Dreaming of the Caliphate by Barnaby Rogerson

It was during Saddam Hussein's disastrous annexation of Kuwait in 1990 that I had an idle daydream of what a tired old tyrant sitting on the throne of Iraq might be persuaded to do towards the end of his life. Like many observers I realised that the organised looting of the wealthy suburbs of Kuwait City by units of the Iraqi army was not playing well to the newly 'liberated citizens of the 19th province of Greater Iraq' or to the other Arab states stretched along the Persian Gulf. It looked shoddy, the operation of a bored mobster, a gangster up to his eyebrows in debt without imagination, style or finesse.

And then in an instant I knew what council a Machiavellian Vizier should whisper into the ear of Saddam, if he was going to successfully cloak his crimes and gather to himself the mantle of history. As his first troops crossed the frontier posts he should have simultaneously unfurled the black banners of the Abbasid Caliphs from Baghdad and the ruins of Samara. He should have sent out a public invitation to all the Muslim community leaders of the world whilst appealing to each Islamic nation to send one delegate for every million of their people, and so gather together to elect and acclaim a new Caliph. To complete this propoganda coup he would then publicly resign as President of Iraq and then publicly recite the humble oath of the first Caliph Abu Bakr in the courtyard of his hometown mosque at Takrit whilst modestly stepping forth into the television cameras as a mere Emir.