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Intensely aware of the security concerns weighing down on his administration, the Iraqi prime minister understands full well that both his political future and physical survival depend on his skill in managing the twilight zone in which Iraqi Baath insurgents and their allies collide with the 130,000 American soldiers shoring up his regime.
From the moment he assumed office, he became a prime target for assassins. His murder would provide a short cut for the Iraqi Baath and al Qaeda seeking to topple the Iraqi administration provisionally installed to assume sovereignty and shepherd Iraq to a democratic election. Allawi realized he needed some urgent life insurance, an ace in the hole for his survival.
What he has done therefore is to gain control of Saddam and his top 11 regime officials as hostages to guarantee his life. The insurgents will be given to understand that violence against the prime minister will be met with the fast trial and execution of a member of Saddam’s “dirty dozen.” It will therefore be in Saddam’s vital interest to keep his successor in good health.