Saddam's brother `defects' to UAE

IRAQ DENIED a claim yesterday that Barzan al-Tikriti, the powerful half-brother of the Iraqi President, Saddam Hussein, had defected to the United Arab Emirates.

The London-based Iraqi National Accord opposition group said earlier that it has unconfirmed reports that Barzan, once a senior lieutenant of the Iraqi leader, had asked for asylum in an Arab Gulf state. Extra details were given by the al-Hayat newsaper in London, which quoted informed sources as saying that Barzan had arrived in the United Arab Emirates on a private aircraft.

"Barzan al-Tikriti left Baghdad on a private plane to the United Arab Emirates to end internal difficulties which made living alongside the sons of his brother the president, Uday and Qusay, impossible," said al- Hayat. It is true that Barzan has had notoriously bad relations with Uday, the Iraqi leader's eldest son. He was also displeased to lose his job as Iraqi ambassador to the UN in Geneva last year after almost a decade in the post and initially resisted returning to Baghdad.

But the Iraqi denial in Baghdad yesterday that Barzan had defected was peculiarly circumstantial. "News reports about Mr Barzan al-Tikriti are false and baseless," said Uday al-Ta'e, head of the official Iraqi News Agency. "Barzan al-Tikriti is on leave to visit his sons who live in Geneva and you can speak with him by telephone."

There is some confirmation of this from the Iraqi National Congress (INC), another opposition group, which says that until recently Barzan had been at his residence on Lake Geneva. His bodyguards and Mercedes were seen in the driveway of the house. The organisation had been tracking his movements because Bar-zan no longer has diplomatic immunity and it would like to bring charges against him as a war criminal.

"I wish it was true that he has defected," said an INC spokesman. "But I think this story is just an attempt to show dissension in Iraq." Iraqi opposition groups, notably the Iraqi National Accord, which is based in London, have long circulated stories about divisions within Saddam's family. Most, though by no means all, have turned out to be untrue.

There was no comment last night from the United Arab Emirates, but the claim that Barzan had fled Iraq recalls the flight of Hussein Kamel and Saddam Kamel, both sons-in-law of Saddam, to Jordan in 1995. The following year they unwisely returned to Baghdad where they were killed on their father-in-law's orders.

Barzan played an important role in his half-brother's rise to power in Iraq in the 1970s. He was later eclipsed after a family dispute and went to Geneva. Nevertheless, he is a powerful enough member of the Iraqi leader's inner family to make him difficult to touch. Kamran Karadaghi, an Iraqi commentator, said yesterday: "It is true that Barzan has bad relations with Uday and Qusay, but he can't be harmed without direct orders from Saddam himself." Though Barzan remains influential in Iraq, real power is concentrated in the hands of Saddam himself. When Hussein Kamel defected in 1995 his calls for a coup against his father-in-law in Baghdad produced no results despite the fact that he had long been at the pinnacle of power in Iraq and once headed an inner security service. Neverthless Uday, who was himself badly wounded in an assassination attempt in Baghdad in 1996, has a reputation for extreme personal violence, particularly when drunk. In 1988 he murdered Kamel Hannah Jajo, one of his father's closest aides, during a party on an island in the Tigris. At another party in Baghdad in 1995 he shot his uncle, Watban, brother of Barzan, through the leg and killed several dancers. Barzan had made little attempt to conceal his contempt for Uday and his pretensions to succeed his father. He once said: "The notion of inheriting power is not acceptable in Iraq" adding that Uday did not have "the legitimacy to govern".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
tv'Jingle Bells' quickstep on Strictly Come Dancing's Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Residential Conveyancer

Very Competitive: Austen Lloyd: Senior Conveyancer - South West We are see...

Austen Lloyd: Residential / Commercial Property Solicitor

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: DORSET MARKET TOWN - SENIOR PROPERTY SOLICITOR...

Day In a Page

Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there