Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Asking Questions After Saddam's Hanging

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To the victims of Saddam's cruelty, his execution brings a kind of joy and relief most of us can only imagine. You'd have to be made of stone not to understand and sympathize with that. Ding dong, the witch is dead; ding dong, the wicked witch is dead.

But Iraq is not the Land of Oz. Iraq is a failed state torn apart by civil war. Over 3 million Iraqis have been made into refugees; the strain on neighboring countries is threatening to further destabilize the entire region. The only growth industry in Iraq right now is mutilated corpses. Divisions along sectarian lines are deep, and they are hardening.

So. Given these realities, intelligent, thinking people (and yes, I do place myself in that group) have to do more than jump up and down shrieking with joy that Saddam Hussein is dead, and passing around videos of his execution -- the complete, unedited version.

There are many questions one can ask about the possible effects of Saddam's execution on Iraq, but the one that, to my mind, sums them all up is this: Will Saddam's execution -- carried out in great haste; after a sham trial; arranged and conducted by Shiites, and stage-managed by the United States -- serve to move Iraq in the direction of healing, or will it inflame sectarian divisions and resentments even more?

That is the only question we should be asking now. Fortunately, some people who have more of a platform than I do are asking this question, and trying to answer it:

Hijacking Eid and Hanging Saddam
Timing and Hostile Repartee Creates Further Division
By NIR ROSEN 12/31/2006 2:17 PM ET
Saddam Hussein became the first modern Arab dictator to die violently since Egypt's Anwar Sadat in 1981. Saddam's hanging at the hands of chubby Iraqi men wearing ski masks is likely to be perceived by many as an American execution and as part of a trend of American missteps contributing to sectarian tensions in Iraq and the region. The trial of Saddam was viewed by detractors as an event stage-managed by the Americans. According to Human Rights Watch, the Iraqi judges and lawyers involved in prosecuting Saddam were ill prepared and relied on their American advisers. American minders shut off the microphones and ordered the translators to halt whenever they disapproved of what was being said by the defendants.

The important Muslim holiday of Eid al Adha was due to begin over the weekend. For Sunnis it began on Saturday the 30th of December. For Shias it begins on Sunday the 31st. According to tradition in Mecca, battles are suspended during the Hajj period so that pilgrims can safely march to Mecca. This practice even predated Islam and Muslims preserved this tradition, calling this period 'Al Ashur al Hurm,' or the months of truce. By hanging Saddam on the Sunni Eid the Americans and the Iraqi government were in effect saying that only the Shia Eid had legitimacy. Sunnis were irate that Shia traditions were given primacy (as they are more and more in Iraq these days) and that Shias disrespected the tradition and killed Saddam on this day. Because the Iraqi constitution itself prohibits executions from being carried out on Eid, the Iraqi government had to officially declare that Eid did not begin until Sunday the 31st. It was a striking decision, virtually declaring that Iraq is now a Shia state. Eid al Adha is the festival of the sacrifice of the sheep. Some may perceive it as the day Saddam was sacrificed.

Saddam had been in American custody and was handed over to Iraqis just before his execution. It is therefore hard to dismiss the perception that the Americans could have waited, because in the end it is they who have the final say over such events in Iraq. Iraqi officials have consistently publicly complained that they have no authority and the Americans control the Iraqi police and the Army. It is therefore unusual that Iraqis would suddenly regain sovereignty for this important event. For many Sunnis and Arabs in the region, this appears to be one president ordering the death of another president. It was possibly a message to Sunnis, a warning. The Americans often equated Saddam with the Sunni resistance to the occupation. By killing Saddam they were killing what they believed was the symbol of the Sunni resistance, expecting them to realize their cause was hopeless. Sunnis could perceive the execution, and its timing, as a message to them: "We are killing you." But Saddam's death might now liberate the Sunni resistance from association with Saddam and the Baathists. They can now more plausibly claim that they are fighting for national liberation and not out of support for the former regime as their American and Iraqi government opponents have so often claimed. A lack of a hood (victims normally do not have a choice to wear a hood) a scarf to prevent rope burn for the soon to be distributed photo, a hallmark of US "We Got Him" psyops tactics. Even the US plane that flew him to his final resting spot seems to indicate US management.

More here. Read it.

1 comment:

Joan said...

Hey kathy!

I really think you have hit a new low this time. You are so self absorbed with proving yourself right that you are making light of the misery that people have suffered under Saddam Hussein. You have your opinion and that is fine, but you are mocking the people who have had relatives disappear and have undergone torture, by using stupid lines like "ding dong the wicked witch is dead". You have self appointed yourself as intelligent and thinking, while you describe those who think Hussein ought to have been executed as "shriking".

Your point that executing Hussein may lead to further divison in Iraq (if that is even possible) is a legitimate one, although I think you are wrong. But the way you stated it is unconscionable.

The only difference between you and Anne Coulter right now is that she can sell her work.

Take Care