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Jordan Rejects Saddam Novel

It seems even fallen dictators have trouble getting their novels published. Jordan has barred publication of Saddam Hussein's (search) fourth novel, titled "Get Out, Damned One," due to political concerns, a senior Jordanian official said Sunday.

"I just assessed whether this would be in Jordan's national interest and I thought it was not because the whole issue bears political ramifications which do not serve Jordan at all," Ahmad Qudah, head of the Press and Publications Department, told The Associated Press.

"I have declined to ordain the printing and circulation of the novel said to be written by Saddam because we in Jordan will not sacrifice our ties with Iraq for anything."

Jordan (search) enjoys cordial relations with the elected government in Iraq (search), hosting training sessions for Iraqi police cadets, army and anti-terrorism units as part of its contribution to Iraq's postwar reconstruction.

The novel tells the story of a man named Ezekiel who plots to overthrow a town's sheik but is defeated by the sheik's daughter and an Arab warrior.

The story is apparently a metaphor for a Zionist-Christian plot against Arabs and Muslims. Ezekiel is meant to symbolize the Jews.

Qudah said his department "did not tackle the content of the novel."

Saddam's eldest daughter, Raghad, told the AP she expected the novel to be published in the next week. She said her father finished the novel March 18, 2003 — a day before the U.S.-led war on Iraq began — and expressed a wish to publish the book under his name.

The three other novels he wrote were simply signed, "Its author."

"It was my father's will to publish this book," Raghad said Friday.

She said an Iraqi artist designed the book's cover and a Jordanian publishing house would print the book in Arabic. English and French translations will follow, she added.

Raghad also wrote a dedication to her father on the book's back cover, which said, in part: "You, who raised our heads high, the heads of the Iraqis, the Arabs and the Muslims ... we present to you our souls ... to the father of the heroes, to my beloved and dear father, with all my respect and glory to you."

She could not be reached by telephone Sunday.

Some Arab newspapers published excerpts of the novel last year without permission, with the first appearing in the London-based Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat.

Ali Abdel Amir, an Iraqi writer and critic who has read the whole manuscript, said the novel was similar in style to the other three attributed to Saddam.

Abdel Amir said "Get Out, Damned One" describes an Arab leading an army that invades the land of the enemy and topples one of their monumental towers, an apparent reference to the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center in New York by Usama bin Laden's Al Qaeda network.

Asharq al-Awsat, which published the entire work over several days last year, said the manuscript was found in the Ministry of Culture after Baghdad's fall. It said it had received its copy from Saddam's physician, Alla Bashir, who fled Iraq after the war and was believed to be in Qatar.

Saddam, 68, also has been credited with writing three other books: "Zabibah and the King," "The Fortified Citadel" and "Men and a City."

"Zabibah and the King" tells a story of a leader who sacrifices a luxurious life for the sake of his people.

"The Fortified Citadel" described the rise to power of Saddam's Baath Party.

"Men and a City" is widely viewed as a thinly veiled autobiography, presenting him as powerful and heroic.

Saddam has been jailed under American control at a U.S. military detention complex near Baghdad airport since his December 2003 capture near his hometown of Tikrit, north of Baghdad.

He faces charges before a special war crimes tribunal that include killing rival politicians over 30 years, gassing Kurds in the northern town of Halabja in 1988, invading Kuwait in 1990, and suppressing Kurdish and Shiite uprisings in 1991.

No trial date has been set. If convicted, he faces the death penalty.