Saddam Sought Soviet Help in '91

Declassified records reveal attempt to head off US attack
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 20, 2011 1:18 AM CST
Saddam Sought Soviet Help in '91
Iraqi president Saddam Hussein raises his rifle in a salute and fires it November 20, 2000 during Grand Day of Quds festivities in Baghdad.    (Getty Images)

A frustrated Saddam Hussein pleaded with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for diplomatic assistance as the Operation Desert Storm ground battle began in 1991, reveal newly declassified records from Iraqi archives. The records—part of a huge archive containing millions of documents and thousands of hours of video footage captured after the US invasion in 2003—were released this week in time for the 20th anniversary of the beginning of the war's air phase, the New York Times reports.

The Iraqi leader denounced Gorbachev as a "scoundrel" without the will to stop then-President Bush after no diplomatic solution could be found, the records reveal. Saddam and his top advisers—who rejected Gorbachev's proposal that Iraq withdraw from Kuwait immediately—predicted that the US would soften its demands after suffering heavy casualties. "Let us pray to God to grant us success to slaughter any number of them. That is what is going to get results," said foreign minister Tariq Aziz. “Let them come to Karbala city,” said a defiant Hussein. “It will become their cemetery.” (More Mikhail Gorbachev stories.)

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