(posted by Katherine Long)
Was the fall of Baghdad part of a secret deal between the United States and the Baath regime? It sounds preposterous to American ears, but it's a popular theory in the Arab media.
"Why did Iraq fall so easily?" the Lebanon Daily Star asks. "And, where did all the Iraqi soldiers and elite units go?"
(Of course, the U.S. was trying to get Iraqi generals to surrender in the days leading up to the war -- remember those reports that Special Ops were calling members of the Republican Guard on their cell phones, trying to arrange deals?)
In Basra, there are claims that coaliton forces are protecting Baath party members until the dust settles.
The head of the Republican Guard cut a deal with the U.S. to surrender, al-Jazeera reports, citing a story in the French newspaper Le Monde.
Why is the U.S. so interested in Saddam's "black files?" According to a report by the Middle East Research and Information Project, Saddam's files could provide evidence of Iraq's ties to terrorist groups, but they might also contain embarrassing evidence of ties between U.S. companies and Iraq.
The pro-government Arab News of Saudi Arabia thinks it’s spotted a suspicious pattern -- that President George Bush has stopped mentioning both Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein.
And then there are legions of theories on Saddam's whereabouts, including the ever-popular belief that he was spirited out of Baghdad and flown to Russia.
Profiting from reconstruction
Europeans are alarmed that American companies with strong ties to the Bush administration are being rewarded with reconstruction contracts.
Is the Bush administration going to create an Enron in Babylon? Asia Times argues that European companies should get considered for some of the contracts -- they have have expertise in rebuilding war-torn countries, and some have even done work in Iraq under the oil-for-food program.
In a possible indication of things to come, Poland -- a U.S. ally in the Iraq war -- said it wanted preferential treatment when the contracts are doled out to rebuild the country.
Meanwhile, some Democrats have called for an investigation into the decision to sidestep open bidding on the contracts.