Wife's trip to Jordan adds new twist to Saddam family saga

ROBERT BLOCK

The saga of the world's deadliest dysfunctional family took a new twist yesterday with reports that Saddam Hussein's first wife, Sajida Khayrallah Tulfah, was in Jordan to see her two daughters and sons-in-law, who defected from Iraq last week. Sajida is Saddam's cousin and the mother of five, including Saddam's powerful sons Uday and Qusay, who have come to the fore after reports of a power struggle in Saddam's ruling elite.

Rumours of her unexpected arrival in Jordan have been floating around the tiny desert kingdom for two days, but it was not clear why she supposedly went there in the first place.

Was Sajida in Jordan hoping to convince her loved ones to return to Iraq and the fold? Or was the purpose of her trip was a motherly mission of mercy to show solidarity?

It has been no secret for years that Sajida has been less than enchanted with Saddam since he took a second wife in the Eighties, and possibly a third more recently.

Saddam is also suspected of having engineered the 1989 helicopter crash which killed her brother, Adnan Kheirallah, a defence minister tipped to succeed Saddam. But perhaps the most important question of all was did Sajida really visit Jordan at all.

Some Jordanian officials in Amman said she had arrived on Tuesday, while others pooh-poohed the reports as unsubstantiated rumours. The Iraqi embassy denied her presence.

What is certain is that since the defection of Raghad and Rana, and their husbands, Major-General Hussein Kamel Hassan al-Majid and Lieutenant-Colonel Saddam Kamel Hassan al-Majid, big-wigs with vital information on the country's military and weapons programmes, the government has been trying to get them back. Their defections wefre a big blow to the Iraqi leader and a sure sign that Saddam was losing his grip on the family rivalries, which he used for years as a tool to keep himself in power and Iraq under his thumb.

Baghdad has been trying hard to lure Raghad and Rana back. Earlier this week, the Women's Association of Iraq, a government-controlled body, said the two women were drugged and tricked into leaving, and urged them to return.

A similar tactic was used by Saddam's son and heir apparent, Uday. He visited Amman last Thursday - the day Jordan granted the defectors sanctuary - to try to take his sisters back. Jordan's monarch, King Hussein, snubbed the request.

The King granted asylum to the two generals, their wives, their children and bodyguards after they defected last Tuesday.

Since their flight, the defectors have been staying at one of King's guest palaces near Amman under heavy army protection.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Rocky road: Dwayne Johnson and Carla Gugino play an estranged husband and wife in 'San Andreas'
filmReview: In the face of all-round devastation, even Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson appears a little puny
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Bright lights, big city: Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles by dusk
books
Sport
Harry Kane makes Paul Scholes' Premier League team of the season
footballPaul Scholes on the best players, managers and goals of the season - and the biggest disappointments
News
i100
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: Web Developer - Junior / Middleweight

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: One of the South East's fastest growing full s...

Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

£35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

Recruitment Genius: Commercial Engineer

£30000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Estimating, preparation of tech...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Technician

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will work as part of a smal...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor