapers from The Sydney Morning Herald to the
US Christian Science Monitor, as well as the Kurdish
Washington and the PUK remain schtum, further
confirmation that the Kurds were way ahead in
Saddam's capture continues to leak out.
to one Israeli source who was in the company of
Kurds at a meeting in Athens early on December
14, one of the Kurdish representatives burst into
the conference room in tears and demanded an immediate
halt to the discussions.
Hussein has been captured," he said, adding
that he had received word from Kurdistan - before
any television reports.
to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the delegate
also confirmed that most of the information leading
to the deposed dictator's arrest had come from
the Kurds and - as our earlier Sunday Herald report
revealed - who had organised their own intelligence
network which had been trying to uncover Saddam's
tracks for months.
delegate further claimed that six months earlier
the Kurds had discovered that Saddam's wife was
in the Tikrit area. This intelligence, most likely
obtained by Qusrut Rasul Ali and his PUK special
forces unit, was transferred to the Americans.
The Kurds, however, are said to have never received
any follow-up from the coalition forces on this
vital tip-off and were furious.
the full extent of their undoubted involvement
in providing intelligence or actively participating
on the ground in Saddam's capture, the Kurds,
and the PUK in particular, would benefit handsomely.
from a trifling $25 million bounty, their status
would have been substantially boosted in Washington,
which may in part explain the recent vociferous
Kurdish reassertion of their long-term political
ambitions in the "new Iraq".
their own part the Kurds have already launched
a political arrangement designed to secure their
aspirations with respect to autonomy, if not nationalist
or separatist aspirations.
show how serious they are, the two main Kurdish
groups, the PUK and the Kurdistan Democratic Party
(KDP), have decided to close ranks and set up
a joint Kurdish administration, with jobs being
divided between the two camps. They have made
it clear to the Americans that their leadership
has a responsibility to their constituency.
week Massoud Barzani, leader of the KDP, called
for a revision of the power-transfer agreement
signed between the US-led coalition and Iraq's
interim governing council to recognise "Kurdish
November 15 agreement calls for the creation of
a national assembly by the end of May 2004 which
will put in place a caretaker government by June,
which in turn will draft a new constitution and
hold national elections
November 15 accord must be revised and 'Kurdish
rights' within an Iraqi federation must be mentioned,"
Barzani told a meeting of his supporters.
Kurds are today in a powerful position but must
continue the struggle to guard their unity,"
renewed determination to fulfil their political
objectives is shaking up other ethnic residents
in northern Iraq, who fear at best being marginalised;
at worst victimised. Over the last week there
have been increasingly violent clashes between
Kurdish and Arab students, and between Kurds and
Turkemens, in the oil rich city of Kirkuk.
ethnic confrontations point to another dangerous
phase in Iraq's power-brokering. If the Kurds
did indeed capture Saddam first, and a deal was
struck about his handover to the US, then it's
not inconceivable that the terms might have included
strong political and strategic advantages that
could ultimately determine the emerging power
structure in Iraq.
newsquest (sunday herald) limited. all rights
Posted: January 4, 2004