Saddam Hussein: Victim of Old West Justice and Vendetta

After illegal invasion, barbaric occupation, now Kangaroo court execution.

"The world seeks America's leadership, looks for leadership for a country whose values are freedom and justice and equality." Texas Governor George W. Bush in 2000.

President Saddam Hussein of Iraq, overthrown after the US led illegal invasion of Iraq in March, 2003, against UN Charter and world opinion, became another victim of 'Old West Justice' exercised by European colonizers and Americans (against Red Indians and Blacks) during the last few centuries. He was hanged on 30th December, 2006 morning in Baghdad under US occupation by Washington controlled government of exiles, quislings, embezzlers and war lords.

In spite of the Ku Klux Klan like atmosphere created by elements from Shia militia let in like jackals, a calm and dignified Saddam prayed and refused to have his head covered with a hood at the gallows. Before the rope was put around his neck, Saddam proclaimed, 'God is great. The nation will be victorious and Palestine is Arab.' The constitutionally elected President of Iraq thus became a martyr.

This is how Ghada Karmi, a research fellow at the University of Exeter described the hanging in the Guardian of 2 January; "The spectacle of Saddam Hussein's execution, shown in pornographic detail to the whole world, was deeply shocking to those of us who respect propriety and human dignity. The vengeful Shia mob that was allowed to taunt the man's last moments, and the vicious executioners who released the trapdoor while he was saying his prayers, turned this scene of so-called Iraqi justice into a public lynching. One does not have to be any kind of Saddam sympathizer to be horrified that he should have been executed - and, so obscenely, on the dawn of Islam's holy feast of Eid al-Adha, which flagrantly defies religious practice and was an affront to the Islamic world."

"For the Arab world, this has been a shameful, humiliating event that underlines its total surrender to western diktat. The execution was carried out under the auspices of a foreign occupying power, and with a clear western message: we give ourselves the right to invade a sovereign Arab state and remove its leader because he offends us; we think you Arabs are incapable of sorting out your own affairs in accordance with our interests, so we will do it for you."

The hurried execution was carried out to stop him from revealing secrets about the West's past enthusiasm in supporting and arming his regime with chemical weapons. Hence he was tried on the relatively minor charge of killing 148 people in the village of Dujail, following a plot to assassinate him. "Far better to put him away safely for that rather than risk his exposing western hypocrisy, treachery and double dealing."

US appointed first Iraqi trial judge says execution illegal under Iraqi law;

Even the US appointed trial's first chief judge Rizkar Mohammed Amin, a Kurd, who later resigned, declared the execution was illegal in Iraqi law:

"The implementation of Saddam's execution during Eid al-adha is illegal according to chapter 9 of the tribunal law. Article 27 states that nobody, even the president (Jalal Talabani), may change rulings by the tribunal and the implementation of the sentence should not happen until 30 days after publication that the appeals court has upheld the tribunal verdict. The hanging during the Eid al-Adha period (also) contradicts Iraqi and Islamic custom."

"Article 290 of the criminal code of 1971 (which was largely used in the Saddam trial) states that no verdict should implemented during the official holidays or religious festivals," he added.

Justice Amin rightly claimed that Iraqi law stipulates an execution must be carried out 30 days after the appeal court's decision on the sentencing, which in this case upheld the death sentence of Saddam. But in ratifying the death sentence on December 26, the appeals chamber insisted that the law stipulated the sentence be implemented within 30 days.

Iraq is under US occupation and control. Saddam was arrested by US troops and detained in Camp Cropper, a US air base. US lawyers wrote the Special Iraqi Tribunal's statute, with Washington spending more than 100 million dollars on the tribunal and intervening directly in the course of the trial. The conviction was announced just in time to influence the November US elections, but the electorate wiser to the deepening quagmire in Iraq decisively defeated President George Bush's Republican party in the Congress.

Is US afraid of terrorists?

Wrote B. Raman, former Indian Chief of counter terrorism;

"People are asking themselves—it is more than three years since the US captured Khalid Sheikh Mohammad, who orchestrated on behalf of Osama bin Laden, the massacre of nearly 3,000 innocent civilians in the US on 9/11. He has not been tried so far, not to talk of being executed. Why the hurry in the case of Saddam? Abu Zubaidah, Ramzi Binalshibh, Hambali, Abu Faraj al-Libbi and many others involved in the most cruel acts of terrorism killing hundreds of civilians have not even been tried so far. Why the hurry in the case of Saddam?

"Rightly or wrongly, they will come to the conclusion that in the US analysis if they try and execute these terrorist leaders, there could be more acts of mass casualty terrorism directed against the US and its nationals.

"Saddam was not a terrorist. He was just a dictator like many other dictators spawned and fattened by the US in other parts of the world. He was hated by Al Qaeda when he was alive because he was one of the very few secular leaders in the Ummah and because he was a socialist. In the US calculation, the death of Saddam could provoke reprisals, but manageable ones.

"I weep for Saddam. He was a good friend of India and its people. He always stood by us in the best of times and in the worst of times. I remember the days after the Mumbai blasts of March, 1993, in which nearly 300 innocent Indian civilians were killed by terrorists trained by the ISI. We went from one intelligence agency to another asking for help in investigating the role of Pakistan. The Americans rebuffed us. Protecting Pakistan and its ISI was more important for them than grieving for the Indians killed and helping India to bring to book those responsible. Saddam rushed to our assistance and helped us in whatever little way he could."

