December 30th, 2006

fashionable

Pro-Sadr executioners help hang an unafraid Saddam.

According to an independent, non-governmental witness, Saddam Hussein bravely met the gallows, Koran in hand, mocking his masked executioners to the end, one of whom shouted out "long live Muqtada al-Sadr" just prior to Saddam's execution.

The witness, a judge, said Hussein appeared "totally oblivious to what was going on around him. I was very surprised. He was not afraid of death." The account is supported by this video, taken before the execution, which shows Saddam accepting his fate in a surprisingly calm manner, as unafraid of death as could reasonably be expected. Saddam refused to wear a hood as he was hanged. Before the noose was put around his neck the deposed leader shouted: "God is great! The nation will be victorious and Palestine is Arab!"

The witness' description of Hussein's demeanor before his execution contrasts markedly with another witness, Iraqi national security adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie. "He was a broken man," al-Rubaie said. "He was afraid. You could see fear in his face."

What the press aren't saying is that al-Rubaie, who they are quoting so widely, was once the spokesman for a terrorist organization ideologically allied with Hezbollah and the Iranian government, the Islamic Dawa Party, which was responsible for the bombing of the U.S. and French embassies in Kuwait back in 1983. The Dawa Party was founded by Muhammad Baqr al-Sadr, the uncle of Muqtada al-Sadr.

And, indeed, nobody in the press seems to be touching upon the fact that the real power players on the streets of Iraq are the Iraqi militia groups, and that Saddam's execution was a symbolic victory for Moqtada al-Sadr in their attempt to control the streets, neighborhoods, and mosques of Iraq, establishing de facto control over much of the country.

By most accounts, SCIRI and their militias have been losing the battle of public support to Sadr's militias, in no small part because SCIRI's political leaders have been both ineffective in stopping the violence, and have made odious compromises with Iraq's occupiers. Many Iraqis have backed Sadr where it really matters, in their own neighborhoods, because Sadr's thugs have not only taken it on themselves to form armed "neighborhood watch" gangs, but have also agressively driven out Sunnis from their turf. The Sadr supporters are also responsible for imposing fundamentalist Shi'a morality on these neighborhoods, however, forcing Iraqi women back behind the veil. 

Regardless of the larger humanitarian rationale, Saddam's trial was a legal fiasco, with his defence denied some of the most basic elements of legal procedure, such as the obligation of the prosecution to provide exculpatory evidence, and the right of the defence to crossexamine witnesses. Saddam's death can also be seen, in part, as a vendetta killing in the midst of a civil war... one which can and most likely will provoke numerous acts of retaliation. 

Clearly, the parties in Iraq most in favor of Saddam's execution also have the deaths of many of their fellow Iraqis on their hands. One has to wonder whether the masked, pro-Sadr Iraqi security members involved in Saddam's execution may have also been involved in some of the anonymous "disappearings" and executions committed by the Sadr and SCIRI militia-infiltrated Iraqi security services.

Blood vendetta appears to be pretty much everywhere in Iraq if you look for it. All you have to do is scratch the surface.

UPDATE: A series of revenge bombings in mostly Shia areas has left at least 68 Iraqis dead, while six US troops were reported killed, pushing the death toll for December to 109, just a few deaths shy of the 3,000th confirmed U.S. military fatality in Iraq. 

fashionable

Well, that didn't take long.

Looks like the entire video of Saddam's execution is out there, because those responsible for the execution allowed someone to pretty flagrantly record the whole thing on a camphone. (For those who really need to see the video, you can find it here.) 

Nevermind the fact that execution was at a U.S. military base where security policies existed to ban cameraphones. The U.S. military apparently allowed this unprofessional behavior on their watch, despite the fact that at least one U.S. servicemen and four U.S. civilians are currently in the hands of the enemy, captured by people who might now feel motivated to record their own execution videos.  

I don't know. It's one thing for terrorists to do this kind of "record an execution and put it on the web" crap, but here's what was supposed to be an official, respectful government execution. And from the unfair trial to the phony appeals process to the ski masked executioners to the shouting of "Long live Moqtada al-Sadr!" by his executioners... well, let's just say that this is pretty disappointing, and reminiscent of the acts of thugs and terrorists.

Indeed, the most professional behavior during the whole execution was from Saddam Hussein. And you know, that's a shame, because Saddam really did knowingly have many, many of his own people killed, and he really was guilty of crimes against humanity.

.... just like other leaders, who also deserve to be punished to the full extent of the law. 

I don't personally think it is helpful to execute anyone for war crimes, as it just makes martyrs and reduces what is supposed to be a lawful, just, and moral society down to an unseemly, morbid, and bloodthirsty level. This will become all too obvious as the execution video winds its way across the internet. 

Personally, it wouldn't bother me to have seen Saddam locked away in a hole forever, without chance of pardon. It shouldn't bother anyone else too. We did Saddam a favor, and granted far more meaning and dignity to his death than such a man deserved.

If this is the best that the Iraqi government can do when it comes to justice, then I have zero confidence in them. These people are going to create a fair, just, democratic nation based on the rule of law? They're going to persuade the Sunni to put down their arms in exchange for "just" treatment? Ha. I don't think so.

If any peace comes, it will only come after the coalition leaves Iraq -- for Iraqis and foriegn insurgents will continue to take the opportunty to kill them, so long as they are there -- and it will only come after the Shi'a and Kurds have ethnically cleansed "their" neighborhoods of millions of Sunni men, women, and children. It will only happen after a level of death that makes Saddam's violent repression of the Shi'a and Kurds look like the hors d'oeuvres before the banquet of blood that followed in its wake.