Summaries here and here and here and here.
There were, of course, three publicly held executions. Good background on the other two:
The two men hanged alongside Saddam on Wednesday were Barzan Ibrahim Hassan al-Tikriti, one of Saddam’s three half-brothers and a former director of the feared Mukhabarat intelligence service, and Awad Ahmed al-Bandar al-Sadun, former chief judge of the revolutionary court and deputy head of Saddam’s office. Article
This particular weekend is one that leaves but scant time to expound (much less even lay out a wrtten draft), thus comment regarding pr engendred by any individual piece is minimal once more.
A raft of reaction, aftermath and review pieces follow:
Almost four years after United States troops entered Iraq with a broader foreign policy goal of ushering in a “new” Middle East, one built on democracy and rule of law, the execution of Mr. Hussein on one of the holiest days in Islam marked the unceremonious demise of that strategy, many Arab analysts said.
“If you compare the results to the objectives the U.S. claimed to realize, whether it was democracy or control of the region, their policies have evidently failed,” said Nawaf Kabbara, professor of political science at Balamand University in Beirut. “They were not able to spread democracy, control anything or make any serious breakthrough. It is a failure on all levels.”
For those Arabs who celebrated America’s embrace of the rule of law, the quick execution, coming before the conclusion of other trials against Mr. Hussein for crimes against humanity, left a bitter taste of stolen justice. Even Mr. Hussein’s staunchest enemies expressed a sense of bitterness at the end.
“It is evident that they were not after justice,” said Hilal Khashan, a political science professor at the American University of Beirut. “It was a political decision, because as soon as they got a sentence on him they executed him. What mattered was his death rather than finding justice.”
“Saddam Hussein was guilty a thousand times over, but still the Americans and the Iraqi government managed to run a shabby trial,” said Jihad al-Khazen, a columnist and former editor of the pan-Arab newspapers Al Hayat and Asharq al Awsat. “If they organized a fair trial with international observers that could have served as a model for other countries. Instead they messed it up, and I think Saddam in the eyes of many people will now be seen as another martyr.”
Many in the region seemed to view the execution as a harbinger of further sectarian conflict. This was the first time in modern history that a Sunni dictator had been executed by a Shiite, some analysts noted, a symbolic step that was widely expected to incur Sunni retribution throughout the region. American embassies throughout the region warned citizens on Saturday to avoid protests and be prepared for unrest. Article
An ‘obitunalysis’ of a life.
In Saddam’s day it was done behind closed doors. The court hearing usually lasted barely a day. Then followed the secret bureaucracy of execution. First was the ‘Red Card’, the final formal order from a judge approving the death sentence. A number would then be recorded on a list against a name assigned to the victim. The number was often all that would appear on what would pass for a gravestone. Sometimes it would take years for the families to know the fate of their missing relatives.
Saddam died under his own name in the full knowledge of the world, led to a gallows constructed for his execution, and killed in front of witnesses and an Iraqi government cameraman whose footage attested to his last moments.
And at the end what can we say about Saddam? That he was a monster? A madman? A malignant narcissist? All of these labels - and more - have been applied. In the run-up to the second Gulf War, the author and columnist Thomas Friedman framed the paradox of Saddam in a different and more subtle way, asking whether Iraq was the way it was because of Saddam? Or was Saddam the way he was because of Iraq?… Article
Chaos abides, chaos ahead.
Police blocked the entrances to Tikrit and said nobody was allowed to leave or enter the city for four days. Despite the security precaution, gunmen took to the streets of Tikrit, carrying pictures of Saddam, shooting into the air, and calling for vengeance.
Security forces also set up roadblocks at the entrance to another Sunni stronghold, Samarra, and a curfew was imposed after about 500 people took to the streets protesting the execution of Saddam.
A couple hundred people also protested the execution just outside the Anbar capital of Ramadi, and more than 2,000 people demonstrated in Adwar, the village south of Tikrit where Saddam was captured by U.S. troops hiding in an underground bunker. Article
Saddam is not particularly relevant to the insurgency, and his removal will have more effect on the psyche of the exile-dominated Iraqi government and on some Americans than on anything else. It will probably lead to a short-term surge of violence, but let’s face it: things are terrible and getting worse, and it may be hard even to seperate out more violence from what’s been happening. The execution is clearly seen as sectarian - Shia and Kurds celebrate, Sunnis rage - and as American in provenance…. but that will also tend to reinforce existing dynamics rather than create new ones. The most important impact would be driving the Sunni political class out of the political process, but I can see the calculation here (whether right or wrong): either their self-interest will bring them back to the process… or else that process has already failed so it doesn’t much matter.
All that said, the incredibly rapid pace and odd timing of the deed demands explanation. Today’s Times confirms what al-Jazeera reported yesterday, that the timing was determined with American participation - so the Shia line that they wanted Saddam’s execution to be a national holiday rings hollow.… Article
What is the search sequence used by the vast, vast majority of those who visited here today? Some variation of fil (or video) of the haging.
Ye olfd scribe is one who will never — can never — rejoice at death and extermination.
