Wars always bring surprises, and operation Iraqi Freedom has brought a few
already. Some people may have thought that the mind-games ended with the
diplomatic failures in the UN, but it seems both the US and Iraq are still
Everyone expected the US to adopt their shock-and-awe strategy immediately, and
drop 3000 smart bombs onto strategic targets in Baghdad. Instead they made some
surgical strikes in an effort to take out Saddam himself.
It failed, but it revealed some interesting things. Clearly the US have
intelligence about Saddam's movements. It may be electronic surveillance
(listing into mobile phone conversations comes to mind), but it is more likely
to be someone close to the man himself.
The US intelligence forces have been phoning senior Iraqi officials for some
time. Why? Well, they are keeping in touch - discussing footy results, telling a
few dirty jokes and discussing the protocols for surrender.
No well-informed Iraqi expects Saddam to remain in power, and they also
know the bombing will continue until Saddam is removed. Regardless of how much
they dislike the Americans, if the Iraqis let the US know where Saddam is, they
will have less of their country destroyed by the bombs. Neither they, nor the
Americans, want to rebuild more of Iraq than they have to.
So it looks like Saddam has a rat in the ranks, and now he has a choice:
- he can keep a high profile, and increase the number of people who know
where he is, and can rat to the US;
- he can bunker down, and have people suspect he is already dead, and defect
Saddam's main political tools are cheat and retreat, and knowing who to
kill. It's hard to see how those tried-and-true techniques will help him find
his exit-strategy from this mind maze.