[Marxism] Saddam buried in his hometown -- humiliating defeat for occupation govt may help fuel the "surge"

Fred Feldman ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sun Dec 31 20:57:55 MST 2006


 <http://www.nytimes.com/> In my opinion, this article is propaganda for the
"surge" as directed against the Shia  regime, which is losing Kurdish
support, never had any to speak of from the Sunnis, and is not inspiring
much enthusiasm among the Shia masses.. Basically, Burns -- an aggressive
propagandist for the war on human-rights grounds before the US invasion
(basically a suave male Judith Miller) -- uses Saddam's execution and his
courageous performance in defiance of his Shia executioners (his US
executioners having wisely stayed away) to highlight the deepening isolation
of the occupation governnment and the need for the surge on "save the Sunni"
human-rights grounds among others.
 
The tormenting of  Hussein by the chanting of Sadr's name becomes a pretext
to repeat the US government line that Sadr is now the source of most of the
violence in Iraq. Maliki's attempt to keep the body in his office in the
name of protecting ot frp, desecration is a little masterpiece of sick
humor.
 
The execution has turned into a big defeat for the Maliki government.  But
it may not be a pure-and-simple defeat for the occupying power, if it serves
the divide and rule strategy that has always been  at the heart of
imperialist domination of Iraq, and now more than ever. 
December 31, 2006 

Hussein Is Buried in His Hometown 

By
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/b/john_f_burns/i
ndex.html?inline=nyt-per> JOHN F. BURNS

BAGHDAD, Dec. 31 - The body of
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/h/saddam_hussein
/index.html?inline=nyt-per> Saddam Hussein was buried in the town of his
birth in the hours before dawn today, after a final journey into the night
aboard an American military helicopter that carried him from Baghdad.

The burial was the final act in a grim and turbulent 24 hours that began
with Mr. Hussein's execution at dawn on Saturday. But like much else about
Mr. Hussein's life and death, his passage back to the otherwise unmemorable
town where he grew up, Awja, was marked by bitterness and dispute. It was
only under American pressure that Prime Minister
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/people/m/nuri_kamal_al-
maliki/index.html?inline=nyt-per> Nuri Kamal al-Maliki,
<http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/ir
aq/index.html?inline=nyt-geo> Iraq's new ruler, agreed to surrender the body
for burial after his aides insisted for much of Saturday that it would be
held in a secret location until the risks of violence or turmoil at the
burial site receded.

Taken from Mr. Maliki's office at midnight, the body was shown in a video
recording broadcast by the state-run Iraqiya television channel being loaded
in a simple wood coffin into the back of a police pickup truck and driven to
the American's command's helicopter landing zone a mile away in Baghdad's
fortified Green Zone. There, it was loaded aboard one of two Black Hawk
helicopters and flown north on the 110-mile journey to Camp Speicher, an
American military base outside Tikrit.

>From the American base, it was driven south to Awja, on the banks of the
Tigris River, and laid to rest in the ornate visitors center there that Mr.
Hussein ordered built for the townspeople in the 1990's. Local officials and
members of Mr. Hussein's Albu-Nasir tribe had broken open the marbled floor
in the center of the main reception hall and cleared what they said would be
a temporary burial place until the fallen dictator could be moved to a
permanent grave in a cemetery outside Awja where his sons, Qusay and Uday,
were buried after dying in a firefight with American troops in July 2003.

Accounts relayed by some of those in the large crowd who attended the burial
said that American and Iraqi soldiers had set up separate security cordons
around Awja, apparently to prevent the occasion from escalating into unrest
and possible violence of the kind seen elsewhere in Sunni areas since the
hanging. A video recording made inside the hall and played later on Arabic
television channels showed several mourners throwing themselves on top of
the closed wooden casket. One of them, weeping, cried out: "He has not died.
I can hear him speaking to me."

[snip]

[M}any who watched the recordings, and certainly his supporters among Iraqi
Sunnis, took from the hanging a message quite other than the one that the
government of Mr. Maliki seemed to have intended. To them, what the videos
showed was that the ousted ruler had lived his final moments with
unflinching dignity and courage, reinforcing the legend of himself as the
Arab world's strongman that he cultivated while in power. 

Seen from this perspective, Mr. Hussein, one of the last century's most
murderous tyrants, emerged from the hanging as almost heroic; his
executioners as thuggish and cowardly, cursing and taunting a condemned man.


According to accounts given later by some of the 25 people who attended the
execution, Mr. Hussein spent much of the last half-hour before being led to
the gallows, after arriving at the execution block at the Khadimiyah prison
in northern Baghdad, in another sequence of bitter exchanges with the Shiite
guards and executioners assigned to hang him and with some of the Shiite
witnesses. At one point, on the gallows, Mr. Hussein delivered a final
defiance of his old enemies, the United States, Iran and their "spies," a
word commonly used at the height of his tyranny to justify the merciless
persecution of his domestic opponents.

