Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Justice, al-Sadr Style

The lynching of Saddam was a fitting end to a chaotic year. Very few people in Western countries saw Iraq’s former dictator as a model citizen, but there are countless poor Sunni Muslim people all over the globe to whom Saddam Hussein was a hero, someone who had managed to rise to power from very humble beginnings and who had the guts to do as he pleased, even if doing so angered former friends and supporters, the United States at one time among them. Personally I have many problems with his speedy execution after a farce-like trial, in the hands of frenzied enemies, chanting “Muqtada, Muqtada, Muqtada”, their leader al-Sadr’s name. I do not believe in capital punishment, which only exists in our country among the ‘civilized’ Western nations. Secondly, the U.S. invaded Iraq, a sovereign nation, without any real reason or excuse, and captured the head of that country. While I’m not trying to deny or defend all the horrible acts done by Saddam and his government, the United States is not a world police force, and it would have been up to the United Nations to decide what to do with this dictator or any other. The only court that should have had the authority to make a judgment on charges of crimes against humanity is the International Criminal Court in the Hague, the Netherlands. Although not known for its swift action, the it nevertheless is the only neutral court, capable of handling crimes of such magnitude. Of course, our nation doesn’t recognize the Court’s mandate, but that simply is an indication that our hands have been bloodied time after time. Diplomats and Heads of State should have international immunity and they normally do. Saddam was elected to be the president of Iraq: the elections probably weren’t fair, but the United States should not brag about fair elections. Thus we made a grave error by giving Saddam to the hands of his sworn enemies, expecting a fair trial. The Sunni now have a new martyr and being an American just became a lot more dangerous.

I watched CNN’s footage of ‘rejoicing Iraqis’ hours after the hanging and it wasn’t until later that the viewers were told this celebration was not taking place in Baghdad but in Dearborn, Michigan. Libya’s leader Qaddafi, with whom we have just started to normalize relations, declared a three-day mourning period and cancelled the celebration of Id Al-A’dha. Even though we now claim that our military tried to delay the execution, in the world’s eyes it was an American lynching, done in a hurry to justify our president’s reasons for the war and give badly needed support to Iraq’s present ‘government’. Even the Dutch ask if Saddam’s death was a blow for Middle East democracy. The initial circus-like reporting of the hanging soon gave way to sobering news about our military deaths exceeding 3,000. The only ones happy about the unfolding of events have been our sworn enemies in Iran. Will this reduce violence? Only a fool would agree. Now, instead of worrying about ‘if’ there is going to be another serious terrorist attack against America and its allies, the question now has become ‘when, where and how’.

President Bush and some others keep on insisting that there is no civil war in Iraq and they are widely ridiculed for not facing reality. I, on the other hand, tend to agree for once. There is indeed nothing ‘civil’ about the war in Iraq: it is complete anarchy and chaos of unseen magnitude. In the northern areas matters are not quite as bad yet, as the Kurds have managed to isolate themselves from the rest of the country. Curiously this trial and resulting verdict were all about the Kurdish minority. Of course these people have suffered a lot, in the hands of more populous neighbors. But interestingly the oppressed here have become oppressors as so often happens: go on the many web sites that tell the story of the Assyrian ‘holocaust’ in hands of the Kurds and others. One of the world’s oldest civilizations hasn’t done very well in its ancient homeland. But then, no glory lasts forever. How long will it take before people start referring to America as a civilization that could have been?
Photo AP - The Guardian