Searching for Saddam's replacement
Washington reaches out to ex-Iraqi generals.

By Jeff Stein

Dec. 13, 2001 | WASHINGTON -- A stream of ex-Iraqi military officers has been invited to Washington in recent weeks to explore options for overthrowing Saddam Hussein.

The unprecedented meetings in early November and again last Friday, held under the auspices of the Middle East Institute, a private group headed by top former U.S. State Department officials, amount to a quiet effort by some former and present Washington officials to add military teeth to -- if not supplant -- the main exile organization supported by Washington for almost a decade, the Iraqi National Congress.

Indeed, the INC, led by Ahmad Chalabi, scion of a onetime Iraqi banking family, was not even invited to the first meeting on Nov. 1, which featured about a dozen former ranking Iraqi military officers plus a half dozen onetime civilian officials in the Baghdad regime. An assistant to Chalabi showed up at the conference visibly miffed, along with some Pentagon officials who have backed the INC, officials said.

Copyright 2002