Saddam's clan get full treatment at Uday's bedside

It was a tense meeting. Earlier this year Saddam Hussein, gathered the closest member of his family - the inner core of his regime - around the hospital bedside of Uday, his eldest son, paralysed by a bullet in the spine after an assassination attempt last December.

The Iraqi leader told his relatives who had come to the Ibn Sina hospital that their "craving for people's property" had become the talk of Iraq. He said their behaviour was damaging him and his regime. Pointing to Ali Hassan al-Majid, a cousin of the Iraqi leader famous for his brutality, the President said he had "played an important role in prompting me to make the decision to enter Kuwait." And once installed as governor of Iraq's new, 19th province, in 1990, he said: "You looted half the valuables looted in Kuwait". He reminded Ali Hassan he was once "a driver in Kirkuk".

Others got an equally rough ride. Half-brother Sab'awi was meant to be a director of the security services but "he goes to his office at 11am, half asleep". President Saddam utters vague threats against his other half-brother Barzan, Iraq's ambassador in Geneva since 1988, saying: "I should not have left him all this time." Even Uday, facing a dangerous operation to remove the bullets in his body, is asked: "Are you a politician, a trader, a people's leader or a playboy?"

The transcript of the meeting was first published by the London-based magazine al-Wasat and has become the subject of intense discussion among Iraqi opponents of the regime. Who leaked the document, and why? President Saddam himself is the most likely culprit. His criticisms seem carefully scripted to show many of the nastier episodes in Iraq's recent history were not, as had been imagined, the fault of Saddam Hussein himself, but of his greedy relatives.

For instance, Gen Omar al-Hazaa, a member of the Iraqi leader's clan known for his denunciations of the regime when in his cups at the officers club in Baghdad, was executed in 1990. Saddam Hussein was blamed. But this turns out to have been unfair. Addressing Ali Hassan al-Majid, the Iraqi leader says: "It was you and Hussein Kamel [another son-in-law murdered last year when he unwisely returned to Baghdad from exile in Amman] who caused me to execute Omar al-Hazaa and his sons". It was they who had the house of Gen Hazaa in Baghdad demolished by a bulldozer.

On the face of it, the Iraqi leader is past rehabilitation. So what good will it do him? The President may not know the extent to which he has entered Western demonology. A Palestinian leader who met him before the Gulf War discovered he did not know he had appeared on the covers of Time and Newsweek. He excitedly asked the Palestinian to get copies of the magazines from his hotel.

There may be a more subtle message in the leaked document. President Saddam may want to emphasise that his relatives are as bad as he is, in case anybody should think of replacing him by them. There is a note of self-pity which also seems authentic. In the case of the killing of Omar al-Hazaa, whose tongue was reputedly cut out after his death, he says: "It will always be said that Saddam did that; people will not say that Ali Hassan and Hussein Kamel did it."

President Saddam throws an interesting light on the politics of his inner family. He relates how the governor of Kirkuk, a city in north-east Iraq, telephoned him because he had stopped trucks smuggling grain into Iran. These turned out to belong to Ali Hassan al-Majid. Another target is his third half-brother Watban, former interior minister, shot through the leg by Uday at a drunken party on the banks of the Tigris in 1995. He says: "The Interior Ministry was ruined during your term". President Saddam mentions that he had fined him, presumably for corruption.

Up until 1995 Saddam Hussein's family seemed determined to stick together. Then Uday shot his uncle Watban through the leg and Hussein Kamel fled to Jordan. He was killed on his return last year. Five months ago a relative of Gen al-Hazaa told gunmen where they could find Uday one night in Baghdad. He survived, but is crippled.

President Saddam may want to reassert control over his family. He may have hoped also that by spreading the blame for past atrocities, he may persuade the world to be more accommodating to him in future.

Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
Former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin, left, with her daughter, Bristol
newsShe's 'proud' of eldest daughter, who 'punched host in the face'
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Life and Style
Sexual health charities have campaigned for the kits to be regulated
healthAmerican woman who did tells parents there is 'nothing to be afraid of'
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
The John Peel Lecture has previously been given by Pete Townshend of The Who, Billy Bragg and Charlotte Church
musicGodfather of punk will speak on 'free music in a capitalist society'
peopleAt least it's for a worthwhile cause
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments