Report: U.S. “Chooses” Exiled Iraqi Officer to Replace Saddam; Iraq Holds Radioactive Material for ''Dirty Bomb”
Former Iraqi army chief of staff General Nizar Khazraji has been picked by the American administration to lead Iraq after the overthrow of President Saddam Hussein, a newspaper reported.
Khazraji, who lives in exile in Denmark, "is the favored candidate" among 62 ex-officers earmarked by Washington as potential leaders, London-based Al-Hayat daily reported, quoting Iraqi opposition sources in Damascus.
Contacts have been made with the general who enjoys "virtual unanimous support in Kurdish, Shiite and Sunnite circles", the newspaper reported.
Another exile, General Najib al-Salhi, who lives in Jordan, is also seen as a potential leader for Iraq, said the sources. Al-Salhi "recently went to New York for contacts with the Americans," said Al-Hayat.
Meanwhile, Saddam Hussein has decided for “security reasons” to stay away from the upcoming Arab summit in Beirut due to be held in late March, Iraqi Parliament Speaker Saadun Hammadi said Sunday. Saddam did not attend the last few Arab summits and will not partake in the one in Lebanon “for security reasons,” Hammadi conveyed.
“It is general knowledge that President Saddam is a target of American-Zionist conspiracies,” said Hammadi, who did not say who would represent Iraq at the summit of the 22-member Arab League.
A hardening of American attitude against Iraqi President Saddam Hussein is increasing pressure on Britain’s Prime Minister Tony Blair to offer public support for a US-led military strike on Iraq, according to a press report Sunday.
Quoting "senior US officials" the Sunday Times newspaper said that they believe that Blair will support any American action rather than risk an "embarrassing" breach with US President George W Bush.
The threat of an attack on Baghdad moved "perceptibly closer" last week when US Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has long been regarded as a moderating element, made clear that America was ready to go it alone to achieve "a regime change" in Iraq, the publication noted.
Although no action is thought to be imminent, us officials believe key European allies will support an attack on Baghdad to prevent Iraq from completing its alleged program of weapons of mass destruction, the Sunday Times maintained.
In the meantime, Israeli intelligence officials have warned their US counterparts last week that President Saddam might have obtained radioactive material for "a dirty bomb,” the weekly newspaper said.
However, it stressed that neither British nor American intelligence sources think Baghdad has got that far. But Blair was said by one senior Washington source to have accepted that Iraq would "sooner than later" be able to target Western assets with lethal warheads. (Albawaba.com)
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