Asharq Al Awsat Reporter Abdel Baqi

Asharq al-Awsat reporter Abdel Baqi Khalifa reports from Sarajevo today that retired Yugoslav officers and some politicians are warning Saddam Hussain against repeating the Kosovo scenario in Baghdad. These officers tilted toward Iraq in the past, and put their concerns in a letter to the Iraqi leader. Signatories include a former Yugoslav foreign minister. They painted a vivid picture of Iraq’s likely fate, under bombardment from American smart bombs and cruise missiles.

They offered him some advice if he does stand and fight, including the need to establish some dummy military sites to draw American fire and to fill Baghdad with human shields so as to avoid an American occupation of that city. Khalifa says that many of the officers had friendships with Saddam and his circle that went back to the days of Tito. Saddam had admired the latter until Tito refused to turn against Egypt after Camp David at Iraq’s request, saying Yugoslavia’s policy was to remain friends with all.

The analogy the retired officers drew to Kosovo is insightful, since that became the new model for US wars against smaller powers, and the experience there will certainly inform US tactics.

They would have been better off, however, simply telling him that fighting the US is suicidal and that no number of human shields or decoys is going to prevent his army from meeting the same fate that of Serbia did in Kosovo if he does not voluntarily shed the weapons of mass destruction. Increasingly, it may be too late for him even to agree to do that.

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