US led West, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and many such countries have contributed to the creation of the monster called international terrorism beginning with Afghanistan. Invading Iraq will only make it bigger and dangerous.

World condemns US controlled trial and execution

The wide negative reaction to the universally decried illegal trial and conviction and the barbaric execution polarized the world , with Anglo-Saxons, USA, UK and Australia sticking together exposing their total disregard for Rule of law, Justice and Christian morality, with European Christians showing mild opprobrium against the process and opposition to the death penalty and the gory hanging.

Arab and Muslim world , with many leaders cowed down and in fear of USA and Ummah preoccupied with the Hajj pilgrimage seethed with utmost disgust, bitter anger and resentment.

But even the indebted US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who had requested that Saddam be not hanged at the time described on 5 January the video footage of Saddam's execution as "shocking pictures, primitive pictures," "It was disgraceful and very painful", he added.

"I'm not going to say whether Saddam deserved the death penalty or not," Mubarak said. "I'm also not going to go into the question of whether that court is legal under the occupation.? "When all's said and done, nobody will ever forget the circumstances and the manner in which Saddam was executed. They have made him into a martyr, while the problems within Iraq remain."

Apart from elsewhere in the world vociferous protest demonstrations were held all over democratic India , a country of 1.1 billion, which surprised Canada's 'Toronto Star'. International Herald Tribune noted that the protests continued for days in Kashmir. Not only Muslims, who number over 140 million, but major political parties and the general public joined in condemning the trial and the execution. In many large cities US President George Bush's effigies were burnt.

Saddam Hussein was regarded a true friend of India and was very popular for standing up to US led western hegemony.

Demonization and injustice by the West has been the pattern since the days of the Roman empire, which demonized Asia Minor leader Mithradates IV, who staunchly opposed Rome. After his son's quick defeat at Zile, 250 Kms east of Ankara, Julius Caesar declared ; "Veni, vidi, vici."  Others who opposed British and European colonial exploitation in Asia and Africa down to Serbian nationalist leader and hero Slobodan Milosevic were treated similarly. In spite of all obstacles Milosevic made mince meat of western accusations and lies in a biased court while defending himself   So he was denied medical attention and died in western detention –another martyr. Yasser Arafat was poisoned as media leaks now further confirm.  An open and fair trial of Saddam by an international court in the Hague, would have exposed most western governments beginning with USA, UK, Germany and others as full accomplices in the accusations leveled against him of using poison gas and others crimes. The West was just afraid that its hypocrisy, blatant lies, war and other crimes like Al Gharaib, destruction of Fallija, Haditha and elsewhere would have been exposed.

With most of the world condemning the execution, Bush was forced to concede, but after a week . "I wish - obviously - that the proceedings had gone in a more dignified way," said Bush at a White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

But US selected Shia Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki threatened to cut off diplomatic relations with countries that criticized the execution of Saddam Hussein. He defended the decision to execute him on the Sunni feast of sacrifice, saying that Saddam had profaned religious holidays.

Day of the Jackals

Prof John Collins of St. Lawrence University New York called the coverage by CNN and New York Times as denial of history.

"... the execution provided an opportunity for viewers to think about the long story of the Iraqi leader's brutal reign. Yet when it came to informing the audience about one key aspect of that history - the role of the United States in helping to create and maintain the "butcher of Baghdad" - CNN offered only amnesia."  Viewers were treated to a highly selective loop of stock images of the condemned: Saddam brandishing a tribal sword -- Saddam firing a gun, Saddam laughing his cartoonish dictator laugh, Saddam defiantly reading a statement at the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam smoking a cigar, Saddam being checked for lice by U.S. military doctors, Saddam wildly gesturing during his recent trial."

What West wants to hide

What was missing was "the photo of Saddam shaking hands with U.S. envoy Donald Rumsfeld back in December 1983?" Rumsfeld told Saddam that the U.S "would regard any major reversal of Iraq's fortunes as a strategic defeat for the West." Secretary of State George Schultz knew that Iraq was using chemical weapons against Iranian forces on an "almost daily basis." CIA personnel visited Iraq on a regular basis to provide surveillance intelligence. Both the CIA and the Defense Intelligence Agency directly assisted an Iraqi offensive in February 1988 by electronically "blinding" Iranian radar for three days.

Evidence shows that companies of 5 permanent UN Security Council members, several East European states, Syria, and Germany and others supported the Iraqi chemical and biological weapons program through the sale of chemicals and technology. British firms sold thousands of kilos of the basic ingredients of nerve and mustard gas to Iraq (and Iran too). Many thousands kilograms of methyl phosphonyl difluoride and other chemicals were exported to Iraq, the basic ingredient of the nerve gas Sarin. The list is endless.

