Unknowncountry has learned that there are profound divisions within the Iraqi government, and that elements of the Republican Guard are trying to make a deal under which they would surrender and open the way to Baghdad for coalition forces.

The success or failure of this deal depends on what kind of personal guarantees the U.S. is willing to extend to these units and their leaders. This negotiation may be taking place without the involvement of Saddam Hussein or his sons, and Saddam Hussein’s present situation is an open question. He could be dead, injured or captured by his own forces. If he is free and healthy, he is no longer in control of large parts of his most important military units.

It is also possible that a deal is being brokered under which Hussein and his family, or the remaining members, and a number of close associates would leave the country. The question is the degree to which the Ba’athist party would remain intact and part of the political scene in Iraq.

Opinion: It is to be hoped that events taking place right now are not the equivalent of George Bush Senior’s decision not to risk finishing the first Gulf War. The Husseins must leave Iraq, and all their loyalists must be removed. The Ba’athist party must follow the Nazi party into oblivion.

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