Saddam: His crimes and his allies
It was symbolic that 2006 ended with a colonial hanging — most of it shown on state television in occupied Iraq. It has been that sort of year in the Arab world. The trial was so blatantly rigged that even Human Rights Watch had to condemn it as a travesty. Judges were changed on Washington’s orders, defence lawyers were killed and the whole procedure resembled a well orchestrated lynch mob. Where Nuremberg was a relatively dignified application of victor’s justice, Saddam Hussein’s trial was the crudest and most grotesque to date.
The great thinker-president’s reference to it “as a milestone on the road to Iraqi democracy” is as clear an indication as any that Washington pressed the trigger. The leaders of
the European Union, supposedly hostile to capital punishment, were passive, as usual.
Although some Shia factions celebrated in Baghdad, the figures published by a fairly independent establishment outfit, the Iraq Centre for Research and Strategic Studies, reveal that more than 80 pre cent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was better before it was occupied. (The ICRSS research is based on detailed house-to-house interviewing carried out during the third week of November.) Only 5 per cent of those questioned said Iraq is better today than in 2003; 12 pre cent felt things had improved and 9 per cent said there was no change. Unsurprisingly, 95 pre cent felt the security situation was worse than before.
Add to this the figures supplied by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees: 1.6 million Iraqis (7 per cent of the population) have fled the country since March 2003, and 100,000 leave every month — Christians, doctors, engineers, women. There are 1 million Iraqis in Syria, 750,000 in Jordan, 150,000 in Cairo. These are refugees who do not excite the sympathy of western public opinion, since the US-EU-backed occupation is the cause. Perhaps it was these statistics, and estimates of a million Iraqi dead, that necessitated the execution of Saddam.
That Saddam was a tyrant is beyond dispute, but what is conveniently forgotten is that most of his crimes were committed when he was a staunch ally of those who are now occupying the country. It was, as he admitted in one of his trial outbursts, the approval of Washington and the poison gas supplied by what was then West Germany that gave him the confidence to douse Halabja with chemicals in the middle of the Iran-Iraq war. Saddam deserved a proper trial and punishment in an independent Iraq. Not this.
The double standards applied by the west never cease to astonish. Indonesia’s Suharto, who presided over a mountain of corpses, was protected by Washington. He never annoyed them as much as Saddam.
And what of those who have created the mess in Iraq today? The torturers of Abu Ghraib; the pitiless butchers of Falluja; the ethnic cleansers of Baghdad; the Kurdish prison boss who boasts that his model is Guantanamo. Will Bush and Blair ever be tried for war crimes? Doubtful.
Saddam’s lynching might send a shiver down the spines of the Arab ruling elites in the region. If Saddam can be hanged, so can the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, the Hashemite joker in Amman and the Saudi royals — as long as those who topple them are happy to play ball with the US. — The Guardian