WHAT have Sabawie al-Hassan, Watban al-Hassan, Barzan Takriti, Quasy Hussein, Uday Hussein, Kamal al-Majeed and Ali Hassan al-Majeed in common? They are all on a most- wanted list of Iraqi 'war criminals'. Are they by any chance related? Yes, closely - to Saddam Hussein.
If the Iraqi opposition gets its way then Saddam, seven of his relatives, five of his top advisers and 27 army officers and Baath party cadres could face a Nuremberg-style international tribunal for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide. The point about the 30-page dossier of indictments prepared by the opposition Iraqi National Congress (INC) is not only whom it includes but equally, whom it leaves out: it is designed to pinpoint and limit the number of people who should be punished by the international community, in order to encourage the rest of the military establishment to join any challenge mounted against Saddam.
The proposal has been backed informally by the United States: when the INC met Warren Christopher, the US Secretary of State, in April, he said the US would revive its push for a UN commission to investigate the issue. The INC hoped after the weekend strikes against Baghdad that Washington would not let go of the idea: 'To put an end to Iraqi-sponsored terror, the world community must bring the regime's leadership to trial, not just bomb their buildings,' it said in a statement. INC sources said it was unlikely that any of the wanted men were in the intelligence headquarters at the time of the attack.
Saddam's immediate family - the inner circle of the Takriti clan - is his power-house. Its members hold the key positions in Baghdad, including control of the dreaded Mukhabarat intelligence. But it is a house full of tension, held together only by its dependence on Saddam himself. The relationship between his half-brothers on the one hand, and his sons and cousins on the other, is bad.
'They swear at each other in public even,' said one observer. 'But they ensure at all times they remain close to Saddam. If there is to be any serious crack in the system, it would have to come through a disruption between the two camps.'
The wanted men are therefore limited to two lists: List A, where the INC says it has 'legally binding' evidence to convict 13 men, including Saddam and his seven relatives mentioned above; and List B, which contains 27 heads of army departments and senior Baathist officials, which the INC is recommending that the Security Council investigate.
They face three categories of indictment:
Waging criminal war against Iran and Kuwait.
Waging crimes against humanity, including rape, torture, and chemical attacks against the Iraqi people.
Waging genocide and war against the Kurdish people.
At the top of List A is Saddam himself, accused on 37 counts. It also includes Saddam's half-brothers:
Sabawie al-Hassan: director of general security; accused on 10 counts.
Watban al-Hassan: Interior Minister; accused on eight counts.
Barzan Takriti: former UN envoy to Geneva; accused on seven counts.
Barzan, who helped build Mukhabarat, is now Saddam's political adviser. As such he has been shuttling between Baghdad and Rabat to seek to use Morocco, currently on the Security Council, to drive a wedge into UN consensus against Iraq.
Quasy: head of al-Amin Khas, the special security agency controlling Mukhabarat, Istar (military intelligence) and general security. He is Sabawie al-Hassan's boss; accused on nine counts.
Uday: Barzan's son-in-law, editor of Babel newspaper and head of the Iraqi union of journalists; accused on eight counts.
His cousins (who are close to the sons):
Hussein Kamal al-Majeed, also Saddam's son-in-law. Former defence minister and head of military industry, including chemical weapons production. Now Saddam's personal adviser supervising military industry - including the new Ibn-al-Haitham Research Centre near Mosul for the manufacture of short-range rockets; accused on eight counts.
Ali Hassan al-Majeed: defence minister. Responsible for the genocidal policy against the Kurds, including the 1988 Halabja massacre, military governor of Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion and a leading force in Mukhabarat; he is accused on 12 counts.
Also on List A are Tariq Aziz, Saddam's sometime foreign minister, accused on seven counts; Taha Yassin Ramadan, vice-president and head of the Popular Army, accused on 11 counts; Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri, Vice- Chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council, accused on eight counts; Aziz Salih al-Noman, governor of Kuwait 'province' throughout the 1991 Gulf war, accused on six counts; and Muhammed Hamza al- Zubaidi, Prime Minister, accused on three counts.
The documents backing up the indictments detail, inter alia, Iraqi government orders to execute villagers found in 'prohibited areas' of the Kurdish north; to execute military deserters; and to burn houses of Shia in the southern marshes. In 1990 the Security Council requested evidence on Iraqi war crimes with a view to making those responsible accountable. Yet none of the five permanent members has made a concrete move to act on it. Last month an INC delegation lobbied at the UN for its proposal and the Chinese, who had refused all contacts with the Iraqi opposition, agreed to a meeting and pledged to send details of the indictments to Peking. The US appears more enthusiastic than Britain, which points to the difficulties of bringing Saddam within the jurisdiction of any court - failing a new government in Iraq.
Letters, page 17
Andrew Marr, page 19