"Down with the traitors, the Americans, the spies and the Persians," he
said, meaning Iran. His mention of Iran seemed to have been intended to
provoke the overwhelmingly Shiite gathering in the execution block, since
Iran, ruled by Shiite clerics, has been a major backer of the Shiite
religious groups that now rule Iraq, and has been accused by American
commanders of supplying weapons, including armor-penetrating rockets and
bombs, to Iraqi insurgents.

The death sentence on Mr. Hussein, handed down first on Nov. 5, was required
under Iraqi law to be to be carried out within 30 days of the rejection of
his appeal, which was delivered on Tuesday. The fact that the hanging was
carried out within four days of the appeal's denial took some officials in
Washington by surprise and left some American legal officials who have
worked with the Iraqi court uncomfortable, to the point of complaining
privately that the Maliki government had substituted political expediency
for justice.

[snip]

Even the decision to hasten Mr. Hussein to the gallows took on a sectarian
edge, as Iraq's new Shiite leaders presented the hanging as a message to
Sunnis that their days as Iraq's rulers are gone forever. The message was
clear in a statement issued by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, whose
"national unity" government of Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds has splintered into
ethnic factions, with the Shiite religious groups that swept last December's
elections increasingly assertive of their majority rights.

The statement, which he signed before a battery of Iraqi television cameras,
amounted to a warning to the Sunnis that their hopes of ever regaining power
are lost. "Saddam's execution puts an end to all their pathetic gambles on a
return to dictatorship," he said, referring to the former Baathists at the
core of the Sunni insurgency. "I urge followers of the ousted regime to
reconsider their stance, because the door is still open to anyone who has no
innocent blood on his hands to help in rebuilding Iraq."

At his death, Mr. Hussein had ceased to be much of a major rallying point,
even among diehard Sunnis, whose battles in the past three years have been
less about restoring Mr. Hussein to power - a chimerical goal, considering
that the former leader was America's most closely-guarded prisoner in Iraq -
than about reversing the political transition from Sunni to Shiite rule.

Mr. Maliki short-circuited a bitter internal debate within the government
over how quickly to send Mr. Hussein to the gallows by signing an order for
the execution on Friday night, voiding a procedure that would have required
the three-man presidency council - composed of a Kurd, a Sunni and Shiite -
to all vote for the hanging.

Mr. Hussein and two of his associates were sentenced to death on Nov. 5 for
their roles in the persecution of the Shiite town of Dujail, where an
alleged assassination attempt against Mr. Hussein in 1982 was followed by
the execution of 148 Shiite men and teenage boys. After the three men's
convictions, Mr. Maliki led the push for a hanging before the end of the
year. After the sentencing, American officials were confident that appeals
might delay the hanging until the spring.

But Mr. Maliki pressed for a speeded appeal process and secured a
confirmation of the death sentences within three weeks. A senior Bush
administration official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said on
Saturday that the Kurds had called for a delay, so the trial of the former
dictator for his repression of the Kurds, which began in August, could be
completed, probably not until spring. But the White House official said the
United States had "no desire" to delay the execution in the face of the
urgency pressed by Mr. Maliki, and had cooperated by surrendering Mr.
Hussein to his executioners.

Administration officials said President Bush had gone to sleep before Mr.
Hussein's hanging, but had been told it was imminent. He awoke Saturday at
4:40 a.m. Central Standard Time, said a White House spokesman, David Almacy,
and at 5:55 a.m. received a 10-minute telephone briefing about the execution
from his national security adviser, Stephen J. Hadley. The president and Mr.
Hadley discussed the execution and the worldwide reaction to it. "The
president remarked that he was pleased with the culmination of the Iraqi
judicial process, and justice was done," Mr. Almacy said.

[snip]

Throughout Saturday, Iraqi government officials put out conflicting signals
as to what they planned to do with Mr. Hussein's body. An official in the
governor's office in Salahaddin Province said that a delegation led by the
governor, Hamad Shegata, and including and the head of Mr. Hussein's
Albu-Nasir tribe, Sheikh Ali Al-Nida, had traveled to Baghdad during the day
to arrange the handover of the body for burial in Awja. Muslim tradition
requires that burials be completed before dusk on the day of death.

But a political adviser to Prime Minister Maliki, Bassam al-Husseini, said
there were no plans to hand over the body until the risk of violence over
Mr. Hussein's hanging subsided, a period that he said could run for weeks or
months. In the meantime, he said, the body would be kept in "a secret
place," where it would be secure against desecration by his enemies. "If we
bury him in Tikrit, people will dig him up and tear the body apart," he
said.

However, in the end, the Maliki government relented, and cleared the way for
the helicopter trip that returned Mr. Hussein to his hometown. For the
fallen ruler, who often spoke with contempt of his friendless,
poverty-stricken childhood, and of Awja, returning there in death would
likely have been an embittering thing. But not so embittering, perhaps, as
making the final journey aboard a helicopter belonging to the forces of the
enemy that overthrew him, the United States.

Jeff Zeleny contributed reporting from Crawford, Tex.


 



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