A news report from The Australian and Al-Arabiya indicates that the United States had negotiated a peaceful exit for Saddam Hussein from Iraq -- but that the Arab League torpedoed the deal, leading to the Iraq War in March 2003 (h/t: Daily Scorecard):
Deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had secretly accepted a last-minute
plan to go into exile to avert the 2003 Iraq war, but Arab leaders shot the
proposal down, Al Arabiya television reported today. UAE President Sheikh Zayed
bin Sultan al-Nahayan made the proposal for Saddam to go into exile at an
emergency Arab summit just weeks before the US-led war began in March 2003.
But the 22-member Arab League, led by Secretary-General Amr Moussa,
refused to consider the initiative.
"We had got the final agreement from the different parties, the main
players in the world and the person concerned – Saddam Hussein – within 24
hours," Mohammed bin Zayed, deputy head of the UAE armed forces and crown prince of Abu Dhabi, told the UAE-based channel in a documentary.
The Al-Arabiya documentary includes remarks from Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak that indicates the Bush Administration would have accepted a permanent exile for Saddam's government in exchange for a peaceful transition. The Arab nations apparently refused to accept Saddam's exile, and for some reason that sank the agreement at the last moment.
The Captain goes on to speculate as to WHY the Shieks of Araby nixed the deal...