Baghdad Did Not Fall - It Was Handed Over
Pacific News Service, Apr 14, 2003
media are using the word "safqa" to explain the sudden
collapse of Baghdad and the Iraqi regime. Translated into English,
"safqa" means "a deal made fast and in secrecy."
Arabic media are speculating that a "safqa" -- Arabic for a
secret deal -- was arranged between the United States and the Baath
regime to hand over Baghdad. Although nobody can pinpoint the exact
terms, there are three clear outcomes. First, the lives of many American
and British forces as well as most senior Baath officials were spared.
Second, Baghdad itself did not turn into the bloodbath widely
anticipated by military experts. Third, the war was shortened
dramatically, saving the region -- especially Saudi Arabia -- from
The following clues, gleaned from Arabic and U.S. media, suggest why the
fall of Baghdad was premeditated.
None of the seven rescued POWs was hurt. On the contrary, all seven were
found in good condition. All were found dressed in pajamas rather than
the standard uniforms for prisoners of war, indicating that they were
being treated as guests rather than as POWs. Usually, Arabs give pajamas
to guests who sleep over in their houses.
Arab reports point out that POW Jessica Lynch was similarly treated; she
was kept in the cleanest room in an Iraqi hospital until she was rescued
on April 2.
In both cases, American forces were tipped off about the location of the
POWs by unknown Iraqi citizens. Kuwaiti prisoners, by contrast, who were
captured during the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait more than 12 years ago, are
only now being discovered.
To date, none of the seven war prisoners has spoken directly to American
TV reporters, unlike American soldiers injured in the fighting, who
became instant media sources. We are told the seven POWs were taken to
Kuwait for medical treatment and intelligence debriefing.
American tanks rolled into Baghdad with very little resistance while
Basra, nowhere near as heavily fortified as Baghdad, sustained almost
three weeks of fierce resistance.
The fall of Baghdad was so sudden that it left many of the Arab and
Muslim volunteers who went to Iraq to fight the coalition forces in
total disarray. Initially given weapons and uniforms, thousands of these
volunteers -- who came from Yemen, Egypt, Syria, Indonesia, Malaysia and
elsewhere -- wound up having no one to tell them what to do. Al Jazeerah
reports that some are now still fighting U.S. forces while others are
actually attacking Iraqi civilians.
Baath forces refrained from destroying a single bridge in Baghdad, which
could have blocked U.S. tanks access to the city, at least temporarily.
Moreover, only a handful of Iraq's oil fields were set on fire, leaving
the vast majority intact almost in accordance with Bush's demands.
None of the senior Baath officials has surrendered to date, with the
exception of two high-level scientists. Instead, tens of thousands of
Baath operatives managed to disappear without a sign of internal
divisions. This strongly suggests that the departure of the Baath regime
was ordered from the most senior levels and was highly organized. It
also explains why most of the Iraqi forces, including the Republican
Guards, were nowhere to be found when U.S. forces entered Baghdad.
Iraqi Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Al-Douri, a high level
Baath functionary, was quoted in both American and Arabic media as
saying, "The game is over" and that he had not been in contact
with Saddam Husssein for weeks. When asked why he used the word
"game," the Ambassador replied, "the war is over."
Meanwhile, Al-Jazeerah reported that he has been allowed to travel to
Syria and that he may be asked to represent the new Iraqi government at
the United Nations.
While Arabs all over the Middle East now routinely talk of the deal that
saved Baghdad, they also speculate that the same deal may have saved
Saddam. Unlike the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, which
preoccupied U.S. forces for months, the hunt for the dictator no longer
appears to be the top priority for U.S. forces in the wake of Baghdad's
Where could Saddam be if he is still alive? Some Arab media experts
speculate he may have sought refuge in Mecca, the most sacred Islamic
place in the world. No non-Muslims ever lived in and very few have even
set foot in this holiest of Muslim cities.
If it turns out that Saddam is indeed in Mecca, it would be one further
clue that the architect of the "safqa" or deal between the
Baath and the United States was Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah -- a trusted
intermediary of the Bush family and the only Arab leader invited to
President Bush's Crawford Ranch.
For the Saudis, as well as for many other Arab leaders, the deal offers
the one hope of sparing the Middle East the consequences of a bloody and
prolonged war of resistance in Iraq. For the Americans, the deal offers
a chance of stabilizing post-war Iraq and its neighbors, leaving the
door open for what Bush calls the roadmap to peace between Israelis and
PNS associate Jalal Ghazi (email@example.com) monitors and
translates Arab media for New California Media, a project of Pacific
News Service, and WorldLink TV.
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