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January 29, 2003

   Toby Westerman, Editor and Publisher                                                                                   Copyright 2003

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Young but deadly -- desperate Saddam to use child-soldiers
January 29, 2003

By Toby Westerman
Copyright 2003 International News Analysis Today

Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, who once fancied himself as the successor of great Near Eastern monarchs of long ago, is resorting to measures more reminiscent of the cornered Adolph Hitler in 1945.

Baghdad is already fortified for a "last stand," and now there is a report that Saddam will use child-soldiers in a suicidal defense of his regime.

Just as Hitler used German boys in a desperate attempt to avoid complete defeat, Saddam is using Iraqi youth to support his hated regime.

The "Lions Club" and the "Ashbal Saddam" are Saddam's two main child-soldier organizations, which consist of children from 10 to 15 years old who are ready to "fight a bitter house-to-house battle" against U.S.-led forces invading Iraq, according to a recent report from the German news magazine, Der Spiegel.

Trained in the use of small arms, and steeped in a militant interpretation of the Koran, the child-soldiers pose a special danger to U.S. troops who may face them.

"Children understand nothing of tactics and do not see the total picture…[but] if they come under attack, they fight wildly," cautioned Major Jim Gray of the British Royal Marines.

U.S. and allied soldiers must be ready for the shock of encountering child-soldiers, warned Gray.

Child-soldiers can be ferocious opponents, capable of "shocking cruelty," more ready to take risks and display greater unpredictability than adult troops, according to Peter Singer of the U.S.-based Brookings Institute, and quoted in Der Spiegel.

The British have had recent experience with child-soldiers. In the African nation of Sierra Leone in 1991, 150 British commandos came under fire from a group of underage troops, resulting in 12 dead.

After the fight with the child-soldiers, many of the British soldiers experienced depression and post traumatic stress disorder, according to Der Spiegel, citing a report from the Brookings Institute.

Baghdad is thought to have 8,000 child-soldier defenders, Der Spiegel reported.

Along with the use of underage soldiers, Saddam is becoming increasingly suspicious regarding the activities of "traitors".

In a recent meeting with army and political leaders and broadcast on Iraqi television, Saddam warned that all "traitors" must be hunted down, describing disloyal individuals as "in principle not even human," according to a report from the online version of the German news magazine, Focus.

Several Western European nations and Arab states are attempting to force Saddam from power. These nations want both to avoid the impending U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and are advocating a general amnesty following Saddam's fall, according to both Focus and Der Spiegel.

Copyright 2003
International News Analysis Today
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