CAIRO, Egypt – Former Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz has started calling his youngest son — named Saddam after Iraq's ousted leader — by the name Zuhair instead, according to letters obtained by the London-based Arabic daily Asharq Al-Awsat.
"My regards to everybody, how is your mother? And your youngest brother Zuhair?" Aziz said in a July letter to his two daughters, Zeinab and Maysaa. He also referred to the son as Zuhair in an October letter, the paper said in its Wednesday editions, which reproduced several of Aziz's letters.
The widely read Arabic daily said it got the letters from Aziz's older son, Zayad, 37. Zayad told the paper his brother is a student at the University of Jordan (search). While the paper's headline was that Aziz "changed" his son's name, Zayad still referred to his brother as Saddam.
Tariq Aziz, who once served as the public face of Saddam Hussein's regime, was one of the former officials called in to identify the ousted Iraqi president after his arrest on Saturday, U.S. officials said.
Aziz started sending letters to his family — scattered between Amman and Baghdad — after he surrendered to coalition forces on April 24, Zayad told Asharq Al-Awsat.
In his letters, Aziz asked his family to send him heavy clothing, bread, dates, milk, slippers, Marlboro cigarettes, underwear, newspapers and magazines.
Seven letters were delivered to Aziz's family by the International Red Cross (search), but no letters have arrived since the Red Cross left Baghdad in October following a deadly suicide attack on its headquarters, Zayad told the newspaper.
"My father is ... an ailing man. He is an extraordinary politician. We are not allowed to communicate with or visit him," the paper quoted Zayad as saying.
He added that Aziz had suffered from a stroke, diabetes and hypertension before turning himself in to coalition authorities.
Asked if an attorney had been appointed to defend his father in case of a trial, Zayad said an Iraqi lawyer, Shawkat Shabeb, had volunteered and a French lawyer also may become involved in the case.
"Those who came to rule Iraq, came for revenge from the former regime. ... His (Aziz's) enemies will not be fair if they were the ones to try him," Zayad told the newspaper.