Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities captured Saddam Hussein’s half-brother in Syria and handed him over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture.
Sabawi Ibrahim al-Hassan, who was also a former adviser suspected of financing insurgents after U.S. troops ousted the former dictator, was captured in Hasakah in northeastern Syria near the Iraqi border, two senior Iraqi officials told The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
The officials did not specify when al-Hassan was captured, only saying he was detained following the Feb. 14 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in Beirut, Lebanon, in a blast that killed 16 others.
What did I tell you? With the wave of popular sentiment sweeping across Southwest Asia for democratic self-determination and pressure from both America and France to get out of Lebanon or else, Syria has decided to start playing nice with the new Iraqi government rather than protect Assad’s political Ba’athist cousins. Ibrahim hardly made himself an asset to Assad anyway, and with all of the diplomatic heat coming down on Damascus, Assad has belatedly found the Iraqi Ba’athist leadership very disposable.
Jack Kelly wrote earlier that the Iraq War has already been essentially won, with nothing much left than the cleanup. This constitutes a major part of that effort, and as long as the pressure remains on the Syrians, more cleanup will follow after this. It also confirms that Syria indeed had a hand in fomenting the terrorist attacks in Iraq; now, with this revelation and the apparent reversal of course by an extremely nervous Assad, we may see the entire Zarqawi/Ba’athist effort collapse in on itself within weeks.
UPDATE: The AP story has been updated with even better news (emphases mine):
Iraqi officials said Sunday that Syrian authorities had captured Saddam Hussein’s half-brother and 29 other officials of the deposed dictator’s Baath Party in Syria and handed them over to Iraq in an apparent goodwill gesture. …
They added that al-Hassan was captured and handed over to Iraqi authorities along with 29 other members of Saddam’s collapsed Baath Party, whose Syrian branch has been in power in Damascus since 1963.
So they turned over 30 operatives of Sabawi’s network along with Sabawi himself. It’s starting to look like an early bout of spring cleaning at Chateau Assad. The Iraqi Ba’athists have become very, very expendable.
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