BAGHDAD (Reuters)–US forces captured a second half-brother of Saddam Hussein on Thursday–mopping up after a divisive war that has left the big powers at loggerheads over what should happen next.
The European Union called for a major UN role in reshaping Iraq–something Washington does not want. As the diplomatic sparring resumed–the United States said sanctions on Iraq should end. Russia replied that this was not automatic.
Iraq’s neighbors–meanwhile–meet in Saudi Arabia on Friday to discuss how Saddam’s fall has changed the Middle East and their place in it. The Arab League said it might convene special talks on how member states should deal with a US-run Iraq.
Showing its resolve to pursue the "scattered members of a fractured regime,” the US military seized ex-intelligence chief Barzan Ibrahim Hasan al-Tikriti in a Baghdad raid.
Reputed to be Saddam’s "banker in the West” while a diplomat in Geneva–Barzan was only the third person detained from a US list of 55 Iraqis wanted dead or alive. He joins another Saddam half-brother and the fallen president’s top scientific adviser.
"If we don’t find every one of them–but we can account that the regime is not in place–then we have succeeded,” US Brigadier General Vincent Brooks said of the list of 55.
There was scant trace of Saddam or his sons–though two Arabic newspapers said Baghdadis reported seeing the deposed Iraqi president hours before US forces took over the city.
Just a week later–the big powers resumed their diplomatic tussle over Iraq’s future after Washington urged an end to UN economic sanctions–so Iraqi oil could be sold again.
European Union leaders urged Washington–which is determined to dominate the reconstruction of Iraq–to let the United Nations have a strong say.
"The UN must play a central role–including in the process leading towards self-government for the Iraqi people,” EU president Greece said in a statement.
Sanctions were high on the agenda of informal summit talks.
Anti-war members of the UN Security Council–which refused to back the US-led invasion four weeks ago–know their voices count if sanctions are to be lifted.
"For the Security Council to take this decision–we need to be certain whether Iraq has weapons of mass destruction or not,” said Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov. "This decision cannot be automatic.”
Sanctions banning most trade were imposed in 1990 after Iraq invaded Kuwait and are tied to Iraq being declared free of nuclear–biological and chemical weapons.
That was the task of UN arms inspectors whose work was cut short by the war–which US President George W. Bush justified by accusing Iraq of amassing such arms.
None has been found so far. US commanders say there could be up to 3,000 sites to check–but chief UN weapons inspector Hans Blix said the Americans did not want his help.
"The alliance arrived as a liberator and an occupier and that can have its disadvantages. If their experts actually find weapons of mass destruction–their veracity could be doubted,” Blix told the German magazine Der Spiegel.
"I can only note that the military alliance have turned down our help and have given no prospect of cooperation.”
Despite the elusiveness of any "smoking gun,” Washington has stuck to its diplomatic guns over the danger of weapons of mass destruction. It is now taking aim at Iraq’s neighbor Syria with accusations it too has developed chemical arms.
Syria said it would refuse to accept outside arms inspections–but wanted all the Middle East–including Israel – to be rid of weapons of mass destruction.
"Syria won’t allow any inspection,” Foreign Minister Farouq al-Shara said in Cairo.
He and counterparts from other states neighboring Iraq are due to meet in Saudi Arabia on Friday for their first talks on Iraq’s future and what Saddam’s fall means for the region.
None were friends of his–but most opposed the war–which they say has left Iraq in chaos and in danger of destabilizing ethnic and sectarian fragmentation.
WHO’S IN CONTROL?
More grim details of the anarchy and looting that erupted after US forces toppled Saddam last week seeped out.
The International Committee of the Red Cross said looters of a Baghdad psychiatric hospital raped some patients.
On Thursday–Mohammed Mohsen Zubaidi of the long-exiled Iraqi National Congress said he had been chosen as interim "mayor” of Baghdad by a council of civic and religious leaders.
He pledged to restore order in a city still without power–but ordinary Iraqis asked who was really in charge.
Some even showed signs of hankering after the tough rule they endured for decades under Saddam.
"I am glad he (Saddam) has gone–but the situation today is really much worse than it was,” said Sayed Al Hashim–a clerk.
The US military said 125 of its troops died in the war and estimated at least 2,320 Iraqi soldiers died defending Baghdad.
Thirty British troops died. No one knows how many Iraqi civilians died but estimates range upwards from around 1,250.
The United Nations boosted the tempo of its aid deliveries to Iraq–bringing 100 trucks of food into the stricken country from Turkey and opening up a new supply route via Jordan.
In one report of isolated fighting–the US military said it had been attacking Iranian opposition fighters based in Iraq–but hoped to arrange a cease-fire with them in the next few days.