Like father like son, they say? Well, more like two sons. Saddam Husain’s sons are not the most polite creatures in the world as anyone even remotely familiar with that unfortunate land will testify. Life becomes even more intolerable if the two get into a fight.
This is what happened recently when Uday and Qusay, the two sons of Saddam got into a dispute. It centred round the release from the general intelligence service prison in Baghdad of Hikmat al-Azzawi, a former minister, on the orders of Qusay. But he did not inform older brother Uday, who considers himself the boss.
Uday got into a rage and ordered Azzawi back to prison where he had been sent on his orders four months earlier. Qusay, too, is no less stubborn than Uday. He refused to accept his older brother bossing him around like this. It is reported that Saddam personally intervened but was unable to patch-up the trouble between the quarrelling duo.
Uday has a personal grudge against Azzawi. The ex-minister was sent to prison for having the temerity to question Uday’s transfer of a large sum of money out of the country at a time when millions are starving in Iraq, thanks to US-imposed sanctions. An estimated 1.5 million have died of starvation and disease.
Why Qusay should take a liking to Azzawi is still a mystery. Even more mysterious is the fact that differences between Uday and Qusay should break out into the open.
One reason could be the fact that Uday is physically and emotionally incapacitated. Two years ago, he was the target of an assassination attempt. Qusay might have thought that with his older brother temporarily out of service, he could take charge.
Uday is not the one to give up so easily. He is a ruthless operator. In fact, some people say he is even more short-tempered than his father. Nobody has so far accused Saddam of showing mercy or compassion.
Three years ago, his cousins and sons-in-law, Husain Kamel and Saddam Kamel, fled to Amman, Jordan. They were upset over the the shooting of Wadban by Uday in 1995 which left him paralyzed. Wadban, Barzan and Sabawi, all from the Takriti clan, are Saddam’s half-brothers. Wadban was dismissed from his post as interior minister. When he objected, he was shot. Barzan’s other brother, Sabawi, was dismissed from the position of chief of the general security directorate.
The Kamel brothers - Husain and Saddam - were enticed back to Baghdad by their mother-in-law. When they returned, both were promptly executed by Uday for betraying his father.
The Uday-Qusay tussle comes at a bad time. Only a month earlier, on August 31, Barzan, posted in Geneva, was asked to return home. He decided that it was better not to. Life is intolerable for ordinary people as a result of starvation. It is much worse for those caught in the in-fighting of the Takriti clan where no mercy is shown to anyone.
The standoff in Baghdad between the dragon seeds continues.
Muslimedia: November 1-15, 1998