The New York Times was no better in its obituary and 'rather than offering readers a responsible assessment of their own government's role in the life and crimes of the Iraqi leader, author Neil MacFarquhar elected to repeat the kind of sensational details Americans have come to expect when the country's designated enemies are profiled: Saddam as megalomaniac (he believed "he was destined by God to rule Iraq forever" and possessed "boundless egotism and self-delusion"), Saddam as Mafioso (the "Corleone-like feuds" of his family "became the stuff of gory public soap operas"), Saddam as traumatized child ("persistent stories suggest that Mr. Hussein's stepfather delighted in humiliating the boy --"), Saddam as sadistic murderer (while reading the names of Baath party officials allegedly involved in a supposed coup plot, -- Saddam as narcissist ("He dyed his hair black and refused to wear his reading glasses in public "), Saddam as paranoid ("Delicacies like imported lobster were first dispatched to nuclear scientists to be tested for radiation and poison"), and on and on."

Prof Collins concludes ;"In this light, it seems that the initial coverage of Saddam's execution has served as a collective ritual hand washing designed to reassure Americans that they really are the blameless leaders of a cosmic struggle against "evil." And so the answer to the existential question comes into view. Today's mainstream journalism, even "live" TV, is a far cry from the first draft of history. Instead, it functions largely as a transmission of selective history that has been drafted--and airbrushed, and sanitized, and rearranged, and distorted--long before it ever reaches our eyes and ears."

Bush Family vendetta against Saddam Hussein

Texas based Bush family, in oil business, developed a strong dislike and grudge against Saddam Hussein for standing up to US hegemony. The day after the first Gulf War in 1991, the then President George H.W. Bush (Papa Bush) felt uneasy about the mess he was leaving . "Still no feeling of euphoria," he dictated to his diary Feb. 28, 1991. Saddam, he felt remained a threat. "He's got to go," Bush concluded.

Apart from implementing the Neo-Con designed 'New American Century' agenda in the Middle East, removing Saddam Hussein, whom Papa Bush could not, became a major motivation if not an obsession with the son.

"The sacrifice (3000 GIs dead and $360 billion dollars) has been worth it," President Bush said at a 2006 end news conference before the execution. "I haven't questioned whether or not it was right to take Saddam Hussein out," he stopped himself and added, "I mean, I've questioned it - I've come to the conclusion that it was the right decision."

Peter Baker gives an account of the vendetta story in the Washington Post, "The relationship actually began as one of pragmatic friendship in the 1980s, when Saddam Hussein was at war with the main U.S. enemy in the region, Iran, and George H.W. Bush was vice president in an administration that offered him help. A 1992 New Yorker article suggested that Bush, through Arab intermediaries, advised Saddam to intensify bombing of Iran."

But Saddam's decision to invade Kuwait in August 1990 changed every thing leading to the 1991 Iraq war under Papa Bush led coalition with UNSC approval, unlike the 2003 invasion. Kuwait was liberated. Never mind Papa Bush encouraged Iraq's Shias and Kurds to revolt against the regime and then did nothing when Saddam suppressed it brutally.

"Bush wrongly assumed that Iraqis would overthrow Hussein, and his decision not to march to Baghdad after freeing Kuwait would haunt him and his son.  An unbowed Hussein defied the international community, and in April 1993, when Bush went to Kuwait for a hero's welcome, a group of Iraqis crossed the border in what was called a thwarted attempt to kill him. President Bill Clinton launched 23 Tomahawk missiles against Iraqi targets in retaliation." {Yes, US is entitled to retribution for assassination attempt but not Saddam in Dujail. US had all the time and freedom soon after March 2003 invasion to get hold of the accused in the Kuwait assassination plot and convict Saddam! Was it another lie like so many others}

Coming back to Bush junior, "In a memo in March 2002, Peter Ricketts, a top British official, sounded skeptical of U.S. motivations: "For Iraq, 'regime change' does not stack up. It sounds like a grudge between Bush and Saddam."

Papa Bush told CNN in late 2002 "I hate Saddam Hussein, and I don't hate a lot of people." "I don't hate easily, but I think he is - as I say, his word is no good, and he is a brute. He has used poison gas on his own people. So, there's nothing redeeming about this man, and I have nothing but hatred in my heart for him." A few days later son Bush mused about Hussein at a Texas fundraiser. "There's no doubt his hatred is mainly directed at us," he said. "There's no doubt he can't stand us. After all, this is the guy that tried to kill my dad at one time."

Bush also discussed with Sen. Peter Fitzgerald (R-Ill.) assassinating Saddam and was ready to repeal the executive order banning assassination of foreign leaders if intelligence gave him a clear shot. "The fact that he tried to kill my father and my wife shows the nature of the man," Bush told interviewers in March 2003. "And he not only tried to kill my father and wife, he's killed thousands of his own citizens."

But he denied a vendetta. "Nah, no," he said. "I'm doing my job as the president, based upon the threats that face this country." But Bush ordered the invasion before planned time with a missile strike targeting Saddam Hussein, but the latter had escaped.

In return Saddam Hussein had a mosaic of the elder Bush's face over the slogan "Bush Is Criminal," in the lobby entrance of the Al Rashid Hotel so that every guest would step on it. The first thing U.S. troops did after entering Baghdad was to go to destroy the mosaic.

In his White House study, President Bush now keeps a memento - the pistol taken from Saddam Hussein when he was captured. A duel between them would have been interesting. No guesses who would have won.

While son slept through the gory execution, papa Bush has remained silent . But Saddam Hussein family including his two sons and a grand son have been brutally assassinated. But the carrying out of the family vendetta has unleashed forces as powerful as any tribal vendetta, now between peoples.

