Gerald Ford was almost alone in understanding that there can be no healing without pardon."
— Dick Cheney, 30 December 2006, eulogizing Gerald Ford.
One of the executioners asked "Are you afraid?"
He answered "I am not afraid of anyone. I have been a mujahid and a political activist all my life, and I expected death at any moment. "
He added, "Down with the Americans and the Persians. Long live the Arab nation and Palestine"
— Saddam Hussein Al-Tikriti, 30 December 2006 (morning of the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice), just before his death.
"He was an Arab and died like a true Arab"
— K., an anonymous Arab woman, 30 December 2006, with tears in her eyes.
The king is dead, but long live the king! Kings never die, and to try to kill them is futile. Exile and imprisonment, rather than regicide, carry far more humiliation for them, but personal humiliation was not the intention here. The intention here was the attempted castration of the Arab world, and another feeble attempt at the emasculation of the Muslim Ummah. Once again, a horrible failure from the other King, the King of Failures, George Bush II.
Personally, I never did like Saddam Hussein and I was always told he was a liar and a tyrant, and I believed it. I was told that he was a bad man. I studied the WMD evidence, the Dujail trial, and the evidence at Halabja and was expecting a lot more to come of something that could justify my hatred of this person. Sadly, with all the facts at our disposal now, I have no rational option but to pen this eulogy to one of the greatest Arabs, Saddam Hussein Al-Majid Al-Tikriti Al-Iraqi – the Lion of Baghdad and the Pride of Mesopotamia and Arabia.
Every person I spoke to today, Muslim or Christian, devout or atheist, was seething with hidden rage at the timing, the pending trials, the tawdry execution.
Iraq Under Saddam, and the subsequent Rape of Iraq
Iraq bloomed under him â€“ his Ba'ath party was more Shia than Sunni. Under him, Iraq was secular, with universal free education, resulting in the highest literacy rate with women at par with men. He commissioned sciences, museums and construction of buildings and monuments that reflected the new glory of Mesopotamia. Universal healthcare, pensions, and jobs for everyone. Did he hoard money for himself? I have yet to see the proof. The proof on the other side: had he been a spoilt coward, he would have gone into exile with his supposed billions when he was repeatedly offered it, and so would his sons. Do spoilt playboys fight to the last breath, even his teenage grandson?
Iraq should have been encouraged to move to democracy, instead of the unprecedented bloodshed, torture and suffering that has been inflicted on the people of the Iraq by the U.S. The wiping out of intellectuals, academics, libraries, museums and culture is unprecedented in modern history and evoked memories of Hulagu Khan. So much for civilization. So much for democracy. So much for human rights. So much for professional soldiers who rape, torture and kill civilians, in the hundreds of thousands, orders of magnitude more than what Saddam did while keeping his country together, literate and well-fed.
Even Hulagu had some scruples:* the Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth was offended if touched by royal blood. All of his sons but one were killed. (Wikipedia).*
Saddam Killed Many
Saddam Hussein sent many people to their deaths, so says Bush, and Bush is an honourable man. So has George Bush, and so has every leader since time immemorial. Would the families of the executed hate him? Of course. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. So what? How many Confederate families hated Abraham Lincoln when he put down a foreign-financed rebellion in the southern part of his country with brute force, killing their loved ones. But Saddam was a bad man. So sayeth Bush, and Bush is an honourable man.
There is more torture and mayhem in Iraq now, and Saddam's heavy-handedness has been justified, not on the absolute scale, but the relative scale (compare Putin's actions in Chechnya).
Saddam and the Shia Clergy
The United States egged him on against Iran, almost forcing his hand. When he did, Iran tried to destabilize him using its Shia clergy connections. He had the conspirators executed. So did Musharraf. Such is statecraft and we all live with it. The subtle duplicity of the media in this is appalling.
The Dujail Trial
Saddam's convoy was attacked in Dujail. He ordered an investigation and duly constituted judges pronounced death on the attackers and their supporters. During his trial, he was personally exonerated. His actions were in his official capacity as head of state â€“ he did not shoot someone with a revolver in his office. His trial was conducted under new laws invented by the Americans, the same set of laws that give immunity to U.S. soldiers from prosecution in Iraq.
In my opinion, he was executed quickly so as to stop the collection of evidence in the Halabja trials, which were next. The evidence in the Harvard archives is very flimsy, if at all credible. It was the middle of a war, with border parties switching allegiances and both parties using chemical weapons.
Saddam was a brutal dictator, but no better or no worse than the many others supported by the United States. Open the files on Anwar Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, the Jordanian Kings, Musharraf, Zia-ul-Haq, Niyazov, Putin, Karimov, and many many others.
As a secular Arab, he despised the religious fundamentalists, and provided his people with a higher standard of living and access to progress than any one of the Arab states around him. As a street-fighter, he had the smarts and the bravery of someone who has faced death many times.
Once he found out the game of the U.S. in the Middle East, he refused to play along, sacrificing himself instead of his country and his nation. For this, he was executed, and for precisely this, he will be remembered for time immemorial. Long after Bush and Blair are shameful footnotes of history, Saddam Hussein will be remembered as the lion that rose from Tikrit, the land of Salahuddin. Yes, the same Saladin, the Crusaders' nightmare. And that land will produce more like them.
Like him or hate him, he continued the independence of Iraqis, and the legacy that it will not be colonized, or neo-colonized like other Arab states. Even those who hated him want the Americans to leave, and the Palestinians to prosper. That is his legacy.
May Allah forgive his sins and excesses, and may his soul rest in peace.
*She (Queen of Sheba) said, 'When kings enter a city, they lay waste to it and make its mightiest inhabitants the most abased. That is what they too will do.' (Al-Quran 27:34) *
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