Those who are seeking out and wish to watch in uninterrupted detail, who seek vicarious participation devoid of context, are, plainly and simply, ghoulish.
The ordering and condoning of deaths by Saddam Hussein and his regime was wrong, brutal, immoral and despicable. Cannot even conceive how the ordering and condoning of further death is otherwise or how it represents anything other than naked vengeance.
Death is final but is not necessarily an answer.
The European Union condemned Saddam Hussein’s execution on Saturday, with one top official calling it a barbaric act that could create an undeserved martyr of the former Iraqi president.
Highlighting a key difference with the United States, EU president Finland and several senior European Commission officials said the 25-member bloc opposes the death penalty as a matter of principle and that Saddam should not have been hanged in Baghdad at dawn despite his crimes.
“The EU has a very consistent view against using the death penalty and it should not have been used in this instance either, although there is no doubt over Saddam’s guilt of very serious crimes against humanity,” Finland’s Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja told YLE television.
Louis Michel, a member of the EU’s executive Commission, said he believed capital punishment was at odds with the democracy Iraqi leaders were trying to build.
“You don’t fight barbarism with acts that I deem as barbaric. The death penalty is not compatible with democracy,” Michel, a former Belgian foreign minister, told Reuters. Article
One can almost picture the fingertips unconsciously massaging at a tingling at the throat today.
Leading Sunni Arab power Saudi Arabia on Saturday criticised Iraq’s Shi’ite leaders for executing former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein during the Eid al-Adha religious feast, saying his trial had been politicised.
“It had been expected that the trial of a former president, who ruled for a considerable length of time, would last longer…demonstrate more precision, and not be politicised.”
The most important date in the Islamic calendar, the Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, marks biblical patriarch Abraham’s willingness to kill his son for God.
The religious feast is viewed by devout Muslims as a time of forgiveness and compassion and Muslim countries often pardon criminals to mark the occasion, and prisoners are rarely executed at that time.
Although the U.S.-allied royals backed Saddam Hussein during the 1980-88 Gulf war against Shi’ite power Iran, the secular Baathist dictator was not popular in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia, whose official Wahhabi brand of Islam regards Shi’ites as virtual heretics, fears for the fate of minority Sunnis in Iraq if U.S. forces pull out. Article
In enforced silence no more, but so much, much more will never enter the public record now.
During the decade-long war with Iran in the 1980s, Iraq’s Iron-fist leader Saddam Hussein granted thousands of “bravery Medals” to soldiers fighting his “Persian enemy.”
A Unique medal, however, was granted to a “distinguished hero” who did not take part in fighting what Iraqi military communiqués termed “waves of insects attacking the Arab Nation’s northern gate.”
That “Hero,” according to the official announcement distributed to reporters had “executed his son for deserting from the army.”
The crippled, grey-haired “Hero,” wearing a traditional white “deshdasheh” robe appeared in a wheel chair at Saddam’s presidential palace, where the tall dictator made an exceptional bow to pin the medal to the saddened father’s dress.
The “honored Hero” uttered no word as one of Saddam’s guards turned his wheelchair to face reporters and photographers. However, his eyes, brimming with tears of sadness, not joy, spoke of his untold ordeal.
The chief of a southern marshland clan was faced with the bitter fact that his son was a deserter.
…the intelligence apparatus of the ruling Baath party in charge of the area was ordered to arrest the deserter.
Intelligence operatives applied their most favored method: first they rounded up all the clan’s men and asked the chief to arrest his son and turn him in.
When the clan chief failed to meet the order, the Baath Party intelligence operatives rounded up all the clan’s male children and made a new threat: Women would be rounded up in the next raid if the deserter was not arrested.
For a traditional clan in a remote marshland environment, arresting women and holding them outside their homes was a major disgrace because it would cast future doubts about the tribe’s lineage.
The poor tribal chief’s main priority was to safeguard the clan’s lineage and he was left with one option: to turn his son in to Saddam’s intelligence agents.
But the son was doomed. He’ll be executed by a firing squad like many deserters who received the death penalty during the war with Iran that claimed about one million lives and wrecked the economies of both oil-rich nations.
The son-deserter, according to insiders, asked his father-chief to shoot-kill him. That would be less humiliating to the clan and, most importantly, would save the son from the process of interrogation-torture before facing a firing squad, a common practice in Iraq under Saddam.
The father did what his son had begged him to do, and got a “bravery Medal for executing a traitor.”
Nearly two decades later Saddam was hanged to death, but no one has received a bravery medal for his execution … so far. Article
Decoupling the ‘mother of all boogeyman’ as created by the woebegone G. Walker administration from their rhetoric: Strident and agenda-driven, but far from inaccurate.
Think about it. It was the Bush administration and not Saddam that turned out to be lying about WMDs. As we all know now, there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Amazingly enough, it was Saddam who was telling the truth from the very beginning. Bush was the one who lied to the whole world.
You may remember that in 2002, the UN Security Council ordered Iraq to put together a report detailing the entirety of its biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs. In response, Iraqi officials compiled an 11,800-page report on the past and present status of Iraq’s weapons programs.
