A kangaroo court (the so-called High Iraqi Tribunal) had sentenced Saddam Hussein, his half-brother Barzan Ibrahim, and the former chief justice of the Revolutionary Court Awad Hamed Al-Bandar to be hanged within 30 days. Yet the US administration, in a rash decision, pressured the Al-Maliki government to hang Saddam on Saturday the 30th of December, the first day of Islamic religious Addha holiday, in a blatant violation of the religious beliefs and laws of all Islamic countries, which ban the execution of any criminal during this holiday. The hanging also violated the Christian spirit of Christmas, and the Iraqi constitution penned down by Bremer. It exhibited spirit of vengeance. Sparing the life of Ibrahim and Al-Bandar clearly shows that Saddam’s hanging was intent on demonizing Muslims in Iraq and around the World as well as inciting increased sectarian violence within Iraq.
Saddam’s death sentence was decided a long time ago, in the late 1980’s when he refused to open up Iraqi assets (and oil reserves) to Western corporations, when he invaded Kuwait, and when he subsequently took the decision to convert Iraq’s reserve funds from Dollars into Euros.
Several assassination attempts had been planned, but failed miserably. The failed Dujail assassination attempt was one of such attempts, which resulted in the execution of 148 Shiites. Finally under the lies of alleged possession of WMD, “the freeing of Iraqis”, and the “spreading of American democracy” British and American forces invaded Iraq in 2003.
Saddam was originally a CIA asset, recruited to assassinate the previous Iraqi president Abdel-Karim Qassem, who started taxing British and US oil companies as a first step in an attempt to nationalize Iraq’s oil resources. After failing to assassinate Qassem, and being wounded in the process, Saddam escaped to Egypt, where he routinely visited the US embassy in Cairo.
Later when the CIA was able to topple Qassam’s presidency, Saddam was sent back to Iraq to take on the position of Head of National Security. He later became president with the backing of the US. Saddam installed as head of State to prevent the nationalization of Iraq’s oil industry as well as to quell the Arab Nationalist Movement in Iraq, integrated by Shi’a, Kurdish and Sunni Iraqis.
In the wake of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saddam was pressured by Washington to wage war on Iran. Kissinger’s famous statement “let them kill each other” describes the real nature of this eight years’ war. The US administration supported both sides. It provided Saddam with weapons and intelligence, while also covertly supporting Iran. The US military industrial complex profited tremendously from the Iraq-Iran war.
The Arab Gulf rulers supported Saddam and handed him the necessary money to pay for his war against Iran. When the war was over Kuwait refused to forgive Saddam’s wartime debt. It also opposed to increase the price of oil, as Saddam had proposed in OPEC with a view to financing Iraq’s war debts. This confrontation ultimately led to the invasion of Kuwait and the 1991 Gulf War I carpet bombing of withdrawing Iraqi troops. Although it was possible to topple Saddam’s regime at that time, the US adminstration feared this would break their alliance with the frontline Arab states.
There is no question that Saddam was a ruthless dictator, like most of the Arab rulers, who were handed their political positions after WWII to keep the Arab World divided and separated, and to subdue their people. Yet with all his ruthlessness and despotic rule he enjoyed public support for the political positions he took. He built Iraq into the most technologically advanced Arab country. Next to the Palestinians, Iraqis were the most educated in the Arab world. Primary education was compulsory, higher education was free. Women’s rights progressed in the context of secular Muslim state. Unlike the rest of the Arab rulers, the Iraqi government provided real homes rather than dirty refugee camps for Palestinian refugees. He also sent money to Palestinian fighters resisting Israeli occupation. Besides his support to Palestinians, Saddam stood defiant towards Israel, the US and Iran; he dispatched Iraqi tanks to protect Syria from Israeli attacks, gave Jordan support in the form of monetary and oil grants, resisted US demands in the wake of the Gulf War.
Although Saddam was ruthless towards any form of political opposition, much like most Arab rulers, whose crimes and tortures have not yet been exposed, his government, nonetheless, provided for the average Iraqi citizen.
