[Marxism] Tariq Ali: Saddam at the End of a Rope

Walter Lippmann walterlx at earthlink.net
Sat Dec 30 10:29:51 MST 2006

What's Good for Saddam May Be Good for Mubarak or the Saudi Royals

Saddam at the End of a Rope


It was symbolic that 2006 ended with a colonial hanging--- most of it
(bar the last moments) shown on state television in occupied Iraq. It
has been that sort of year in the Arab world. After a trial so
blatantly rigged that even Human Rights Watch---the largest single
unit of the US Human Rights industry--- had to condemn it as a total
travesty. Judges were changed on Washington's orders; defense lawyers
were killed and the whole procedure resembled a well-orchestrated
lynch mob. Where Nuremberg was a more dignified application of
victor's justice, Saddam's trial has, till now, been the crudest and
most grotesque. The Great Thinker President's reference to it 'as a
milestone on the road to Iraqi democracy' as clear an indication as
any that Washington pressed the trigger.

The contemptible leaders of the European Union, supposedly hostile to
capital punishment, were silent, as usual. And while some Shia
factions celebrated in Baghdad, the figures published by a fairly
independent establishment outfit, the Iraq Centre for Research and
Strategic Studies (its self-description: "which attempts to spread
the conscious necessity of realizing basic freedoms, consolidating
democratic values and foundations of civil society") reveal that just
under 90 per cent of Iraqis feel the situation in the country was
better before it was occupied.

The ICRSC research is based on detailed house-to-house interviewing
carried out during the third week of November 2006.

Only five per cent of those questioned said Iraq is better today than
in 2003; 89 per cent of the people said the political situation had
deteriorated; 79 per cent saw a decline in the economic situation; 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. Interestingly, about 50 per cent of those
questioned identified themselves only as "Muslims"; 34 per cent as
Shiites and 14 per cent as Sunnis. 

Add to this the figures supplied by the UNHCR: 1.6 million Iraqis 
(7 per cent of the population) have fled the country since March 2003
and 100,000 Iraqis leave every month, Christians, doctors, engineers,
women, etc. There are one million in Syria, 750,000 in Jordan,
150,000 in Cairo. These are refugees that do not excite the sympathy
of Western public opinion, since the US (and EU backed) occupation is
the cause. These are not compared (as was the case in Kosovo) to the
atrocities of the Third Reich. Perhaps it was these statistics (and
the estimates of a million Iraqi dead) that necessitated the
execution of Saddam Hussein?

That 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 now occupy the country. It was, as he
admitted in one of his trial outbursts, the approval of Washington
(and the poison gas supplied by West Germany) that gave him the
confidence to douse Halabja with chemicals in the midst of the
Iran-Iraq war. He deserved a proper trial and punishment in an
independent Iraq. Not this. The double standards applied by the West
never cease to astonish. Indonesia's Suharto who presided over a
mountain of corpses (At least a million to accept the lowest figure)
was protected by Washington. He never annoyed them as much as Saddam.

And what of those who have created the mess in Iraq today? 
The torturers of Abu Ghraib; the pitiless butchers of Fallujah; the
ethnic cleansers of Baghdad, the Kurdish prison boss who boasts that
his model is Guantanamo. Will Bush and Blair ever be tried for war
crimes? Doubtful. And Aznar, currently employed as a lecturer at
Georgetown University in Washington, DC , where the language of
instruction is English of which he doesn't speak a word. His reward
is a punishment for the students.

Saddam's hanging might send a shiver through the collective, if
artificial, spine of the Arab ruling elites. If Saddam can be hanged,
so can Mubarak, or the Hashemite joker in Amman or the Saudi royals,
as long as those who topple them are

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