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imperialism & war

Saddam's son-in-law surrenders to opposition

The revelation that Jamal had been hiding in Syria came just hours after U.S. President George W. Bush said there were "positive signs" Syria was heeding U.S. calls to deny sanctuary to fleeing members of Saddam's administration.
Saddam's son-in-law surrenders to opposition
By Hassan Hafidh, April 20, 2003

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A leading Iraqi opposition group says Saddam Hussein's sole surviving son-in-law has surrendered to them and will be handed over to U.S. forces in Baghdad within hours.

The long-exiled Iraqi National Congress said that Jamal Mustafa Sultan al-Tikriti, number 40 on the U.S. list of 55 most wanted Iraqis, had returned from Syria to surrender to them.

"He is the first close member of the family to be detained," the group's spokesman Zaab Sethna told Reuters by telephone, saying that Jamal had served as his Saddam's private secretary right up til the end.

He said Jamal had fled to Syria but the INC had persuaded him to come back to Baghdad -- along with a senior Iraqi intelligence official, Khaled Abdallah -- and give himself up.

Jamal is the sixth from the U.S. list to be detained.

The revelation that Jamal had been hiding in Syria came just hours after U.S. President George W. Bush said there were "positive signs" Syria was heeding U.S. calls to deny sanctuary to fleeing members of Saddam's administration.

"There's some positive signs. They're getting the message that they should not harbour Baath Party officials, high ranking Iraqi officials," Bush told reporters in Fort Hood, Texas.

Increased U.S. pressure on Syria since the toppling of Saddam by U.S.-led forces has fuelled speculation that Damascus could be the next target in Bush's campaign against nations he accuses of aiding global terrorism.

Washington has accused Syria of harbouring Saddam associates fleeing across the border, helping Iraq fight U.S. forces, developing weapons of mass destruction, and aiding terrorism. Syria denies the U.S. allegations.

In a sign that a semblance of normality was returning to Baghdad, power supplies were restored in eastern parts of the city two weeks after they were cut off when U.S. forces pounded the Iraqi capital ahead of their final push to oust Saddam.

But rebuilding Iraq's government could take much longer, according to one of Washington's leading Republican lawmakers.

"I would think at least we ought to be thinking of a period of five years of time. Now, that may understate it," said Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Richard Lugar.

SOMBRE EASTER

As the first convoy of food aid reached Baghdad, Iraqi Christians observed a sombre Easter Sunday, praying for an end to postwar chaos and uncertainty.

While Christians prayed, tens of thousands of Shi'ite Muslims, Iraq's majority population, beat their chests as they streamed towards the holy central city of Kerbala, in a pilgrimage banned by Saddam for nearly a quarter of a century.

In Baghdad, the mood was anxious as hundreds of Christians, dressed in the best clothes they could find, went to church to pray on the day they believe Jesus rose from the dead.

"We just want an end to killing. We have had enough," said Suhail Elias Kusto, 50, weeping at the Lady of Our Salvation Catholic church in Baghdad. She said her nephew was killed soon after the U.S.-led invasion began on March 20.

The mood was also subdued among the hundreds of people who crammed into the small St Paul's church in the northern city of Mosul, where relations are tense between Arabs and Kurds.

"Now we must all work together to rebuild our society and also promote the role of Christianity. The responsibility on us is great," said Father Jalil Mansoor David, who led the service.

Pope John Paul said in his Easter message the Iraqis must take charge of rebuilding the country with international help.

"Peace in Iraq," the Pope said after celebrating an Easter Sunday mass in St Peter's Square. "With the support of the international community, may the Iraqi people become the protagonists of the collective rebuilding of their country."

FOOD CONVOY ARRIVES

A World Food Programme (WFP) convoy of 50 trucks arrived on Sunday at a Baghdad warehouse guarded by U.S. troops. It was the first aid to reach the capital since the war.

A WFP official in the Jordanian capital Amman told Reuters the food would start being distributed early next month when current stocks in the city were expected to begin running out.

EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana took a swipe at the United States in a newspaper interview, saying it should use its clout to form consensus among its allies rather than impose its will by force. He renewed calls for a major U.N. role in Iraq.

The United States, snubbed by the U.N. Security Council when it sought approval to invade Iraq, has acknowledged the U.N. has a role to play.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage told the Al Khaleej and Gulf Today newspapers that the United States would "work together with the U.N. to figure out what the appropriate role is".

The United States has promised to pull out its troops and hand over control to an Iraqi government when it considers a U.S-led interim administration has completed its job.

Jay Garner, the retired U.S. general charged with supervising the reconstruction of Iraq, will travel to Baghdad on Monday for a first hand look at the situation in the capital.

It was not clear whether he would meet INC head Ahmad Chalabi, a pro-American Iraqi politician who has close ties to Washington and is widely thought to be its candidate to lead Iraq.

Chalabi told ABC television's "This Week" programme on Sunday U.S. forces should stay in Iraq until it holds elections.

"The military presence of the United States in Iraq is a necessity until at least the first democratic election is held, and I think this process should take two years," Chalabi said.

U.S.-led forces are still hunting for Saddam and have found no weapons of mass destruction, a key justification for the invasion.

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, whose country is one of a handful which committed troops to the war, said the alliance would issue a victory declaration soon.

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