Debka File is reporting that Syria’s President Assad, who recently visited London, took away from a meeting with Tony Blair the terms of President Bush’s final ultimatum to Saddam Hussein. Assad reportedly delivered these terms to Saddam last week. The proposed terms include full disclosure by Saddam of weapons of mass destruction; a temporary suspension of American war preparations; and guarantee of safe passage for Saddam and his family to another Arab country. Debka File says that Saddam was given until New Year’s Day to comply with Bush’s terms, which were described as non-negotiable. Although most Administration officials reportedly view this final offer as another opportunity for delay and obfuscation, there is some speculation that Saddam’s handing over of a list of 500 Iraqi scientists with links to Iraq’s weapons programs could have been the down payment on compliance. Also, construction of a large complex on the outskirts of Tripoli referred to as “Saddam City” is said to have speeded up.
Needless to say, we have no illusions about Saddam’s trustworthiness. However, he may very well have in mind the examples of two equally sadistic tyrants, Idi Amin of Uganda and “Emperor” Bokassa of the Central African Republic. Both were clearly psychotic (Bokassa, among other things, was a cannibal, while Amin proclaimed himself–among other titles–King of Scotland), but they were also rational enough to realize when the game was up and to prefer exile to death. Idi Amin is still living in comfort in Saudi Arabia. I would not be shocked, therefore, if Saddam, having played out his losing endgame, escapes to Libya leaving his regime to fall without the necessity of a war. This will only happen, of course, if he knows that war and his own death are the only alternatives to flight.
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