Who is the real Prince of Baghdad?

                       On August 3, the Saudi-owned newspaper Asharq al-Awsat
                      quoted "informed Iraqi sources in Amman" as saying that
                      Saddam’s younger son, Qusay Hussein, would assume control of
                      the government in the event of an emergency. In addition, the
                      paper reported Qusay’s responsibilities were to be enlarged to
                      include security in Baghdad as well as overseeing the army, the
                      Republican Guard and the intelligence services. Qusay has
                      traditionally kept a low profile and has worked primarily in
                      overseeing the intelligence apparatus that helps to keep his father
                      in power. Reports of Qusay’s elevation followed a report from AP
                      earlier in the day indicating that Izzak Ibrahim, the second-ranking
                      official in the Iraqi government, was granted a visa to Austria to
                      seek hospital treatment. Ibrahim is deputy chairman of the
                      Revolutionary Command Council, deputy Secretary-General of
                      the Baath Party and deputy commander of the army. He is also in
                      his early 60s and reportedly in bad health. On August 4, the
                      Asharq al-Aswat report on Qusay was ridiculed in the Iraqi
                      newspaper Babel, which is owned by Uday Hussein, Qusay’s
                      older brother. The Babel report claimed that the Asharq al-Aswat
                      report was the product of "ignorant enemies" of Iraq. Uday was
                      long seen as an heir-apparent to his father, but he was seriously
                      injured in an assassination attempt in 1996. However, Uday was
                      seen on Iraqi TV walking without assistance for the first time in

                      What is behind this apparent sudden burst of activity on the Iraqi
                      succession front? There are several possibilities. The first is that
                      the report was simply fabricated by the Saudis in order to stir up
                      unrest within Baghdad’s ruling family. The problem is, Uday’s
                      heated response and Qusay’s lack of comment suggest there
                      was some truth to the matter. As of August 6, Stratfor has found
                      no official denial or conformation of the Asharq al-Aswat report
                      other than the one published in Uday’s paper. It is possible that
                      Ibrahim is being marginalized because of his ill health and
                      Saddam felt the need to clarify things in the event of a crisis. Uday
                      may be in the same boat as Ibrahim, his efforts to show off his
                      recovery notwithstanding. It is interesting to note that Ibrahim and
                      Uday are closely allied, as Uday is married to Ibrahim’s daughter.
                      All this suggests a possible split may be forming within the Tikrit
                      clan, though it is not clear whether Saddam is intentionally driving
                      that split, or whether he is reacting to it.

                      Another intriguing possibility is that 62-year-old Saddam may be
                      preparing to step down. July 16 marked the 20th anniversary of
                      his accession to power. In addition, the UN Security Council is
                      currently debating the future of the Iraqi sanctions regime .
                      If Saddam were suddenly to retire, the debate at the UN would
                      be thrown into an entirely new light.
                      The removal of Saddam from power has long been a stated goal
                      of the U.S., but Washington would be placed in an uncomfortable
                      position if another Hussein succeeded him. If Saddam were
                      contemplating retirement, he would want to make very sure that
                      whomever he placed in power would have the strength (and
                      health) to maintain a firm grip and could protect him from his
                      enemies, both foreign and domestic. Qusay now seems ideally
                      placed to be able to do this. One would also assume that
                      Saddam would want to exercise considerable power behind the
                      scenes in such a scenario. It would be important for Saddam to
                      know that he could count on his successor in all respects, and it is
                      possible that he feels safer with Qusay than either Uday or
                      Ibrahim. The juggling for the position of heir-apparent in Baghdad
                      at this time could be more than just a coincidence.