Gloating and sanctimonious Anglo-Saxons

Like a military commander having issued the battle order, President Bush was asleep when the execution was carried out. A statement issued on his behalf stated;

"Today Saddam Hussein was executed after receiving a fair trial - the kind of justice he denied the victims of his brutal regime. Saddam Hussein's execution comes at the end of a difficult year for the Iraqi people and for our troops. Bringing [him] to justice will not end the violence in Iraq, but it is an important milestone on Iraq's course to becoming a democracy that can govern, sustain, and defend itself, and be an ally in the war on terror. Many difficult choices and further sacrifices lie ahead. Yet the safety and security of the American people require that we not relent in ensuring that Iraq's young democracy continues to progress."

Since the invasion, events in Iraq described by Bush and Tony Blair as milestones have turned out to be millstones. A quagmire can not be cured by sleeping over it. Yes, if he is thinking of a 'surge 'of US troops in Iraq, last time it only increased the attacks on US troops. The number went up from October and reached a record 108 in December and the year end totaled 3000 dead GIs.  It can only be described as the alcoholics' solution to avoid hangovers –stay perpetually drunk ; stay the course.

In a statement on behalf of the British Government Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett welcomed "the fact that Saddam Hussein has been tried by an Iraqi court for at least some of the appalling crimes he committed against the Iraqi people. He has now been held to account. The British government does not support the use of the death penalty -- our position very clear to the Iraqi authorities, but we respect their decision as that of a sovereign nation."

With Tony Blair on vacation, his deputy John Prescott described the circumstances of the execution "deplorable" with mobile phone footage showing Saddam being told to "go to hell" by people attending the hanging, while the ex-leader mocks their "bravery".  Prescott added those responsible for the scenes should be "ashamed". But a spokeswoman for Blair said that she would not endorse Prescott's assessment as "he was expressing his own view."

Gordon Brown, heir apparent to Blair condemned the manner of the hanging as 'completely unacceptable' and 'deplorable', leaving the Prime Minister isolated. Brown told BBC : 'Now that we know the full picture of what happened we can sum this up as a deplorable set of events. It has done nothing to lessen tensions between the Shia and Sunni communities. Even those people, unlike me, who are in favor of capital punishment found this completely unacceptable.' He hoped lessons would be learnt 'as we learn other lessons about Iraq', The British who do piggy riding with the US for crumbs of war spoils, once things go wrong have been leaking like a sieve to earn Brownie points ( no pun intended).

But Scotland's 'Sunday Herald' decries 'Old West Justice' and stench of hypocrisy

Writing in Scotland's award-winning 'Sunday Herald ", Iain Macwhirter said that Saddam "went to the gallows in dignity, holding the Koran, urging reconciliation, his head uncovered amid his captors' balaclavas. He was executed under the auspices of an Anglo-American occupation that has brought little but death and destruction to Iraq. Even members of the Iraq Study Group in the US Senate accept that the people of Iraq are probably worse off now than under Saddam. So, who is going to hold the executioners to account?

"Who will try Bush and Blair, the authors of an invasion which was almost certainly illegal under international law and which has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians? Shouldn't they be in the dock?

"They ordered the invasion of Iraq on the dubious pretext of disarming weapons of mass destruction which weren't there. They deceived the international community and their own people in order to justify the invasion of a country which posed no military threat. That is perilously close to prima facie evidence of a war crime. To execute Saddam while accepting no responsibility or guilt for what we have done to Iraq is shameful, and history will condemn us for it.

"And let's not maintain the fiction that the US had nothing to do with this judicial killing. If the occupying powers had wanted to, they could, of course, have prevented Saddam's hanging. But Bush decided that the US public would rather warm to this exercise in Old West justice. And perhaps they will.

"And the stench of hypocrisy will linger for years in the West as we slowly come to terms with the enormity of what has been done to Iraq in our name."

Australian Reaction

Prime Minister John Howard of Australia (land of Kangaroos) said "The real significance is that this man has been given a proper trial, due process was followed. It was an appeal that's been dismissed and he has been dealt with in accordance with the law of Iraq.

"And I believe that there is something quite heroic about a country that is going through the pain and the suffering that Iraq is going through, it still extends due process to somebody who was a tyrant and brutal suppressor and murderer of his people. That's the mark of a country that's trying against fearful odds to embrace democracy and it's a country that deserves sympathy and support - not to be abandoned."

Mahathir- Execution a barbaric lynching

An old sparring partner of Howard, Mohamad Mahathir, former Prime Minister of Malaysia, in a statement described the execution, barbaric lynching. "This public murder was sanctioned by the War Criminals, President Bush and Prime Minister Blair."

"This sadistic act broadcasted to the whole world is a travesty of justice, and was meant to demonstrate the imperial power of the United States and serves as a warning to peace loving peoples that we must either bow to the dictates of the Bush regime or face the consequences of a public lynching.

"The lynching was also an insult to all Muslims-- that the war criminal Bush has no sensitivities whatsoever for Muslims on their pilgrimage to Mecca. This barbaric act is a sacrilege! --The entire trial process was a mockery of justice, no less a Kangaroo Court. Defence counsels were brutally murdered, witnesses threatened and judges removed for being impartial and replaced by puppet judges. Yet, we are told that Iraq was invaded to promote democracy, freedom and justice."