The Hussein regime formally provided “security and safety” where people could walk the streets without fear of crimes.
The government also provided food rations while under the US sponsored sanctions regime following Gulf War I. Within a few months after the end of the first Gulf War, the Hussein government started rebuilding Iraq’s civilian infrastructure, which had been destroyed by US bombings. This included roads and bridges, power stations, water desalination facilities, educational centers, and governmental services.
Saddam was tried by a kangaroo Iraqi Special Tribunal, whose judges had been specially assigned by the US military authorities. Its judges had been changed few times, and several of Saddam’s lawyers were assassinated. This Tribunal convicted Saddam for crimes allegedly perpetrated in Dujail against 148 Iraqis, who were originally tried and sentenced to death by a legal Iraqi court for their alleged assassination attempt against president Saddam. The Tribunal overlooked Saddam’s other more severe crimes, often perpetrated in cooperation with successive US administrations, which supplied his regime with weapons and intelligence.
Bush/Blair War Crimes
There can be no double standards in assessing war crimes. Hanging should also be the sentence for Bush and Blair, for:
1. causing the death of almost 700 thousands mostly civilian Iraqis during the last three years of US occupation, the destruction of all Iraqi civilian infrastructures,
2. the collapse of all civilian services,
3. triggering the departure into several hundred thousand Iraqis, fleeing Iraq and becoming refugees in foreign countries,
4. the bombings of various religious shrines,
5. the tearing of the Iraqi social fabric and the incitment of civil war,
6. the theft of Iraqi’s oil national resources,
7. the looting of cultural treasures,
8. the massacre of civilians including women and children,
9. the use of illegal weapons, such as depleted uranium and phosphorus bombs, against whole cities and the burying thousands of victims in massive graveyards,
10. the nightly raids against civilian homes and the kidnapping of people including women and children,
11. the spreading of terror, insecurity and chaos within cities,
12. the imprisonment of thousands of innocent people in massive encampments, torturing, humiliating, raping, and murdering of innocent civilian prisoners, and many other war crimes.
The invasion of Iraq, in itself, is a war crime. The invasion was based on lies and fabrications; Iraq did not have WMD, did not support terrorists, and did not pose any threat to its neighboring countries or to the Western world as claimed by the US administration.
“Freeing Iraqis” and “spreading American democracy” were the underlying falsehoods used to justify a terrorist war against Iraq. and its population. The UN Secretary Kofi Annan, in his resignation speech, called the war on Iraq an “illegal act that contravened the UN charter”, thus making the war a supreme international crime. Annan also declared that Iraq under the rule of dictator Saddam was much better off than under the American democracy.
Bush and Blair. waged an illegal war, with a view to steeling Iraqis natural resources including its extensive oil reserves. They, and their administrations, caused the deaths of almost a million people within a period of three years.
They had caused the destruction of a whole country. They spread terror not only in Iraq but in the entire Middle Eastern region. They legalized torture, rape, and murder of prisoners.
They kidnapped citizens of other nations and sent them to be tortured in prisons scattered around the world.
They not only terrorized and caused the deaths of citizens of other nations, they also terrorized their own citizens,
They derogated their human and civil rights through imposing draconian laws such as the Patriot Act,
They legalized surveillance and ethnic profiling, the imprisoned their own citizens, based on ethnic on religious background labeling them “foreign combatants’, trying them with undisclosed evidence, terrorizing their citizens with imaginary enemies.
They sent their young men and women to fight an illegal war in iraq and Afghanistan..
They dramatically curtailed all types of social services, while channelling tax dollars to the military industrial complex.
Billions of dollars from the public purse, financed by tax payers, allegedly designated to financing “postwar reconstruction” and “spreading American democracy”, were channelled into the bank accounts of large corporations such as Halliburton and Bechtel.
Saddam Hussein was hanged on the orders of a US sponsored Kangaroo court. Who has the authority to hang Bush, Blair and company for their crimes?
Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab writer of Palestinian descent, born in the town of Beit-Jala. Currently he lives in the US.