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

NewsMinecoldwar-imperialismiraqgate — Viewing Item

Saddam 1960s exile { February 26 2003 }

Original Source Link: (May no longer be active)

February 26, 2003
Egyptians Recall Saddam's 1960s Exile

Filed at 1:47 a.m. ET

CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- With all the talk about the possibility -- however remote -- that Iraq's president might defuse the crisis with the United States by fleeing abroad, the question arises: What would it be like hosting an exiled Saddam Hussein?

``Life with him would be troublesome,'' said Mohammed Qouatli, a Syrian businessman who should know -- he was briefly Saddam's landlord during the first and only time the Iraqi was an exile, four decades ago in Cairo.

Back then, Qouatli was studying at Cairo University and offered lodging to a 23-year-old Iraqi newly arrived in Egypt. Qouatli, interviewed during a visit to Cairo, recalled having to ask Saddam to leave two weeks later because his tenant's political debates with other Arab students deteriorated into brawls.

One ended with a razor-wielding Saddam injuring some students, Qouatli said.

It was 1960 and Saddam had fled after taking part in a failed Baath Party assassination attempt on Iraq's then-prime minister, Gen. Abdel Karim Qassim. Saddam reached Egypt via Syria after a journey across the desert on foot and horseback.

In Egypt, according to his official biography, Saddam enrolled at Cairo University, but spent most of his time ``building party organizations'' and plotting to overthrow Iraq's government. On Feb. 8, 1963, the Baathists managed to kill Qassim and topple his regime.

Saddam acquired a reputation as a bully in Cairo, and his squabbles with fellow exiles often ended up at a police station. These days, however, police officials politely say they no longer have files on Saddam.

Workers at a coffee shop where Saddam hung out near the university say their late boss, Hag Hussein, used to complain about how hard it was to keep order when Saddam came in. Hag Hussein's son, Adel, would only say his father had declined Saddam's invitation to visit Baghdad years later.

In a 1980 biography of Saddam, Lebanese journalist Fouad Mattar wrote that Saddam complained about being harassed by Egyptian security for his political activities.

Back then, Arab political refugees were so plentiful in Egypt that the government had a special intelligence bureau to watch them. The bureau's chief, Fatthi al-Deeb, was quoted shortly before his death early this month as saying Saddam needed special attention -- since officials believed he was trying to organize a coup against his Egyptian hosts.

Not everyone from the Cairo days remembers Saddam as trouble.

``What struck me most about him is that he was a man of principle. I admired very much his courage and great sense of pan-Arabism,'' Louis Neguib, who still runs a pharmacy near the university, told The Associated Press.

Neguib remembers Saddam as a slim young man who entered his pharmacy one night more than 40 years ago asking for medicine for an ailing colleague. The two struck up a lasting friendship, Neguib said.

In 1986, Neguib went to Baghdad as Saddam's state guest.

``I asked him if I had to call him Mr. President or simply Saddam and he just laughed,'' said Neguib.

The thought of Saddam leaving Iraq for good has been dismissed as farfetched, but it still crops up as a possibility, with Russia, Belarus and Egypt all mentioned as havens.

Egypt has hosted ex-dictators such as the late Shah of Iran and ex-President Jaafer Nimeiri of Sudan and in the 1990s once offered asylum to Saddam. But this time, President Hosni Mubarak has been quoted as saying Egypt was not ready to take Saddam.

Still, Neguib says he would offer the use of a villa he owns near the pyramids should the Iraqi leader return.

``He will be welcomed as one of my family,'' the pharmacist said.

Copyright 2003 The Associated Press | Privacy Policy

1958 coup anniversary { July 14 2003 }
1991 gulf war massacre { October 2 2001 }
80s ties rumsfeld
Bush cut and run says his son
Bush non sequiturs { September 13 2002 }
Daniel pipes cheers dual containment { March 2 1995 }
Highway of death { March 18 1991 }
Imf punished yemen 1991 { November 21 2002 }
Iran iraq kill each other
Iraq 1963 cia coup { November 22 2002 }
Israelis died from scuds only by heart attack
Kurds iraq { July 8 2002 }
Myth iraqgate { April 16 1994 }
Ron brown pr persian gulf war { August 2 1990 }
Rumsfeld 1984 baghdad visit { December 19 2003 }
Rumsfeld [jpg]
Saddam 1960s exile { February 26 2003 }
Saddam cia history
Saddam crushing 1991 rebellion
Saddam cuts off hands for business in foreign currency
Saddam history timeline
Saddam nationalized oil 1972 { October 23 2002 }
Saddam rise to power { February 5 1998 }
Us bribed nations 1991 { October 29 1990 }
Us hit water health infrustructure
Who is saddam

Files Listed: 26


CIA FOIA Archive

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