"Over 500,000 children died as a result of the criminal economic sanctions, and the latest findings by the medical journal, Lancet reveals that over 650,000 Iraqis have died since the illegal invasion of 2003.

"The inaction ( to prosecute for war crimes ) thus far by the International Criminal Court against Bush, Blair and Howard exposes the double standard of the said Court, when it does not hesitate to prosecute war crimes committed in Darfur, Rwanda and Kosovo."

Reaction in Israel

Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres, always sticking to a ministerial chair said that the execution of Saddam Hussein was "justice for history." He told the weekly cabinet meeting that Saddam, who had invited his own death, was a threat to life in the Middle East and the rest of the world. Peres's remarks were Israel's first official response to the hanging as both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's Office and Foreign Ministry kept a low profile and did not issue formal statements on the execution. Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin, responding to a question said "Iraqis have made their choice, and we hope for the Iraqi people that they establish a stable country for Iraq and the Middle East."

"Retroactive justice was done," Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israel Radio. "Saddam sent 39 missiles to Israel [during the 1991 Gulf War], paid $20,000 to the family of each suicide bomber at the height of the Intifada and tried to prepare nuclear weapons to be used against us."

An Arab member of Israeli parliament Ahmad Tibi described the hanging a "sadistic act and a mark of Cain on the American occupation [in Iraq]" and added that "even dictators deserve humanitarian treatment."

Iran and USA agree

Only Washington and Tehran, both 'controlling' the Shia dominated regime in Baghdad, were in a rare moment of accord and welcomed the execution. Iran's Deputy Foreign Minister Hamid Reza Asefi said the hanging of the man who led Iraq into a costly war with the Islamic Republic in the 1980s was a victory for Iraqis. Iran fought an 8-year war with Saddam's Iraq in which 1.7 million were killed. "With the execution of Saddam, the life dossier of one of the world's most criminal dictators was closed," began the report of his death on Iran's state-run TV

But Yousef Molaee, an Iranian international law expert, took the view that the dawn execution was a failure for justice.

Bush's nightmare may be only just beginning says Guardian of UK

The Guardian commented, "But the manner of Saddam's death, ridden with chaos and malice, has made the act much more divisive and dangerous. It was justice delivered in its crudest form, by hooded men taunting Saddam with Shia slogans, the distillation of a fractured and lawless country. The possibility that the pictures were recorded by a senior Iraqi official, as Saddam's prosecutor Munkith al-Faroon suggested yesterday, underlines the decayed state of what passes for central authority in the country.'

"For all the talk of Iraqi sovereignty, the former leader was tried by a special tribunal shaped by western forces, and was kept by the US until the final hours before his hanging. His body was flown to Tikrit on a US helicopter and US embarrassment over the bungling of his death has put pressure on the Iraqi government to investigate. The mayhem revealed in the new film, like the wider mayhem across most of Iraq, is in part mayhem that we have created. Like the image of Saddam's statue being toppled in 2003, and pictures of torture from Abu Ghraib prison, the illicit pictures of his death will come to define the conflict, evidence of just how disastrous the whole project has Bush slept through hanging, but his nightmare may be only just beginning."

Adverse Reaction of legal organizations

Richard Dicker of Human Rights Watch said that "Saddam Hussein was responsible for massive human rights violations, but that can't justify giving him the death penalty, which is a cruel and inhuman punishment..." The test of a government's commitment to human rights is measured by the way it treats its worst offenders..."

"It defies imagination that the Appeals Chamber could have thoroughly reviewed the 300-page judgment and the defense's written arguments in less than three weeks' time... The appeals process appears even more flawed than the trial... " History will judge the deeply flawed Dujail trial and this execution harshly."

Malcolm Smart, regional Director for Amnesty International said: "Amnesty opposes the death penalty in all circumstances and we deplore the death penalty in this case. It is because we consider that the trial was flawed in serious ways that it is more concerning that the death penalty should be imposed. The independence and impartiality of the court was impugned. There was political interference. Three defence lawyers were murdered. Saddam himself had no access to legal advice for a year." (BBC World, 30 December)

Bertrand Russell's Tribunal said that: "The Iraqi Higher Criminal Court that passed a death sentence on President Saddam Hussein is grounded on illegality. Occupying powers under international law are expressly prohibited from changing the judicial structures of occupied states. Created by Paul Bremer, the Iraqi Higher Criminal Court was never anything but a US-orchestrated puppet court."

Louise Arbour, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights stated "All sections of Iraqi society, as well as the wider international community, have an interest in ensuring that a death sentence provided for in Iraqi law is only imposed following a trial and appeal process that is, and is legitimately seen as, fair, credible and impartial. "That is especially so in a case as exceptional as this one."

The International Action Center ( USA) declared that "This punishment has nothing to do with the alleged crimes of the Iraqi leader nor is it part of an historical judgment of his role. It is the act of a conquering power against a nation that is occupied against the will of the vast majority of its people."

Anti US Protests all over India

While the Arab street was relatively quiet, there were wide spread anti-US protests, demonstrations and marches across the length and breadth of India, including major cities like Delhi, Lucknow, Bhubaneswar, Guwahati, Bangalore, Kozikhode, Srinagar, Junagarh, Jaipur, Coimbatore and others.