From that report we learned (from the Iraqis) that Iraq once had both chemical and biological weapons, as well as a program to develop nuclear weapons. We also learned that Iraq acquired biological and chemical weapons from the US, and Iraqi nuclear scientists were trained at US government nuclear facilities. Most importantly [sic], though, the Iraqis told us that some of the weapons and nuclear facilities were destroyed in the first Gulf War, and the rest were destroyed under the supervision of UN weapons inspectors.
All of this turned out to be true.
The reality of the situation is that the US Government - from Bush Sr., to Bill Clinton, to G.W - decided on its own that Saddam should no longer be the president of Iraq. This is the very thing that the Constitution and International Law were designed to prevent.
America was never threatened by Saddam Hussein. Iraq had absolutely no capability to attack the United States, and never was there indicated a desire to do so.
The result of all this was that the “Butcher of Baghdad” was right and that the “President of the United States” was wrong. Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty for “war crimes,” while George Bush and his accomplices in our two-party Congress continue to rule over us.
We’re living in sad times, indeed, times when you can trust what Saddam Hussein says more than your own government. Article
Saddam the political entity as an agent of blowback to a blowback to blowback, first published online in 2003:
While many have thought that Saddam first became involved with U.S. intelligence agencies at the start of the September 1980 Iran-Iraq war, his first contacts with U.S. officials date back to 1959, when he was part of a CIA-authorized six-man squad tasked with assassinating then Iraqi Prime Minister Gen. Abd al-Karim Qasim.
In July 1958, Qasim had overthrown the Iraqi monarchy in what one former U.S. diplomat, who asked not to be identified, described as “a horrible orgy of bloodshed.”
According to current and former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, Iraq was then regarded as a key buffer and strategic asset in the Cold War with the Soviet Union. For example, in the mid-1950s, Iraq was quick to join the anti-Soviet Baghdad Pact which was to defend the region and whose members included Turkey, Britain, Iran and Pakistan.
Little attention was paid to Qasim’s bloody and conspiratorial regime until his sudden decision to withdraw from the pact in 1959, an act that “freaked everybody out” according to a former senior U.S. State Department official.
Washington watched in marked dismay as Qasim began to buy arms from the Soviet Union and put his own domestic communists into ministry positions of “real power,” according to this official. The domestic instability of the country prompted CIA Director Allan Dulles to say publicly that Iraq was “the most dangerous spot in the world.”
According to another former senior State Department official, Saddam, while only in his early 20s, became a part of a U.S. plot to get rid of Qasim. According to this source, Saddam was installed in an apartment in Baghdad on al-Rashid Street directly opposite Qasim’s office in Iraq’s Ministry of Defense, to observe Qasim’s movements.
Adel Darwish, Middle East expert and author of “Unholy Babylon,” said the move was done “with full knowledge of the CIA,” and that Saddam’s CIA handler was an Iraqi dentist working for CIA and Egyptian intelligence. U.S. officials separately confirmed Darwish’s account.
Darwish said that Saddam’s paymaster was Capt. Abdel Maquid Farid, the assistant military attaché at the Egyptian Embassy who paid for the apartment from his own personal account. Three former senior U.S. officials have confirmed that this is accurate.
The assassination was set for Oct. 7, 1959, but it was completely botched. Accounts differ. One former CIA official said that the 22-year-old Saddam lost his nerve and began firing too soon, killing Qasim’s driver and only wounding Qasim in the shoulder and arm. Darwish told UPI that one of the assassins had bullets that did not fit his gun and that another had a hand grenade that got stuck in the lining of his coat.
“It bordered on farce,” a former senior U.S. intelligence official said. But Qasim, hiding on the floor of his car, escaped death, and Saddam, whose calf had been grazed by a fellow would-be assassin, escaped to Tikrit, thanks to CIA and Egyptian intelligence agents, several U.S. government officials said.
Saddam then crossed into Syria and was transferred by Egyptian intelligence agents to Beirut, according to Darwish and former senior CIA officials. While Saddam was in Beirut, the CIA paid for Saddam’s apartment and put him through a brief training course, former CIA officials said. The agency then helped him get to Cairo, they said.
One former U.S. government official, who knew Saddam at the time, said that even then Saddam “was known as having no class. He was a thug — a cutthroat.”
…during this time Saddam was making frequent visits to the American Embassy where CIA specialists such as Miles Copeland and CIA station chief Jim Eichelberger were in residence and knew Saddam, former U.S. intelligence officials said.
The CIA/Defense Intelligence Agency relation with Saddam intensified after the start of the Iran-Iraq war in September of 1980. During the war, the CIA regularly sent a team to Saddam to deliver battlefield intelligence obtained from Saudi AWACS surveillance aircraft to aid the effectiveness of Iraq’s armed forces, according to a former DIA official, part of a U.S. interagency intelligence group.
This former official said that he personally had signed off on a document that shared U.S. satellite intelligence with both Iraq and Iran in an attempt to produce a military stalemate. “When I signed it, I thought I was losing my mind,” the former official told UPI. Article