November 19, 2002
"DANISH SCUM!"*:War crimes arrest blow to Iraqi opposition (Richard Beeston, November 20, 2002 , Times of London)
DANISH police arrested last night an exiled Iraqi general tipped as a possible replacement for President Saddam Hussein. He faces charges that he was responsible for killing thousands of Kurds in a chemical weapons attack 14 years ago.
The arrest of General Nizar Khazraji, the former Iraqi Chief-of-Staff and the most senior officer to defect from Baghdad, appeared to wreck any chances that he might lead a mutiny in the Armed Forces and help to topple Saddam's regime. [...]
General Khazraji, 64, commanded the Iraqi Armed Forces during the Iran-Iraq War, when Baghdad used banned poison gas against Iranian troops and Kurdish civilians. In the most notorious incident 5,000 Kurds in the town of Halabja were killed when Iraqi artillery and warplanes bombed the area with nerve gas and mustard gas. [...]
Iraqi opposition sources said last night that his arrest was a serious blow to their efforts to build a credible alternative to Saddam’s regime. Next month they hope to convene a conference in London for 350 Iraqi exiles as a first step to establishing an alternative government.General Khazraji could have played an important role, particularly on security and military matters.
"His arrest is a major setback for us," one opposition figure said. "He is a man with credibility back home. His arrest will make it that much harder to encourage other officers to defect if they fear that they will be charged, too."
If he was responsible then he should face charges, but this arrest, coming at this time, seems almost intended to prevent Saddam's officer corps from considering mutiny. Additional American lives could be lost if ranking Iraqis see no upside for themselves in overthrowing Saddam. The Danes needn't risk their own lives to liberate Iraq, but they ought to have sense enough not to risk our guys lives like this.
Posted by Orrin Judd at November 19, 2002 10:54 PM