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Iraqi Tribalism: "Family Feud Hits Saddam's Inner Circle"

Posted by andreas on September 03, 2001 at 16:10:01:


Family Feud Hits Saddam's Inner Circle
Iraq Press (London)

Posted Monday September 3, 2001 - 10:23:54 AM EDT

London - Bickering within President Saddam's family has intensified forcing the Iraqi strongman to order a purge of the circle of bodyguards charged with his personal protection.

Saddam solely relies on members of his extended family to reinstate his role weakened by internal dissent and international isolation.

But the family structure seems to be creaking and reports from inside the country indicate that close relatives are bickering again over privileges and influence.

A source close to the decision-making body in Iraq told Iraq Press that rivalry among Saddam's clan of albu-Nasser has escalated recently with members divided over power- sharing and bloody wrangling in the past which saw the murder of several relatives.

Refusing to be named, the source said Saddam has already sacked influential officers responsible for his personal protection among them his personal escort Lieutenant-General Sufyan al-Hazzaa.

Dismissed were also Major Ahmad Fadhil al-Majeed, Saad Razzouqi Abdel-Ghafur and his brother Mohammed. The three belonged to Albu-Nasser and occupied a prominent position in family tree.

At least one group within the family would like a reassessment of the murder of Lieutenant-General Hussein Kamel, Saddam's son-in-law and cousin along with his brother and father five years ago, the source said.

Kamel defected to Jordan and called for Saddam's removal. His defection was the most serious schism in family ranks. He was gunned down in Baghdad despite Saddam's pledge of a pardon.

The source said most disturbing for Saddam have been calls from members within his tribe to avenge the killing of Kamel.

To put house in order, Saddam is striving to heal past wounds. The source said he has already rehabilitated former intelligence and security chief Fadhil al-Barrak who was executed on charges of spying for the former Soviet Union.

Al-Barrak, a Saddam's tribesman and confidant, was ostracized after his execution and his property confiscated.

Al-Barrak's posthumous redemption came shortly after Saddam's half brother Barzan al- Tikriti married his widow.

The family strife follows reports of wide-spread nepotism in government ranks and Saddam's warning of unspecified punishment if his senior aides do not put a halt to the "unfair practices" of their sons and relatives.

Saddam is said to have pointed the finger at the sons of a number of senior aides among them the son of his top foreign policy maker, Tariq Aziz. Aziz's son is reported to be serving a 20 year sentence for abuse of authority when striking deals on behalf of foreign companies.

Ammar, the son of Latif Nsayef Jassim, another leading Baath official, is also said to be behind bars for similar charges.

Despite the feuds, Saddam still favors his own relatives as his mistrust of those surrounding him deepens. The relatives usually have sweeping powers and influential posts in the armed forces, security and intelligence.

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