The Gulf: Saddam's Strongest Card

Though a lucky few escape, the Iraqi leader turns thousands of Americans and other foreigners into hostages and vows to keep them captive until the U.S. withdraws

Of all the cards Saddam Hussein was holding as he attempted to stave off the U.S. and its allies, the strongest was the thousands of Americans, Britons and other foreign nationals held against their will in Iraq and Kuwait.

Last week he played it. As the speaker of Iraq's parliament sarcastically put it, "The people of Iraq have decided to play host to the citizens of these aggressive nations as long as Iraq remains threatened with an aggressive war." They would be housed, he said, in military and civilian installations that would be likely U.S. targets if an armed conflict developed.

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