News and Document archive source
copyrighted material disclaimer at bottom of page

NewsMinewar-on-terroriraqpre-invasion — Viewing Item


Saddam hometown hero

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)
   http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002-10-15-saddam-tikrit_x.htm

http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002-10-15-saddam-tikrit_x.htm

Saddam is a hero in his hometown

By Vivienne Walt, USA TODAY

TIKRIT, Iraq At first glance, it's difficult to see much of military value in this dusty town, where Saddam Hussein was born and where he draws much of his strongest support.

A rusted Ferris wheel and rickety roller coaster are installed in a dirt lot. Sidewalk vendors sell ice cream to customers struggling to cool off in the searing heat.

But a different picture emerges on the edge of town. A sprawling presidential palace sits on the bank of the Tigris River. Ornate ochre walls ring the complex, and pillars peek out, topped with busts of Saddam. A short distance past that, two large military bases straddle a major road. Several anti-aircraft guns point skyward.

U.S. officials have said they regard a strike on Tikrit as hitting at the heart of Saddam's government. Iraqi leaders conduct key planning here amid the security of Saddam loyalists far from Baghdad, according to U.S. officials.

About 10 tents pitched outside one of Tikrit's military bases on Tuesday suggest that additional troops have arrived.

Tikrit and surrounding villages are home to Saddam's two powerful sons, Qusay and Uday; to Ezzat Ibrahim, the Iraqi president's deputy on the ruling Revolutionary Command Council; and to numerous Cabinet ministers appointed by Saddam.

U.S. officials pushing for a war against Saddam have said they hope Iraqis' support for Saddam will quickly collapse once a heavy bombardment begins. Even if that occurs, Tikrit could provide some of the toughest resistance.

"He's not just our leader. Here in Tikrit, he's our brother and our son," said Mohammed Ali Jibhouri, 56, a teacher. "We all love him."

Government officials have for years prohibited foreigners from visiting Tikrit, perhaps because sensitive military or security operations are based here, as White House officials believe. On Tuesday, however, officials offered a rare glimpse of Iraq's political heartland to foreign journalists. Three busloads of reporters were escorted to Tikrit.

The government invited journalists to Iraq to witness a national vote on whether to keep Saddam in power until 2009. Because Saddam was the only candidate, the result was never in doubt.

During a tour of Tikrit and three small villages, Iraqis said they would continue to support Saddam even if a U.S.-led war looked likely to oust him.

"Saddam has built good buildings and given land for the peasants. He's our national leader," said Abdul Aziz Rahman, 63, a retired English teacher in a nearby village, where a small side street was mobbed with voters squeezing into a schoolyard. "We will support him always."

It is hard to gauge the candor of such remarks because interviews are always conducted within earshot of government guides.

Saddam was born April 28, 1937, on the edge of Tikrit. Iraqi towns display thousands of murals and statues of Saddam, but in his hometown, there are few public details of his childhood available. No sites can be seen marking the president's early years. "His old school has his grades and an old photo," said Adel Adi, an information officer for Tikrit's provincial governor.

Asked whether reporters could visit Saddam's former school, Adi said, "That will not be possible." Officials guiding journalists on Tuesday said they could not pinpoint where Saddam had once lived.

The other famous figure from Tikrit is Saladin, regarded across the Middle East as the region's biggest historical hero. Saladin, a Kurdish sultan, captured Jerusalem from Christian Crusaders in 1187.

Saddam has frequently drawn comparisons between himself and Saladin. Some busts of Saddam show the Iraqi leader in Saladin's helmet.

Tikrit has twice been a key bombing target for U.S. and allied jets: during the Gulf War in 1991, and in 1998, when United Nations weapons inspectors were banned from entering three presidential palaces in Tikrit.

All Iraqis over the age of 18 were invited to vote on whether to keep Saddam in office. He assumed power 23 years ago. Although his face is everywhere in the country, the Iraqi leader has not appeared in public in years.

Millions of Iraqis appeared to pile into chaotic voting stations to vote for another seven years of Saddam's rule. Women in Tikrit pricked their fingers to draw blood, then used it to smudge a red mark on the ballots, casting their votes for Saddam.

Sitting under a large burlap tent in a tiny village northeast of Tikrit, a tribal chief said he had about 10,000 men under his rule whom he had mobilized to support Saddam's forces in a war.

"We have a large quantity of arms," said Sabah Al-Hasan, 32. "We are all ready to stand with Saddam Hussein against the United States and Britain."


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Find this article at:
http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2002-10-15-saddam-tikrit_x.htm



britons
bush-appeals
consequences
inspections
israel
moran-accuses-jews
preperation
resolutions
saddam-deal
un-spying
warplan
8 euro call for war { January 30 2003 }
Americans like nuke
Annihilate iraqi society { January 26 2003 }
Anti us trade fair
Arms civilians { February 5 2003 }
Attack debated { August 1 2002 }
Baby milk
Blair blood price { September 5 2002 }
Blair says no un veto
Blair war regardless { January 26 2003 }
Bush awaits blairs orders { March 7 2003 }
Bush blair intent on war despite evidence or UN { March 18 2003 }
Bush undettered by opposition { March 3 2003 }
Casualties of undeclared war { December 22 2002 }
Cheney assures { August 11 2002 }
Cia kurds
Cia wanted american flags for iraqs after war { October 20 2004 }
Coalition has few partners { January 25 2003 }
Dan rather interview
East europe supports us { November 8 2002 }
Germany supplied supergun { January 31 2003 }
Hacked saddam email
Hussein tactics { December 15 2002 }
I26983 2003Feb04L [jpg]
Iraq buys nerve antidote { November 12 2002 }
Iraq civilians
Iraq will gas kurds
Iraqi amnesty
Iraqi jails emptied
Iraqi soldiers thought war started { March 9 2003 }
Israel deals kuwait masks
Kennedy accuses bush bribing turkey
Kurds oust
Kuwati attitude different { February 26 2003 }
More missile range { November 15 2002 }
Msnbc war and consequences
N iraq kurdish { August 20 2002 }
Negroponte no automatic war { November 8 2002 }
No iraq alqaeda link { September 10 2002 }
No nerve antidote
Nuclear non capability { November 21 2002 }
October surprise
Opposition funding { February 4 2003 }
Powell denies saudis knew war before him
Powell says us alone
Resolution pretext war
Russia iraq ties { January 10 2003 }
Saddam accepted exile offer before war
Saddam bunker
Saddam considers exile { January 14 2003 }
Saddam hometown hero
Saddam not want war
Saddam time nuclear { May 4 2002 }
Saddam will blame us { March 12 2003 }
Six week war window
Smart sanctions { July 2 2002 }
Summer saddam
Us war attacking iraqi defenses during inspections { July 20 2003 }
War effects economy { July 30 2002 }
Weapons dossier reveals corporations { December 7 2002 }
With or without un { January 22 2003 }
Yugoslavia arms ties { November 1 2002 }

Files Listed: 62



Correction/submissions

CIA FOIA Archive

National Security
Archives
Support one-state solution for Israel and Palestine Tea Party bumper stickers JFK for Dummies, The Assassination made simple