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.
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.
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 per
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 per cent felt things had improved and 9 per cent said
there was no change. Unsurprisingly, 95 per cent felt the security
situation was worse than before.
Add to this
the figures supplied by the United Nations 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Guantánamo. Will Bush and Blair ever be tried for war
crimes? Doubtful. And former Spanish prime minister José
María Aznar? He is currently employed as a lecturer at
Georgetown University, in Washington, where the language of instruction
is, of course, English - of which he hardly speaks a word.
lynching might send a shiver down the spines of the Arab ruling
elites. 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 United States.
Tariq Ali's new book, Pirates Of The Caribbean: Axis Of Hope,
is published by Verso. He also wrote Rough Music: Blair,
Bombs, Baghdad, Terror, London (Verso); Street Fighting
Years (new edition) and, with David Barsamian,Speaking of
Empires & Resistance. He can be reached at [email protected]