This dialogue was carried out by me and the guy who runs the store across the street last night. I thought it may be an interesting bit to share as I don't have anything else in my mind to write about. Most of the conversation consisted of shouting, shaking fists and yelling, but again thats usually the way we carry out our debates in the Arab world or at least in Iraq. I was chatting with Ahmed in his store and drinking a soft drink, when one of his brothers Ammar showed up and asked me for my opinion about something he just heard in the street. According to him an Italian force in Basrah had received certain intelligence reports that Saddam Hussein was hiding somewhere in Basrah and that they had pinpointed his exact location, they forwarded this intelligence to the Americans and asked for backup or instructions. And it seems that the Americans ignored the information or failed to react, and eventually Saddam left to another location. Ammar was implying that the Americans did not care to capture Saddam at least not at the moment. I expressed my doubts regarding this rumour to Ammar in that first there are no Italian forces I know of in Basrah, and that they were stationed in the Dhi-Qar governorate. Second, the British forces who are actually in command of the Basrah area would have responded promptly to such reports and conducted the necessary searches which is exactly what they have been doing for the last few months. Ammar was convinced by this but his brother Ahmed voiced his misgivings; (A=Ahmed, Z=me, Am=Ammar)
A:I think such a thing could actually be true, as I do believe that the Americans have absolutely no interest in capturing Saddam, in fact they have much greater interests in keeping him loose.
Am:I'm not really sure, I mean why would they go to such trouble as offering a 25 million reward for his capture? And what with all the raids and operations around Tikrit and Baiji searching for him?
A:I think thats just for show. Saddam has always been America's buddy, why are they so intent on getting to him now? I think he is really with them right now, and not anywhere in Iraq.
Am:What about the reports and rumours we used to hear the last few months, people saw him in Youssifiyah, Suweira, Ba'quba, and many times in Baghdad. It's hard to believe that all those people are making it up.
Z:I think there is some truth to these sightings, but of course not all of them. You remember in 1963 when General Kassim's corpse was shown on tv after the Ba'athist coup, people afterwards still claimed they saw him in Baghdad, Musayab, and Kut. People tend to make up a lot of stories and legends which spread fast. The same thing happened in the US following the death of Elvis.
A:I still think Saddam was provided a safe haven somewhere abroad, probably in the US.
Z:Now come on Ahmed! Whatever would make you think so?
A:He is still their agent after all, they would never abandon him.
Am:Provided he is an agent of the US, don't you see they have a historical tendency to turn against their agents. Remember the Shah of Iran?
Z:Yes, and can't you realize that Bush would be jumping in joy like a schoolboy if he gets a chance to show the world that he got Saddam?
A:No, because if he did, it would mean that their mission is accomplished and that they should leave Iraq as soon as possible, something which they are not intent on doing.
Z:Do you think they are really happy here with all their daily casualties?
A:I'm sure 300 or 400 soldiers mean nothing to the US in contrast to the long term strategical gains of their presence here.
Am:And do you think that they could get away with something like that? I mean if someone from the CPA or Centcom had knowledge of Saddam's whereabouts and kept it a secret, that it would escape the scrutiny of other agencies? It would be a great scandal. And it's hard to believe they would risk their reputation in doing so.
A:You two are very naive and have no idea of how a superpower like the US really plans and operates. Let me give you another example, where the hell is Bin Laden? Has anyone else seen him except on Al-Jazeera? He is just another agent that does what his bosses tell him.
Z:Umm, Ahmed. Bin Laden was in Afghanistan before 9/11 and various media reporters visited him there and had interviews with him. It's highly unlikely what you are driving at. But let me give you another example, WMD. Don't you think if the US has failed to find them till now, it would be even more impossible to find a person like Saddam.
A:I think there was really no WMD at all.
Am:That's absurd. Every Iraqi knows Saddam had WMD, he used it on the Kurds and in the Iran war.
Z:Well, I have to admit that WMD's are still a mystery to me. Could it be that he had them destroyed before the war.
Am:Very possible, otherwise he would have used them in the war.