Interpol has issued an arrest warrant for one of Saddam Hussein's daughters on charges of funding bombing operations in Baghdad.
The arrest warrant, which appears on Interpol's website, includes Saddam Hussein's daughter Raghad, along with a number of other people. They are accused by the Iraqi government of financing terrorist attacks inside the country.
A letter purported to be written by Raghad to insurgent leader Izzet Ibrahim al Douri last September, and published in the Iraqi press some time ago, urges him to "step up attacks on government targets in Baghdad," and to "conduct acts of resistance" in the lead-up to last month's elections.
The Iraqi government has repeatedly accused Ba'athist insurgent leaders based in Syria of staging several massive bombings in Baghdad, as well as various other attacks. But the Syrian government has refused demands by Iraq's Prime Minister Nouri al Maliki that the leaders be extradited. Raghad Hussein now lives in Jordan.
Damascus-based Iraq analyst Peter Harling of the Crisis Group says he thinks Nouri al Maliki is personally obsessed with Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath Party and his actions are often based on a deep-seated hatred that was formed during his year's of resistance and exile:
"I would not bring it down to the Sunni-Shi'ite divide. I would focus on Maliki more specifically, who is somebody who has been shaped by his experience of militancy under the former regime, repression and exile, and remains so obsessed at times with his former enemies, that it tends to blind him to his more immediate ones," Harling said. "So, he has shown repeatedly in the past a tendency to focus on people who embody what he hates most in the former regime, rather than the key players in what is left of the insurgency."
Harling says the Maliki government has provided little concrete evidence to support its claims that Syria-based Ba'athist insurgents were behind the rash of bloody bombings in Baghdad:
"If you look at the Syrian-Iraqi spat, for example, Maliki never provided any evidence to speak of to substantiate his claims against Syria ... in the past. In this particular instance, I do not know if they have provided some evidence to the effect that (Raghad) supported financially operations in Iraq. I really can not tell. Overall, most of these former (Saddam Hussein) regime officials left the country. Many left the country with a lot of cash, but they have been spending it for their own personal benefit, more than for providing any strategic depth to the insurgency, but in this particular case (of Raghad), it sounds kind of unusual for a a woman to be playing a key role in what remains a gender-sensitive insurgency," he said.
Marina Ottaway of the Carnegie Endowment believes Mr. Maliki's attempt to have Raghad arrested by Interpol is just part of his post-election strategy to discredit Ba'athism, in order to edge out rival Iyad Allawi in the struggle to form the next Iraqi government:
"It is a very strange time for this to come out, in the middle of the battle to form a new government, and hearing everything else that is going on, I would read it as an attempt to say, 'Look, we are still facing a real problem from Ba'athists and we can not let down our vigilance.' He has been saying all along, 'There are still Ba'athists who should be in jail, but instead have been running for election', and I think this is all part of this attempt to drum up the danger of Ba'athists and as a result of the anti-Sunni sentiment in the country," Ottaway said.
A mostly Shi'ite-led committee in the Iraqi parliament caused a protracted political dispute late last year, postponing parliamentary elections for weeks, after accusing scores of politicians of ties to the Ba'ath party. The same committee is also now trying to have six newly elected members of parliament, most of whom belong to Iyad Allawi's coalition, be unseated for Ba'athist ties.