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The Invulnerable Izzat al-Douri | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Former Baath official and deputy to deposed Iraqi president Saddam Hussein, Izzat Ibrahim al-Douri

Former Iraqi Vice President Izzat al-Douri might be the most fortunate person in the world as his death was announced several times in the past 12 years, yet, just like myths, every time he reappeared to prove them false.

The most recent appearing for al-Douri was a year ago when Iraqi military and civilian officials competed to announce his death news and celebrate the occasion.

They published an image of a dead man having some of his features, such as his red hair and beard and no denial was issued; however, the sudden halt of repeating the official news confirmed that the dead was a peasant not Izzat al-Douri.

After deposing Saddam Hussein, Douri became more important than when the late president was in power.
During Saddam’s reign, Douri was a vice president with no powers; he was always assigned minor roles. He was mostly known in the period when Iraq invaded Kuwait in the early nineties, but he returned to the back rows after that.

After the American occupation he became the only symbol of the former regime since he was the only alive and free among them all, especially that, back then, the Americans detained a great number of Iraqi leaders and executed others.

In addition, a lot has been written about Douri’s leadership for the Iraqi resistance and his great powers and influence, even on other militant groups, but none of it can be confirmed.

He reportedly tried to mediate the release of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh from ISIS, but the terrorist group burned the captive alive in one of the most heinous crime.

Later, it was rumored that Douri had led the attack by Iraqi militants on the city of Mosul, the massive operation that shocked the world, changed the policies of major powers and caused the return of Western armies to Iraq and Syria. It turned out, however, that it was an invasion by ISIS that had nothing to do with Douri’s fellow Baathists or his Naqshbandi militant group, which ISIS is against.

The situation got more complex when ISIS captured 12 Baathist leaders during Mosul’s events, which obliged Douri to issue a statement commending the group, in a desperate attempt to save his comrades.
Nevertheless, ISIS stipulated that he issue a statement in exchange for their release but then breached the agreement and killed them.

The terrorist group justified this by saying that Douri’s statement did not include a pledge of allegiance to ISIS. After these events, rumors about the alliance between ISIS and Baathists, who were formed from military and tribal leaderships, have since stopped.

All these events were repeated in Syria lately as ISIS claimed to be the “Free Army” that is asking for support. Nonetheless, the moment battles waged between the two parties and the “Syrian Free Army” issued several statements warning from ISIS. They stated that ISIS is working in line with the Syrian regime, and that they killed a great number of the Free Army affiliates and innocent civilians.

In Iraq, as in Syria, ISIS’s black flag was raised for two years. The group was benefiting from the sectarian practices by Nouri al-Maliki’s former government.

Those practices were beneficial for ISIS as they besieged Anbar’s people, captured its leaders and sent their militants to destroy their neighborhoods.

ISIS militants were mostly welcomed in the large province before fighting with its people, seeking hegemony, marginalizing local leaderships and recruiting its youths.

Up till today, Douri remains a symbol of opposition to the Iraqi government.