Early on in the standoff, claim Iraqi diplomats, al-Ani's wife made threatening phone calls to three Iraqi families who live in the compound, telling them she would kill them if they didn't leave the embassy grounds. Says one diplomat, "she called my home and said she'd shoot my son and deliver his body to my wife's lap." Al-Khudairi has applied to China's Foreign Ministry to intervene on his behalf, but thus far Beijing has merely posted extra guards outside the embassy. "This man is a thug," says al-Khudairi. "He did not win his position because of his qualifications as a diplomat but because of his loyalty to Saddam." These days, that's a commodity in scarce demand.
Last week was rough for disciples of Saddam Hussein. But while Saddam's sons were being gunned down by U.S. forces, another less famous supporter of the fugitive Iraqi dictator held his ground. Mowaffaq Mahmoud al-Ani, Iraq's ex-Ambassador to China, has completed seven weeks of an armed occupation of Iraq's embassy in Beijing. According to Talal al-Khudairi, who has been tapped by Iraq's new Foreign Ministry to assume the ambassadorship, al-Ani received a telegram relieving him of his duties on June 6. Determined to ignore the order, al-Ani chained the doors of key embassy offices shut, armed himself and his wife with pistols, andsays al-Khudairiwarned colleagues that he would "put a bullet in the head of anyone who tried to defy him." Al-Ani, who couldn't be reached for comment, told al-Jazeera that the allegation that he threatened colleagues was "a lie."