Sunday, February 27, 2011

Similarities between Saddam and Qaddafi

I have noticed some similarities between Saddam and Qaddafi. Like Qaddafi, Saddam believed he was the leader of some united Arab nation. They both believed they fought valiantly and defeated the US.

Saddam was also flamboyant, although Qaddafi is on a different scale, I admit. "The only real regional analogue in recent memory is Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, but even there the megalomania and cult of personality didn’t run as deep."

They both built a number of palaces for themselves. Angry Arab wrote today: 'The tyrant who claims to not hold any official title, and who claims that the "masses" run Libya, has collected a number of palaces in Libya.'

Both dictators made their respective tribes powerful and put their sons in high positions, but there was internal conflict. "Libyan dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi heads a fractious family obsessed with power, wealth and chart-topping R&B stars, according to U.S. diplomatic cables released by anti-secrecy site WikiLeaks."

Both tyrants became wealthy from oil that lies underneath land where the dictators' political foes live: "The rebellion began in Cyrenaica, a region endowed with oil that was home to Libya’s first and only monarch, King Idris..."

Both tyrants gave up their WMD, but they kept their guns and police states.

Perhaps the most striking similarity is their determinations to fight to the bitter end: "Iraq taught us that magnitude of destruction has to be immense. Muammar Qaddafi's rhetoric suggests he understands this and is willing to follow through. This will depend on the willingness of the army to follow his directives. Saddam did not have the army, but he did have a series of concentric circles of supporters loyal to him because of the patronage he extended them (special-forces units and tribes). He had tied their interests to his survival so successfully that they could not risk defecting.

...Mr Qaddafi, like Saddam Hussein, probably cares less about external pressure because the damage has been done. He may feel he can go it alone, as he has in the past."

20 years ago in February 1991, while US & allied troops marched towards Baghdad, many Iraqis were looking forward to the end of Saddam's regime, and a rumor spread among Iraqis that suggested Saddam and family had their bags packed and were ready to go to Libya. It's too bad that didn't happen. Saddam and Qaddafi could be fighting together today.

PS: They both believed they were great authors and governors: "Colonel Qaddafi had presented himself as the inheritor of the legendary Egyptian strongman Gamal Abdel Nasser. He had written, it was claimed, the three-volume Green Book, which by his lights held a solution for all the problems of governance, and servile Arab intellectuals indulged him, pretending that the collection of nonsensical dictums could be given serious reading."

PPS: Now that I think more about that rumor about Saddam going to Libya, I believe the rumor started before the US & allies began the aerial bombing campaign in 1991.

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