I have just received this briefing, courtesy of Stratfor. Since a hefty subscription fee is required in order to link to the article, here is an excerpt:
“Former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, reputed to be a personal friend of Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, made a lightning visit to Baghdad on Feb. 23. The purpose and results of the meeting are shrouded in secrecy, apart from a statement by Moscow that Hussein was asked — and agreed — to cooperate fully with U.N. weapons inspectors.
Reliable Stratfor sources within the Russian government say Hussein indeed has promised to cooperate with the inspectors’ demands — including that Baghdad scrap its al Samoud 2 missile program by March 1, an announcement that sources expect to be forthcoming within days.”
It seems that this ’11th hour offer’ also includes an invitation for Western oil companies to recommence business in Iraq and a blanket promise from Hussein to ‘play nicely’. The offer is being heavily sponsored by the French, the Germans and the Russians and is expected to be received warmly by HMG.
But the real test is whether or not it is accepted in Washington. It could be acceptable if it could then be presented as having only be achieved by the credible threat of force. However, the policy goal in Washington is regime change in Iraq and not status-quo.
Rejection of the offer by Washington could see Mr.Primakov flying back to Baghdad to broker yet another offer, although what more Hussein could possibly put on the table is hard to imagine.