of Saddam Hussein The End of Resistance?
Hussein's capture marks a huge morale boost for US forces
and a serious blow to Baathist elements engaged in armed
resistance against them.
is the definitive end of the Baathist regime. There can
be no succession.
Hussein is in custody and the two sons who were major
props to his regime are both dead. But this does not mean
that armed resistance to the Americans and their allies
will end. This after all derives from a number of factors
-- political, nationalist, religious and criminal. They
of Saddam Hussein's last acts in power was to empty the
prisons. Many criminal gangs have resumed their activities.
Many people associated with the former regime -- disbanded
officers and soldiers, for example -- are increasingly
disgruntled small numbers of foreign fighters may be crossing
into Iraq to carry out personal acts of jihad. Many former
Baathists may be increasingly bitter after Saddam Hussein's
they have nowhere to go and US forces are likely to try
to track them down with renewed vigour. Nonetheless, the
arrest of the former Iraqi ruler creates a dramatic shift
in the psychological climate.
ordinary Iraqis have already been celebrating in the streets.
Whatever the day-to-day realities around them, many people
have combined their frustration with the Americans with
a fear that as the "resistance movement" became
more audacious, the US might simply pack up and go home
and Saddam Hussein's henchmen would return. They now know
that is no longer possible. Clearly the Americans will
hope to extract as much information as they can from Saddam
Hussein. He may have had only a limited role in the resistance
activities; most analysts believe that he spent most of
his time trying to evade capture.
US soldier of the Fourth Infantry Division climbs out
of the spider hole, in which Saddam Hussein was hiding
in a farm near Tikrit.
to the extent that the planning for the resistance seems
to have gone on well before US troops crossed into Iraq
he may well be able to throw some light on its organisation
and extent. He will also be questioned about weapons of
mass destruction and on alleged links between al-Qaeda
and the Iraqi regime.
to his capture, the governments in both London and Washington
have been embarrassed by their inability to find much
evidence justifying either set of claims. But it is not
all going to be plain sailing ahead. Creating some form
of fledgling democracy is not going to be easy given the
deep ethnic divisions in the country. Until now, perhaps
the potentially most dangerous group facing the Americans
has been the Shia in the south. They have bided their
time and have by and large gone along with the current
arrangements, waiting to see how the US plans to accommodate
if the US fell out with the powerful Shia, then the ensuing
violence could make the Baathist opposition pale in comparison.
writer is the BBC’s defence correspondent