External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee said: "We had already expressed the hope that the execution would not be carried out. We are disappointed that it has been." "We hope that this unfortunate event will not affect the process of reconciliation, restoration of peace and normalcy in Iraq," he added.

But the Congress party's General Secretary Janardhan Dwivedi said that there were palpable "procedural deficiencies" in the way the trial process has been executed. "The undue haste in execution does not carry any credibility." "They validate our previously expressed apprehensions regarding ad-hoc victors' justice and therefore, we condemn it," he said. "Nevertheless, we hope that this unfortunate event will not stand in the way of the process of restoring normalcy and reconciliation in Iraq," he said.

But Jyoti Basu , the veteran communist party leader, who was Chief Minister of West Bengal for three decades and whose party supports the coalition in New Delhi said , "they (the government) should have more strongly denounced the hanging. But the fact remains that they are sacred of America," "They (USA) have kept the country (Iraq) under their occupation and installed a puppet regime there. And they have no right to hold the trial of Saddam and hang him," added Basu

In Delhi Muslims gathered at Jama Masjid early on Saturday morning as they heard of the execution and raised slogans against the US and President Bush. A large and angry crowd remained there till noon to register their protest against the execution. The protest, though, was peaceful. The protesters also expressed anguish at the lukewarm attitude of the Indian government. "Saddam Hussein was a friend of India and supported it whenever there was a need. The Indian government failed to make a strong protest with the US"

In Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow's old city area as news of the execution spread, Muslims turned out in large numbers to protest against the execution. The secular Samajwadi Party, which rules the state of 170 million said the execution was "barbaric" and decided to observe January 4 as a "black day" with demonstrations against President Bush.

Kerala Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said: "They (Americans) showed scant respect to world opinion which was in favor of Saddam. This (execution) should not have happened." Angry supporters of Saddam Hussein took to the streets in many parts of Kerala. The demonstrators gathered at Saddam Beach in Kozhikode district and shouted slogans denouncing the US President and describing the hanging as "cruel". It was so named after Saddam's defiance of USA in 1991. He was regarded as an icon in the hamlet and there are at least 60 boys named Saddam in the area. The villagers don't buy or use American products. Coca-Cola and Pepsi are all taboo.

Angry protesters in Jaipur in Rajasthan burnt President Bush's effigy and shouted slogans. Padur Subramania Sasthrigal, a Vedic scholar and astrologer in Tamil Nadu's major industrial centre , Coimbatore. predicted that under Hindu shastras, Saddam will go to heaven. "Dying on Ekadasi day itself is very auspicious," he said

In Gujarat, Junagarh's Muslims said they would not celebrate Id-ul-Zuha. A group of 17 Muslim organizations have condemned the execution of Saddam Hussein. The winter capital of Jammu and Kashmir witnessed demonstrations with slogans denouncing the US and Bush by several groups, especially in the Muslim-majority areas. Jammu Kashmir National Panthers Party Chairman Bhim Singh, described the execution as the "darkest step in history ever taken on Id-ul-Zuha".

Yes, The All India Shia Personal Law Board (AISPLB) said that Saddam's execution as "justified", as he was tried by a court of justice and punished for his heinous crimes. "Saddam should not be seen as a Muslim as he was not following true Islam."

Most experts said that the execution will sharpen the Shia-Sunni divide in Iraq with a potential to destabilize the region. It will also inflame further anti-Americanism in the region and lead to an unstable Middle East which supplies over 70 per cent of India's oil and where nearly 5 million Indians work and live.

"More violence will follow. Shia-Sunni divide, which is already prominent, will become sharper. It will certainly not promote reconciliation in Iraq," said Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, Prime Minister's Special Envoy on West Asia.

"If it is intended to convey a sense of revenge, it does no good to the image of the Iraqi government. No government should be seen to be vindictive," said Hamid Ansari, a former Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia and Iran and UN , now Chairman, Minorities Commission, New Delhi . "It was a kangaroo court trial.  It's not going to calm the situation in Iraq," Ansari stressed.

An academic expert Girijesh Pant said that "It is part of the pressure the Americans want to bring on the region as a whole." It will destabilize the entire region. "This is going to be seen as anti-Islamic by the Muslim community all over the world, including in India. --It's more a message to Iran to behave, to tell them how far the Americans can go to achieve their aim in the region," Pant stressed. "This move will shrink space for moderate Islam and will strengthen terrorist and jihadi outfits like Hezbollah and Hamas that feed on anti-American sentiments."

K. Subrahmanyam, a former civil servant , who heads the government's task force on global strategic developments, said that the trial was "by and large fair." "It was by an Iraqi court for an Iraqi crime - for killing Iraqi Shias," he underlined. "It is revenge and retribution by the Shia majority which was under oppression and tyranny for the last 23 years. Now, majority Shias will feel vindicated. The Iraqi government did it to gain more legitimacy for the regime," he added.

Subrahmanyam was puzzled at the Indian government's official reaction, and attributed it to "short-sighted vote bank politics." He also criticized the Left parties in India for lionizing Saddam Hussein and protesting his execution. He had earlier stated that he did not want another Muslim (Iran) nuclear power, just the policy US wants India to follow .What kind of report he will make to the government, which has many supporters of Washington consensus in key positions. These so called experts, supported and looked after by Western missions in Delhi, are resident non-Indians.

