The son of a former Iraq prime minister plans
to return to Iraq next week to offer his share of leadership.
Saad Saleh Jabr, whose father Saleh Jabr was prime minister in 1947-48 during
the reign of King Faisal II, will return to Iraq after 35 years of exile spent
in the United States and Britain.
Jabr follows Sharif Ali, a cousin of former King Faisal II who has returned
from Britain to Iraq to offer monarchy as a unifying force. Despite the high
royal position of his father, Sharif Ali has not got far down the royal road.
Several other exiled Iraqis have returned to Iraq from Britain to engage in
political life on the strength of their connections with the U.S. and British
governments during their period of exile.
Jabr, who has been working as a middleman for Western companies to win contracts
in the Arab world during his years in exile, has been a force among Iraqi opposition
leaders largely on the strength of that lineage, and of weekly newspapers he
produced from 1984 up until the invasion of Iraq last year.
He launched the first Iraqi opposition newspaper Al Tayar from his base
in London in 1984. That was followed up by a new weekly Free Iraq in
Every opposition leader in Iraq is familiar with the newspapers," Jabr
told IPS Friday. "In fact half the members of the Governing Council have
graduated from our group."
A spokesman for the Governing Council called him in London Thursday to discuss
his political agenda on return to Iraq, Jabr said.
Jabr said he had discussed his return to Iraq with senior British officials
and with senior leaders within Iraq. "I'll talk to the Americans when
I get there," he said. But U.S. officials are making arrangements for his
security, he said.
Jabr has had mixed relations with the United States. His wife is from the United
States "and I'm a big baseball fan," he says.
Jabr says he has corresponded twice with U.S. officials, including Central
Intelligence Agency (CIA) officials, to support coup attempts against Saddam
The attempts failed, and the United States must take a fair share of blame
for that, Jabr says.
Jabr heads a political party, the Free Iraqi Council. That will now add to
about 120 political parties already in existence in Iraq.
"But my real aim is to bring these parties together," he said. "For
five years we should freeze all the separate political activities and work together
to rebuild Iraq."
Parties need to come together urgently in order to stop different groups going
their own ways, he said. "There are differences emerging between Arabs
and Kurds, and between Shias and Sunnis," he said. "We are getting
to the stage when this kind of thing could get out of hand."
Discussions with key Iraqi leaders suggest that many are keen to consider a
joint action plan by political parties, Jabr said.
"My main aim is to get everyone together. I want to tell people that
goddammit, where is this sectarianism going to get you? I am a sheikh, but I
am a liberal sheikh."
Jabr plans to make his move to unify parties outside any efforts by the Governing
Council. "I am glad that some people have accepted those positions on
the Governing Council, but I would not have accepted that myself," he told
media representatives earlier.
Jabr says he will push for rule by Iraqis to replace the United States. "They
can take all the bases they want, wherever they want, but they should leave
the running of the country to Iraqis, we know how to do it, let us run the show."
Jabr is keen to convince Iraqis and the West that he can have a role to play.
The elderly leader came to a press meeting walking unsteadily with the support
of a stick.
"You must ask why I walk with a stick," he said. "I overdid
the exercising and hurt my back. I will leave this stick behind when I return
Inter Press Service