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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Saddam's Wife Visits Defecting Daughters

AMMAN -- The wife of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein was in Jordan on Wednesday hoping to see her two daughters who defected with their powerful husbands to Amman last week, according to senior Jordanian officials.

The trip came as Baghdad maintained a belligerent public stance over the defections of Lieutenant General Hussein Kamel Hassan, Iraq's military mastermind, his brother, who headed Saddam's presidential guards, their wives Raghda and Rana, and their children and bodyguards, who were all granted political asylum in Jordan last week. It said it was not intimidated by U.S. threats of military force in the wake of the departure and dismissed U.S. reinforcements in the region as "cowboy policies."

A senior Jordanian official said Saddam's wife Sajeda "arrived late yesterday [Tuesday] but we are not aware if she has already met her daughters." He could not say where she was residing. The Iraqi Embassy denied that Sajeda was in Jordan.

The defectors have been staying at one of King Hussein's guest palaces near Amman under heavy army protection since their dramatic flight.

U.S. President Bill Clinton responded to Jordan's decision to grant them asylum by saying King Hussein showed "real courage" over the issue and assuring him that the United States would stand by him in any confrontation with Baghdad.

Jordanian officials have said Iraq might send hit squads or use radical Palestinians in Jordan to retaliate, and Tuesday U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry said Washington had a formidable force in the region and would respond immediately if needed. Senior defense officials added that they were keeping one aircraft carrier longer than planned in the Gulf and sending another to the eastern Mediterranean.

But Nouri al-Marsoumi, senior undersecretary at Iraq's Culture and Information Ministry, delivered a scathing attack on the moves.

"America should distance itself from the morals and policy of cowboys as evident in Western films ... the use of the whip may be useful with individuals but not with nations and countries that possess means to respond," he said in a front-page article in the official Al-Iraq newspaper. "The time has come for the American administration to learn from its desperate lessons of the past that the revolution led by Saddam Hussein ... was born to stay," Marsoumi added.

Sajeda is a mother of five, including Saddam's powerful sons Uday and Qusay, who have come to the fore after reports of a power struggle in Saddam's ruling elite. Her third daughter, still in Iraq, is Hala.

Sajeda, a cousin of Saddam, is the sister of Adnan Khairallah, a defense minister who died in a 1989 helicopter crash that some officials and diplomats have suspected was engineered by the Iraqi leader.

She arrived five days after Uday made a futile visit to Jordan to try to see his sisters and take them back.

King Hussein, in a 10-minute meeting, snubbed his request after Uday suggested his sisters might have been taken from Iraq against their will.

Hussein Kamel told reporters Saturday he described the defection plan to his wife, Raghda, Saddam's eldest daughter, 10 days in advance.