A disheveled Saddam was hiding in a “spider hole” when captured. Reuters
In a stunning and welcome development, the United States confirmed that Saddam Hussein was captured today today without major incident.
Appearing scruffy and old, his capture will send shock waves through the Arab world, provide a welcome sense of closure for millions of Iraqis and — possibly — deal a body blow to the Iraqi insurgency, which to date has killed “540 troops.”:http://lunaville.org/warcasualties/Summary.aspx
Hussein was reportedly “tired” and “resigned” when captured in a dirt hole outside of Adwar, a town about 10 miles from Tikrit. Kurdish _peshmergas_ helped locate him, according to some statements from the Iraqi Governing Council.
This is a good day, for despite my opposition to the war, there was never a doubt in my mind that Saddam was a monster. What everyone is hoping for now is that the insurgency will now lose much of its _raison d’être_. But I’m concerned that this will not be the case. The United States crowed that insurgents would creep away after the deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein in -May- July. They didn’t. And, in fact, the Coalition Provisional Authority said it “expects continued attacks”:http://nytimes.com/2003/12/14/international/middleeast/14WIRE-ATTACKS.html?hp, and on the same day Saddam was captured, “17 Iraqis were killed”:http://www.albawaba.com/news/index.php3?sid=265510&lang=e&dir=news in a car bomb attack on a Khaldiya Police Station, west of Baghdad.
But how involved was the dictator with the insurgency? Saddam has shown himself time and again to be a pretty useless tactician, so the relative success of the insurgency indicates he’s not the one in charge. However, he was caught with $750,000, so there’s a pretty good chance he was financing it in some way.
What does this mean to the resistance? Their morale must surely have taken a major blow and they have lost a potent symbol of American impotence. Now they have a choice: To give up and slink away or prove that they are still viable fighting force by hitting back hard. Stratfor feels that the next 72 hours will be the most dangerous.
“Reaction in the Arab”:http://www.nytimes.com/2003/12/14/international/middleeast/14WIRE-ARAB.html?hp world was mixed, with many Arabs seeing the capture of Saddam as good news, but worried that his apprehension would boost President Bush’s re-election chances in November and remove the only obstacle to American goals in the region.
“Of course it’s bad news. To us, Saddam was a symbol of defiance to the U.S. plans in the region. And we support any person who stands in the face of the American dominance,” said Azzam Hneidi, an Islamist member of Jordan’s parliament.
Ominously, the _NYTimes_ found a guy working at the Palestine Hotel, the home base for many foreign journalists and contract workers, who was sad that Saddam had been captured.
“We lost our only hope and now we are stuck with the Americans,” said [Abil] Daoud, who is employed by U.S. troops as a local security guard. _(Does this guy still have a job as a security guard? — Ed.)_
However, there was a touching quote from Ayet Bassem. “Things will be better for my son,” she said, clutching the hand of six-year-old Zenalbadin. “My son now has a future.”
The question now is what will happen to Saddam. Will the prosecution happen in an Iraqi court? Before the Hague? In some other forum? Ahmed Chalabi and other members of the Iraqi Governing Council are already calling for an Iraqi trial. The IGC formed a special tribunal on Wednesday for trying top members of Saddam’s regime, but the United States has as yet no comment on what the venue for a trial might be.
This is a momentous day, for all the players involved in this drama in Mesopotamia. Now the U.S. has a chance to interrogate the former dictator, the guerillas will have a chance to show the world whether they are serious or not and the Iraqis will have a chance at a new chapter. What the parties make of these chances is up to them.