Western official and other comments

France's Foreign Ministry taking note of the execution reiterated the government's opposition to capital punishment, abolished in France in 1981. It urged all Iraqis to look towards the future and work towards reconciliation and national unity'.

But the two frontrunners in the coming presidential election condemned the execution. Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, described it as a "mistake" and said it would not help efforts to build a democratic Iraq. "The execution of Saddam Hussein, the worst of men, is a mistake," he wrote in Le Monde while stressing his opposition to the death penalty. Socialist Ségolène Royal who expressed her "disgust" at the execution said, "I am opposed to the death penalty even for an abominable dictator."

In Berlin, Chancellor Merkel said that her country "respects" Saddam's conviction, but added her voice to the protest against the use of the death penalty. "On a day like this, my thoughts are above all with Saddam Hussein's many innocent victims and my wish for the Iraqi people is that they can follow a path in peace and without violence," Merkel added.

Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi said that "Italy is against the death penalty and so even in such a dramatic case as Saddam Hussein, we still think that the death penalty must not be put into action."

Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman said, "A capital punishment is always tragic news, a reason for sadness, even if it deals with a person who was guilty of grave crimes." "The killing of the guilty party is not the way to reconstruct justice and reconcile society. On the contrary, there is a risk that it will feed a spirit of vendetta and sow new violence. In these dark times for the Iraqi people, one can only hope that all responsible parties truly make every effort so that glimmers of reconciliation and peace can be found in such a dramatic situation," he added.

Execution "barbaric" - Dutch Deputy Prime Minister

Dutch Deputy Prime Minister Gerrit Zalm called the execution "barbaric" and said in a radio interview that he would have preferred to see Saddam imprisoned for life.

Rev. Jesse Jackson said that the US was complicit in the trial and execution of Saddam by the Iraqis ``because we held him in our custody, and the government in Iraq today is a government subsidized by the U.S.' ``We encouraged his being hung,' Jackson said. "He is now a trophy of a war that had nothing to do with 9/11. The number of deaths are increasing. The violence is expanding. Our moral authority is eroding.' ``Killing him intensifies the violence, reduces our moral authority in the world,' said Jackson, who has traveled to the Middle East on peace missions. ``Today we are not more secure. We're less secure. We've missed a moment to appeal to those in Iraq to break the cycle of violence.'

Democrat Senator John Kerry, who lost to President Bush in 2004 elections, said that executing Hussein was hardly worth the cost. "To go to war to kill one guy? Please," said Kerry. He added that the execution was "almost a sideshow to the fundamental dilemma and quandary of Iraq." "What will not be resolved by his death is the political resolution that is critical to changing the direction and dynamic of the country," he added. "Those stakes remain fundamentally the same."

George Galloway, anti-war British MP said that "He has been killed, but I believe he will be more dangerous to the forces of the occupiers and their allies after his death than when he was alive. I believe a wave of attacks will be carried out against those allied with the occupation."

Russian reaction

Russia's President Vladimir Putin, regretted that international concerns about the execution were ignored. Mikhail Kamynin Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said that "Regrettably, the numerous appeals to the Iraqi authorities by representatives of various states and international organizations to refrain from capital punishment have been left unheeded. "We are convinced that in this situation, the political consequences of this step also have to be taken into account, all the more so because the issue of the former president's fate is a very sensitive one for Iraqi society."

Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said that he didn't believe Saddam's execution would solve Iraq's problems, saying that the country needed to shape its own destiny: "I don't know whether the sentence of Saddam Hussein was a sentence or whether it was vengeance."

South Africa called for U.N. intervention in Iraq. "South Africa remains convinced that his execution is not the panacea to the current political problems in Iraq but could fuel violence in an already volatile situation," said Foreign Affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa.

Arab and Muslim Reaction and Comments

For Sunnis across Iraq and the Middle East Saddam Hussein, who stood up to American hegemony and saved the Gulf states and Saudi Arabia from the rising Iran's Shia menace after 1979 has become great martyr. "Saddam Hussein is the greatest martyr of the century," said a student in Amman. A 50 year-old man in Baghdad said "the Americans and Iranians meant to insult all Arabs by this execution."

Iraq's main Sunni clerics' group the Muslim Scholars' Association, blamed USA and issued a statement that "The execution of former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein in the manner it took place was carried out at the behest of the occupier and some of its allies in and outside" Saddam's hanging was "a purely political act," and the fact that it happened while Iraq's Sunnis were marking the first day of Eid al-Adha, or feast of sacrifice, shows "the grudges (they harbor) and their quest to provoke".

The execution was also denounced in neighboring Jordan, with a pro-US regime. Around 800,000 Iraqis, mostly Sunnis have taken shelter there. Jordan's majority population is of Palestine origin, who regard Saddam as hero for supporting their cause .

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood joined several political parties and professional unions at a protest rally in Amman where Raghad, Saddam Hussein's daughter, made a brief appearance. She thanked the people for remembering her father, "the martyr." The Minister of Political Development attended this rally, but the government disowned his presence. Many speakers at the rally vehemently condemned Iran, blaming "the Safavid magi" for the "assassination of Saddam." They shouted slogans condemning Iran, Israel and the United States.

