[Marxism] Sunni insurgents on Saddam

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Sun Dec 31 07:27:20 MST 2006

The Observer, Sunday December 31, 2006
'He is already history'

In this remarkable dispatch, Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, one of the few 
journalists who can still move freely about Baghdad, watches the 
execution with Sunni insurgents
Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

In a small, bare living room in Baghdad, two Sunni mujahideens, Abu 
A'isha and his friend Abu Hamza, sat mesmerised. The Shia-controlled 
state TV was showing the final moments of the life of their former 
leader, the noose being tightened around his neck. Saddam was dressed 
in a black coat, his black dyed hair pushed to the back, his hand and 
legs shackled. Men in civilian clothes and ski masks helped him up a 
small ladder. A trap door surrounded by a metal rail could be seen.

Saddam appeared a little confused and exchanged a few words with his 
masked hangman, who gestured at his neck. Saddam nodded and the 
hangman wrapped a black piece of cloth around his neck.

'They killed him, is that possible?' Abu Hamza, a muscled Sunni 
insurgent in his early thirties asked in disbelief. 'I still can't 
believe it,' he continued, resting his head on his palm. The TV 
channel repeated the scenes many times, cut before the actual 
execution moment and followed by television scenes of jubilant Shia 
men and boys dancing, accompanied by patriotic songs. 'Those Shia, 
they killed him on the day of the Eid just to humiliate us,' said Abu Hamza.

Abu A'isha, a mid-level commander of an insurgency group in west 
Baghdad, short, stout, in his forties and dressed in a blue 
tracksuit, was more calm. 'It's better for the jihad,' he explained. 
'Every time the mujahideen do an operation they say it's the people 
of Saddam. Where is Saddam now? Let's see if his death will affect 
the jihad. Of course it won't.' He added: 'The resistance is led by 
the Islamists, and we don't love Saddam. It's good that he is out of 
the picture. Now things will be clearer.

'There will be some hardcore Baathists who might demonstrate in the 
streets, go do a couple of attacks on the Americans, but it's over 
for them,' said Abu Hamza. This is the final declaration of the civil 
war, if anyone had any doubts left,' added Abu A'isha. 'I am sure 
there will be demonstrations in Adhamiya [the largely Sunni 
neighbourhood where Saddam was seen before the fall of Baghdad in 2003].'

But the streets in Sunni neighbourhoods, like most of Baghdad, 
yesterday remained calm and half deserted. A few cars drove quickly 
through the Sunni neighbourhoods of Seliekh and Adhamiya in north 
Baghdad. The city had an air of anxiety and anticipation.

'People are anxious. Saddam has been dead for a long time now. He is 
a page that was flipped four years ago. People are more worried about 
civil war,' said Hameed, a Sunni former officer. 'They are more 
worried about storing food and kerosene in case of a curfew than 
worrying about Saddam.'

In the Shia areas it was a different story. There was sporadic 
gunfire in the sky of Baghdad at dawn as the news of the execution 
was announced and more celebratory gun fire crackled in the afternoon 
when images from his execution were broadcast. In the vast, 
impoverished Shia neighbourhood of Sadr City, scores of militiamen 
and kids toted guns in the air, while others danced in the street, 
waving pictures of Shia clerics. From a pick-up truck, an effigy of 
the dictator hung from a stick as men slapped it with the soles of 
their flip-flops -a sign of contempt. Shia TV channels close to the 
Dawa party showed grainy images of the corpse of Saddam, his neck 
twisted at an odd angle, traces of blood on his cheek. But images 
that were intended to prove to the Iraqi people that their former 
dictator was executed were not enough for a population immersed in 
conspiracy theory.

'I know that when a man is hanged they dress him in an orange 
jumpsuit. Saddam was wearing his coat. Why? Because the Americans 
took him somewhere else,' said Ali, a Shia student from Karadda. Umm 
Hussein, a 40-year-old Shia woman who lost her house and her cousin 
after a multiple car bomb that also left her husband crippled for 
life, was more ambivalent.

'Of course we are happy. What did we get from him? He destroyed Iraq 
and sent us to war and then we starved. He didn't give us anything. 
and we lived in poverty.' Her husband sat nearby as her children 
played football outside their small cinder-block house. She looked at 
him. 'But will Saddam's execution bring health back to my husband? No.'

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