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Death of Hussein Brothers Removes Hope of Saddam's Return to Power - 2003-07-25


Britain's top official in Iraq says the killing of Saddam Hussein's sons, Uday and Qusay, should dash the hopes of followers of the former Iraqi leader that they can ever return to power.

The British official, John Sawers, says the death of the Hussein brothers is another positive step toward the normalization of Iraq, as he explained in an interview from Baghdad on British radio.

"The situation here is vastly better than it was several months ago. The deaths of Uday and Qusay Hussein have really removed one of the hopes that some of the vestiges of the Baathist regime had that they could possibly return. Their deaths have been hugely celebrated here. There's not been a single protest that's taken place to protest against their deaths. This is a day of celebration for Iraq, said Mr. Sawers.

Mr. Sawers said most of Iraq is relatively calm and attacks against American military forces should not be exaggerated.

"There is an area north and west of Baghdad which is causing continued problems. There are continued attacks. But we need to put it in perspective. More Americans have been killed since the first of May in accidents here than have been killed by the Baathist remnants," he said.

Speaking on the same program were two other British experts on Iraq.

Emma Nicholson is the European Parliament's special investigator for Iraq. She said it was important that the Americans released the photos of the dead brothers.

"I think it is right to release the photographs. Remember that in Iraq, the climate of fear means that people find it hard to believe anything at all. They are still looking over their shoulders, frightened that Saddam or his henchmen will come around the corner again. Although the releasing of the photographs sounds rather gruesome, it is imperative in a society where seeing a body and then burying it very quickly is the norm," said Ms. Nicholson.

Another Iraq expert, Toby Dodge of the University of Warwick, located northwest of London, says that while the Americans have eliminated the Hussein sons, they still face enormous challenges.

"What we see is a US occupation that has very little and poor links with wider Iraqi society. The fact that they couldn't find Saddam, the fact that they found the two sons through a tip off, almost a random tip off for the reward, shows that their intelligence capacity is very thin, and that they don't know a lot about Iraqi society and ordinary Iraqis are not interacting with them," said Mr. Dodge.

Meanwhile, a new public opinion poll shows another drop in the popularity of Prime Minister Tony Blair over his handling of the Iraq war.

Nearly seven in 10 people polled by the Daily Telegraph newspaper said the Blair government is neither honest nor trustworthy. This follows the apparent suicide last week of a government scientist who was embroiled in a controversy over whether Mr. Blair's office purposely distorted Iraq's weapons threat before the war.

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