January 1, 2007

Saddam Hanged, Part II

It's nearly impossible to avoid the news of Saddam's execution over the past few days. Every blog I visit, every channel I watch, every newspaper I flip through, every conversation I have has involved the fate of the former Iraqi dictator. I wrote my last post about the hanging before I had seen the images of Saddam being taken to the gallows. Since then, a lot of feelings have come over me, the most prominent of which is an utter sense of hopelessness and mild disgust.

I'm disgusted with the videos which I don't believe should have been made public by random individuals who were present at the execution. I'm disgusted with the chants I heard while Saddam was being hanged; individuals calling out the name of Muqtada Al-Sadr, for example. I'm disgusted with the "houses of mourning" for Saddam that sprung up in different parts of the Arab world. There's a lot to be angry about right now.

Trying to take it all in, I'm starting to realize how much of a negative impact this event will have on the future of the Iraq that is already in shambles. Many questions come to mind when I think of what has happened over the past three and a half years in Iraq. Sanctions, weapons, lies, invasion, victory, capture, elections, trial, chaos, conviction, civil war, hanging.

Saddam Hussein deserved to die, and all Iraqis deserved to see the man who tortured them given the justice he deserves. All is a key word here. Not just the supporters of Al-Sadr, and Al-Maliki. But every single Iraqi, because they all suffered under his rule. Unfortunately, the occupation in Iraq has succeeded at intensifying the sectarian differences between Iraqis, and they have used Saddam as a tool for that. He has been portrayed as the representative of the Sunni population, although he abused any Sunni and any Iraqi who did not bow down to his commands. Projecting the hanging as a victory for only some Iraqis is wrong, but it is the only way to succeed in "dividing and conquering" what is left of Iraq. If Iraqis were united at this time, Saddam's hanging would have been much more meaningful. Instead, it has become an event that will only exacerbate the existing tensions between the population.

Saddam should not have been hanged until he was tried for every crime that he was accused of. Executing him after only one trial related to his Shiite victims, and ignoring the Kurds and Sunnis who were oppressed by this man can only be explained in one way. The trial, conviction, and sentence of Saddam Hussein was meant to divide the Iraqi people and not unite them against him. Iraqi Sunnis became synonymous with him which is baseless lie. As I mentioned before, every Iraqi suffered from him, and his victims from all sects and ethnicities should have been avenged through his trial and even present at his hanging. The fact that Moqtada Al-Sadr's loyalists were even able to penetrate what should have been a highly secure execution. Instead of chanting against the dictator and for a better future for Iraq, they chanted the name of a man who is a divisive leader of a militia responsible some of the chaos and not a uniting force in Iraq.

Finally, the fact that he was quickly executed while his trial on other charges has just begun raises many questions. Was the US afraid of a trial that would reveal that Saddam received his chemical weapons from them? Did they not want to hear Saddam say that they had secretly given him the green light to invade Kuwait? Did the US not want to highlight to the world the fact that they were silent while Saddam gassed the Kurds?

Too many questions, not enough answers. The only thing clear today is the bleak future of Iraq. I'll leave you with excerpts of some interesting articles on this subject.

The Los Angeles Times Editorial says the execution has become irrelevant today:
It is absurd to regret the death of a man so brutal. His removal from power was heartening to defenders of human rights everywhere. Yet it's worth asking, as U.S. troops go on heightened alert in Baghdad, whether Hussein's death represents progress or yet another anticlimax for Iraq. When his regime was toppled in the spring of 2003, and again at his ignominious capture three years ago, Iraqis and U.S. troops — not to mention Washington policymakers — allowed themselves to hope that they had reached some kind of turning point in the war.

No one voices such unrealistic optimism anymore. Hussein's irrelevance was one of the main achievements of the war in Iraq. It is also one of the main reasons why that war continues.
This from the New York Times article, "Hussein Divides Iraq, Even in Death":
Almost four years after United States troops entered Iraq with a broader foreign policy goal of ushering in a “new” Middle East, one built on democracy and rule of law, the execution of Mr. Hussein on one of the holiest days in Islam marked the unceremonious demise of that strategy, many Arab analysts said.

“If you compare the results to the objectives the U.S. claimed to realize, whether it was democracy or control of the region, their policies have evidently failed,” said Nawaf Kabbara, professor of political science at Balamand University in Beirut. “They were not able to spread democracy, control anything or make any serious breakthrough. It is a failure on all levels.”

As vicious as he was, Mr. Hussein also held the country firmly together. Beyond military control, there was a subtle social glue: Iraqis of all sects loved to hate Saddam together. Now that he is gone, Shiites are afraid to joke with Sunnis about him, and Sunnis feel they are being blamed for his crimes.

Others, namely Kurds, opposed the quick hanging. Now, Mr. Hussein will not testify in other important genocide cases, especially the trial over the Anfal military campaign against the Kurds, in which he is accused of unleashing mass killings and chemical attacks that killed tens of thousands of villagers.

“The truth of what happened in al-Anfal has been buried,” said Abu Abdul Rahman, a 38-year-old Kurdish taxi driver. “What happened in al-Anfal? Who took part in it?”

Mr. Hussein may be gone, but the fear that succeeded him is what defines her life today.

“Where can I live, if Baghdad is divided?” she said in English. “In the Shiite sector or Sunni sector?”

“I have to run away. It’s not a place to live in anymore.”

And this also from the NYT, "For Arab Critics, Hussein's Execution Symbolizes the Victory of Vengeance Over Justice":

“Saddam Hussein was guilty a thousand times over, but still the Americans and the Iraqi government managed to run a shabby trial,” said Jihad al-Khazen, a columnist and former editor of the pan-Arab newspapers Al Hayat and Asharq al Awsat. “If they organized a fair trial with international observers that could have served as a model for other countries. Instead they messed it up, and I think Saddam in the eyes of many people will now be seen as another martyr.”

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At 5:29 PM, Anonymous oula farawati said...

and for some reason, I feel that the "west" knows exactly how we will react because we are very predictable and consequently very vulnerable and easy to manipulate.. it is very sad!

At 3:44 AM, Anonymous Samir said...

Use "Hanged" as a past tense intransitive verb..

Saddam Hanged (correct)
They hanged him. (incorrect)

instead: They hung him.

I would completely switch to "hung".. but some dictionaries said "hanged" is correct, to my surprise.

I hope I didin't seem too much of a smarty.. forgive me.

At 10:35 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

no one doubts saddam's guilt, but his execution is best described as gangster justice, whereby murderers exact revenge on each other. it's nauseating to read the Americans, who are responsible for horrific acts of brutality starting in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Palestine, Panama, Vietnam, japan, etc, appoint themselves as guardians of justice and human rights. What about the tens of thousands of iraqis who were slaughtered as a result of the illegal American and British invasion of Iraq? What about the tens of thousands of Iraqis who were brutally tortured butchered by US-protected death squads in Iraqi?

Who the fuck gives the americans and the brits the right to judge someone whose people they have killed and maimed?

At 10:41 AM, Anonymous Andy said...

Noughty Americans! How dare they to do what Arabs haven't the balls to do themseves - namely to get rid of a murderous dictators!

At 6:19 PM, Blogger moi said...

oula--sad indeed...

samir-- lol, now that you mention it, it does sound kind of off. Thanks for the advice, although I wouldn't want to change the title now because it changes the link to the post which can be problematic.

anon-- I agree that the Bush administration has some blood on its hands, and it is contradictory to demand justice to the same people you are denying justice to. What would you have them do instead of hang him?

andy-- They can only get rid of those murderous dictators once the US stops pumping money into their pockets.


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