Nasty Letters To Crooked Politicians

As we enter a new era of politics, we hope to see that Obama has the courage to fight the policies that Progressives hate. Will he have the fortitude to turn the economic future of America to help the working man? Or will he turn out to be just a pawn of big money, as he seems to be right now.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Dahr Jamail:

Execution Memories Refuse To Go Away

*Inter Press Service*
Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

*BAGHDAD, Jan. 5 (IPS) - The footage of the execution of Saddam Hussein
has generated controversy in Iraq that is refusing to die down.*

Footage of Saddam's last moments, taken by an onlooker with a mobile
phone, shows the former dictator appearing calm and composed while
dealing with taunts from witnesses below him. The audio reveals several
men praising the Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and Mohammed Bakr al-Sadr,
founder of the Shia Dawa Party, who was killed by Saddam in 1980.

"Peace be upon Muhammad and his followers," shouted someone near the
person who filmed the events. "Curse his enemies and make victorious his
son Muqtada! Muqtada! Muqtada." These chants are commonly used by
members of Muqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army militia..

There has been a huge international backlash to the footage. In India
millions of Muslims demonstrated against the execution being carried out
during the sacred festival of Eid.

Across Iraq, Shias seem mostly pleased. "Of course things will be better
now that Saddam is dead," Saed Abdul-Hussain, a cleric from the Shia
dominated city Najaf told IPS in Baghdad. "It is like hitting the snake
on the head and I hope his followers will hand over their weapons and
accept the fact that they lost."

But few believe that Saddam was inspiring the armed resistance.

"Who is Saddam and why would he affect anything after his death," a
55-year-old teacher from Fallujah told IPS. "The idea of his leading the
resistance from jail is too ridiculous for a sane man to believe. We
know that Mujahideen (holy warriors) are the only ones who will kick the
occupation out of the country."

Others believe unity between Iraqis is the only answer to the occupation.

"Saddam was terminated the day he was captured by occupation forces,"
Salah al-Dulaimy from Ramadi told IPS. "Things will continue to be as
bad as they are for both Iraqis and Americans because nothing has really
changed. A president who was removed from power four years ago is just
an ordinary man although the way he was executed and the timing of the
execution was a blessing to so many Iraqis, who realised the necessity
of being united no matter what religion and sect they belong to."

Facing broadening criticism over release of the mobile phone footage,
the Iraqi government arrested a guard accused of filming the execution.
Iraqi officials said on Wednesday that the execution chamber was
infiltrated by outsiders bent on inflaming sectarian tensions.

"Whoever leaked this video meant to harm national reconciliation and
drive a wedge between Shias and Sunnis," National Security Adviser
Mowaffaq al-Rubaie, who was among 20 officials and other witnesses
present at the execution at dawn last Saturday told reporters.

Rubaie later insisted that there was nothing improper about the shouting
from the crowd, or the fact that executioners and officials danced
around Saddam's body. "This is the tradition of the Iraqis, when they do
something, they dance around the body and they express their feelings,"
he said in an interview to CNN.

A senior Interior Ministry official told reporters that the hanging was
supposed to be carried out by hangmen employed by the Interior Ministry
but that "militias" had managed to infiltrate the executioners' team.

The airing of the footage has further damaged the government of
embattled Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki and possibilities of
reconciliation between political and sectarian groups in Iraq.

On Thursday the Iraqi government postponed the hanging of two of Saddam
Hussein's companions. Barzan Ibrahim al-Tikrit, Saddam's half brother
and former intelligence chief, along with Awad Ahmed al-Bandar, head of
Saddam's revolutionary court, were to have been hanged Thursday.

A senior official from Maliki's office told a reporter that the
executions were postponed "due to international pressure."

U.S. Presidential press secretary Tony Snow, formerly of Fox News,
dismissed calls to join international condemnation of Saddam Hussein's
execution. "The government is investigating the conduct of some people
within the chamber and I think we'll leave it at that," Snow told
reporters. "But the one thing you got to keep in mind is that you got

The U.S. military claims it had no control over the events at the
execution, despite handing Saddam over to Iraqi authorities just minutes
before the footage was taken. The U.S. military then transported the
body to Tikrit where it was later buried.

Many Iraqis simply want the bloodshed and chaos that has engulfed their
country to end.

"I just pray to Allah to stop the bleeding that started when those
strangers came into our country," 65-year-old Ahmed Alwan from Baghdad
told IPS. "There is no future for us to think about under such a mess,
and killing Saddam will just add more hatred between Iraqis, especially
with the savage comments that appeared on the video."

Most Iraqis seem skeptical of the current U.S.-backed Iraqi government,
which has been unable to restore even basic services, let alone security.

"Our government thought they could fool us again by killing the man,"
30-year-old grocer Atwan in the Hurriya district of Baghdad told IPS.
"We have had enough and what we demand is a real change, or else we will
take another course regardless of what our religious and political
leaders tell us. What we want is a better life and real brotherhood
between Iraqis."

(Ali al-Fadhily is our Baghdad correspondent. Dahr Jamail is our
specialist writer who has spent eight months reporting from inside Iraq
and has been covering the Middle East for several years.)


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