Longtime journalist and author of 25 books, Dilip Hiro, joins us from London to discuss his thoughts on the effect Saddam Hussein’s capture will have on the mounting Iraqi resistance movement.
The capture of Saddam comes nearly 20 years to the date after now Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld met for the first time with Saddam Hussein in Baghdad.
Rumsfeld traveled to Iraq as Ronald Reagan’s special presidential envoy. The date was December 20, 1983.
The impact of Saddam’s capture of the resistance movement in Iraq remains to be seen.
At a noon-time address to the nation, President Bush admitted "The capture of Saddam Hussein does not mean the end of violence in Iraq."
On the website Counterpunch, British journalist Patrick Cockburn recounts what the Foreign Minister of the interim Iraqi government recently told him. "Saddam is very isolated. That is the only way he can avoid being captured. He is not able to organize the resistance. He dare not communicate with other people because he is frightened they will betray him."
Toby Dodge, an analyst at The International Institute for Strategic Studies at Warwick University, estimates there are between 15 and 30 resistance groups in Iraq that have no direct contact with Saddam Hussein.
On Sunday morning — 12 hours after Hussein was captured — a car bomb exploded outside an Iraqi police station in the town of Khaldiya. At least 17 people died. 33 more were wounded. Today eight Iraqi policemen were killed in an attack north of Baghdad.
On the campaign front, Senator Joseph Lieberman used the capture to go after the Democratic frontrunner, Howard Dean. Lieberman said on Meet the Press "If Howard Dean had his way, Saddam Hussein would be in power today, not in prison."
- Dilip Hiro, longtime journalist and the author of 25 books including the newly published Secrets and Lies: Operation Iraqi Freedom and the Collapse of American Power in the Middle East (Nation Books)
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
AMY GOODMAN: Dilip Hero is on the line with us also, long-time journalist, author of 25 books, including the newly published "Secrets and Lies: The Collapse of Power in the Middle East." Speaking to us from Britain, your response?
DILIP HERO: I think that — in time and space, it is the immediate impact of this, and short term and medium term. I think the immediate term impact in the U.S. will be that Mr. Bush will go up because now the Americans will say, yes, he has a plan. And remember, that at least 60% of the Americans say that unless there’s a capture or killing of Saddam, the war in Iraq has not been won. Once this is done, it’s dramatic thing. This would happen immediately. Then we have the short term business, which is two months from now, several weeks to two or three months. There I think the things are going to go very badly wrong for Mr. Bush, for this reason. The insurgency in my opinion is going to go up because Saddam loyalists will only respond to the whole spectrum of groups which are engaging in guerrilla actions against the occupiers. Actually, lots of Shia Iraqis, who were sitting on the fence because they felt that if the Americans left much too soon Saddam might come back. Now that there’s no danger of Saddam coming back, they are going to join the resistance because what is driving the resistance is basically very simple things which is nationalism. The Iraqis are being treated. I don’t have to tell you. You can see the images and the stories that come through and secondly, of course, Islam plays a very important role because if you are ay Muslim Islamic peers, then you say that even if you are being ruled by very, very bad ruler, then only Islamic people should be engaged in removing him and not infidels. I’m just giving you their point of view.
Whether you agree with that, that doesn’t matter. That’s a very important right. Thirdly, of course, the element is there that there are non-Iraqi Arabs who are Islamic fundamentalists and who have come in. So, what I mean is that those who are sitting on the fence, Especially Shias, are now going to participate in this resistance of course and that is going to be the bad news for Mr. Bush, and then, we are talking about the medium term, which is the dramatic impact n the election in November of 2004.
The key point there is about elections. Now, if Mr. Bush’s plan is to work, he wants to hand over political power to a transitional authority in Iraq. The key point there is how will that transitional authority emerge. Will it be what is called the meetings which will be rigged. Several people will be invited to town halls and there will be a show of hands. Or will they come up through direct elections. That is the key point. there again you can see the governing council itself is totally divided. They actually find agreement. Mr. Bremer on the 15th of November in which they said, this will be done through the town hall meets. Then the revolution will say that the elections should be held. Now, of course, they have meetings with the grand local Shias. Grand Ayatollah Sistani. He is standing by his line which he assured in June of this year that only directly elected assembly has the right to have the constitution or take power. On that, he is not budging. That is going to be the key point, and that particular issue has to be resolved, you know, within the next two or three months.
Now, Americans are saying no elections because they are not practical, et cetera, et cetera. We don’t know the electoral roles. Every Iraqi carries on an identity document. You don’t need the roles. You can go no a polling station and show your i.d. from that you can see your age and where you live. People for get that between 1980 and 2000, there were five parliamentary elections in Iraq. Now, elections may be rigged, but people have their 250 constituencies, demarked, they have gone through this motion. I’m not talking about referendum by Saddam Hussein by 100% which is a farce or a joke, a sick joke, I should say, but I’m talking about elections. The parliament and people in Iraq have gone through this exercise five times since 1980, so there’s no problem in terms of holding elections.
AMY GOODMAN: Dilip Hero, we have to break for stations to identify themselves. Dilip Hero, the author of "Secrets and Lies: The Collapse of Power in the Middle East."