Al-Hayat says that the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood, a major opposition party and once allied with Iran, has demanded that the Iranian embassy in Amman be closed. The Brotherhood blamed Iran and the US for the execution .This demand is "an index of the depth of the political changes in the Arab world." In 1990 when Iran reopened its mission in Amman, its diplomats spent so much time with the Brotherhood deputies in the Parliament that the Crown Prince joked that Tehran thought it was accredited to the Assembly and not to the Hashemite Palace.

Raghad was granted political asylum in Amman after the invasion, from where she organized legal defence of her father. Saddam's lawyers in Amman complained that no member of the defence team was allowed to attend the execution. "We denounce the climate of hatred and political vengeance that surrounded the execution," said a statement from the Amman-based team. "The execution ... on the first day of Al-Adha shows contempt for Arab and Muslim feelings."

"No defence representative was informed of the time of execution or invited to attend despite the fact a member of our committee was in the Green Zone," in Baghdad, where the Iraqi government and the US embassy are housed.

Libyan state media described Saddam Hussein as a "prisoner of war" and declared three days of national mourning over his execution. Qaddafi had said that constitutionally elected Saddam Hussein was still the President of Iraq.

Lawmakers and members of the militant Palestinian group, Hamas, condemned the execution. One member called it "a political assassination" that "violated international laws".

Saudi Arabia, home of Islam with Mecca and Medina was critical of the execution. Its official al-Ikhbariya television station declared: "There is a feeling of surprise and disapproval that the verdict has been applied during the holy months and the first days of Eid al-Adha. Leaders of Islamic countries should show respect for this blessed occasion ... not demean it."

Egypt's Foreign Ministry stated that Iraqi authorities hung Saddam "without considering the Muslims' feelings or respecting the sanctity of this day that represents an occasion for forgiveness and absolution," according to the official news agency, MENA.


In Kabul President Hamid Karzai criticized the timing of the execution, but said that it was "the work of the Iraqi government." "We wish to say that Eid is a day for happiness and reconciliation. It is not a day for revenge," Karzai told reporters after offering Eid prayers .


US ally Pakistan in a brief statement from the Foreign Ministry said "The execution ... which can only be described as a sad event, is another poignant reminder of the violence that continues to grip Iraq," the statement said. "We hope that this event would not further exacerbate the security situation." There were protests against the execution in Pakistan.

Liaquat Baluch off MMA religious alliance in Pakistan said "We have no sympathy with Saddam Hussein, but we will also say that he did not get justice. The execution of Saddam Hussein will further destabilize Iraq. There will be more sectarian violence in Iraq, and we believe that the execution of Saddam Hussein is part of the American plan to disintegrate Iraq."


In Jakarta, the government of the world's largest Muslim nation, Indonesia, hoped that Saddam's execution "will not further separate conflicting parties in the effort toward a national reconciliation, which is a precondition in recovering Iraqi sovereignty."

But Fauzan Al Anshori, from the militant group of Majelis Mujahidin Indonesia, said Bush, too, should stand trial. "Given the crime blamed on Saddam, it is unfair if George Bush is not also put on an international tribunal," he said. "Saddam was executed for killings 148 people, Shiite Muslims, while Bush is responsible for the killing of about 600,000 Iraqis since the March 2003 invasion."


Malaysian Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said that "The international community is not in favor of the hanging and questions the due process that took place." "We are surprised that they went ahead notwithstanding. I think there will be repercussions. "The only thing is we hope they will be able to contain this. Because the conflict is not going to end. This is not the answer." He added.


Given the momentous nature of the execution, the ugly event itself was almost an anticlimax. It was not Saddam Hussein who was diminished but the architects of his demise.

Beyond the specter of Saddam's hanging lies the flawed evangelism of the invaders who sought to remove him. They have succeeded, but few tombstones have been more dearly bought. Over 3000 GIs have been killed. As one more bloody dawn broke over Baghdad, Saddam's last post and requiem were the echo of bullets and the laments of the bereaved.

As for 'Operation Iraqi Freedom' said Riverbend; blogs from Baghdad , "There's no way to describe the loss we've experienced with this war and occupation. There is no compensation for the dense, black cloud of fear that hangs over the head of every Iraqi. Fear of the Americans in their tanks, fear of the police patrols in the black bandanas, fear of the Iraqi soldiers wearing their black masks at the checkpoints ."

The hanging has not only further ignited the Shia-Sunni violence, but it will also spread into and suck in neighboring states in the region. All have mixed ethnic and sectional populations including Iran. The fire will engulf the region, perhaps the objective of Bush regime, wittingly or otherwise.

No wonder Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), incoming Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said that the Bush administration was trying to postpone disaster so the next president will "be the guy landing helicopters inside the Green Zone, taking people off the roof," in a chaotic withdrawal reminiscent of Vietnam.

"I have reached the tentative conclusion that a significant portion of this administration, maybe even including the vice president, believes Iraq is lost," Biden said. "They have no answer to deal with how badly they have screwed it up. I am not being facetious now. Therefore, the best thing to do is keep it from totally collapsing on your watch and hand it off to the next guy - literally, not figuratively.  

(K Gajendra Singh, Indian ambassador (retired), served as ambassador to Turkey and Azerbaijan from August 1992 to April 1996. Prior to that, he served terms as ambassador to Jordan, Romania and Senegal. He is currently chairman of the Foundation for Indo-Turkic Studies. Copy right with the author. E-mail:


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