Iraqi President Suspends Military Zones Set up in Response to Air Strikes
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein issued a decree Sunday suspending his 1998 order that divided the country into four military zones in anticipation of the heavy wave of US-British air strikes that year, reported The Associated Press.
It is not clear whether Saddam's decision will lead to any changes on the ground because most of Iraq's government-controlled provinces are now run by veteran army commanders, said the agency.
In the decree, read over state-run television, Saddam said the United States and Britain had failed to impose their will during air raids launched in December 1998 to punish Baghdad for not cooperating with UN weapons inspectors, the AP said.
UN sanctions imposed for Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait will not be lifted until UN inspectors certify Iraq no longer has or can produce weapons of mass destruction.
The zones were set up hours before the December 1998 blitz. Zone commanders, all senior members of the ruling Baath party, were given sweeping powers within their areas and had the army, security organs and Baath party militias under their command, according to the agency.
Saddam said Sunday that zone commanders should return to base in Baghdad and assume normal responsibilities.
The president also said he was confident Iraq is capable of repelling any further attacks and that the resolve of the United States and Britain to force dictates on Iraq has weakened, according to the agency - Albawaba.com
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